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Episode #207: How to find the perfect stay for your Italy trip

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Accommodation options in Italy range from swanky hotels to cozy Airbnbs, charming historic B&Bs or retreating to stunning agriturismo or Masseria in the Italian countryside, amongst other unique and interesting options. We guide you through the rich tapestry of Italian hospitality with tips on choosing where you are going to lay your head as well as what type of property to stay in and unexpected challenges you might face.

Show notes
We welcome back on the podcast, Untold Italy favorite, boutique tour guide and author Corinna Cooke. Corinna writes the Glam Italia series of guides for Italy, with her most recent offering being 101 Fabulous Things to do in Venice and she runs unique small tours all over Italy. Corinna has joined us on a variety of podcast episodes – from enjoying the Italian coast (episode 188), What to wear in Italy (episode 150), why you should spend at least 3 days in Venice (episode 132), Italy travel hacks (episode 116), finding inspiration for your trip (episode 104) to itinerary planning (episode 53). In this episode, we talk about what you need to think about when planning and booking your accommodation in Italy. We discuss how there is no right or wrong, the difference a few blocks can make, how all towels are not created equal and other heated (or in this case not) topics. Along with our many accommodation guides, we now also offer trip-planning services which could help you with planning your itinerary, accommodation and getting around.  

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What you’ll learn in this episode

  • Corinna loves traveling in Italy – it is her great passion in life and she believes in doing a kind of sustainable travel rather than the mass-tourism style travel. Her books are all about showing everyone the places that the tour busses don’t go to, and all the great places that are right around the corner from where the crowds are but are equally as mind-blowing
  • Corinna is probably best known for her best-selling Glam Italia guides and she also runs a handful of small group tours for women per year – called the Glam Italia Tours. She is originally from New Zealand, and lives in the States currently – but may well be on the move sometime soon
  • In 2023, she had a bunch of tours back to back and then was back in the US in late October before heading back towards the end of the year, before heading back for Christmas with her son
  • Katy caught up with Corinna at the end of August and along with Untold Italy tour guide and wine expert, Olivia – they had a lovely evening in Trastevere, Rome. It was at the very end of August and was unusually not very busy. They had caught it at a time between the busyness of September and the slight lull of August – perfect for them to enjoy their aperitivo up on the rooftop bar
  • We have had a podcast on accommodation in the past, but Katy thought it was time for an update because as things have changed around the world and in Italy since then

Researching your Accommodation 

  • It is really worth exploring your options for accommodation when planning your trip. Accommodation is probably the second biggest cost, after flights – if not the more. It’s certainly a huge part of any trip, so you want to get it right
  • You want to make sure you make the choices that are right for your trip and the people you are traveling with
  • There is no right way. The way that Katy travels is very different from the way Corinna travels which is again very different to the way other people travel but there are some tips that they have learned during their many trips to Italy, that should be useful, whatever your travel style

Limit your moves

  • Something to think about when you’re at the very beginning part planning your trip is to limit location moves and not change locations too often. Corinna and Katy both like to stay a minimum of 3 nights in one location, ideally 4 nights. When people are going to Italy for the first time, they want to get up and down the country and see as much of the country as they can – but unless you have a huge amount of time, that is not only not enjoyable, it is often just not feasible. You don’t want to be in that situation where every couple of nights you’re packing up and moving on to the next place. When planning your accommodation keep that in mind
  • The average trip to Italy for those coming long-haul is around 10 – 14 nights. We heard an interesting statistic from another podcast guest, Liv Tours fonder Angelo, that the average stay in Rome is 2.4 nights which even surprised Katy and Corinna
  • Rome is Corinna’s favorite city in the world and she is always shocked when people spend such a short amount of time there. You do tend to find that when people have spent a short amount of time there, they are often the ones who will tell you that they didn’t love Rome. When you ask what they did, it is often hitting the places the tour busses go, rushing in and out, being in crowds all the time, eating in over-priced touristy places that don’t do great food – they haven’t had the real Rome experience
  • You need to spend a decent amount of time picking the location of where to stay in each city – according to your itinerary and how you like to travel, because there are lots of different options
  • If someone’s new to Rome, Katy and Corinna both suggest staying in the center, but there are many parts of the center that you shouldn’t stay. From a well-chosen central location, you can walk to all the main sights
  • Corinna stays in Trastevere which is just below the River and you cross a bridge to head over into the historic center. It’s atmospheric and gives you the feel of a very Rome experience
  • Katy also sometimes stays there but thinks Trastevere is not necessarily the greatest choice for a first-timer. There are some nice hotels, but they can be quite far out like the Grand Melia, which has a pool, but it’s on the hill in Trastevere and you can’t easily walk to that many places from there

Avoid the big monuments

  • Whether you’re planning on going to Rome, Florence or any of the major cities, look at where the big monuments are, so in Rome – the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps – and don’t stay there!
  • What happens is the big monuments are where all the mass tourism is. It is always going to be crowded there, everything is going to cost more there too. Something simple things like walking down the street to go and have a coffee in the morning (which Corinna feels is one of the great pleasures of being in Italy) – if you’re a few blocks away from the main moments and sights, you’re not going to be surrounded by crowds and you’re going to pay as much for your coffee
  • Pickpockets also gather mostly around those places. So picture the scene of sitting outside trying to have a beautiful meal alfresco and you’ve just got a stream brushing past your table, you’re paying a whole lot more than you would otherwise be paying, and you’re having to be hyper-vigilant about your stuff because of the pick-pocket risk prowling nearby
  • Katy likes to stay around the Campo de Fiore area and the Pantheon area and Piazza Navona, because she finds that area is equidistant to the Vatican Museums, and Colosseum. That’s her area of choice – but we do not suggest staying right Piazza Navona or right next to the Pantheon, but a couple of blocks away
  • There are lots of places near the Colosseum, but not right. on it. We’re talking about a 5 minute walk away making all the difference – not having to go all the way across town
  • If you’re in Florence, if you’re right by the Duomo or Palazzo Vecchio, again you have crowds, higher prices and higher chance of opportunist crime
  • Katy broke this rule recently 
    I did have a reason for staying in Florence right near the Piazza de la Signoria  – it was a little bit out of he way but she went into it with her eyes open and it was because she was showing her kids Florence at her daughters request and they had limited time there as they broke the other rule and were only staying 2 nights! 
  • She also broke the monument rule last year when she splurged on a stay at the oldest hotel in Rome, the gorgeous Antico Albergo del Sole al Pantheon right on Piazza de la Rotunda next to the Pantheon – because she wanted to stay near her favorite building
  • As soon as her taxi couldn’t get through the crowds to drop her off she realised she’d probably made a mistake – and this was very early April so she had thought she could get away with it. It was fine once she was in my room and could look out, see the beautiful Pantheon and watch all the crowds below, but it was certainly no incentive to leave the room! It’s a lovely hotel, with lovely people but definitely one for very low season
  • When you’re somewhere in the heart of tourist sights like this – if you go downstairs just to sit outside and have a spritz, you’re going to pay a ton more money for that spritz, it is probably not going to be a very good spritz and you’ll probably just get a bowl of crisps and nothing exciting – not the best for your aperitivo hour. If you’re just a little bit further back from the main crowded centers, you’re going to find that the quality of everything goes up
  • It can also be very noisy too. You might find a fabulous hotel or Airbnb and the window looking out over a gorgeous piazza, but that dreamy view might come at the expense of noise. If you’re right in the heart of it, it gets noisy and goes very, very late at night. Things keep going much later than you are likely used to in your neighborhood back home
  • You want to be close enough that you can walk around and see all the things you want to see, but just that little bit back – in a more local-oriented and not-so-noisy area where you can meander down the street and have a cup of coffee surrounded by Italians and you pay €1.50 for your cappuccino instead of €5  and your reasonably priced cake or croissant was actually made locally and not from a factory like the over-priced ones in the tourist hubs
  • Be in the Historic Center, but just not right by the Spanish Step, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum. You’re going to have a very different experience if you’re just a little bit back

Read reviews – and lots of them

  • Read all the reviews. Read right through them all and you’ll find it starts to build a fuller picture of the place. If you see people talk about noise or someone raving that they were just 2 blocks away from something amazing to see or to eat, they did this or that. It’s. a great way to pick up tips as well as get a general sense of the place
  • When you really read into reviews, you start seeing the same things referred to over and over. This can either be a sign that it is not for you – or you take that as something you are prepared to compromise for other things you like

Don’t go too far

  • Corinna had some friends that stayed in Rome in one of the fancier chain hotels which was really far out of the city. There were big, fluffy towels and great bathrobes, and they had an American breakfast and various home comforts but it was so far out that every time they wanted to do something it involved a car ride
  • If your hotel is not easy to get back to – when you’re walking around the streets. and you see something you want to buy – maybe some clothing, shoes or ceramics – when you buy it, if you’re staying further out, you’re stuck carrying it all day long. When you’re staying in the historic center of any of these towns, you can zip back to your room at some point, drop off any shopping, chill out for a little bit, cool down  and then come back out again refreshed
  • Corinna spent a lot of time in Florence this summer and stayed over in Oltrarno, near Piazza del Carmine and the Carraia Bridge. It was great because she was just an 8-minute walk from her apartment to Ponte Vecchio, which still felt crowded at midnight. But even just walking down towards the Carraia bridge, there were fewer people and even more so once you were across the bridge. It was like a different world. It is good to be close enough that you can walk to everywhere – not in half an hour, but in mabe 10-15 minutes

Study the map

  • Look at sights and areas that you know about or that you think you might like to spend time and then start drawing or imagining little circles around them to create areas you could stay
  • If you’re someone who loves to shop you don’t want to be far away from where all the shops are, similarly if you’re someone who prioritizes visiting museums, you don’t want to be way out away from where the majority of museums are situated You really want to figure it out for you personally where you should be. This is the first step before then figuring out what type of accommodation you want

Untold Italy’s Accommodation Guides

  • We have a lot of accommodation guides which could come in useful, with those for the larger cities like Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan, breaking down the pros and cons of different districts and areas. We also have guides to some of the smaller cities, head to South to Amalfi, Puglia and Sicily as well as some recommendations for agriturismo and masserias in the Italian countryside.

Rome:

Other Italian Cities:

The rest of Italy:

Accommodation Types

  • You have to really think about what amenities you want and what is important to you and suits you and your trip 
  • People have a preferred style of travel, which can be very different person to person. It can also be different depending on where you are staying and how long you are spending there

Vacation rentals/Airbnbs

  • There’s no one right or wrong way when it comes to picking accommodation types
  • Corinn’as personal style of travel is to stay in vacation rentals (which she refers to as Airbnbs whether she’s booked via them or not)
  • For her, she wants to feel like she’s coming home at the end of the day. She wants a homey environment and room to sit down – not having to sit on the end of her bed at the end of the day. She likes a living room with kitchen access and room to breathe
  • She enjoys being able to go to the food markets to shop and have some meals at home as well as some of out
  • Corinna is often away for 8 weeks at a time so eating out for 3 meals a day for that length of time stops being appealing quickly
  • She likes to wander the local fruit and vegetable market, see what’s seasonal and chat to the vendors about what she could make with the produce on offer.
  • Staying in this kind of accommodation, in less tourist-packed areas feels more like assimilating in local Italian life – which is part of the reason she likes to travel. If she stays in a hotel, everybody’s paid to be nice and polite to her. She feels too confined in a small hotel room and not everywhere is going to have bigger suites that you can live in, and when they do they are often so pricey they are out of budget
  • As well as being in Italy for longer periods she is often working on her tour business so having that home from home is very different to someone perhaps on a 10-day vacation moving around a lot
  • Corinna has friends who would never consider staying in an Airbnb – they feel they work all the time, maybe in the office and then at home doing chores – so on vacation, they want to stay in a hotel where they don’t have to think of anything and people are there to provide everything you need
  • For Katy, her trips are typically a bit shorter than Corinnas and she is typically dashing about the country a bit more. She really likes hotels for this reason – so she doesn’t have to deal with key exchanges and working out how various things work
  • Katy loves a charming boutique hotel rather than chains, however – somewhere interesting, maybe where there are frescoes on the wall or historic featueres
  • Katy’s kids love Italian breakfast – piles of cakes, fruit, eggs and bacon (not typically Italian but you usually get in hotels
  • When they travel as a family they typically go for breakfast with the idea that they don’t have to eat another meal till lunch – just some snacking through the day, then dinner later on. You can save a decent amount of money on food doing this
  • Corinna, though a vacation rental lover, has places where she really love staying in hotels, such as in Sicily where she stays on the island of Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands in the same hotel she has been going to for 12 years. It’s got a huge rooftop terrace with lovely chairs where you can sit, have a glass of wine and look across the water to the active volcano at Stromboli
  • Another place that Corinna will always stay in hotels is when she is in Matera. Staying one of the Sassi – the former cave dwellings, that has been turned into a hotel is a special experience you don’t want to miss out on there
  • Katy was recently up in the Dolomites, where they have very different styles of hotels – very Alpine chalet-like. They typically include Half Board, which seems quite old-fashioned these days, but because they are often fairly remote – it makes sense. Another unique kind of hotel experience
  • Katy generally loves to find a small family-run hotel. If you stay in the bigger chains, in the hotel itself you could be anywhere in the world, in a smaller family-run hotel it is more personal and you’ll get the real sense of being in Italy

Agriturismi & Masserias

  • Corinna loves mixing her trips up a bit so she is doing some of her trip in the big cities and some of it out in the countryside. She likes to staying on an Agriturismo or Masseria when down in the south of Italy
  • An agriturismo is particular to Italy and is a farm stay of sorts.  Though some are rustic, many are very luxurious and depending on the region, they are bound under rules where they have to provide their guests a high level of local produce in any breakfast or dinner they provide. Find out more on our podcast episode What is an Agriturismo? with Agriturismo owners Sal and Sarah who run an idyllic agriturismo in Umbria
  • It’s a glorious option where you really get that idyllic Italian country experience
  • Corinna loves a Masseria which you will find in the countryside of Puglia. A Masseria is a fortified farmhouse which will be at the heart of agricultural land. These were owned by wealthy land barons back in the 16th – 18th centuries and are often beautiful buildings in stunning surroundings
  • There are two that Corinna uses down in Puglia outside of Locorotondo. Her favorite of the two has been in the family for generations and in Locorotondo, one of the streets is named after their family. They do the most amazing breakfast and then you’re eating out every evening. The other one that Corinna stays at is also a gorgeous property, but it is completely self-catered, so there’s no breakfast option, but if like Corinna you enjoy going to the supermarket or local grocery stores, it’s an added bonus
  • A lot of them will have swimming pools. Some of these Agristurismi and Masseria are almost like mini luxury resorts. They might be working farms, but they have put a lot of effort into making a stay feel like a special occasion. Katy has rarely been let down by an Agriturismo – she’s stayed in amazing ones in Puglia and Sicily (where they’re known as Baglio – if you are searching there)
  • On Corinna’s Umbria tours, they stay in the countryside. Every night they eat in because where they stay has got a beautiful outdoor area and you sit outside surrounded by gorgeous trees and because there is no light pollution, the sky is full of stars  – the perfect setting to enjoy your Umbrian food and wine
  • On the Untold Italy small group tours of Puglia they stay in both a luxury Masseria and one of the cave hotels in Matera

Agriturismi & Masserias:

Villas

  • If you’re traveling with your family or if there’s a group of you, it can be really fun to rent a villa. Corinna has done this lots of times. It’s not necessarily as expensive as you would think – it can often work out to be much more economical than staying in an equal-caliber hotel. Once you split the cost between the different parties in your group it can work out a good deal
  • Many of them have swimming pools and you’re staying in the beautiful Italian countryside –  you’re really experiencing the Italy dream
  • A friend of Corinna’s recently stayed in a villa in Bolgheri on the Tuscany Coast. They sent her these videos of walking around these gorgeous rooms and then opening up the shutters and out of the windows there’s vineyards stretched out in front and then the sea in the distance – it was ridiculously idyllic 
  • Again for those who love to shop and cook with Italian produce, you’re preparing things for yourself but at some of the villas, you can pay for people to come in and cook for you

Getting around if you’re staying in an Agriturismo/Masseria/Villa

  • If you’re staying out in the country you will need to have a rental car so you can come and go – otherwise, you will struggle to go out and see things and then go out to eat
  • Do consider though, that there has to be a designated driver if you are visiting a winery or going out for lunch or dinner. There has been a recent law change so the limit in Italy for drivers is only 0.5. It’s something to factor into your equation – if your dream trip involves sitting outside having a long Italian dinner and drinking copious glasses of wine then you need to think about how are you getting back to this Masseria
  • You might need to look into private drivers or local taxis – but they might not be as readily available as you might think
  • A lot of people ask for private drivers, particularly in Tuscany and price-wise you can easily be looking at upwards of €500 a day for a private driver. Depending on where you are in Tuscany, they might not even be interested because things are so spread out. It can sound strange to those of us from the US/Australia/UK – but if it’s not convenient, they often just don’t want to do it
  • With the hiring an private/NCC drivers, the cost is based on the total number of kilometers driven. You might be out in the countryside outside of Greve in Chianti (a town in Tuscany south of Florence) and your driver is starting from Florence, the clock starts when he turns that ignition on. So that’s is all the kilometers they use to get you, then to go to whatever things you’re planning and then all the kilometers back to where you are staying and then back to Florence for them. That can get really expensive. But Corinna wouldn’t even entertain the idea of going to wineries without having a driver as she finds it boring if you’re a wine drinker to be in Italy and go to a winery and not partake. For those who don’t drink it’s not an issue and for some, like Katy, whose husband doesn’t drink, you may have a member of your party who is happily designated driver
  • It is another advantage of going on a tour because all the transportation is sorted out
  • The other thing you need to think about when you’re staying in the country is that you might find yourself driving in the dark back to your agriturismo or Masseria after going out for the day or for dinner. You are probably used to driving in the dark at home, but it is very different on these old country roads with no lights, and lots of potholes – only being able to see as far as your headlights ahead of you can be a little bit hair-raising and not for everyone. You might find that you have a long lunch out and prepare your own food at home in the evening so you are home before it gets dark

B&Bs

  • Bed and breakfasts are another option that should never be discounted and you can find some very charming ones. They are like small-family hotels and you can find some really beautiful options in the cities and in particular the smaller cities. The smaller secondary cities and smaller towns often have lovely and interesting B&Bs that feel really personal
  • You’ll often find places that have frescoes and are just decorated in a way that you simply can’t decorate for a major hotel – more personal and often uniquely charming

Hostels

  • There are also hostels as well. It’s not something that she feels she would do, but the younger version of Corinna probably would have. Her friend Linda has one in Rome called the Beehive in Rome which is really popular
  • In a hostel, you’re meeting people like-minded people who are also traveling solo and they can share with you where they’ve been and what they’ve done so it’s great for tips and inspiration. Or maybe they’ll invite you to come along with them for the day
  • It’s changed a lot since Katy stayed in hostels in her 20s, now a lot of single, older travelers use hostels which now often offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms

Monasteries/Convents

  • There is also the possibility of a monastery or convent stay. There are a number of places around the country, often in the country where you can stay at monasteries which people enjoy for a number of reasons – safety and company for lone travelers and these buildings and their history are often of course fascinating
  • When Katy was with her friend in Rome, recently, she was shown the convent right next to the Spanish Steps that her friend stayed at many, many years ago. Be aware though – like this one, some places have strict rules and curfews, she had to be in by 10 pm each evening 
  • There are others scattered around Italy that are no longer owned by the church, so former monasteries and convents that are privately owned and have been converted and make nice boutiquey hotel experiences

Mix it up

  • It is really nice to mix your stays up. A little bit of time in a hotel, a little bit in a vacation rental or Airbnb, maybe stay a few days (at least) in an Agriturismo or Masseria
  • If you’re doing a 14-day trip and you’re moving around a few different places, that’s certainly doable
  • This way you are getting different kinds of experiences

Things may not be what you are used

  • You really need to understand and prepare for what you’re getting into – Buyer Beware! Because certain things are simply not going to be the same as they are in your home country and may not be what you expect
  • If you want what you get at home, book into a chain hotel
  • Across the board, there are so many differences, and there are certain things that you might take for granted living in the new world of the US or Australia

Beds

  • If Corinna books a hotel in the US for herself she is going to get a queen-size bed or a king-size bed. In Italy when doing the same and booking a room for a single person, she may well get a single bed. A single bed narrower than you are used to at home also. She has accidentally done this a couple of times – book for 2 people if you want to ensure a decent size bed
  • In Italy, mattresses are generally a lot firmer. Not 100 % of the time, but most beds are slatted, not box spring. Generally, you’re going to find that mattresses in Italy are a lot firmer than they are in the United States. Corinna has people complaining about this a lot and this is actually also one of the top gripes in our Italy Travel Planning Facebook Community

Washcloths and Towels

  • Firm beds are a topic that is possibly only beaten in our Facebook group by the lack of washcloths in hotels – something you don’t generally find in Europe. If they are important to you, take your own washcloths with you or bring biodegradable wipes, or as Corrine does, use microfibre cloths that dry out overnight. If you’re packing your suitcase and leaving in the morning, you’re then not having to be packing a damp, smelly washcloth
  • Another question Corinna gets a lot is “Why is there only one towel per person?” If you are in the US and staying in an Airbnb or a hotel, there are going to be quite a few towels per person and big fluffy towels at that. In Italy, not so much. You’re probably going to have one bath towel (often not very big), one hand towel, and one bidet towel per person (warning – don’t use that little towel on your face because its sole purpose in life is to dry people’s bottoms!) and the towel is possibly less than fluffy
  • Corinna speculates that part of the reason is that everything goes out to get laundered. There aren’t laundry rooms and basements with dryers to throw towels into. So there is a cost involved. Even if they do have access to a washer and drier, electricity costs are high so people tend to be frugal running such things

Heating and Airconditioning restrictions

  • The high energy costs reflect the issues with another thing which throws people which is heating and air conditioning. If you are staying in someone’s apartment/in a vacation rental, you are subject to the local authority heating and cooling regulations, which you may not be familiar with. In Italy, the local authorities tell you when you can turn your heating and your cooling on and how high and this is usually controlled by the building, not the individual apartment
  • It’s not your landlord being cheap. The heating doesn’t get turned on until November, and it gets turned off in March. If you’re there in October and you have a cold snap, it is basically your bad luck. Corinna was in Italy in May 2023 which turned out the wettest May in 70+ years. It rainy every single day until around the 24th. She lives in Arizona and is used to things very hot and very dry, so she found it quite the ordeal as she didn’t have any warm winter clothes with her and you couldn’t turn the heating on
  • If this is really important to you, you need to stay in a hotel because you could be a bit disappointed if you’re traveling in the shoulder seasons though some smaller hotels are limited like apartments, so it’s worth checking
  • There is the same situation with air conditioning. Famously, Katy stayed at an Agriturismo recently – a beautiful, large property where they had the air conditioning wedged onto 25 degrees, which in Katy’s book counts as heating in the middle of summer, so they just turned it off
  • Air conditioning is generally not the same as you may be used to – so just because it says there is air conditioning, if you are someone who loves an ice-cold air conditioning, you need to reset your expectations if you don’t want to stay in a major chain hotel
  • A lot of apartments have good, modern air conditioning wall units, but it is worth checking for air con and which rooms it is in
  • Corinna has had hotel experiences in Italy with aircon which seemed little more than hot breathe, where you just can’t cool down, so even if a place says that it has air conditioning, chances are it’s not going to be like the air conditioning you have at home
  • Opening the windows to cool down may also not be an option due to the mosquitoes. I Arizona they have bug screens on all the windows but it is unusual to find these in Italy

Mobility Issues

  • If you’ve got mobility-challenged, you need to check thoroughly that there is an elevator in any building you are staying in – it cannot always be assumed that there will be
  • Also in the bathrooms, the shower might be over the baths, so you need to climb into a high-sided bath which may not be possible for everybody 
  • Even getting into your hotel, there are often a few steps to get in. On Katy’s recent trip with her family, found times when for her father who has mobility challenges, getting into hotels was a bit tricky. You can’t check everything without going to see if for yourselves, but do the best you can – you can use street view on Google to see the front of a building for instance
  • There are a lot of things to check for, but the good thing now is that if you book on some of the major booking platforms, you can now eliminate some of these things quickly
  • It’s not just Italy – Corinna had some friends who were in Spain a few weeks ago, and their hotel room was on the sixth floor with no elevator
  • Corinna finds that most of the time in Rome and in Florence, there will be an elevator, but in Venice, there are noticeably less. soit can go either way. Similarly, as you’re moving out around the country in smaller cities and towns – it is definitely not a given
  • Look into elevator access when you’re booking – especially if you’re booking in a place where your room could be on a high floor. Even for those with no mobility issues, if you have to go up one flight upstairs with large luggage it is do-able but on the 3rd or 4th floor it can be a challenge 

TVs

  • The TV in your hotel room or rental is going to be Italian TV as standard. There is no dubbing. You get the Italian TV, which is notoriously terrible and if you’re in a hotel, you sometimes get the BBC or CNN or something similar, but sometimes not even that
  • Corinna has found lately, with vacation rentals, that lots of them have the ability for you to log into Netflix/other streaming services. Some newer Smart TVs also give you the ability to watch TV shows in their original language

Toilet Paper

  • When you’re in a rental apartment, a villa, and a lot of times in a Masseria, there’ll be some toilet paper there when you get there, but you’re expected to go out and top it up if you need some more. That can really throw people but it is the norm. It’s not a hotel and no one is going to come in to keep filling it up every day, you will need to go to the store and pick it up. The amount they leave to begin with can really depend – sometimes a small amount, sometimes a decent stock so you don’t need to think about it
  • To buy a full pack of toilet paper is around €1.85, so it’s not breaking the bank and a lot of the places that you stay will have stacks, but it is something to be aware of

Coffee

  • Very few places that Corinna has stayed in have had American-style drip coffee makers. They might have an Espresso machine or something similar but not many will have the American-style filter coffee makers
  • Corinna and Katy both don’t drink that kind of coffee themselves – but they’ve found a lot of people from the US have mentioned it because they are used to that kind of coffee in the morning and an Espresso is much stronger 
  • You can take instant coffee with you if you really can’t face an espresso in the morning.  You can buy little boxes of single-serve sashes of instant coffee in supermarkets before you go
  • If you’re a real coffee person, you can bring an aeropress

Book ASAP for 2024

  • If you’re traveling in 2024, especially in the summer, get booking ASAP. The best properties get booked up 6-12 months in advance
  • Katy has noticed a lot of surge pricing happening in the busier months in the major areas. One of the hotels that she stays at in Florence is normally around €300 a night, and it goes up to €1,000 a night
  • The last two years have had more tourism than Corinna has ever seen before. In 2022, it was the most she’d ever seen, but then ’23 topped it. It is likely to be that way for a while, so get your accommodation booked as soon as possible
  • But take note – for those who like to book way in advance, it can be annoying because you might find in October/November there wasn’t availability for October/November the following year. A lot of establishments, especially smaller ones, don’t put their availability until the season’s finished for the previous year. So you have to wait it out and then get in there quickly
  • It used to be that by mid-September, when all the kids went back to school in Europe, that was the end of the season  Now, the season is still going on November 1st. You don’t get that dips in the shoulder season that you used to

Find out more about Corinna

  • At corinnacooke.com you can find links to Corinna’s books, tours and social media – and all her best-selling books can also be found on Amazon here
  • Corinna’s Instagram is @corinnatravels and is a great place to follow her adventures around Italy as well as signing up to her newsletter for all the latest news and her wonderful tips

Untold Italy Trip Planning Services

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About our guest – Corinna Cooke

Author Corinna Cooke is a favorite guest on Untold Italy. Originally from New Zealand, she fell in love with Italy thanks to a high school art history teacher who introduced her to Italian Renaissance art. After moving to London and traveling throughout Europe, she couldn’t stop returning to her beloved Italy.

Now living in Phoenix in the United States, Corinna is a woman of many skills. She leads several Glam Italia small group tours to Italy each year and writes guidebooks of the same name exploring her favorite corners of beautiful Italia. And her “day job” is a make-up artist. But, her heart is always called to Italy. 101 Fabulous Things to do in Venice is her latest book full of fascinating stories, tips, and tricks on how to have a fabulous time in Venice. 

You can find Corinna on these channels:

Corinna’s books

Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Venice: Fantastic Finds In The most Unique City On Earth
Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps (Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy)
Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence: Insider Secrets To The Renaissance City (Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy)
Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget)

Places mentioned in the show

Resources

  • baglio – the name used for an agriturismo style say in Sicily
  • NCC driver – “Noleggio Con Conducente” means Car Rental with Driver, and indicates that a car is designated for such a driving service

Resources from Untold Italy

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Transcript

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Disclosure: Untold Italy assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please visit our disclosure page for more information.