Lardo_di_ColonnataThe Maremma is famous for its countryside, so it's no surprise that visitors are itching to get a peek into one of the many farms that dot the region. Of course, these aren't any old farms. These are fattorie didattiche - local farms that produce the products that define the Maremma's culinary scene.

The farmers who own these gorgeous stretches of countryside have been put through their paces to prove they make or grow their produce without compromising the quality of the raw ingredients and, usually, without any modern tools or tricks. Everything you see and taste on these farms is the best, most authentic and organic product in the Maremma.

Fattorie didattiche are a very Maremman concept. They're part working farm, part agriturismo or tourist accommodation. So much more than just a place to sleep, these farms are a way for guests and visitors to immerse themselves in life on the farm.

Most of these farms define themselves by producing one thing extremely well. It might be cheese or wine or olive oil. The aim is to involve the guests in all aspects of producing this product, so they not only take in the sights and learn about the countryside and the traditions of the local 'contadini', but often also get to try their hand at making cheese or milking a cow.

Kids absolutely love it and it's a great way to get them away from the TV and outside admiring the farm animals and learning about agriculture. For adults, most of these educational farms also have free wine and product tasting sessions. You can also buy the products the farm makes directly from the farmer at a reduced price.

While it's a lot easier to get the full farm experience if you stay at one of these fattorie didattiche, visitors are welcome. I recommend asking your accommodation or tourism office for the closest fattorie didattiche.

Otherwise here are a few of the bigger ones to get you started:

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