While any trip to Italy is worth celebrating, an Italian villa vacation lets you live la dolce vita in an authentic, unforgettable way. Not only does it let you experience the culture and cuisine of the region like a local, but the villa itself is often an experience all on its own, replete with its own history, style, and landscape.
That said, while staying in a villa can certainly be much more relaxing than touring and hitting multiple regions in one trip, it still has its own planning process. Below are my tips for planning the perfect Italy villa vacation.
Choosing the Right Region
The first step to planning your Italy villa vacation is deciding where to stay. Here, you should be asking yourself whether you’re looking for something by the coast, the countryside, the mountains, or the city; which period and region’s art and history interest you most; and if you want to see some must-see sights or prefer something off the beaten track.
Of course, Italy is a big country with lots of diversity, but these are the most popular places to rent an Italian villa:
While Florence, Sienna, and Pisa rightly earn their praise as some of the most beautiful cities in the world, it’s the Tuscan countryside that is home to the region’s best villas. Tuscan villas are often restored farmhouses, though you can also find restored 14th century estates and 15th century villas belonging to noble families, like the Machiavelli family. Villas here often feature olive groves, lavender bushes, oak and cypress trees, and private pools. Do be aware, though, that a rental car or driver is often required to reach town.
If you prefer to stay by the sea, then the Amalfi Coast makes for a breathtaking destination. Positano, Capri, and Sorento are all stunning and feature beautiful seaside luxury villas that are often just a short walk to the beach or to town (so no car required). The highlights of Amalfi Coast villas are often their sunny terraces, magnificent gardens, and immaculate furnishings.
Few destinations are as synonymous with luxury as Lake Como. It’s also a great outdoor destination, with some of Italy’s best boating, hiking, kayaking, biking, and golfing. Here you’ll find opulent villas with incredible mountain and lake views, including restored 17th century pallazos and breathtaking lake front estates.
Sicily is home to beautiful coastlines, amazing food, incredible culture, and a rich history that dates back to 8000 B.C. Sicilian villas allow visitors to experience the best of Sicily in restored noble houses, seafront estates, and more.
If you’re looking at Italy like a boot, Puglia is located on the heel. Here you’ll find beautiful seaside towns and one of Italy’s best winemaking regions. It may not have the hype of a Tuscany or an Amalfi Coast, but that means less crowds and better rates. Puglia villas are gorgeous, authentic, and surprisingly affordable, including restored masserias (farmhouses) with a serious emphasis on luxury.
The Best Time to Rent a Villa in Italy
Rental rates for Italian villas vary significantly depending on the time of year. High season is in July and September and sees the highest rental rates by far, as this is when most of Europe is on vacation. Italians often flee the city to go to the countryside, so getting that perfect Tuscan or seaside villa will be pricier than usual and will also require a greater lead time. That said, July and August may be a good time to travel if you’re looking to stay in the city, assuming you don’t mind the heat.
For most, though, the best time to rent a villa in Italy is in shoulder season: May-June, and September-October. The weather is still great, but the temperatures aren’t usually too hot; the prices are significantly lower than in peak season; and you’ll have a wider selection of villas to choose from.
How Long in Advance do I Need to Book an Italian Villa?
If you’re looking to book an Italian villa for high season, then it would be wise to book 8-12 months in advance. This will ensure that you have enough time and selection to really choose the area and villa that is best for you.
Of course, it’s not always easy to arrange travel dates so far in advance, especially when you’re renting a villa with multiple parties. Again, that’s one of the major advantages of shoulder season, and often you can find a great selection within 2-4 months of your travel dates. A similar lead time is suggested for the off season too, as while many villas will have vacancy during this time, a good number may not be available to rent altogether due to a lack of staff.
How Long Should I Book For?
Most villas in Italy will require at least a one week minimum, with some requiring as much as 10 days or even 2 weeks in high season. That said, I wouldn’t book for less than a week – that’s really the minimum time needed to get fully settled into the villa. Plus, a big part of the charm of renting a villa in Italy is to live like a local and take life at a slower, more leisurely pace. In fact, because every area of Italy has so much to explore and offer, I would suggest staying in one villa for the whole trip, and at most I would split the trip between two regions, with one week minimum in each.
Amenities to Look out For
Wi-Fi / reception
While most Italian villas will come with Wi-Fi, do be aware that reception is sometimes not so great across the whole villa. This is because many have thick wells, which can get in the way of cellphone reception as well. That said, reception will often work well in the common areas, but if you really need Wi-Fi in every room, then this is something you will want to ask about.
While Italian villas often come with a washer, they do not always come with a dryer, as many Italians dry their clothes outside. If a dryer is a must for you, then double check to make sure there is one in the villa; or, alternatively, see if laundry service can be arranged.
Because of the historical nature of many of these villas, central air conditioning may not be available. This is especially so if the villa is a resorted farmhouse with thick stone walls. That said, these stone walls are designed to keep the villa cool in the summer, and in any case, there are usually air conditioning units in the bedrooms.
While some Italian villas will include staff with the rental, often you’ll be presented with the choice of whether to include staff with your villa stay for an additional cost. I suggest opting to at least include a cook. Unless you’re staying very close to the city, you probably won’t want to have to eat at restaurants for every meal. Including a cook will give you the chance to experience delicious, homecooked meals with local ingredients, cooked the way you want. It’s a healthier, more authentic option than eating out all the time, and you’ll likely end up saving money when all is said and done as well. Adding a villa stocking service will also ensure that your villa is always stocked with the groceries you want.
Let us Help you Plan Your Italy Villa Vacation
The best tip I can give is to book your Italian villa with a company you trust and that has a full concierge service. Rental Escapes works directly with its partners in Italy to curate the finest selection of Italian villas, and our concierge service works directly with you to arrange staff, drivers, rental cars, villa stocking, excursions, and more.
Contact us today to book your perfect Italian villa vacation!