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"I want the family farm - the backbone of our country's heritage - to thrive and survive for future generations."

Articles/Press Releases

Agritour Repeat: 2015 Returns
to Experience Tuscany & Italy

By Jane Eckert

Our 2014 Agritour to Italy sold out faster than any other Eckert Agritour of the past few years.  Because of your interest in this destination, I plan to offer an Italy Agritour again in 2015. The new brochure, dates and rate will be available by May for those of you interested in joining us next year. 

If you already know that you have an interest in traveling to Italy with us, please send me an mail with your name and address and you'll be a sent a brochure as soon as they are ready.

For our 8th Eckert Agritour, in 2015, we will return to Italy sampling a little of everything from the villages of Tuscany, to the famous cities of Florence and Rome. This is sure to provide a truly unique old world agricultural experience while also perhaps one of the most picturesque places we have ever toured. The land size of Italy compares to about 3% of the land mass in the United States, or about the size of Arizona.  Yet, Italy has 1.639 million active farms compared to our 2.2 million.  Small, individually owned farms predominate with the majority of farms just 7.4 acres or 3 hectares.

Farming in Italy dates back many centuries, and the majority of the farms have been in the same family for generations.  Much of the farm land is located in the hilly regions, and we’ll visit scenic Tuscany as an extraordinary example of this terrain. Many of the cities in Tuscany were built as fortresses high on the hills and protected with walls and towers to view any approaching enemies.  The farms are located on the hillsides outside these walls, with spectacular views and very hilly terrain. Horticulture is the largest category of farming and as you might expect, vineyards and wine production are the largest grossing agricultural product category of the country.

While farmers still account for about 5% of the population, they have experienced many of the same economic concerns that we have here in the U.S.  They want to keep and preserve their family farm land and the way of life they have experienced for generations. And, like many farms elsewhere, they must look for other means of revenue for their farms in order to survive.

In the early 1980s, they turned to agriturismo (agritourism) and started providing farm based lodging. The need existed for more lodging facilities in these scenic hilly and mountain regions but the development of large hotels was just not feasible.  Many of these mountain top cities don’t even permit cars or buses.  Therefore, small inns, B & B’s and farm stay accommodations are meeting the demands for lodging for both local and tourist travel outside of the major Italian cities. Today, the country has almost 20,000 farms participating in a certified lodging program, providing the needed supplemental income for the farm families.

Typical farms participating in the farm stay program host an average of 10 people at a time and some even have many more beds. About a quarter of the farm stay sites are licensed only for lodging, but nearly 15,000 of the farms also provide licensed food service with tastings of their own products.  Our tour will include a farm stay, and we’ll see a sample of the foods, plus local sports, recreation and cultural activities available to guests.

In Italy, they do not really have many on-farm markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, as we know them.  They prefer to sell their produce in town at their local farmers’ markets, since many locals are used to shopping every day for their fresh products.  For many communities, the market is the heart of the community, where friends gather for personal, face to face social connections. Our agritour will have several stops to see these markets, visit with the locals, and sample locally grown fruits, vegetables, cheese and other delights.

Certainly a major reason for going to Italy is to experience the wonderful food and recipes that have been handed down for generations. Italians are known for their love of good food and yet enjoying a healthy-eating lifestyle with plenty of olive oil. To be sure, enjoying their local foods, wine and family culture will be a highlight of our Italian experience.

Our tour will focus on tastings the fresh products and meeting the farmers throughout the Tuscany, Campania and Umbria regions of Italy.  The trip will include a fruit orchard, vineyard, olive groves and organic producers.  We’ll have the opportunity to sample olive oil, grappa, wine and the famous Italian lemon liqueur called Limoncello grown from local lemons and produced in Southern Italy. In addition, we’ll get to see the production of fresh mozzarella cheese, and visit the water buffalo farm known for their wonderful cheese.

We will have the opportunity to take a walking tour of several agritourismo properties and visit a farm that is successfully hosting weddings.  In addition, we plan for everyone to participate in an Italian cooking class and then enjoy the food we all have prepared. We will also tour an internationally recognized, sustainable development enterprise with an education center.

Our additional tourist activities include traveling along the famous Amalfi coast, and visits to several of these picturesque and charming communities. No trip to Italy would be complete with out seeing the beautiful city of Florence with our private guide, and a visit to the Fierucola organic farmers’ market, held only one day a month.

Our trip will end with a full day city tour of Rome.  The group will visit all the main sights including the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel and the Coliseum.  We will also visit the Mercato Trionfale, their very famous farmers’ market.

If you have always wanted to travel to Italy to experience the culture, taste their wonderful food and learn first-hand about farm production, this will be the trip for you. Please visit my website to print off the entire Italy Agritour itinerary, or send me an email to request a brochure. 

While the 2014 Tour is sold out, the response was so positive we are scheduling another Agrotour to Italy in 2015. We hope to have all the details available in April, following our evaluation of the 2014 tour.
Please Call Our travel agency, 1-800-325-6708, to be placed on a waiting list.

Please click here for our 2014 brochure.
Click here to view the 2014 registration form!

Jane Eckert is the founder of Eckert AgriMarketing (www.eckertagrimarketing.com), a full-service marketing and public relations firm that helps farmers to sell directly to consumers, diversify operations and become tourist destinations. She is also CEO of www.RuralBounty.com, a search directory for agritourism farms and ranches in North America. Jane can be reached at 314-862-6288 or you may email her directly.