Traveling to Italy is definitely something to add to your bucket list if you haven’t already visited. For those that have been, you know it is a magical place full of delicious food, ancient cities and stunning countryside. I often get the question, where should we stay in Italy? While I am always a fan of hotels, incredible experiences with Tuscan Villa Rentals nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany, are now my favorite choice for staying in the area, and the suggestion to rent a villa is one of my favorite Italy travel tips to share with friends and family.
WHY RENT A TUSCAN VILLA?
Whenever we travel, of course I love to see the sites, but even more than wanting to see the sites, I really want to experience the culture. While we have enjoyed many hotel stays on our trips, we often find ourselves staying in a familiar chain hotel, simply because it’s easy to find. When we stay in these hotels we are surrounded by English speakers, regular comforts of our home in the US, and familiar foods and experiences. When we opted for a Tuscan Villa rental on a recent trip to Italy, it completely changed our Italian experience. Suddenly we had to do things like shop at the village grocery store, which brought with it a whole host of memorable and funny challenges. We visited small family owned restaurants that didn’t see much in the way of tourist traffic giving us the chance to get to know local Italians and try our hand at speaking the language. We had home-cooked Italian meals that we cooked in our own Italian kitchen. We really immersed ourselves in what it was like to actually LIVE in Italy. It was such a unique and fun experience, that now I look forward to finding at least one similar experience everywhere we visit. Most Tuscan Villa rentals have swimming pools, washing machines, DVD players, and satellite TV; many have Internet connections but reliability can be iffy. Of course, villas don’t come with concierges, continental breakfasts, or daily maid service. Most if not all villas come with emergency contacts and a local caretaker to contact any issues should arise. A rental villa gives you room to spread out, and the fun of living (at least temporarily) like a local.
WHERE TO FIND TUSCAN VILLA RENTALS?
I started my search for Tuscan Villa Rentals by looking online on sites like AirBNB. I also looked at magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure, because I wanted to make sure I was dealing with the best villa rental companies…someone that was reputable and I could trust. Having never done something like this before, we were a bit more cautious. It was surprising to see just how many little Italy vacation rentals and agencies there are out there. Many of the companies only have a few rentals that they manage, so you do have to look at several before you find something that is available when you need it, fits your budget, is in the location you want, etc. Here are a few of the rental agencies I searched:
WHAT IS TYPICAL WITH A TUSCAN VILLA RENTAL?
It can be a little intimidating to reach out to someone half way around the world that maybe doesn’t speak the same language as you and to try and conduct business with them and get your questions answered. While we did have some language barrier issues, the rental agency was more than accommodating and helpful. First, be aware that most villa rentals require a week long stay. Check in/out is usually on Saturday and you are required to book for the week. On a rare occasion you can find a 3-4 night rental, but for the most part they are non-negotiable in that department. Villas are stocked with everything you need to live very comfortably. Ours even included daily maid service…but that is definitely not a necessity and I wouldn’t say it’s typical either. We were actually surprised when the housekeeper showed up one morning because we didn’t realize that was a part of our contract. The kitchen was stocked with dishes and pots and pans. There was a BBQ, a library, an enormous pool, and beautiful grounds. The bedrooms were equipped with comfortable beds and air conditioners. If you are visiting Italy in the summer, that is one of the most valuable Italy villa travel tips I can give. Make sure that you either find a villa that has air conditioned bedrooms, or has fans available for you to use. Temperatures in Tuscany can get VERY warm during summer months and those houses heat up and stay hot. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you have either air conditioning or a fan at your disposal…one for EACH bedroom. Villa rental prices usually include utilities, but is is VERY common for there to be a cap on energy use. They will typically include a certain amount of power and then you must pay for an overages. The meter will be read when you check in, and then read again at check out. We paid roughly an additional $75 for the week for our power.
TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY ON TUSCAN VILLA RENTALS
Let’s be honest, renting a Tuscan Villa doesn’t sound like a cheap thing to do…and it isn’t, but there are definitely some cost advantages to renting a villa and some tips for saving money on a rental. The biggest tip I have: Plan your vacation with a few other families. Most of these Tuscan Villa Rentals are HUGE. They can more than certainly accommodate large groups and still give everyone plenty of space. We shared our week in Tuscany with some of our dear friends from London. It was so fun for the kids to have friends to play with in the pool, it was great to share grocery shopping and cooking duties, and it cut the cost in half for us. Score! Get a few of your favorite families together and plan a memorable trip and help defray the cost of your dream vacation too. Having a full kitchen at your disposal helps save money on food for sure! Stocking the pantry and fridge with milk and cereal made breakfast easy and inexpensive. Sandwiches for lunch and snacks were quick and easy to grab poolside. Entertainment costs are minimal for the week too because the days are spent swimming and (at least for us) the late afternoons and evenings were spent “hill-top towning” a term we coined as we wandered in the many nearby medieval hilltop towns. The smaller towns are mostly void of tourists, and it’s easy to find inexpensive gelato for a fun afternoon treat.
I hope you are excited for your trip to Italy and feeling comfortable and confident to explore the world of Tuscan Villa Rentals. I hope it will enrich your travel experience in Italy as much as it did ours.
We were fortunate to have so many amazing experiences in Europe. If you’re planning a trip and would like to learn more about about what we did and lessons we learned, you can see our family trip to Europe itinerary here, find all of our travel posts in our travel gallery, and read some of our most popular travel posts here:.
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