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Friday, April 17, 2020

How to Rent a Villa in Italy

Wine-Knows has rented this Lake Como villa for 2 weeks September 2020

This is the third in a series of articles on Italy to pay tribute to the country’s devastating battle with coronavirus.  Italy will not always be on lockdown, so supporting their economy will become critical once the country opens to visitors.  In today’s blog we’ll discuss how to rent an Italian vacation property.  Whether you’re planning a Mediterranean seaside holiday, a rustic Tuscan farmhouse escape, or are exploring a less known area such as the south’s Puglia, opting for a rental property has some serious advantages over a hotel.

A Wine-Knows dreamy villa on the Amalfi Coast

The benefits of renting a property over a hotel room seem intuitive:  more space, kitchen facilities, and privacy.   There are however, some disadvantages to consider such as no concierge to support you, no room-service, no restaurant on site, no gym.   One of the biggest disadvantages, however, is being disappointed with the rental which has been chosen based upon photos on some website.

Wine-Knows has rented twenty or so properties in Europe (many of them in Italy), and we always preview them in person before signing the contract.  We can’t stress enough that photos can be deceiving.  As an advance visit is not usually possible for most travelers, doing your due diligence by asking the right questions becomes even more paramount prior to signing anything.  Most travelers focus on the contract and the photos.  There are many items, however, that may not be covered by either.  The devil can be in the unspoken details.

Wine-Knows rented this stunning 10 bedroom villa in Umbria

Wine-Knows list for due diligence:

     1.  Rent from a company that has a proven track record (some examples include VRBO and Airbnb).

     2.  Read every single user review (properties are often listed on multiple sites, so read all of the reviews on all sites).

     3.  Ask not only the square footage , but also request the floorplan layout.  Layouts can be deal-breakers (e.g. no toilet on the main floor, or access to the terrace only through the master bedroom).

     4.  Get photos of every room.  Our experience has shown if there’s not a photo on the website, then that the room is questionable.  If a property owner/manager refuses to send a photo, scratch this home off your list.

This Tuscan seaside villa owned by royalty was rented by WineKnows

     5.  Find out exactly where the bathrooms are located.  If the property is advertised as 7 bedrooms/9 bathrooms, one often assumes each bedroom has an ensuite and that there are a couple extras.   Not true.  It’s not that unusual for a property to have only a few ensuites with the remaining bathrooms down the hall,  up or down a flight of stairs, or outside at the pool.

                                      Breakfast on our Venice apartment's deck was magic

     6.  Inquire if there is a professional manager.  More importantly, find out where the manager is located---a manager located an hour or two away can be problematic.  A manager who speaks some English is also imperative.  Last, if the manager has another full time job this can be an issue for obvious reason.

     7.  Ask the exact size of beds.  Europeans call different sized beds different names and there is no standardization.

A smashing 7 bedroom Italian villa rented by WineKnows on the Tuscan Coast

    8.  Inquire about parking details.  Even if you’re renting a small home for only a two persons, parking (or lack thereof) can make a huge difference.  Parking can become an even bigger issue  when renting larger properties where there will be multiple vehicles. 

    9.  To what floors does the elevator go?  Don’t assume that all floors can be reached by an elevator.

     10. Is the swimming pool heated?  If so, will the heating be on when you’re there?  Is there an additional charge for the heating?  What will it be?  Is pool maintenance included?

     11.  Are utilities included?   If not, what is a typical charge for your period of time?

     12.  What is the size of the refrigerator?  This may seem like a strange question, but if there will be more than two travelers (and you plan to cook), this is a legit concern.  Italians shop daily, therefore, their frigs are typically quite small.

The CEO of Benetton owns this fabulous Rome apartment Wine-Knows rented for a personal holiday

     13.  Inquire about laundry facilities.  First, where are they located?  (In many European homes they can be located in the kitchen!)  Also, dryers are not common in sunny Italy where hanging laundry to air dry is the norm.

     14.  How far is it to the nearest grocery, pharmacy, petrol station, or restaurant?  It goes without saying, access to services is important.

While the above list is daunting, it’s not meant to be so.  Renting a vacation property in Italy can be the memory of a lifetime.  Like anything in life, due diligence is required.   The rewards are the opportunity to experience Italy's la dolce vita in a more personal way.

Viva Italia!!!

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