Friday, October 2, 2015

Lodging in Italy

You've chosen your travel dates and airline tickets have been purchased. What next?
Lodging! And...What's usually the first type of lodging that comes to mind? Hotels.

          For us, hotels are one type of lodging we rarely consider on our travels. Not to say they're bad...It's just that we like more “stretch” space and also enjoy being embedded into the local community. 

          I'll be the first to admit I like all the comforts of home when I travel, and that's exactly what you get with a vacation home rental. You can fine-tune your rental to your liking and needs - multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room, balconies and patios, washer and drier, a kitchen and bbq! The personal attention of the owners makes the experience even more special. can chit chat with the locals rather than fellow American travelers. 
          For these reasons, renting a vacation home is what works best for us. They offer amenities that make you feel at home while you’re away.

Here are some of the advantages of vacation home rental:
  •         More space > Instead of one small hotel room, you have an entire apartment or house.
One of our smaller rental places. This was a small studio in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. It was spotless and with an amazing port view off the balcony. Other places have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
The other side of the studio with the balcony and port view.
  •      Cooking facilities > It’s fun to buy local meats and produce and cook in like an Italian. 
It was a wonderful cioppino cooked with clams, mussels, and shrimp
all bought at the local fish market.
  •      Cheaper > It can be far less expensive than a hotel, especially if you are sharing the cost with other travelers.
Here we are, old friends sharing a farmhouse in Tuscanny.
  •       Unique Style > There are so many unique apartments and homes to choose from.
This was a trullo style home in the Puglia section of Italy.
Inside the trullo

A lovely farmhouse we enjoyed in Umbria. 
  •       Unique locations
One year we rented a vacation farmhouse apartment in this small hamlet of Adine in Tuscany. Population: 50!

  •       Beautiful Views 

A vineyard view from a Tuscan farmhouse - Lovely!
  •       Personal touches > Frequently private owners will offer personal touches and information not available at a hotel.
          The uncle (white shirt - he really did smile) brought us a freshly made pot of pesto for dinner and his niece (back center) made me a gluten-free cake. The next day, a neighbor brought us two fresh eggs. The chicken had laid them 10 minutes before...REALLY fresh!
         A host in Tuscanny once invited us to her large family dinner under the patio.
The meal was delicious, the wine good, the company friendly and the sun setting on the vineyards amazing. 

  •       Welcome basket > Frequently a welcome basket of local jellies, meats, cheese and/or wines will greet your arrival.   
                                         Our host in Piedmont wine country left a bowl of grapes from her vineyard. 
                                                      She also left a bottle of wine and goodies in the fridge.
  •       In with the Locals!
Everyone has a balcony!
I enjoy hanging out over the balcony and chatting with the neighbors
- a fun advantage of speaking Italian.

  • Other Extras!

Happy Hour on your own personal hillside patio!

On the other hand, vacation home rentals require you have an open mind and the spirit of adventure. You never know what you'll find. The bathroom may be tiny as are bathrooms in many Italian homes. There may be no elevator. The lodging may be a bit off the beaten path. OR...

You may be surprised by interesting critters ...
Pimpinella, the host's pet goat, greeted us at the door of
our Umbrian farmhouse one morning.
She was very friendly.

A beautiful Sicilian lizard stopped in to say "Hello" in our Castellammare studio apartment.
I named him Luigi!


With careful preliminary research, you can learn about most of these things (though maybe not the critters) before you reserve. I recommend you read all the reviews of previous guests. They will tell you things not included on the site. We never take a chance at booking a vacation rental with no reviews. There are many online sites for finding vacation rentals.

Vacation home sites provide a description of the apartment/house, the location and the amenities. Their policies and procedures are all different, so read the details carefully (including the cancellation policy) before you reserve and send your deposit.

So, if you want something different from the usual hotel room that will provide a unique experience and fun memories, consider a vacation home rental. You can custom design it to your heart's desires.

- Nina Spitzer

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