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What to Expect When You Arrive at Your Villa Rental

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 through.

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).

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 carefully.

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 open.

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 bug repellant!

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 towel.

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 seating.

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 your host.

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 the premises.
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.



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