Agriturismo or Villa


My wife and I, and another couple, are planning a vacation to Italy in September. It will be our first trip there. We plan on staying 10 nights in Tuscany and 3-4 in Venice. We would like to find a place in Tuscany that’s in the countryside with a great view, away from the main cities, and use that as our home base to visit the major cities/attractions in Tuscany. We are thinking either a 2 bedroom Agriturismo or Villa. Looking to spend no more than $300 per night. Any recommendations, please?
Ciao and welcome to our forum!

First of all, make sure you rent a car so that you can then be able to choose any place you find, regardless of its location in a town or in the countryside. It is likely already part of your plan but just to make sure you get used to the idea of driving while here, it will open up all the possibilities of staying anywhere and not just close to a town with rail/bus connections. You don't want a car once you go to Venice so you can plan to rent a car while in Tuscany, then return it in Florence and take a fast train to Venice. Are you flying into Florence, Pisa or Rome?

As far as agriturismo or villa, to be honest the type of lodgings are very similar. Most are born from old rural houses or larger houses on a country estate and the name - whether it is called a villa or farmhouse - just depends on its history. Consider they were all born as country estates that had land and were agricultural in nature. If a wealthy family lived on the estate, it is likely it built a main VILLA and many smaller houses around it. If it was less wealthy, maybe most of the houses on the estate are about the same size, with the main house still being a bit bigger but not overly bigger. Many of those other houses used to house the families that lived and worked on the estate, whether they grew olives and made oil or grapes and made wine. Many grew grains as well. They likely had barns as well as haylofts, many of which today are no longer used to farm or to house animals and which have been converted into housing.
The properties/estates today generally are called "agriturismo" if they continue to have an agricultural business on the property - most are olive oil or wine - while those who have sold the land and maybe not work it directly might not be able to call themselves an agriturismo because of that, but the history of the place is the same. Some are called "podere" as opposed to agriturismo but still have a business in growing on the land around it so sometimes the name itself gives you an indication of its history more than what it offers.

In any case, both types of accommodation are composed of houses that have been divided up and converted into smaller housing units, which either become apartments if the original house was large enough or just rooms to rent in a larger home, in B&B style.
There are villas that offer B&B style accommodation and villas that offer apartments, and then there are agriturismos that offer the same, either rooms or apartments. Most will have a shared pool and gardens, as well as their own external garden area reserved for just that apartment/room.

So rather than focus on agriturismo vs villa, consider whether you want to have two rooms and no kitchen or kitchen access or whether you want two single-room apartments or a single two-bedroom apartment with kitchens. That is where your choice will fall on.

This all to help you and others make a sense of what you see as you search for a place. Since you have a budget, I think I would start from there. Exclude the obviously luxury or high end of the offerings and start limiting your search. There are countless choices in the end. I have to say your budget is pretty high in any case (300x10 is 3000€ total, you should check weekly rates are generally closer to the 2000€ mark) so you should still find a lot of choices!! The more elegant and recently renovated but be on the higher end than the more rustic farm-style furnished places. Most places rent by the apartment and not by person but of course larger apartments generally cost more.

Next method to limit your search will be to decide what you want to do during those 10 days, then select an area to search and thus limit your choices. Since it is your first time in Italy, it is likely you want to include the "top" attractions which include Chianti wine region, Florence, Pisa, Siena and Val d'Orcia. For this reason, I would suggest you look at places anywhere between Florence and Siena which is a really big area generally called Chianti and it is far wider than the wine region itself. Take a look here to start: just to start searching and let me know which ones appeal to you. Once we've narrowed down a little more what you want, I can suggest specific ones.... although as far as view goes, you will be hard pressed to find ones without the great view! :D

Ok, hope I've given you enough food for thought at the moment, let me know about what you see and like, then maybe we can continue from there!
Thanks Lourdes, appreciate all the useful information. We are flying into Venice and plan on renting a car in Florence, for our stay in Tuscany, as you suggested.

What do you think of the idea of splitting our 10 night's stay in Tuscany between 2 places? I found 5 places that fit our need (2 bedrooms apt) and budget (mostly). The last 3 on the list below are only available for 7 of the 10 nights though. If I decide to stay in 1 place for all 10 nights, I will probably choose Agriturismo Rocca di Cispiano, as it's available for our entire stay and is centrally located. TENUTA DI CAMPORSEVOLI is probably my favorite, but it's not centrally located (SE Tuscany) and it's only available for 7 nights. If I split the week in 2 places, I would likely go with TENUTA DI CAMPORSEVOLI and FATTORIA POGNI. What are your thoughts?

Also, are there any places on the western part of Tuscany (near the shore) that you would recommend?

Agriturismo Podere Cunina - Buonconvento (Siena)
Poggio al Casone - Crespina (Pisa)
Agriturismo Rocca di Cispiano - Castellina in Chianti
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Hi Lourdes, we are now thinking of staying at an Agriturismo for half our stay in Tuscany and a B&B type place for the other half. We would like our B&B stay to be located in a town where most basic things (restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, etc.) are within walking distance. Outside of the major cities (Florence, for example) what towns would you recommend that will give us a true Tuscan experience?
Oh yes, splitting up longer stays makes perfect sense! You can concentrate on one area at a time, less driving as well.

Many places ask for the whole week, and won't break it up.... that's why you are not finding them for the entire 10 nights.

For that reason, you can do Camporsevoli for the week, then the other days you can stay at a farmhouse B&B style place closer to Florence.

Poggio al Sole has the fienile with 3 rooms that you can rent as a while:
Agriturismo La Sala is in the countryside in Chianti and offers apartments:
Candida has a lovely dependance on the side of her main house that has two rooms, with a small kitchen in the middle, to rent out as a whole:

Do these look good? They are close to Florence but not in town so you would still need a car, were you thinking on not having one for those first days? Poggio al Sole is close enough to Fiesole you can get the bus into town, actually. Very close to all the shops and restaurants in Fiesole.

Another possibility is Siena. I love the town, if you don't want a car but all the conveniences of a town, you could stay in Siena. Despite it being a major stop for many, it empties out a lot in the evenings. We've stayed at several places there and spending overnight see how magical it is at night, it conserves its small town charm despite all of the tourists of the day. I can recommend Hotel Athena, also if you keep the car as it has parking:
We decided to stay at Odina Agriturismo in Ciuffenna for 5 days and then a B&B in downtown Siena for the next 5. Thanks for your help.
Great! Ciuffena is another good area that works as a base, generally more off the map but definitely central and easy to use for moving around.

Downtown Siena will be perfect!
Depends... what do you want to do? go to a sandy beach and lay down and catch some sun or a boardwalk with shops, beach ok if it is pebbly?
More beach and sand: Vada
More city life with shops, with boardwalk and beach: Castiglioncello.
For both I would head towards Volterra from Siena and then continue west , then once you reach the coast you can head up or down the coast. Lots of small towns and beaches along the way in between the towns as well.

You said September: if it's the first middle half, beaches will still be busy, if it's the second half, they will be much less so although weekends still busy. School starts back on September 15th in Tuscany every year so families need to go back home and the coast empties out.
One last question. We are flying into Venice on the 6th, then immediately traveling to Ciuffena for 5 nights. From there we are going to Siena for 5 nights and then back to Venice for 3 nights, before flying home. We only want to have a car while in Ciuffena. I know we can take a train to Florence from Venice and rent a car there but is there any place closer to Ciuffena where we can take a train from Venice to and rent a car, and also be able to take a train to Siena when we return the car? Or is Florence our best option?
Florence is your best option. There are many car rental agencies at the airport area so you don’t need to go into the center to rent a car and you can get there (airport) with the tram from right in front of the train station (since you're arriving from Venice).
We are definitely planning on renting a car for our stay in Ciuffena but are torn as to whether or not we should return the car before going to Siena for 5 nights. In your opinion, is it easy enough to make day trips without a car while in Siena or would we be better off keeping the car?
Well you do seem to be staying in the center of Siena while there so you will need to figure out where to park while there. If you're planning to do day trips out of Siena, I would actually keep the car. It makes it easier for you to decide when to head out and come back, otherwise you'll need to use buses and plan around those schedules - which are not for travelers, more for residents who travel for work purposes so the schedules revolve around getting to work and back home.

Personally, I would keep the car and we've generally chosen our places in Siena where they either offered parking or were close to the walls where we could leave the car outside and walk in (no fear of driving into the ZTL area that way). Do make sure to check out the info on parking in Siena here:
Do you mean what day trips to do from Siena, while you're there? I would suggest while you're in Ciuffena you focus on visiting places that are closer to you, like Florence and Arezzo, including the area around Ciuffena and Chianti.
That way once you move to Siena, you can concentrate on areas that you yet haven't seen further west and then south of Siena:
- San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Volterra
- Val d'Orcia - this has a lot of towns, so you could actually head in this direction on 2 days, at least. One day to do wine tastings and visit towns, maybe the other day to also get to the hot springs in either Bagno Vignoni or San Filippo.

Make sure to give yourself time to see Siena! The Duomo, the baptistery, the Palazzo Pubblico, the Santa Maria Complex which has lots of exhibits and artworks. I also enjoyed the Pinacoteca. Check out the Siena category page to read articles on itineraries and more detailed info on these sights -
If we decided not to keep the car while in Siena is it convenient (and not crazy expensive) to take a cab/taxi to/from the places you mentioned or will we need to work around bus schedules?
It would be best to keep the car because you don't have to waste time working around bus schedules that are planned for workers, not for tourists/travelers. If you really don't want to, then you can consider joining group tours which would make it the least expensive and more convenient if you don't want to drive. Take a look at some of the options available:
from Siena to Val d'Orcia:
Maybe something like this that includes everything: https://tours-discovertuscany.partn...ianti-and-Montalcino-from-Siena/d944-5919P131 but consider it is per person. Is the cost of the car rental per day really high? I know costs have increased a lot but I thought they were going down recently.
It’s not so much the cost of renting a car as it is the uncertainty, and potential stress, of driving and finding our way around in a foreign country, I’m not keen on traveling around by bus, or with group tours, which I was curious as to whether or not taking cabs for 2-3 day trips while we’re in Diena might be an alternative?
Taxis will not be cheap, they make you pay the cost of getting someplace and the cost of them coming back to starting point. So it turns out to just be more convenient in terms of plannings/stress and all to just search for a private driver in Siena (search for "NCC Siena") and ask for a price quote ahead of time for specific itineraries.
For example, tell them on day 1, go here, here and here at this time, making your times planned stops and the return back. On day 2, this and this, day 3 this, etc. It's the only option because most small towns don't even have a taxi, so it's better to have a driver that waits for you and takes you from place to place rather than having someone take you, drop off, and then not know who will take you back to Siena.
We are taking a train from Venice to Florence upon our arrival in Italy. We plan on renting a car when we get off the train in Florence (central train station I presume). What car rental companies do you recommend?