Agriturismo Review: Le Caggiole in Montepulciano, Tuscany
If your visit to Italy is taking you to the southern region of Tuscany, there are a number of wonderful Agriturismi available in this area. An Agriturismo offers travelers a very unique and authentic alternative to the standard hotel or bed and breakfast. Come along as we take an in-depth look at one of my favorites, Agriturismo Le Caggiole, located just outside of the beautiful medieval Tuscan community of Montepulciano.
Before we start I would like to give you the definition and a little history of the term Agriturismo. Wikipedia defines the word Agriturismo as an agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a ranch or farm. The term combines the words agriculture and tourism, obviously. While the term is used worldwide now, it appears to have originated in Italy in the mid-1980s when the term was defined by Italian law.
What led to this new industry was a gradual decline of the small farm throughout Italy. By the mid-to-late 1970s small farms were disappearing across Italy and those that remained were finding it increasingly difficult to remain profitable. The new law allowed small farms to supplement their income by taking in visitors who would stay on the farms and hopefully get a more authentic look at rural Italian life.
Jump ahead thirty years, and the result has been a resounding success for both the small farmer and the tourist. Many of the abandoned small farms across Italy and much of Europe have been renovated and given a new lease on life, and the concept has been thoroughly embraced by tourists. The whole idea of staying on a small farm in a beautiful rural setting, perhaps in the midst of an olive grove or among a field of grape vines has really appealed to the traveler who wants a true local experience. To say the concept has been a win-win for the small farmer and the tourist would be an understatement.
Agriturismo Le Caggiole is located just outside of Montepulciano in southern Tuscany. It's approximately an hour and a half south of Florence, and about two hours north of Rome. Its location makes for a great base for exploring the towns and villages of the Val d’Orcia including Siena to the north, Montalcino to the west, and the nearby communities of Pienza and Monticchiello. Certainly one can venture further from Le Caggiole, and we did make a visit to San Gimignano in one day, so you really can get to most of the towns that tourists want to see from here.
Le Caggiole is run by the Martinelli family and son Giacomo is a wonderful resource for suggestions and directions. He will gladly pull out his maps to help guide you in your travels throughout he area. Having a local give you tips on which towns to visit, travel times, directions, and restaurant tips is a valuable resource.
We found the accommodations at Le Caggiole to be quite comfortable and among the largest rooms and bathrooms that we have experienced in Italy. The rooms are impeccably clean and nicely decorated.
The Martinelli family, including Giacomo and his parents Mario and Ornella provide everything you could possibly need or want for a very comfortable stay.
The restored farmhouse has three double rooms and two apartments, which can accommodate small family groups. All of the rooms are designed in a typical Tuscan style with exposed beams, wood floors, large comfortable beds, and antique furniture pieces.
The breakfast/dining area of the Agriturismo is in the restored barn area of the building, and is beautifully decorated. It is a wonderful area to relax over breakfast, and if you inquire you may be able to arrange to have dinner here one evening during your stay. Usually if the hosts can get enough of the guests to want to dine here they will select an evening that is mutually agreeable to everyone and host a dinner for a reasonable fee. This is a great way to meet other guests and to converse with your hosts, which is always interesting and educational, and a great way to learn about the history of the place. The home cooked meal we had, which was prepared by Ornella, still ranks as one of the best meals we have ever had in our travels across Italy.
The splendor of Le Caggiole is not limited to just the restored buildings. You can walk the grounds of the property to see the olive groves and the vineyards, which are extensive and beautiful.
The property contains about 1,200 olive trees and the Martinelli’s produce their own extra virgin olive oil, which can be purchased. There are also over one hundred other fruit trees on the property including plum, cherry, fig, and peach. The vineyard is about four acres in size and provides the grapes for the Martinelli’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which I might add is wonderful.
The setting here is truly what one might expect in Tuscany, and in this respect Le Caggiole does not disappoint. The rolling hills in this region of Tuscany provide for some stunning views of the vineyards, fields, and of nearby Montepulciano.
Le Caggiole also offers other activities for their guests including a Cooking School taught by Ornella herself, a Spa Wellness Center, guided tours of the farm by Giacomo, and a chance to sample and purchase many of the products produced by the farm including wine, olive oil, fruit jams, and honey from their eighteen beehives.
If you are looking for a great base location to tour southern Tuscany consider a visit to Agriturismo Le Caggiole. Agriturimi are becoming quite numerous throughout Tuscany, Italy, and all of Europe. Their growing popularity is a testament to their ability to offer comfortable accommodations in a unique and beautiful setting for a very reasonable price. If you have never stayed in an Agriturismo, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
As with any accommodations in Italy, the price will vary depending on the season. Agriturismo Le Caggiole prices vary from 70 to 100 euro for the double rooms while the apartments will run from 90 to 130 euro with the lowest prices in the off-season. Breakfast is included, which is usually extensive and includes a number of homemade dishes by Ornella. You will not leave the breakfast table hungry.
Agriturismo Le Caggiole offers visitors a unique look at a side of Italy that most visitors never see. Tourists come to Italy from all over the world for the wonderful food, wine, and olive oil yet most leave without ever seeing where these wonderful local products come from or how they are produced. This is your chance to experience firsthand where and how it’s all done. Enjoy your visit to Le Caggiole and southern Tuscany, it truly is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy.
Ciao for now.
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© 2013 Bill De Giulio