The article was published in the Recreation subsection (which is part of the Tourist section).
Each country has two faces: "front", advertised on glossy postcards, and real, alive, without seeing which it is impossible to understand what it really is.
To observe the daily life of the country in all its diversity, to taste what its citizens eat every day, to just smell and feel the national flavor will allow the now fashionable agritourism.
How it all began
According to Italian legend, rural tourism in Italy was born immediately after World War II, when most of the Italian ancient cities lay in ruins. But the wonderful nature and climate of this country, as well as the sincerity and hospitality of the Italian peasants, who are ready to accept any eccentric foreigner for a very modest payment as an honored guest at their home, remained intact and safe.
Italian farms have been providing accommodation for tourists since the 1970s. And these were precisely the peasant farms, which were called agriculture (agricola). Later, masseri appeared.
Masseria is a restored manor house, a villa, the economic structure of which remains the same as 100, 200 years ago. This is a much more comfortable place to live. However, the main difference between masseria and agriculture is, nevertheless, not the level of comfort, but the presence there of its own production - wine, olive oil, meat, cheese - everything that can be found in Italian markets or on the shelves of our stores under an Italian brand. And all this produced splendor can be considered environmentally friendly without a moment's hesitation.
Within the masseria, a tourist can be offered a historical setting, for which there are specially trained animators in the staff of workers who work, including with children, explaining to them how milk is obtained, how a rabbit differs from a cow and many other life wisdom.
Agritourism in Italy has become an official part of the Italian economy since 1985. The government of the country took all measures so that not a single guest staying in the province was left dissatisfied and disappointed. One of the tough conditions that the government places on the host hosts is that they must not stop agricultural production.
In addition to world-famous attractions, beautiful beaches and traditional cuisine, Italy is also famous for agritourism. In the cultivation of this type of recreation, Italy, along with France and Spain, is considered one of the recognized world leaders. And what other format of visiting will allow you to imbue the Italian way of life and traditions better than rest in the countryside?
Throughout the year, over 10 thousand Italian villas, farms and estates are ready to host agrotourists. Here you can ride horses, walk through fragrant flower fields, visit vineyards and, of course, enjoy the gastronomic delights to their fullest.
According to one of the local legends, the beginning of agritourism in Italy was laid by a foreigner who went to live on an Italian farm in order to diversify his too calm and well-fed life. It was in the post-war period, when the Italian villages, impoverished as a result of the Second World War, were just beginning to "come to their senses."
The farmer who sheltered the eccentric foreigner was pleased, having received a good reward for his labors.
Stories of great relaxation, excellent natural food and Italian hospitality quickly spread beyond the borders of the country, and soon people began to travel to Italy not only for its rich architecture and history, but also to taste all the delights of the picturesque village life.
Agritourism in Piedmont gives you the opportunity to relax and restore your health
Enterprising Italians, seeing this as a market niche, began to equip their homes and farms in order to create all the conditions for a decent rest for visitors. By the 70s of the 20th century, agriculture began to appear in the country - operating farms that, in addition to producing wine, olive oil and other products, provided rooms for tourists in their homes.
Since 1985, agritourism in Italy has received official recognition and government support. Some projects even receive special grants.
In the EU countries there is a decree, which clearly spelled out the rules of doing business for farmers wishing to provide their farms for agritourism. To obtain permission to engage in this type of business, Italian farmers are required to complete a special course, designed for one hundred hours.
The name of this country alone is appetizing, so a gastronomic tour in Italy should be on the must-do list of every tourist! What are the most delicious parts of the "boot"?
It's time for a food tour in Italy! © Andrea Comi/Getty Images
Where to go for a food tour if not in Italy? Among its attractions are not only architectural and natural masterpieces, but also culinary ones, and all together they are able to put together a mosaic called the Traveler's Paradise. There you can drink Chianti, admiring the hills of Tuscany, and Barolo - overlooking the Alps, gorge yourself on Parmesan in the old cheese dairies of Parma, and enjoy juicy pizza on the Amalfi Coast. In a word, combine the pleasant with the even more pleasant!
Italy has stretched its "bootleg" from the foot of the Alps to the very heart of the Mediterranean Sea, across the plains and mountains, fields and forests. For a long time, its lands were divided into small principalities, periodically seized by foreigners. All this, of course, had an impact on Italian cuisine, which today is very different from region to region. The picture of diversity was supplemented by such a feature as "Campanilism" (from the word "Campanile" - a bell tower), which means "my bell tower is higher." This is exactly what the inhabitants of even the tiniest village think: they always have the best products, recipes and dishes in the area. Therefore, each town is insanely proud of its specialties and confidently holds the lead in their production for centuries.
Visit one of the vineyards in Tuscany
Tuscany is the epicenter of rural tourism in Italy. People come here for relaxation among the hills and cypresses, interspersed with forays into ancient towns to admire the architecture and masterpieces of painting. Continuous heavenly pleasures! And according to the laws of the genre, divine wine should be produced in paradise, while Tuscan cuisine, on the contrary, is distinguished by its simplicity.
A tour of the Tuscan vineyards cannot start anywhere other than the Chianti region, located between two pearls, Florence and Siena: only here the legendary Italian wine is produced. The same postcard Tuscany, which is located in the Val d'Orcia valley, has sheltered two whole wine regions. In the vicinity of Montalcino, the iconic Brunello di Montalcino is born, and one of the oldest Italian wines, Nobile di Montepulciano, is produced around the no less ancient town of Montepulciano.
To explore the wine of Tuscany, live on a farm or in an agriturismo hotel, the owner of which will certainly be involved in the production of a noble drink. From here, start your itinerary, at the same time finding out which wineries and enoteca to visit in the area. However, even without these tips, you will not go astray. In Tuscany, you can stop by any winery you like and arrange a tasting, often with a visit to the cellars or a walk through the vineyards. You just have to choose a location: a medieval castle, an old villa or a cozy rural house.
Tuscan wines are accompanied by simple and very hearty country dishes, and the role of the first violin in this culinary orchestra is given to meat. The Florentine steak is the most tender beef cooked on charcoal until it is “bloody” and practically without spices, only with salt and pepper. Trippa dishes are popular: the Florentine trippa (or tripe) and its fast food version of lampredotto. And if you take away a piece of meat from Tuscany as a souvenir, wild boar salami is perfect for this role.
From pasta in Tuscany, hand-made spaghetti worms with a funny name pici are worth choosing. Soups are also common as first courses, the main of which is ribollita - a poor food based on beans, cabbage and bread. By the way, the bread in these parts is also special, because it is baked without adding salt, but the taste from this only seems more wonderful. And in no case refuse bread: here it is an obligatory attribute on the table, just like glasses or plates.
Bologna - the birthplace of mortadella
The administrative center of the region - the city of Bologna - is known primarily as the birthplace of the delicious Italian sausage mortadella, which is added to pizza, pasta, ravioli or eaten on its own. The earliest mentions of mortadella date back to the Middle Ages. In those days, Bolognese monks were engaged in its production. Mortadella was conceived as an expensive and status delicacy, but already in the 19th century it often appeared on the table in middle-class families.
Today Bologna sausage is a gastronomic heritage of the province, its recipe is marked with the quality mark (PGI).
In addition, pasta is especially popular in Bologna. In the provinces, a specialty is prepared - tortellini, or dumplings with ricotta, spinach, ham or mortadella.
Meat and cheese are as important to Italians as bread and salt are to Russians, and the province of Parma in the northwest of the region is known for producing both. It is Parma that is home to a favorite meat delicacy - Parma ham, which even before the embargo was taken away in a suitcase as a souvenir. Gourmet Parma ham cut into thin, long slices is added to pizza and pasta, served with melon or pear to red wine. The province also produces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, popularly known as Parmesan cheese.
However, the province of Parma is far from the only producer of the delicacy: the product comes from all over the region. The value of Parmesan is so high that a museum is dedicated to it in Parma, as well as Parma ham, tomatoes and pasta. Italian banks, issuing loans to producers of Parmigiano Reggiano, gladly accept cheese as collateral.
Next to Parma is the region of Reggio Emilia, considered by some to be the true birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano. Like other provinces in the region, Reggio Emilia is a major producer and important supplier of this type of cheese. In addition, the province is known for its balsamic vinegar: the secret of its unique taste lies in the use of local grapes and aging in barrels made from different types of wood
Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. This is facilitated by: a favorable location in the southern part of Europe, access to the Mediterranean Sea, a long coastline and excellent beaches, a wonderful climate, nature, a huge number of cultural and artistic monuments located in the country, as well as the famous Italian cuisine.
For those wishing to get acquainted with the culinary traditions of Italy and taste national dishes, arrange special gastronomic tours.
Each region of the country has its own culinary tastes, but in general, Italian cuisine is characterized by the use of simple products: fresh bread, meat, vegetables, seafood, cheese, olive oil and spices.
Types of gastronomic tours
Gastronomic tours to Italy are usually organized for small groups (2-10 people). There are short 3-day tours, the purpose of which is to get acquainted with the cuisine of one region, and longer, exciting several areas.
Travel within the tour can be concentrated not only in cities where tourists visit famous restaurants, but also in the countryside. Currently, the latter type is gaining more and more popularity.
The organizers of gastronomic tours usually take guests to local farms, cheese dairies and wineries, give the opportunity to participate in the collection of grapes, nuts and fruits, introduce you to the process of preparing traditional dishes, conduct tastings and master classes, teach you how to choose the right wine to food, arrange dinners in restaurants or at home.
Such tours allow gourmets not only to enjoy traditional cuisine and taste food made from local products, but also to feel the atmosphere of the country, get acquainted with its culture and customs.
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