Agriturismi: Italy's Best Affordable Spots
Campania: Le Tore
Between chatting with guests, canning tomatoes, and pressing award-winning olive oil—and disciplining Tex, a frisky Labrador—when does Vittoria Brancaccio find time to relax? “Sometimes I forget my own name!” admits the vigorous agronomist turned contadina, who also serves as president of Italy’s 5,000-member Agriturist association. Back in 1982, when Brancaccio’s father bought her the rambling 35-acre property—elevated above Santa Agata Due Golfi, in the Sorrento Peninsula—agricoltura, she says, was considered a dirty word in Italian. Now, she notes, it’s positively glamorous. Named for the ridge dividing the Sorrento and Naples peninsulas, Le Tore has a sunny, slightly ramshackle authenticity: crates of Amalfi lemons are scattered around the property, free-roaming speckled Livornese hens peck away, and operatic arguments take place in the kitchen over what to serve for lunch. The eight guest rooms in an 18th-century villa are just as autentico, with terra-cotta floors, cheery bedspreads, and frescoes by a friend of Brancaccio’s. Meals here are long affairs, served under a grapefruit tree that borders a lush vineyard. What to expect? Plates of cloudlike ricotta and mozzarella produced nearby, handmade pastas dressed with Brancaccio’s vibrant tomatoes, and platters of garlicky vegetables. If you’re lucky, there’ll be Campanian pizza rustica, too, a sweet, crumbly dough filled with basil-scented cheese and salumi. Guests are welcome to help work the fields during harvests, but Brancaccio jokes that “bad workers” are fired immediately. Instead, she suggests picnicking in the property’s olive grove, which faces the Mediterranean—or playing with Tex.
Great Value 43 Via Pontone, Massa Lubrense, Penisola Sorrentina; 39-333/986-6691; doubles from $130; dinner for two $120.
Anya von Bremzen is a T+L contributing editor.