We went on a road trip from Tuscany to Sicily and stayed at three agriturismi on the way.
You might be wondering if you are going to read this whole blog without any idea what an agriturismo is. Well, I will not let that be true.
An agriturismo is a farm that visitors can come and stay at. The owners of the farm live and work there and you can chat with them, and they provide you with meals. To be defined as a valid agriturismo a large percentage of the food that gets served to the guests has to be made on that farm.
Tada! Now you know what an agriturismo is.
One of the interesting things about agriturismi is the people who live on them. I will tell you about some of the people we met.
The first agriturismo we stayed at was I Sapori del Gargano in Vieste, Puglia, a large agriturismo with a lot of guest cottages that was owned by a kind family. The animals that lived on I Sapori del Gargano were: a three-month old puppy who Eva fell in love with (and who bit a lot), two kids (baby goats) and lots of adult goats, one donkey, many cats, and two horses. We were allowed to go into the field where the horses, goats, and donkeys lived, but we were warned to stay away from the old grumpy horse. Actually, we were never sure which horse was which.
When we first arrived at I Sapori del Gargano the kids (baby goats) were getting fed from baby bottles. They were really cute and when they came out of their pen we could pet and hold them. We had been told not to let any of the animals out, but every time we opened the gate to try to get into the pen the kids would try to get out. So this always resulted in us running after the kids, then picking them up and taking them with us into the pen and shutting the gate behind us. This was a major inconvenience.
We didn’t have dinner at I Sapori del Gargano because the night we stayed there was a re-enactment in town of Jesus’s crucifixion. And Marco (the son of the owners of I Sapori del Gargano) was going to play Jesus!
We are not Catholic, in fact we are Jewish, but we decided to go see the re-enactment because we thought it might be interesting. When we got there, we were flabbergasted by the crowds. (Note 2-picture slideshow below.)
The play started outside a building where Jesus’s punishment was proclaimed from the balcony.
Men dressed as Roman soldiers then marched Marco to a hill where he was crucified with some other men.
After the crucifixion, Mary came up the hill with Jesus’s followers and started crying at his feet. Jesus said he still believed he was the messiah and died. Then Jesus was carried by his followers down the hill and away. Marco came back dressed in a white robe and with two of his followers began to sing and dance. As he danced yellow fireworks (the light of resurrection) lit up the sky. Here’s another slideshow – this one’s longer!
I would like it to be known that this show was not in fact a silent show, it was just that all the words were in Italian and I didn’t understand much.
At the next agriturismo, Azienda Agrituristica Perrini in Alberobello, Puglia, we had interesting talks with Cosimo, the farmer. Cosimo believed that trees try to convey messages or stories. Cosimo would take a tree and carve it into a sculpture that symbolised the story or lesson that he felt the tree was trying to convey. Cosimo showed us his sculptures and told us all their stories (in Italian of course, my dad translated). It was very interesting.
Then Cosimo showed us around the farm. He grew up on the farm in a real trullo house, a type of house that is only seen in this region of Italy, that was more than a hundred years old.
At one point Eva and I wandered off into the cow area, where a calf tried to suck on Eva’s hand. When Cosimo arrived he asked us if we would like to try fresh milk and we said, “yes.” Then he literally took a cup and put it under the cow’s udder and squeezed and then handed it to us. Soon we were running around with cups of warm, fresh, delicious (and unpasteurized) milk for everyone else.
The next day Cosimo showed my dad, my grandpa, my bubby (grandma), and me dinosaur prints. They were real dinosaur prints, not just things he had imagined. They were amazing, sometimes there were two prints right next to each other from a two legged dinosaur!
Next Cosimo took us to a big pit in the ground where he had dug for fossils. He took my dad and my grandpa (bubby had wandered off earlier) into the pit but said I couldn’t come because I might fall off one of the rocks. (Cosimo always spoke in in Italian, but I understood that.) Eva and I also enjoyed petting the dogs, horses, and cows, and watching the goats and trying to feed them. The problem with the goats was that the male never let the female have any food. Eva and I met another girl from the one other family staying there too, and she joined us in these activities.
The dinner we had at Azienda Agrituristica Perrini was superb, even the noodles were made there. Cosimo’s wife was the chef and his daughter was the waitress and he ate with us. One of the things I liked best about that agriturismo was that the whole thing was run by one family and they were all so kind.
The last agriturismo we stayed at was Torre di Albidona in Trebisacce, Calabria. This was a very fancy agriturismo. It was a masseira, a large farm where lots of workers used to live. However, the people who work there do not live there anymore and there were no animals whatsoever except for one big brown dog. There were no kids there to play with either and the workers weren’t very nice.
The biggest disappointment was the pool, over which we had a misunderstanding that taught us that, like English, Italian has some words that can mean two different things. Some of the places we had stayed at on our road trip had pools that weren’t yet being used- I guess Italians don’t believe in swimming in early April. But it was so hot when we got to Torre di Albidona, and the pool looked so nice, that my dad asked a lady who worked there if we could use the pool. She said yes, and within minutes Eva and I were in our bathing suits and ready to go for a swim.
We had our legs in the pool when a man who worked there said, “No bagno!” (“no” means no and “bagno” can mean bathroom) and pointed to the pool. Eva and I were very surprised and offended. Who tells a nine-year-old (now I’m ten) and a twelve-year-old that a pool is not a bathroom? We are not babies or little kids, we know not to pee in pools, we know that pools are not bathrooms! When my mom came to the pool to see if she wanted to take a dip, we told her about this strange interaction and she decided to talk to this man. He claimed that he was just warning us about the pool. His English was limited so he kept pointing to the pool and saying “No bagno” and my mom kept telling him that we knew that the pool was not a bathroom. Their conversation was going in circles. Eventually mom gave up. Soon after, my dad came down and we told him the story too. Dad explained that bagno also means to bathe. My dad talked to the man and it turned out that the lady who worked there was wrong and we couldn’t go swimming because they were chlorinating the pool and the chlorine might burn our skin. So he wasn’t suggesting that we were going to pee in the pool after all.
Even though Torre di Albidona was the fanciest of the agriturismi we stayed at, it was my least favourite.
I recommend agriturismi as a good place for families to stay, much better than airbnbs because there are things to do, animals to play with, and delicious meals to eat.