Want to get back – right back – to nature, and offer your children a stress-free week of rural life, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city? If so, then a farm holiday could be just the right holiday for you.
Although still in its infancy in the UK, the concept of farm holidays has become hugely popular in countries such as Italy and Austria in recent years. The accommodation provided is in comfortable rooms, entirely comparable to hotel rooms and offering all the mod cons we know and love. After that, however, the feel is refreshingly different. It’s no longer busy traffic on the roads outside or the kids arguing that wake you up every morning, but the cock crowing, horses and other farm animals waiting for their morning feed, and the kids rushing to see what’s going on.
Many of the farms complement this natural environment with a variety of activities and tailor-made programmes to the guests they attract. Some are more horsey, with their own stables and a range of programmes teaching guests large and small how to ride; others offer children the chance to really muck in, feeding the livestock (watched over by expert adult eyes) or joining tractor rides out across the fields. Some, on the other hand, simply invite guests to relax in the truly idyllic countryside, and explore the surrounding area at their own speed.
In Italy, the term used for these holiday farms is ‘agriturismo’, and it’s become a major tourism sector within just a few years, expanding on the back of ecotourism and city types’ wish to show the kids the importance of things green, and our little ones’ ravenous appetite for things four-legged. Resourceful small- and medium-sized farms that once struggled in the competitive world of farming have also succeeded in creating a new source of income over and above the hotel concept, by selling their ultra-fresh produce directly to the public, cutting out the supermarket middlemen by opening their own shops and restaurants in a win-win move (unless you own a supermarket). Since the concept focuses on a back-to-nature approach, much of the produce on the farms is organic, of course. Each region has its own individual culinary feel, which is inevitably, and deliciously, factored into the cuisine and the packaged goods served at these outlets. In the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northern Italy, for example, many of the farms focus on polenta dishes featuring the region’s mouth-watering corn, as well as grape juices and wines made from the grapes grown on the farms’ endless vineyards.
A holiday on a farm is also a very personal holiday experience; hidden away from mass tourism destinations and chains, the children in particular rapidly become integrated into the ‘family on the farm’, and are soon enjoying the freedom of running wild whilst in perfectly safe surroundings. Single Parents on Holiday like the farm holiday concept so much that they offer week-long breaks in the summer holidays on a farm near Venice tailored to the needs of single mums and dads. For more information check out http://singleparentsonholiday.co.uk/magredi.
Author: Tim Lywood, Vienna