Five Alternatives to Hotels in Italy


We recently went to Florence to meet with friends visiting from the United States.   They had the most beautiful apartment overlooking the Arno river and were kind enough to invite me to stay with them.  The view was so mesmerizing that I slept on the living room chaise lounge trying to make the most of the time I had to stare at the lights reflecting on the river.    Their spacious apartment got me to thinking about the various sleeping options in Italy – there are so many!   The obvious accommodations are hotels, B&Bs and even apartments, so I am going to focus on the lesser known alternatives sleep options in Italy.


Sometimes referred to as a farm-house stay, agriturismi have been gaining in popularity in the past 10 years.  The literal translation stands for agricultural tourism, but don’t be fooled by all the farm talk, these properties can range from the rustic to the opulent, but they will always be in a wide open setting.

The accommodations themselves can vary from a property that offers hotel like rooms to a property that has only 3-4 apartments that include kitchens.  Many have swimming pools– a perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing – a dip in a pool overlooking a Tuscan vineyard.

In addition, the manager is probably going to be the owner of the property and will likely be producing a variety of products such as wine, olive oil, honey, etc…  A bonus to this situation is that if there is a restaurant on the premises, expect fabulous meals serving home-grown specialties.   In fact, there are also agriturismi that only have restaurants and do not offer accommodations.  So if your Italian friends suggest going to agriturismo for the afternoon, it just means they are inviting you to a long, leisurely lunch – not an overnight stay.


Agriturismo courtesy of Toprual

Agriturismi can be very affordable and can cost as little as $40 a night.  Many will have a minimum night stay especially during high season.  NOTE:  You will need a car.
This site also has a selection of villas, B&B’s, and castles.  Each property will have photos and a review rating system.
This site offers a mail alert service that allows you receive notices when a place comes available that suits your needs.  Scroll down to perform an immediate search.
This site allows you to search by every imaginable amenity, location and service you could imagine. Every property has a photo gallery and reviews.


Thinking of an “Under the Tuscan Sun” vacation?  Staying at a villa can make that dream come true.  A villa is somewhat similar to an agriturismo in that they tend to be in the countryside and have lots of space.  Many times they will also have a pool.  But whereas an agriturismo has a large range of pricing and comfort options, villas tend to be similar in their offerings.    It is going to be an entire house that is perfect if you are traveling with a large group of people and especially with children.  There will not a restaurant on site, so come prepared to cook.
Allows you to search by region.  Has big, beautiful photos that really give you a feel for the villa.
This site offers villas in European countries.  Click on Italy and the region you are interested in.  Shows the overall rate and a breakdown of cost per person.


It might seem nuts to even think of staying in a castle.  But remember how I mentioned my physical therapy in the mini castle?  Well, if you can do therapy in a castle, for sure you can sleep in one.  Similar to the agriturismo and villa situation, castles tend to be in the countryside.  Don’t be intimidated by the word castle and think you cannot afford it.  They can be very price friendly and – well – fun!  Especially for kids.  Of course these “castles” tend to be small, don’t expect to find Neuschwanstein.  Still, they will have a romantic feel to them not to mention a rich history.


Vicarello Castle by Roberta Schira
Offers a mix of luxury accommodations and castle stays throughout the world.  Click on Italy and the region you are interested in.
Homeaway offers all kinds of accommodations, but has a special section just for castle stays.



Monastery in Rome by Lalupa

Monasteries can be found all over Italy, but also in some of the most expensive parts of cities like Rome – all at bargain prices.   Accommodations with be simple, but always spotless and comfortable and typically include breakfast, sometimes lunch and dinner.  Keep in mind that there will usually be a curfew of 11:00PM.
Offers guesthouse, monastery and convent properties throughout Italy.  Booking done directly on the site.
A list of various religious lodgings all over the world with a specific page for Italy.    Contact info is listed and arrangements need to be made directly with the facility.


The title of “camping” might fool you because upon hearing that word, I automatically think of outdoor bathrooms.  But the camping facilities  in Italy are laid out on huge grounds and offer everything from tents to bungalows (mobile homes) to Tuscan cottages (which are basically hotel rooms).  Many campgrounds will have pools, outdoor activities, a small grocery store and several restaurants.
This site is a directory of various campsites throughout Italy.  You cannot book on this site, but the contact info and campsite’s webpage will be listed.
This site is very similar to camping-villages.  It is a directory of camping facilities listed by region.


There are so many fun options for accommodations in Italy with a variety of prices and atmosphere that it can be almost overwhelming to choose.  I have listed some of the lesser known options here, but there are always the old reliables:  hotels, apartments and B&Bs.  And for those I have listed below a few sites that are very helpful for these searches:
This is my favorite site when traveling in Europe.  This site used to only list hotels, but now they have added apartments, B&Bs, camping, agriturismi and other accommodation types.  If you are looking for a hotel, they have lots of great filtering options, reviews and great search options.
This site has over 1,000,000 accommodation listings in 190 countries.  They bought many other apartment rental companies in the past years including Ownersdirect, Abritel and Vrbo.
Well known site with 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities.  This site allows the user to look for entire apartments, or just a room in an apartment.
This site lists B&Bs all over Italy and also has other types of accommodations such as apartments and guest houses.

20 Comments on “Five Alternatives to Hotels in Italy

  1. Diana, this is a very timely post as I was just thinking yesterday that I needed to start some research on villas in Tuscany (or nearby regions). I’m planning a cooking vacation for my husband as a belated 50th bday gift. He turned 50 in the very height of the house selling madness, and now I’m finally able to try to plan something. He loves to cook, so what better way to celebrate him than with a fabulous cooking trip in a beautiful part of the world? 🙂
    Thank you for all these links! Most helpful!!

    • YAY!!!! OHHHH…y’all will have such a great time. PLEASE…if you need any help planning, just drop me an email….love, love, love to plan trips….take care and happy holidays!

      • Thank you kindly! Mostly I need to sort out timing, having just started a new job. It won’t be a long trip, but then again, we once did a weekend getawawy to Rome, so at least it’ll be longer than that. 🙂

        Happy Holidays to you!

        • Well….I am right there with you on the quick trips. I just did a four day trip back to Texas to surprise my mother for her bday! Quick – but unforgettable. I believe in taking all opportunities that come my way, even if they are long weekends. Anyway….yes….definitely keep posted….we can find some crafty ways of making the most of your trip however much time you have! 🙂

          • Yay! Thanks for the generous offer to help! Nothing like having an insider to steer you in the right (or away from the wrong) direction!

  2. Fabulous post!! Very useful. Many people in the UK ask me where they should stay when they are visiting Italy. Many complain that it is too expensive. You certainly need to know where you are going. This is very informative. I will mention you on my blog on one of my next posts. Grazie Diana!!!

    • Thanks Alida…..I agree….lots of affordable options in Italy that I think people just don’t know about. And also…well…I think they are fun. I love the agriturismi….the owners are always so gracious and the properties – BEAUTIFUL! Comunque…Buon Natale!

  3. Owners direct is another place to look. There are many to choose from and so many different options for accommodation in Italy in all price ranges.

    • Ohhhh…yes….we love Austria too…..beautiful. We feel lucky to be living so close to so many fabulous countries. Come to Italy…lots of great food, architecture, natural beauty!! 🙂

  4. Interesting blog, and I can recommend agritourismo with all my heart, which I have tried two times, and both so wonderful experiences, not to mention the food. I have also tried a monastary.

    • Thank you for your comment! And yes! We love the agriturismo! Almost impossible to go wrong – – ESPECIALLY when there is food involved! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Home Away From Home: My Little Florence Apartment. - Domestiphobia

  6. Great tips Diana! I usually used homeaway too when traveling around Europe, it has large amount of options! Bookmarked your post for my future reference! Grazie!!

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