How many readers, on a gloomy, stressful day in some cold, northern city have not dreamt of ditching it all to live in a beautiful corner of Italy – say Tuscany, Friuli or Le Marche?
Many tourists are familiar with the hospitality side of agriturismi – rural inns or bed and breakfasts, or restaurants that serve home-produced food in a family setting – but few realise the extent of their agricultural concerns. The Italian agricultural ministry invented the agriturismo scheme in 1985 as a way to keep Italian farmers on the land, allowing them to use their buildings to tap into Italy’s rich tourism market. By law, 51 per cent of an agriturismo’s revenues must come from income-producing agriculture, including livestock or forest management, though owners are not obligated to do the cultivation themselves and may rent out their land.
A choice of properties across a broad price range and in a variety of Italian regions makes this an attractive time to purchase income-producing property that combines the pleasures of hosting guests with farming in Italy’s most attractive regions.
Prices vary widely because of variables such as the region, the variety of grapes cultivated and building preservation. Prices have increased by more than 20 per cent since 2000, though this represents a 3.4 per cent drop adjusted for inflation.
Certainly, lower-priced sectors such as camping and agriturismi have been less affected by downturns in tourism than more expensive types of lodging. [...]
Kevin Gibney, a transplanted New Yorker who sources and restores property in Le Marche, says the most common mistake newcomers to agriturismi ownership make is underestimating the costs of restoration and effective marketing. To avoid construction delays, Gibney says: “Don’t begin without a contract written by an Italian lawyer that includes a guaranteed price and penalties for delays.”