05 April, 2013

Stamps in My Passport : Where to Stay in Italy

If you're planning a trip to Italy, there are several paths you could go down when it comes to lodging.  Which one you choose will depend on your priorities.  Budget?  Location?  "Authentic" experience?  Comfort?  Security?  Sometimes you can find all of the above in one place, but don't count on it!  For our trip last year, Carrie and I came up with a patchwork of lodging situations that reflected our hopes and priorities for each location.


Our balcony in Rome, just down the road from the Colosseum
Of course, the best way is to stay with friends - a great blessing we enjoyed while in Sicily!  But with no one to stay with in the big cities, we wanted to book something fairly close to the city center but still feel that we could safely leave our belongings during the day and that we were safe at night!  Sure, we could have spent next to nothing on a hostel, but as two single females we were willing to pay a little more for peace of mind.  Thus, in Rome, Florence and Venice we rented privately-owned flats.  It was a big relief to know that only we and the flat owners had keys, that all our luggage would stay safe, and that we could have a private, quiet, comfortable place to unwind after busy days of being tourists.  Honestly, it was also such a great way to get a glimpse of how "real" people live in these places...Meeting them, asking for their dining & sightseeing recommendations, cooking in their kitchens, etc.  Each host was kind, hospitable, and genuinely excited to be a part of our very first experience of their hometowns.  I definitely plan to take advantage of this kind of accommodation on future trips!

In smaller towns and quick overnights, we chose small hotels that were affordable and safe and
A room with a view - Portovenere
provided easy access to local sights and transportation links.  We consulted a LOT of websites and guidebooks to find well-reviewed places and ensure that we knew what we were getting into!  Although obvious, that's one of my biggest pieces of advice for planning any international trip, but especially to Italy -- read expert and visitor reviews!

Here are links to useful websites as well as the hotels we stayed in:

AirBnB -- For private flat or house rentals all around the world.
Rental in Rome -- We didn't end up booking through this site, but it's another good option for Rome, Venice, Florence, and Cortona flats.

Albergo Paradiso, Portovenere -- I loved this ocean-side hotel!  Gorgeous views, a quick walk to great restaurants and historical sites, and a great continental breakfast included in the rate.

Albergo Duomo, Montepulciano -- Okay, we honestly chose this hotel for a number of reasons, NOT just because Robert Pattinson stayed here while filming "Twilight"...but the bragging rights don't hurt. ;-)  It has a perfect location by the town's main Piazza and tasting room's for many of Tuscany's best wineries; an informative concierge who made a reservation for us at his favorite off-the-beaten-path restaurant; and another great continental breakfast.  Go for it, Twihards.

Our home, sweet home, in Venice



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