By Bree Sposato
April 02, 2013

Q: Can you recommend a hotel in the Italian countryside that is authentic (and affordable)?

A: Your best option for experiencing local food and culture in a hidden corner of Italy is an agriturismo, a family-run inn on a working farm. Below, where to find them.


The Draw: Medieval towns, hills covered in olive groves, and more than 100 miles of Adriatic coastline define this area of central Italy.

The Experience: Eight miles south of Urbino, the Savini family’s 185-acre Locanda della Valle Nuova ($) has six modern guest rooms and three apartments and arranges horseback riding, visits to artisanal producers, truffle hunting, and traditional dinners of porchetta and fried olives.


The Draw: Tuscany’s northern neighbor, Emilia-Romagna is the home of prosciutto and Parmesan.

The Experience: The late-1300’s Antica Corte Pallavicina ($) is a favorite retreat of noted Italian chefs, including Massimo Bottura. Set along the Po River, the property has six rustic-chic rooms, each named after an aristocrat who once stayed there. Breakfasts include hand-squeezed blood-orange juice and farm-fresh eggs; don’t miss dinner at the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef Massimo Spigaroli serves his house-cured culatello.


The Draw: With its unique cuisine and architecture—centuries-old convents and trulli, conical white stone buildings—the southernmost Adriatic region will appeal to more adventurous travelers.

The Experience: Masseria Il Frantoio ($$) is a 16th-century country estate with 13 guest rooms; all have vaulted ceilings and cast-iron bed frames. Owner Armando Balestrazzica crafts itineraries to nearby towns and beaches, and his wife, Rosalba, prepares eight-course dinners featuring local specialties (pita and spring onions; hyacinth bulbs with orange-blossom honey).


The Draw: This northern region extends from Lake Garda to the Adriatic Sea and is known for its polenta- and rice-based dishes, Valpolicella wines, and Palladian architecture.

The Experience: Just outside of Verona lies Tenuta La Pila ($), built around a former rice mill and surrounded by acres of pear and plum orchards. Guests can stay in a charming yellow barn with five rooms and two apartments and dine on farm-raised hens, geese, and seasonal vegetables in the main house, which dates back to 1733.

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Hotels Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000