Farmhouses and country houses to spend a vacation in the country
The experience at a Tuscan farm may include dining with the host family and other guests, assisting in the grape or olive harvest or merely enjoying the quiet intimacy of a stay in the countryside independently from the farm.
Many farmhouse hosts also help organize activities for their guests, from horseback riding to mountain biking and hiking to Tuscany cooking classes and wine tastings. Many farmhouses have recently added swimming pools to their properties to offer their guests the opportunity to cool down during the warm Tuscan summers.
Agriturismo, or "agricultural tourism", gives ones the chance to experience true rural Tuscan life. It means that actual working farms have opened their homes to offer rustic to elegant accommodation. Generally based on or around a farmhouse villa, winery or castle, these are often family-run operations which offer accommodation that ranges from bed and breakfasts to large apartments and separate buildings that include living areas, kitchens and private bathrooms.
About Tuscany Farmhouses
What exactly is an "agritourism"? In Tuscany, as across many Western countries, the countryside was undergoing a period of decline as people moved away from the farms and working the land to the cities and working in offices and factories. In order to help out the remaining small farms, the local governments allowed farms to open up their homes to paying guests if they also showed people what work on a farm was about. The first agritourisms across Tuscany thus had guests participate in the grape harvest in August and September and in the olive harvest in November. Today, some still offer guests the chance to participate in rural like, but many just offer accommodation in rooms or apartments in the farmhouse.
One advantage of staying at farmhouse is that it tends to cost less than at a hotel, considered at a per night, per person basis. So if you are traveling with your family and planning to stay at least a week in Tuscany, look into the possibility of staying at a farmhouse and renting a car to move around the region. You'll still be able to visit all of the main cities while being a bit removed from all of the crowds, particularly in the summer. Keep in mind that rentals are generally for an entire week and, unless specified, not available for just a few days.