Understanding the culture of any country will allow you to enjoy its
differences. This is even truer when taking an independent vacation in a villa
rental. You are now getting into the lives of its people, not just passing
We think it is important to read as much as you can, and we've listed a few
things that we think are important for independent travelers, no matter what
area of Italy you are visiting.
So,you've decided to experience Italy's culture, customs and lifestyle and
savor La Dolce Vita. Congratulations on this exciting adventure! There is no
better way to get close and intimate with this glorious country than by
renting a home and experiencing living among the local people. Self catering
rentals are not for everyone. First and foremost, you must enjoy being an
adventurous and independent traveler. You will need to plan and coordinate
sightseeing excursions, handle your own luggage, drive and/or schedule your
public transportation and yes even on vacation--- make your beds and do your
own laundry. But it certainly has it rewards too. You can savor a cappuccino
and cornetto at the local neighborhood bar among the workforce starting their
day, or buy groceries alongside your neighbors for the evening's meal.
Italy is rich in culture and traditions. Staying in a rented property allows
you to see the soul of the country as Italians know and love it, not just its
highlights. Surprisingly it is also usually less expensive than a hotel room
and you will have much more living space. Like any vacation, we recommend you
read up before you go. It will help you to understand the differences and way
of life of the Italian people and to make the most of your vacation in helping
plan your days.
To enjoy a vacation in another county, it is important that you understand
and respect the habits and traditions of your host country. A foreign country
means different people, cultures, food, and customs. Be prepared to schedule
your sightseeing and shopping around their opening hours, as most businesses
and even churches close at noon and reopen in the late afternoon. Church bells
could ring every hour, tractors are running soon after the roosters' crow. The
stairs may not have railings, the bathroom could be next to the kitchen, and
there very likely are no screens on the windows inviting every outdoor critter
to stop by. The water pressure may not be what you are used to, the ceiling
lights may not have shades and a curtain replaces a cabinet under the kitchen
sink. On first approach, your home may feel old fashion, but by the second day
you will come to appreciate its differences for what they are. It is an
attractive part of traveling, but it is best to remember it will be different
from what you are used to. It's important to arrive with an open mind. Make
sure to get familiar with the home when you first arrive, lighting the stove
and turning on the heat are different from our own homes. Now is the time to
ask your host how to operate anything around the home. Keep all these things
in mind, and you will have the right attitude for a fun and very memorable
experience in you home away from home.
Here are a few topics that may be helpful.
Do not expect American accommodations. You are going abroad to view great
works of art, architecture, cuisine and countryside with the added bonus of
living within the neighborhood, shopping as the locals do, and experiencing a
closer look at Italy. We do offer a variety of homes, from Castles and Palaces
to farmhouses and cottages that reflect the local cultures and standards.
Some are elegant others humble, but all are a welcome experience into the
Italian way of life.
The regions of Italy vary hugely from each other. It wasn't until 1870 that
Italy was unified as one country. Its 21 regions have always maintained their
own dialects, cuisine, craftsmen and architecture that vary significantly among
the other regions of Italy.
It wasn't until after World War II that highways started being built in
Italy. Before this time, it was difficult to go from village to village let
alone another region. What this did was preserve the cultural individuality of
these regions and provinces.
By the way, if you think the autostrada looks a little familiar, it's
because Italy sent their engineers to America to study our road and sign
systems after the war. You will find the similarities in their layout and road
signs. The American Stop sign and the SOS call boxes placed repeatedly along
the shoulder of the autostrada surprise most first-time visitors. The call
boxes were copied directly from the bright yellow emergency call boxes that
were prominent on our American highways of the 50's. The SOS on their sides
coming from the International distress signal during the war (Save Our Ship).
ELECTRICITY AND ENERGY
Voltage throughout Italy is 220, so you will need a converter for your small
appliances. Converters are handy for recharging your video cameras, shavers,
etc. It will work with your hairdryer but it doesn't give it much power and
you may end up burning your hair. When we know that a hairdryer is included in
the property, we will notate it. You may be able to borrow one from the owner,
but if your house doesn't have one, the $12.00 is a wise investment and is
cheaper than getting those dry ends cut off when you return home and it's
convenient to have for your next trip.
Electricity is more precious than water, and is very expensive. The standard
is 3kw per house, which limits appliances to the essential. You should get to
know where the fuse box is when you are inspecting your house, as power surges
are common. It is wise not to run more than one appliance at a time. You may
find that running two hairdryers in different bathrooms may blow a fuse. Try
not to run too many appliances at the same time.
Lighting can be very dim. Usually low-wattage bulbs are used. Make sure to
pack a book light with you if you like to read in the evenings. This is
especially important if you are renting before May and after October when the
days are shorter. It is a good idea to bring along a flashlight for those trips
to and from the car especially if you are in the countryside.
Always turn out the lights when you are not in the room and of course when
you leave for a day of sightseeing. And while we are on the topic of
conservation, water is also a very precious element and needs to be used
It is the law in Italy that you may not turn on the heat before November 1 and
it is turned off on April 1, no matter how low the temperature outside drops.
Italy buys most of its electricity from France, and it is very expensive,
hence they normally set their home. Italians are used to wearing more layers
of clothing and keeping the temperature lower than we are used to. Some
apartment complexes will have the heat on only at certain hours of the day.
Please be conservative with the heating, even if you are paying for it. In
other words, don't leave the house with the heat turned up high or windows left
For the same reason, you will find very few air-conditioned homes. Those that
do have air conditioning most likely are limited to bedrooms only. There is
usually an extra charge for electricity and you need to be aware that it can
be very costly. Conserve energy, before you leave for your day's excursion;
close the shutters during the hottest part of the day to keep the cool air in.
Not all homes have screens. On those hot summer nights, you will have to keep
the windows open and you may find yourself sharing your home with a few of
God's little creatures. Some houses will have either bug coils or bug
nightlights. If not, you can usually pick a few up at the supermarket. Bring
Wall to wall carpeting is non existent in Italy. You will be walking on cold
stone, terracotta or marble flooring. Best to bring along a pair of slippers
or heavy socks for those times you usually go barefoot. Italians name floors
starting from ground floor. So their ground floor is our first floor. We will
use the Italian convention when numbering floors. That 4th floor walkup in
Venice is equivalent to our 5th floor!
The type of bathrooms can vary from extravagant marble with every comfort to
a shoe box with an open shower. We are particularly sensitive to the bathrooms
being in good working-order condition with suitable fixtures, no matter how
humble it may be.
Vary greatly in size. Instead of box springs, the beds will be on a metal
based frame. The mattresses are not as thick or as large as you are used to
here in the states. Their twin mattress is not as large US standards. To get
an idea of the types of beds you may come upon, please see Beds under
How to Choose your Home.
These are rarely the fluffy Terry cloth you may be used to and very often
cotton sheet type or honeycombed. There are not many dryers in Italy and
this thickness allows them to dry faster. They do not supply washcloths as
this is considered a personal item, nor do they usually supply beach towels.
You will have to bring them from home. Most owners offer one set of towels
per person per week, this set consists of a bath towel, face towel and hand
Italy has been years ahead of our new trend of mixing styles together. Not
ever intended as a fashion statement, you will usually find a mix and match
of antiques and modern furniture. You may have a wonderful antique armoire to
put your clothes in next to a nondescript nightstand. The dining room table
is usually the gathering place and you may not find a lot of upholstery
It is Italian law to register guests with the local police department within
24 hours of arrival. The host will ask you for your passports when you arrive
and you will be required to fill out the necessary forms.
It is almost a given that any home in the country will have some type of
animal on the premises. Most obvious will be cats and dogs that may be
running free. Some are used as hunting dogs and will be chained or penned.
Almost all live outdoors and should not be allowed indoors unless noted by
Washing machines are built to conserve water and electricity. You will be
surprised to find that its wash cycle is around one and a half hours! Dryers
are almost nonexistent in Italy. You will find a few of them in our luxury
homes and some apartments in Rome. Otherwise you need to hang them out on the
line or on a provided clothes rack. Iron and ironing board are usually on
It will be noted on our property description page if the house or apartment
has a washing machine and if it is private or shared.