Rent your own place

Live like the locals and let an apartment, villa, house, or cottage in Italy

A rental trullo in Alberobello, Puglia, Italy
If you really want to feel like a temporary Italian, try renting—like this pointy trullo in the Italian town of Alberobello. After all, it's not every night you get to bed down in a genuine, UNESCO-protected piece of historic vernacular architecture—and it costs less than the hotels in town to boot.
Instead of staying at several hotels in different cities or towns, pick a city or region to explore more fully and rent an apartment or villa—or anything that offers a degree of independent living.

The options are vast: that archetypcal villa for rent in Tuscany, an apartment in Venice, a townhouse suite–like Residence hotel in Rome, a damusso on the island of Pantelleria, a trullo house in Apulia, an albergo diffuso flat in an Abruzzo village... just pick where you want to be and start looking for your own pad.

If you choose a small town or a place in the country, rent a car and settle down to life, Italian-style.

Not only can you save money in the long run, but you’ll become a temporary native of sorts.

Become a regular at the cafe on the corner and the little grocery store down the street.

Get to know your neighbors; maybe they’ll teach you the family recipe for spaghetti sauce.

You may enjoy the lifestyle so much that you find yourself pausing at the windows of local realtors to peruse the offerings and check on property values.

Rental agencies and booking sites ( - A generalist booking engine is a great choice for nightly or short-term apartments. By the numbers: 741 apartments in Rome, 206 in Florence, 198 in Venice.

PartnerRentalo( - More than 120,000 properties around the world, including 313 in Florence (how about a frescoed two-bedroom apartment in the city center for €775 a week or €130 a night?).

PartnerHomeAway (www.homeaway.comPartner) - Probably the biggest (at least when it comes to Italy), with more than 545,000 rentals around the world, including around 37,000 in Italy alone (of which more than 11,000 are in Tuscany, another 3,300 in Rome and Lazio, 1,491 in Umbria, and 2,758 in Sicily).

PartnerBelvilla (www.belvilla.comPartner) - British branch of a Dutch company... but what do you care where they're based? What counts is that Belvilla has a vast catalog—around 15,000 properties in 17 countries across Europe, including 2,431 in Italy—and, in my experience, some of the best prices on truly stellar rental homes. Put it this way: recently, when I was researching an article for a magazine that included a way to rent villas, I had to pick a single villa in Italy as an example. I combed through the catalogues of some two dozen agencies, including all those mentioned here, and looking in every corner of Italy for the perfect candidate to highlight—the villa that could stand in for all Italian rental villa as the postcard-perfect dream villa. I eventually came up with a shortlist of 10 properties that might make the cut to send along to my editors. Three of those finalists I found on Belvilla. 'Nuff said.

PartnerVRBO (www.vrbo.comParnter) - The names stands for "Vacation Rentals By Owners," which is (mostly) exactly what this is: it cuts out the middle man or a rental agency (and the attendant fees) by allowing those with rental homes to advertise them directly to potential vacation renters. I say "mostly" because, as you might imagine, plenty of agencies post their offering here as well, but that's OK. So long as you find the right match for you, Does the provenience of the perfect vacation home really matter? I've used this service to find everything from a flat in London to a South Carolina beach house for an extended-family vacation (by which I mean my extended family—three generations-worth—not, sadly, an extended vacation, which lasted only one week). ( - Network of both official and unofficial apartments and B&Bs, including more than 1,200 apartments in Rome; 450 apartments in Florence; 111 apartments in Venice; and 390 apartments in Milan. Its rates are among the lowest, most charging anywhere from $25 to $800 per night. A handful do range higher, but the important thing is that roughly 80% of the apartments cost $200 or less per night—way less than most hotels. Partly this is because many of the rentals are actually illegal—unregulated, un-inspected, and uuntaxed. Great rates, yes, but buye-beware.

Barclay International ( - One of the world's premier rental agencies since 1963. (And yes, "premier" does mean "a bit pricey"). Excellent properties and service, though, throughout the major cities of Western Europe.

PartnerInterhome ( - Thousands upon thousands of apartments and villas across Europe (and, er, Florida).

Villas International ( - Long-established agency, with properties in perhaps more countries than any other. ( - The biggest virtual classifieds section lists short-term rentals all over the world. Be sure to rifle through the craigslists of most major U.S. cities—doesn't matter if you live there or not—because lots of folks post rental ads for their Rome apartment on the Craigslists for New York, Chicago, San Fran, etc.

Tips & links

Rental links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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