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   TUSCAN FARMHOUSE HOLIDAYS

What does a Farm Holiday really entail?
This is a pertinent question for all those thinking of taking a holiday in the lush, green Tuscan countryside. In order to give an accurate and complete answer, it should be made clear from the outset that the types of farm holidays signified by the Italian word 'agriturismo' are more or less unique to the Italian peninsula, and should not be considered synonymous with what is referred to as a 'farm holiday' in other European countries.

In Italy, the renting of farmhouses as holiday homes is regulated by a national law that lays down a number of conditions. The properties have to be operated by the owner and his or her family and be located on a working farm or wine estate. The owner is permitted to receive guests and offer camping facilities, and is required to supply meals and organise recreational, educational and cultural activities for the guests.

These days, rather than referring to 'agritourism' in general, it is more appropriate to refer to the different types of farm holidays that have developed in the various different regions of the Italy. In Tuscany, for example, the genuinely warm welcome given by the locals and the limitless possibilities on offer go beyond any generic description. Indeed, itineraries can be customised to suit the individual guest's requirements, selecting from a wide range of pursuits: walks along chalk-coloured country roads; visits to vineyards and olive groves; immersing oneself in the aromatic Mediterranean vegetation; trekking on foot or on horseback along well-worn tracks; discovering people and places, and authentic, one-off objets d'art made by artisans; sampling the wonderful local cuisine, the famous wines and the exceptional olive oil (just one of several locally-made products that has been recognised and protected by the European Union).

Indeed, there are so many farmhouses available as holiday homes that you really will be spoilt for choice! One especially attractive proposal is the pairing of agritourism with the various 'wine trails' of Tuscany. These enological itineraries include visits to some of the most prestigious wine estates, and take in some of the most evocative natural beauty spots and most important sights of historical and cultural significance along the way. The owners of the estates on the wine trails are happy to give helpful advice about the most authentic dishes to try and attractions to visit while you are there. Click here and on the following links of SieveOnLine's sponsors for more information on some of the best providers of farmhouse accommodation in this part of Tuscany.

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