Maybe your idea of the perfect Italian vacation is flitting from one city to the next, taking the night train so you do not sacrifice any daylight hours when you could be madly checking sights off your must-see list. You will certainly return home with a long list of accomplishments, but will you really have experienced Italy? Probably not.
If, on the other hand, your travel style is more toward the relaxed end of things, you will want to consider booking an Italy vacation rental instead of a hotel.
Want to dive right into hunting for a vacation rental in Italy? Browse these listings:
- Italy vacation rentals on Homeaway (major vacation rentals website with vacation properties all over the world, including cities/towns throughout Italy)
- Italy vacation rentals on AirBnB (homes listed by owner, sometimes a vacation proprety, sometimes a primary residence a homeowner will temporarily vacate; listings throughout Italy, growing all the time)
- Italy vacation rentals on Cross-Pollinate (apartment and B&B listings in Rome, Florence, & Venice; company based in Italy)
- Italy vacation rentals on Halldis (apartment listings in cities throughout Italy; company based in Italy)
>> Read about 6 reasons you should rent a villa in Italy
Why should I consider an Italy vacation rental?
The slow pace of life in Italy cannot be experienced by running around from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, staring up at ceiling frescoes and snapping photographs. A huge part of the charm of Italy is the Italian people, and you will never get to know them – even a little bit – by following the same well-trodden paths other tourists have followed.
By taking a step back from the fast lane and planting yourself in one Italian town for at least a week, you can really experience something of the true Italy. With a week in one city or town, you can become a “regular” at the neighborhood cafe, shop with the locals at the markets and cook your own food in your own kitchen. And rather than fencing yourself off from local life by staying in a vacation rental in Italy, you will be better able to see what real life is like.
Vacation rentals will come equipped with everything you will need for your stay, as well, and generally the arrangement with the rental company will include the property being cleaned before you arrive and after you leave – so you do not need to worry about bringing anything extra, or spending your precious vacation time washing the sheets or towels at the end of your stay.
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An Italy vacation rental is not right for me, is it?
It absolutely is – vacation rentals are perfect for anyone, no matter your travel situation, because they come in all shapes and styles. There are farmhouse rentals in the countryside which will give you a glimpse of agricultural Italy. There are cozy apartment rentals in the cities (including the most popular tourist destinations in Italy) which allow you to pretend you live there. There are also incredible Italian villas, palaces fit for a king, which you can rent no matter your royal status and just live like a king for a week or so. The possibilities are endless.
Families traveling with small children often prefer vacation rentals because it gives them more flexibility when it comes to meal time (you can tell the kids that fried zucchini flowers are fantastic, but will they actually eat any?), among other things. Giving your children a look at rural life in Italy, and perhaps a chance to befriend local children with “playing” being the only common language, is an experience they are unlikely to forget.
Will I give up on seeing the sights if I book an Italy vacation rental?
No, just because you are renting one place for a week or more you are by no means restricted to that one town. In fact, having a vacation rental in Italy as a base is a great way to explore the area – by car or, if you are in a city, by train – without having to pack and unpack your belongings in a new hotel every other night.
With an Italy vacation rental as home base, you also have the luxury of being spontaneous with your daily outings. Say you drove through the Chianti region yesterday and found it so captivating that you want to drive through another part of it today. If you were staying in a hotel, you might already be moving on and not have the opportunity, but with a week or more in one place, and no hotel to consider, you can change your daily plans at a moment’s notice.
Okay, but is an Italy vacation rental just for the rich?
This is probably the biggest misconception when it comes to vacation rentals – that they are all super-deluxe villas in the Tuscan countryside with butlers and private chefs. While you can probably find something like that (and invite me along, please!), you are much more likely to find small cottages or apartments in Italy’s small towns or cities that are suitable for 4-6 people. Many of these Italy vacation rentals are absolutely perfect for a group of budget travelers who wants to save money by shopping for and cooking their own food rather than eating out for every meal.
And since many of the vacation rentals are also in towns or cities rather than the countryside, they are also not synonymous with needing to rent a car, either. Italy’s train system is excellent, criss-crossing the country and stopping in tiny villages and towns all over the place, so it is likely you will be near enough to a train station that you can take advantage of an Italy vacation rental and still rely solely on trains to get around.
It all sounds great – what else do I need to know about Italy vacation rentals?
Here are a few things you will want to keep in mind when you are browsing through the property listings:
- Be sure about your vacation before you book – cancellation fees can be hefty.
- Be sure to ask questions about a property and even ask for references – just because the photo makes you swoon does not mean the property will.
- Be sure to find out exactly what the property you are renting comes with, so you will know what you need to bring (if anything), and what the cleaning arrangement is.
- Be sure there will be enough furniture for the number of people staying in the vacation rental – not just beds, but chairs at the dining table, too.
- Be sure to find out how easy it is to get to any nearby sights without a car, if you are car-less.
- Be sure to be on time with your check in and check out times; these properties do not have 24-hour reception desks, so someone will need to meet you there at the beginning and end of your stay. If you are going to be late, be sure to call them.
So now you are ready to browse! The sheer number of properties available in Italy could seem overwhelming, but you will quickly be able to rule out most vacation rentals you see based on price, location or number of beds. So, have fun, and enjoy your Italy vacation rental!
>> Here’s a handy article if you’re renting an apartment or a house in Italy – a list of the different kinds of shops for buying the various things you’ll need for your stay, and a suggested shopping list for your first trip to the market.