October 2012

Are you familiar with the term “agriturismo” (pronounced a-gri-tur-IS-mo).  I’ll give you a hint – it’s Italian.  An agriturismo is vacation farm house.  Agri for agriculture, turismo for tourtist.  It’s a farm house resort suitable for whole families or romantic getaways.  The agriturismo usually serves food made from agricultural products produced either on the farm or locally.  If you’re thinking rustic, think again, many agriturismi (plural) have swimming pools.  Does this sound like your cup of tea, or should I say expresso?  It sounds good to me.

When I was in the Navy many decades ago my ship made many stops in Italy, and I’ve always wanted to go back, only this time I want to take Nanook with me.  Nanook has yet to travel to Europe, but the idea of running around Europe spending a day here or a day there bouncing around like a pin ball doesn’t appeal to either of us.  However, staying in the farm house in countryside of Tuscany or Umbria (Italian provinces) taking a day trip to Florence or Pisa has great appeal.  Plus Anna Mae and JR (daughter and son-in-law) stayed at one several years ago when they vacationed in Italy.  So I started to look into it using my trusty laptop and Google.  Here is what I found so far.

First a little history about agriturismi.  They started popping-up in the 1950’s as farming became less-and-less profitable.  However Italians value the traditions of the small scale production of food.  In 1985 Italian law defined agriturismo.  That allowed for the restoration of abandoned buildings and estates into vacation homes.  The agriturismo allowed for the farmer to augment their income from the farm, and for vacationers to experience rural life style of Italy.

With that in mind, I Googled Agriturismo Tuscany, and started snooping around.  Good grief, there are hundreds of agriturismi in Tuscany.  How do you pick one?  I did another Google on Rick Steves.  He is the European travel expert that pops-up every week on our local PBS station.   On his website there is a bulletin board where readers share their travel experiences.  Lo-and-behold there was a page devoted exclusively to agriturismi.  I would suggest you start your search there.  Read about their experiences and see if this might suit you and your loved ones.  Here is the website - http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/graffiti59.html

Most of the agriturismi have websites.  Don’t be surprised if they are in Italian, it is after all Italy.  Want it in English?  Most likely there is a button for English or it may be the “union jack” button.  On the sites you will be able to get descriptions and pictures of the lodgings and surroundings.  Some include the prices, not all.  

What about price?  Remember, prices will most likely be in Euro’s not dollars.  One Euro equals about $1.30 and it changes daily, so do the math.  But on the whole, weekly rates are quite reasonable.  They start around 350 Euro ($455) per week and go up from there.  Prices do vary depending on season, number of lodgers, and meals.  In my opinion it is quite reasonable.  I need to next explore airfare, but with the help of any of the travel websites, that should not be a problem.  And a rental car may be nice to have, I’ll have to look at that too.

Right now I am just looking at possibilities; nothing is cast in concrete yet.  How about you?  Have you tried an agriturismo or know someone who has? We would love to read it and so would rChance readers.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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If you or a loved one is facing mortality and the issues it presents, you may want to consider the following.  Have you been faced making decisions for an elderly relative or friend realizing you didn’t know the wishes of the friend or relative?  Thanks to Consumer Reports for thinking about it.  Here are some considerations.

  • Documents.  Know where the important documents are located.  These include the will, birth certificate, marriage and divorce certificates.  Don’t forget Social Security information, any life insurance policies, and financial documents.  If the loved one was a vet, do not forget the DD214 that provides proof he or she did indeed serve in the US Armed Forces.  Lastly, where are the keys to a safety deposit box or home safe?
  • Funeral.  Ask the loved one about their funeral.  Have they already made arrangements?  If not what do they want.  How about organ donation?  Burial or cremation?
  • Advance directive.  Complete an advance directive that includes a living will that specifies both wanted and unwanted procedures.  Also appoint a health-care proxy to make the medical decisions if the loved one is incapacitated.
  • Do-not-resuscitate order.  Draw-up a DNR for the loved one.  The DNR informs healthcare-professionals whether or not CPR is to be performed when the heart or breathing stops.  Consider the fact that restarting may not result in a meaningful life.
  • Document copies.  Insure the loved one gives copies of the documents to their doctor and several family members or friends.  If the loved one is admitted to a hospital, make sure the documents are turned over to the hospital.

Don’t second guess the wishes.  Take the time and discuss the wishes with the loved one beforehand.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  You may consider these issues for yourself.  Take the time to perform the steps listed above for yourself so your wishes are carried-out for you when the time comes.  Don’t burden friends and family trying to guess what you want.

We hope it helps you if and when you are faced with these difficult issues at a difficult time.  Again, please refer to the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports to fill in the specifics. 

Do you have a story to share?  We would love to read it and so would rChance readers.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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