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Off the Beaten Path: Italy Farm Stay

Buzz Poole
03/12/2012 - 00:00

On my recent trip to Italy I went places where plenty of others have visited: Naples, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast. Fun was had, ruins were visited, food eaten, wine imbibed, strolls taken. I’d never been to this section of Italy so it was all new to me, yet there was a Mediterranean familiarity to the coastal towns, and Naples reminded me of many other big cities.

My wife and I knew this would most likely be the case so we made sure to carve out a few days to visit a place where there aren’t a whole lot of visitors: Pescosolido. North of Naples, this small town doesn’t even have a train station; the closest one is in Sora. From Naples we rode a train to Cassino, where we boarded a small two-car train that sounded and smelled more like a school bus. We were on our way to the Google-search friendly Italy Farm Stay, the creation of Antonello Siragusa. A wordly guy in his own right, after traveling around for some time, Siragusa returned to his family’s farm thinking about how to merge his passions: farming, food, travel.

Italian Agriturismo has been popular for a while, especially since the Italian government has helped convert former mafia villas and rural hideouts into tourist-friendly destinations. But where most of these lean more toward being spas or posh B&Bs, Siragusa wanted to share with visitors the joys of his family’s multigenerational working farm, while also turning on Italians and international visitors alike to the area’s mountain scenery. Sitting in the foothills of Abruzzi National Park, the Siragusa’s farm is a tranquil plot of hilly pastures, groves of olive and fig trees and thickets of thorny wild berry bushes.

Days were spent hiking up to an old castle, making pasta from scratch and exploring the farm and Sora. At night, we joined other guests and volunteers, along with the entire Siragusa family, for amazing home-cooked dinners. Everything we ate was either from the farm or from the area. After dinner we spent the pleasantly chilly nights drinking homemade wine while sitting in front of a fire.

Italy Farm Stay is not some visitor-friendly representation of a farm; it is a visitor-friendly farm. Guests can roam about as they please, but no matter what the family works their land seven days per week, almost every day of the year. Siragusa’s plan to invite visitors has certainly added a new dynamic to the farm’s daily activity but farming remains the focus, which is what makes the experience so wonderful.

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