Many of the people who dream of a vacation in Italy thinks about one of two things – visiting all the famous monuments and sights in a whirlwind tour of the country’s highlights, and settling into a countryside vacation rental for a couple of weeks. These trips sound like they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum, and in many ways they are. Sure, you can incorporate a bit of each into one Italy trip, but if the thought of a whistle-stop tour exhausts you and just the idea of renting a villa on some Italian hill makes you weak in the knees, then keep reading.
All it takes is the words “Italian villa” to conjure up images of George Clooney’s estate by the lake, or whatever movie star is the latest headline-grabber to buy a vacation home in Italy. But of course those properties aren’t the norm, and renting a villa in Italy for even an average vacation is perfectly do-able. For starters, once you stop thinking that the word “villa” automatically means a multi-kajillion dollar estate, you realize that even a simple country cottage can fall into that category.
So for those of you who may be on the fence about looking at Italy villas instead of hotels for your next trip to Italy, here are six reasons why I think you should consider renting a villa in Italy.
6 Reasons to Rent an Italy Villa Instead of a Hotel
- Budget-Friendly – It’s easy to be deceived into thinking vacation rentals must only be for the very rich when you look at the weekly rate for a villa in Italy, but just multiply the cost of a hotel room by the number of nights you’d stay in a rental villa and things start to look different. Not only that, think of what you’re getting for your money with an Italy villa – not just a bedroom and a bathroom, but also a comfortable living space where you can relax, a kitchen where you can cook some of your own meals (thereby saving even more money), and often some outdoor space as well.
- Group or Family Travel – Renting a villa in Italy (or anywhere, for that matter) becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity when you’re traveling in a group. Not only is it cheaper to rent an Italy villa than it is to book a bunch of hotel rooms, you’ll split the cost among the members of your group and save even more. And, as mentioned above, having all that extra common space – that you don’t have to share with other hotel guests – makes a vacation rental even more appealing when you’re in a group. For those of you planning a family vacation with kids, having a whole house to yourself can be the difference between a relaxed trip and the kind of trip you vow to never repeat.
- Home-Based Entertainment – Even when you’re paying close attention to your budget, Italy is still an expensive place to visit. So if you’re looking for another way to cut costs, consider the ways a villa in Italy can serve as your entertainment. Does the villa have a pool? Is there a hiking trail nearby? Do the villa owners have a couple bikes on the premises that guests can use? Are there board games and puzzles on the shelves? Yes, all of these things are less Italy-centric than a tour of the Vatican Museums or a trip to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but if you’re trying to relax there’s no better way to do that than to slow down and enjoy what’s around you. And hey, it’s cheaper, too.
- Travel Slowly – Speaking of slowing down, most of us are familiar with the concept of “slow travel,” but far fewer of us actually put the concept into practice when we travel. It’s too tempting to pack as much as we can into our all-too-short vacations – I totally understand that. And if this is your first trip to Italy, slow travel and renting an Italian villa may not be the right move for you. But if you’re ready to embrace slow travel, learn to live a little more like a local (at least for a couple of weeks), and truly begin to relax – the best way to do that is to get out of the hotel.
- Become a Regular – You may remember my ongoing travel quest to become a regular wherever I go. If not, suffice it to say that there are few things that will make this traveler’s heart glow more than when a waiter or barista in a cafe starts making my usual order as soon as I walk in the door. It’s the feeling that you belong in that place, no matter how long you stay, and it’s impossible to get that feeling if you’re moving on after just a couple of days. Stay in an Italy villa for a week or more and visit the same local bar for your morning cappuccino and pretty soon you’ll get the familiar nod. You may never go back to normal-speed-travel again.
- Driving Required – Some people love the idea of getting behind the wheel in the Italian countryside and seeing where the road takes them. (I am not one of those people, but I am married to one.) While most Italian cities and towns are well-connected by the Italian rail network or buses, vast sections of the country are really only accessible if you have your own car – and that includes many of the Italian villas in the best locations. If there’s a member of your traveling group who’s just itching to drive the back roads of Italy, staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel in the middle of town is a great excuse to rent a car and hit the gas.
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photo by denisema4