An "Agriturismo" is an Italian term used to describe staying on a farm versus staying at a hotel. Far from being a "working vacation", stays at an agriturismo can be rustic and simple to modern and opulent, but always relaxing. Far from having guests help with the farm in exchange for a nights stay, agriturismos offer comfortable, clean rooms (often with kitchens) and many offer additional amenities such as pools, spas, and stables. As working farms you are often provided (for a fee) wonderful meals made with farm fresh produce and meats by local chefs.
Our stay at Agriturismo Santa Maria in Umbria, the last agriturismo we stayed at, was great. We had our evening meals (often pot luck) with Rosaria and Daniel (the proprietors) and their two boys and family. Daniel is a trained French Chef and made incredible dishes. The eight of us had two large bedrooms a WC with shower, and a large open space with a kitchen, dining area, and sitting room. At the time we were there the whole thing cost about 450 Euros for three nights. Rosaria and Daniel even took us into Marchano to the wine co-op as well as the grocery co-op.
Agriturismos are comfortable, friendly, relaxing, and allow you to get the feel of Italian rural life at a slower pace. Most farms are near regional points of interest and the proprietors can share with you a local's insight into those points as well as things not covered in your guide book.
By definition, all agriturismos are outside of city limits so you'll need a car if you intend to get around and see the sights. The added cost of the car is offset by the added mobility and freedom. You can also save money by staying at an agriturismo over a hotel of similar quality in a tourist center. This savings will also offset some of the cost of the car. Remember, to get anywhere will cost you money and before you decide not to use a car weigh the benefits. I have traveled Europe both by train and by auto. I find the trains a great way to travel when I am alone or with one other person, as the traveling party grows a car looks more and more economic.
If you are interested in seeing the "real" Italy, the Italy that the locals enjoy, if you want to see more than just the main attractions, if you want to feel the warmth and beauty of Italy today at a relaxed and easy pace, you need to give an agriturismo a try. Spend some time online and find the agriturismo that fits your travel goals and your personal style. It will be time well spent and will enhance your vacation stay in Italy.