Agriturismo

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 4

Where to stay is a big decision. There are many types of places to stay in Italy:

  1. American Hotels – These are large chain hotels with larger rooms (smaller compared to rooms in America) and usually the most expensive option.
  2. Italian Hotels – These are smaller hotels with smaller rooms at a very reasonable prices. Breakfast is often included with the room charge. You can get a private bath in your room or share a bath in the hall. We prefer private baths. Be sure you have this if you also prefer it.
  3. B&B’s – Like anywhere in the world these provide rooms and meals. The price is expensive and usually between the price of the large hotels and the smaller Italian hotels.
  4. Agriturismo – These are nice small family owned hotels that are part of a farm or ranch. The food is locally grown (usually on their property), organic and delicious. Rooms are modern and comfortable. You can usually also contract for lunch and lunch & dinner as well.
  5. House or Apartment Rental – These can be the largest and best priced depending on the area especially if you are traveling with other couples. In Paris we were four people and rented someone’s apartment. It was large, comfortable with two bedrooms and two baths. The price was cheaper than two hotel rooms.

Once you decide on what type of place you prefer, investigate options in the cities you will visit. Use sites like TripAdvisor to get other people’s opinions of the property. Remember that their opinions can be very different from yours. We never worry about negative reviews that say small rooms. We expect small rooms in Italy.

TripAdvisor

Be sure to investigate where your hotel/rental choice is located compared to the sites you want to see. Try to get centrally located hotels (these can be the most expensive but will save time going and coming to the sites).

Booking your hotel with airfares on discount sites like Orbitz can get you a discount on the hotel. Check multiple sites and compare prices. Look at pictures posted of your choice and determine if it is the right choice for you. Booking hotels on discount sites usually charge your card when you book not when you arrive. Hotels in Italian are Albergo or just Hotel (the H is always silent in Italian).

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If breakfast is not included do not pay extra for it. Breakfast in Italy is very cheap. You find a bar near your hotel (they are everywhere). At Italian bars you can get Caffè (espresso), Cappuccino, Coffee Americano (an espresso in a larger cup with more water) and mastery choices. A Caffè and cornetto will cost you between 2 and 4 Euros ($2.20 to $4.40). Italian croissants are called cornetto. They come plain, filled with chocolate or jelly and filled with cream. Pastries in Italy are not as sweet as in America. They are delicious.

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Tomorrow we will look at car rentals for your trip if you plan to drive.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agriturismo, Air Fares, Bars, Coffee, cornetto, Espresso, Europe, Food, Hotels, Italy, Pastry, The holidays in Europe, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Where to Eat in Italy

French wines are usually made to accompany food.

French wines are usually made to accompany food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People that have been to Italy often ask us what is the difference between the types of restaurants in Italy? It can be confusing so we give you this guide.

Italy has fantastic food everywhere. We even stopped at an “Auto Grill” on the autostrada (highway) and had a great espresso and pastry. Other times we will get a Panini at the Auto Grill. Not like our turnpike rest areas. In Italy there are several common types of places to eat and a few others in certain areas.

Types of Restaurants in Italy:

  1. Bar – A place to eat or drink. In the morning you go here for coffee and pastry, at lunch you go for sandwiches (Panini). In the evening you go for a drink and a snack. Many bars also serve gelato. Bars are cheapest if you stand and eat. Sitting at a table costs more but allows you to relax and observe Italy and its great people.
  2. Tratteria – these are small private owned eating cafes with great food at reasonable costs. Lunch and dinner are great. Usually Italian favorites as well as local dishes are served. The atmosphere is simple but comfortable. A version of these are Pizzeria Trattoria. These include pizzas along other dishes. Some have outside and inside seating available.
  3. Ristorante – These are for lunch or dinner and are nice but expensive. The atmosphere is classic and the food is great. You can also find Pizzeria Ristorante’s. The wine lists are more extensive and the atmosphere is more formal.
  4. Osteria  – These are places that usually serve wine and simple food with limited menus.
  5. Enotecca – Small wine bars that allow tasting local wines (for a charge) and serve small dishes or sandwiches or Tapas like foods. These are a great way to get to know local wines.
  6. Rotisserie – Small restaurants that specialize in roasting meats on a spit.
  7. Agritourism – Usually a farm-based establishment with a B&B type hotel and food grown or raised on their farm. They sometimes have stores to buy products and take home. One near our home in Italy has a vegetable and fruit market as well.

Pizza is everywhere! You can have it in Trattoria’s or Ristorante’s. The bread in Italy is great. It is crusty on the outside but soft or airy inside. Always stay away from touristy places serving hamburgers and hot dogs. The food won’t be good and prices will be high. Enjoy your trip, taste Italy’s great food & wines. Sit back and smile as you watch the Italians strolling with family at lunch time or in the evening. Lunch usually ranges from 12 noon to 3 pm (shorter in the north) and dinner from 6 pm (for tourists) to 11 pm. The south of Italy eats much later than the north. The south also serves more fish than the north. If you happen to be in the north of Italy in the fall, DO NOT MISS the truffles.

Remember Italy is the land of romance. Sit back and enjoy yourself. Stay away from the American Fast Food places. You are in Italy enjoy its great foods and wines. Save the fast food for when you get home. Do NOT go into eating establishments in Italy and be in a hurry! Use a bar if you have to eat fast. Good food takes time to prepare and serve properly.

George & Jo

Categories: Agriturismo, Auto Grills, Autostrada, B&Bs, Bars, Bread, Cooking, Enoteca, Fast Food, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Italian Agriturismo

Where to stay in Italy. Of corse there are hotels (small & large) there are also B&Bs but you also have Agriturismi in Italy. These are unique great places to stay and to eat.

Definition: Agriturismo – a combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian – is a style of vacationing in farm house resorts codified into Italian law in 1985. An agriturismo vacation is suitable for the whole family and some places even be very romantic or luxurious. These wonderful places are romantic farms that serve organic foods usually farmed nearby or on there own property. You can get rooms from very small to large, from simple to romantic. Eat at least some of your meals there to enjoy the local cuisine. They are often in very beautiful areas where the scenery is beautiful. Many have trails and horse back riding. You will soon leave the hectic life behind you. Relax and enjoy life, like the Italians do.

Enjoy not only the exceptional food but the local wine as well. Not many tours show you this side of Italy. Get off the beaten path and enjoy the real Italy not the hustle-bustle life. In small or mountain towns you can find this option. They are typically family run.

agritourism

agritourism (Photo credit: Wikipedi-bustle of crowded tourist traps.

Categories: Agriturismo, Europe, Italy, Mountain Towns, Romance, Small Towns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Favorite Things we Love about Italy

Italy has so many things to love and be enjoyed. It has been the number one place many people want to go or have gone. It is a land of romance, beauty and healthy good food. It is a country that actually likes Americans. When you put it all together, what place could be better to spend your vacation?

We enjoy getting into the culture. We always meet new local people in our travels. We try the local foods and wines. We feel relaxed and happy when in Italy. Here are some of our favorite things to do:

  1. Meet and watch the local people. You can learn so much about a country that way.
  2. Eat local foods at non touristy restaurants. A Trattoria is our favorite place to eat but we also enjoy a good Enoteca.
  3. Gelato!!! Eat all you can get while in Italy. It is less fat than normal ice cream but tastes so much better.
  4. Drink the wine. Italians enjoy their wines. They don’t get drunk but enjoy a glass or two with dinner or at happy hour with the free food that is served.
  5. Swim at the beaches! We love the southern Italy beaches that are sandy (not the rocky ones). These are among the cleanest and nicest beaches in the world.
  6. Visit the big cities and major attractions but get out into the Italian countryside and visit small towns and mountain towns.
  7. Stay at small family run hotels, B&Bs or a Agriturismo.
  8. Eat the great crusty Italian bread and pastries. They are less sweet than our sweets but so flavorful.
  9. No trip to Italy is complete without COFFEE! Italians love their coffee (espresso).
  10. If you happen to be lucky enough to be in northern Italy in the fall … Eat the white truffles. These are unique to Italy. Other countries have the less flavorful black truffles but not the white ones.

If this appeals to you, visit Italy soon. Be happy! Be Romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agriturismo, B&Bs, Coffee, Enoteca, Espresso, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Sweets, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Hotels

OK, we have been talking about how to save money when going to Italy. Hotels are a big part of your vacation budget. There are hotels and there are hotels. If your budget is unlimited, then go to the big resorts and spend $500 to $1,000 a night. If you would rather save some money to buy a pair of Italian shoes or a Murano glass necklace then here are some tips:

  1. American chain hotels are typically more expensive. We avoid these at all costs except at the Rome airport for one night.
  2. Italian hotels can be cheaper. Make sure you have a private bath with your room or you will be sharing it with others. These rooms can be small and in Rome some are VERY small. You are only sleeping there! You should be out of your room seeing Italy for as many hours in the day as possible.
  3. Italian resort hotels in big cities or at the lakes are expensive. If this is what you want and your budget permits then by all means enjoy it. In Capri on our honeymoon we spent the big bucks (500 Euros/night) for a great hotel with a view.
  4. B&Bs are all over Italy now. Like in America they can be more expensive than a budget hotel but are usually run by a family. This can give you more of an Italian experience.
  5. Smaller cities usually have small Italian hotels at reasonable prices. Our Italian home is at a sea resort and rooms in season are about $100/night and only $50/night the rest of the year.
  6. Agriturismo  is a small B&B like establishment that means a combination of tourist and agriculture. These are farm-house hotels that are great for the whole family. They grow organic vegetables and provide organic farm raised meats and cheeses right off their farm. These are obviously outside of larger cities.

Where ever you choose to stay, have fun. We choose a hotel by location. We like to stay central to the things we want to see. You can always find a bar nearby for breakfast (if your hotel doesn’t provide one) and trattorias to eat at. Breakfasts at Italian hotels are buffet style with hard-boiled eggs (no omelets or over easy usually), cereals, juices, cheese and cold cuts and wonderful bread. There are also lots of fruit and yogurt. Enjoy it.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Agriturismo, B&Bs, Bars, Bread, Eating Italian, Euro, Europe, General Travel, Hotels, Italy, Small Towns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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