Staying on a Farm
in South Tyrol, Italy
& Tips for Planning Your Farm Holiday
I don’t know exactly when the idea of staying on a farm in Italy with our family first crossed our minds. When it comes to European travel, there are the biggies that often appear on the itinerary… like London, Paris, and Rome. But South Tyrol’s farms in northern Italy are becoming increasingly popular with travelers and especially travelers with families. Find out what makes this area so unique and why it just might be on your next European travel list.
Where is South Tyrol?
Nestled high up on Italy’s boot and tucked up near Switzerland and Austria is South Tyrol also called Sudtirol. Although the area had belonged to Austria for more than five centuries, it was determined at a secret treaty meeting in London in 1915, that the victors of World War I would acquire the land north of the Brenner Pass. Of course, no one bothered to ask the Austrians living there what they thought of this deal. And just like that, overnight, they became part of Italy. Today when you visit South Tyrol, you still see a strong influence of the Austrian culture in the architecture, language, and cuisine. Although we were technically in Italy, we found most buildings to look like gingerbread houses with flower boxes, we heard more German than Italian spoken, and every menu had a combination of spätzle and sausages along with pizza and pasta.
How We Chose our Farm
When it came time to pick a farm, we were overwhelmed. On one hand there seemed to be little information about traveling to this part of Italy. Luckily, we heard about a website called Red Rooster that contains over 1500 farms across South Tyrol. Then we were overwhelmed in a new way. How would we choose? Red Rooster gives you the ability to search for a farm based on location and amenities. Some farms have cows, chickens, goats, etc. While other farms specialize in orchards making their own jams and juices. There are also farms that grow grapes and produce their own wines.
Many farms have playgrounds and other amenities geared toward families. Some farms rent out single rooms, while others rent out complete cottages or apartments with kitchens, living rooms, and multiple bedrooms. Using the Red Rooster website/search engine, we started plugging in different regions and looking at the options. Since many of the reviews are not in English, I used Google translate to read what people had to say about these properties. I also used Google Maps to confirm location and check distance to points of interest in their respective areas. Lastly, I used Tripadvisor as some of the properties mentioned on Red Rooster also had reviews on Tripadvisor (which were mostly in English).
We finally narrowed it down to five farms we were interested in. Then we had a new challenge. Every single farm we contacted wanted us to wire transfer a deposit to their bank account. What? This seemed very strange. Wiring money to a foreign bank account felt archaic or even fraudulent. If I didn’t get the same request from EVERY SINGLE ONE, I probably would have assumed there was something suspicious going on. Perhaps this policy is due to these small family-owned businesses wanting to save money on credit card fees. But it still doesn't make sense to me. We've stayed in many small pensions throughout Europe, and this has not been our experience, Being asked to pay in cash upon our arrival or departure has happened many times, but before this experience, we've never been asked to wire transfer money to a bank account. Wanting to "play along" and stay at one of these lovely farms, I looked into several options which also included talking to my bank. It turned out that my bank would charge me $50 to wire 100 Euros to Italy. Nope, that was out. Then I looked into online wiring agencies and they felt confusing. I inquired about Paypal or Venmo. In the end, two of the five farms we were communicating with relented (probably because it was a shoulder season and they had no other inquiries for the dates we were requesting) and said we could come without a deposit. So we picked one.
On a side note, friends of ours just had the same exact experience. When I got a text saying, “The farm we’re communicating with wants us to wire transfer money to their bank account, and this seems odd to us,” I knew what they were talking about. In the end, they were told to call a day or two ahead and if there was still room they could have a reservation. Since they had identified a few they were interested in, they went ahead with that plan feeling reasonably confident that they would get in at one of the farms. Indeed, they did, and had a wonderful time. In fact, it was the highlight of their two week stay in Italy.
Our Farm - Obereggerhof
So after all that, you may be wondering where we stayed and if we liked what we picked. The answer is Obereggerhof (we think that’s especially fun to say) and YES, we loved it. It is located just above the town of Muhlbach and right before the tiny village of Vals. If you’d like to see their exact location on a google map, take a look at this link.
Obereggerhof is a family owned and operated farm specializing in dairy and apple orchards. There are four cottages to choose from, and each is modern and tastefully furnished.
We loved the electronically run black-out shades that allowed us all to sleep in and get lots of rest. In fact, we loved them so much we came home with the intention of having something similar installed in our home. The cottages felt more like modern apartments and were extremely spacious. Nearby, we found plenty of special places to visit, all within a 15-minute drive. Our favorites were adventure parks, castles, hiking trails, a monastery and quaint villages. See the pictures and video below.
Nearby Fortress of Muhlbach
What We Loved about the Farm Experience
Our family loves nature and the outdoors and the opportunity to interact with animals. My boys are always more comfortable in the country than in a city, and so a farm fits us nicely. We chose Obereggerhof for a number of reasons and were so pleased with our choice. Each morning we enjoyed fresh farm products delivered right to our door.
At Obereggerhof, they provided us with an order form that we filled out each evening and left on our doorstep. Like magic, each morning the items we had ordered were neatly organized in a basket and waiting for us right outside our door. They specialize in fresh pressed apple juice and jams, raw milk and eggs. They also include some items from other local farms on their order form and happily get those upon request. They include freshly baked bread from a local bakery, honey, and butter. I wasn’t sure if we’d like the taste of raw milk right out of the cow! But let me assure you, it was incredibly delicious. I picked up some chocolate museli in town and each morning enjoyed a bowl with some fresh milk poured over it. Dessert for breakfast!
The name of our cottage was Larche and inside the chicken coop there was a little door with the same name where the boys could collect eggs (for free) each morning. I loved watching the owner's children and other children outside enjoying the playground equipment and playing in the grassy areas. It was very family-friendly indeed.
Tips for Planning your Farm Stay
With so many farms to choose from and such a large area to cover, it can be hard to choose. Knowing what I know now, here’s my advice. First, decide what you want to see and do while in South Tyrol. If white craggy mountain peaks and pristine blue lakes are what you’re looking for, then head to the Dolomite region. Also in the Dolomite region is a very popular hike called the Lagazuoi Tunnels which allows you to explore some of the battle sites from World War I. If your family loves castles and museums, choose a location in the Eisacktal area. If wine is of interest, the area around Meran and the South region is burgeoning with vineyards and wineries.
Once you have narrowed down how you want to spend your time and what you’d like to do with your days, then you can focus on finding a farm in that area that suits you. With over 1500 to choose from on Red Rooster, you won’t have a problem finding one. Use Google maps to search driving distances from the farm to the places you want to explore and make sure this lines up with how much time you want to spend in the car.
Arrival & Transportation
Our time spent in South Tyrol was part of a more extensive road trip across Europe. Read more about our 30-Day Road Trip here. We had come from the Lake Como area (about 4.5 hours away), and when we left, we headed over to Slovenia (also about 4 hours away). South Tyrol is conveniently and centrally located. South Tyrol is just a few hours away from most places in northern Italy, Austria, Slovenia or Switzerland. If you’re looking to fly right into the area, consider checking flights into the Bolzano airport. Train travel is limited and having your own car is really best for this area of Italy.
I hope we have inspired you to enjoy a farm stay on your next trip to Italy. In between the busy city tours, cathedrals and museums, take a few days out to connect with nature and enjoy life on a farm.
Did we forget anything? Have you had a farm experience in Italy? Please share your tips or questions in the comments below.
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7 Tips for Planning a Road Trip Through Europe
5 Tips for Driving in Europe
Traveling with Teens and Tweens
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This is not a sponsored post. We did not receive any type of compensation from Red Rooster or Obereggerhoff. All opinions expressed are our own.