Planning a Tuscany farmhouse rental for your holiday? "Agriturismi in Toscana" - farmhouses in Tuscany - are a really wonderful way to experience the beauty and tranquility of the Tuscany countryside for those seeking self-catering or bed and breakfast accommodation.
I have compiled this checklist page especially for those of you making a Tuscany farmhouse reservation for the first time to help your Tuscany farmhouse holidays go smoothly and without any unexpected charges.
It covers everything you might want to know when making your booking and probably some others things that you hadn't thought about.
Most of the following information may be readily found on each "agriturismo" (farmhouse) website, but if not, you may wish to clarify with the owners or agents via email before booking.
If you like your creature comforts, best check this one first in the description of the farmhouse accommodation as some do have air conditioning and some don't!
Arrival and Departure Times
Some set this as 12 noon on the arrival and 10 am on day of departure, for others the earliest is a 3pm arrival.
However, if you know that you will be arriving very early or very late after a long haul flight with tired children etc, I suggest that you have a word with the owners in advance and see if they can accommodate a different time. Some agriturismo owners offer up front on their website to help if you give them plenty of notice. And some will willingly prepare a small hamper of biscuits and fruit and put milk in the fridge for your little ones supper if you ask.
Babybed or cot
If available, usually provided free of charge.
Bed and breakfast
Although most farmhouse accommodation is designed to be self-catering, some "agriturismi" also offer bedroom accommodation - with or without breakfast - and many are happy to offer home produce breakfasts to all of their guests. Prices are around Euros 5 per person and your Italian breakfast will probably comprise of fresh breads (the lady of the house will either have baked these herself or have made the trip to the local bakers whilst you were sleeping! so do book in advance), homemade jams, fruit, fruit juices, coffee and teas.
Bed linen and Towels
Whether the cost of supplying your linen for your stay - sheets, towels, and tea towels - is included in the daily or weekly price or not varies from one farmhouse to another. And some will charge for the weekly change. Usually around Euros 50.
Many agriturismi provide bicycles free of charge to their visitors. Great for those slow travel days and family explorations.
Find out in advance what the agriturismo policy is just in case and take out holiday insurance!
The initial deposit you will need to make upon booking your accommodation is usually 30% of the rental price, payable in advance by credit card, or bank transfer.
In some cases, the farmhouse owner will also ask you upon your arrival for a further returnable deposit to cover any breakages etc. This is usually required to be paid in cash, so have enough with you!
Whether you have GPS or not, get them to send them to you before you set off! Maremma has many country lanes with names known locally that won't appear on your GPS, so get the co-ordinates if you can!
Extra beds and sofa beds
Expect to pay a fee for these. The amount will normally depend on whether the additional beds are for children or adults.
Final Cleaning Fees
In some rental prices this is included, in others not. In the latter case the fee can be around Euros 60,00.
If you bring your pet with you (cat or dog) there may be an extra charge for final cleaning.
A few farmhouses have designed their purpose-built apartments to include a small private garden area and terrace (see below). But most of the farmhouse gardens - and they can be extensive - are communal with barbecue areas, and picnic tables etc leading to the swimming pool(s).
If you have small children with you and are specifically looking for farmhouse accommodation with a private garden area and have found one, just do one further check that it is enclosed if you need it to be. Some of the private garden areas are delineated by a few bushes etc and are open to fast little feet to find their way to the swimming pool...
You don't want to pack one if you don't need to, and many farmhouse apartments have them in the bathroom cabinet drawer but don't mention them in their details.
You can expect your usage of gas, electricity & water for cooking and showers etc to be included in your Tuscany farmhouse rental price.
But I suggest that you check carefully whether the rental includes central heating and air-conditioning. Many charge separately on a metered basis. If that is the case, you may wish to find out from their website the cost per square metre unit so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you are ready to leave. Especially if your stay will be during the winter months as it can get very cold in Maremma and the price of gas and electricity in Italy is very expensive.
There may also be a charge for the use of the washing machine if one is provided.
Initial Food Hamper
If you choose a vegetable or fruit farm for your farm holiday, you may well find a hamper of locally-grown foods on the kitchen table when you arrive. There again, if it is a vineyard, a bottle of Maremma wine! Umm, I know which one I would prefer!
Inmost farm accommodation, this is still uncommon. Where it is provided, there may be a daily charge applicable.
Minimum Stay Periods
Be aware that most farmhouse accommodation will only accept whole week bookings during the height of the summer season: the months of July and August. Otherwise, the minimum booking period is usually three nights.
Mosquito nets or window screens
OK, none of the Tuscany farmhouse websites that I have visited - and I have visited a lot! - ever mention whether they provide over the bed mosquito canopies or whether the apartment or accommodation windows have fitted mosquito screens. Now for some of you that probably isn't a worry as you take it as part of the deal of visiting Tuscany in the spring and summer that you might end up the lunch or dinner (these creatures are active in the day no matter what you might otherwise read!) of a mosquito or two. But for those of you who, like me seem to attract more than my fair share of mosquitos, the bites of which result in huge allergy bumps that last more than three weeks, it will be important!
Mosquito repellents aside - sometimes they work, sometimes they don't - there is nothing more set to ruin my holiday than being unable to sleep because some hungry "zanzara" is buzzing around my face all night. Be warned: ask! And go prepared!
Some farmhouses are pet friendly and are members of the Ministri del Turismo four-legged tourists scheme - www.turistia4zampe.it. Most who do allow pets charge an extra cleaning fee, usually around Euros 10,00 for a dog, for example. Best to check out in advance if you are planing on taking yours.
Nearly all of the purpose-built agriturismo accommodation that I have visited offer each apartment its own small private terrace area, sometimes also with a larger farmhouse terrace with open access for all to enjoy. But check if you want a place of your own to cat nap in the afternoon.
If having your own front door and/or not having a connecting door to another apartment in yours is important to you - it is to my Mum when she is away on holiday - you may want to check whether the initial entrance door to you apartment in the farmhouse is private or communal. This isn't a problem with purpose-built apartments alongside the main farmhouse, and most new farmhouse conversions have independent entrances, but it is often the small things that make or break a wonderful holiday and I know what bothers my Mum...
If having access to a swimming pool is important, this is usually the quickest thing to check out on a farmhouse website as it is usually right at the top of the listed amenities.
Some have satellite TV, but rarely a DVD player. If having a television is important to you, best check.
Although an oven, hob, fridge/freezer are standard appliances for all self-catering agriturismo accommodation, most apartments do not have a washing machine, although access to one may be available in the main farmhouse. If you have a large family and are planning a long stay, you may wish to check this one out in advance and ask about the additional costs.
And, lastly, Farm Dogs
This is just a note from me to any of you who are a little uneasy around large dogs or who have small children. Be prepared to be greeted with three or four large farm dogs running behind your car barking splendidly as you arrive at the agriturismo... just doing their job, but it can be a little unnerving!
Wishing you a wonderful Tuscany farmhouse rental experience - buon vacanza!
The photograph above is by kind permission of Massimo Pelagagge
How to find the Tuscany farmhouse special offers to make your vacation funds go further, plus tips on how to reduce the costs of your stay - the Tuscany farmhouse holiday special offers.
Explore some more...
Brew a coffee and browse all of the very best Tuscany farmhouses in Maremma, from grand villas with sweeping pine tree and lavender lined driveways, to old family farmhouses amidst fruit orchards and olive groves along Maremma's gorgeous coastline... to modern purpose-built apartments with swimming pools, private terraces and barbecue areas.