Instagram and Pinterest make traveling seem so dreamy and luxurious and while it totally can be, it can also be stressful and underwhelming if not planned correctly. I want you to have just an amazing time as we did, so I started this series of all the basics you need to know about traveling in Italy!
Today I am going to share about where to stay! On our trips, we had some hits and misses when it came to our accommodations and now have a strategy to choosing the optimal location!
If this is the first post you are reading in these series I've linked below to the other posts for your convince! Happy travels!
4. Where to Stay
5. How to Spend Your Days in Italy
Where to stay:
Hotels and hostels can be real expensive in iconic cities like Roma and Firenze, however, the real reason why I am not the biggest fan of hotels and hostels is that the surrounding neighborhoods and shops are extremely touristy, inauthentic and more expensive.
Instead, I recommend Airbnbs. You can find apartments that are away from those tourist traps and have a more authentic experience. Plus they are often are more affordable! Another plus to renting an apartment is that you have access to a kitchen and laundry. Both are indispensable for easy ways to save money!
If you are out in the countryside, Agriturismos are another really great option! They are charming farmhouses that have been converted into villas. The difference between and Agriturismo and a villa is that the former is still a functioning farm or vineyard. This allows a glimpse into the local culture. Another benefit is that many of them have an in-house chef and will serve you food and wine from their own land!
How to choose where to stay:
You might be thinking that I covered this in the above section. But by where, I don't mean the type of place but where it is in the town or city. On our travels, we have noticed that the location where we stay drastically changes your experience of the city or town we were staying in. I don't necessarily mean how nice the place is but what the surrounding neighborhood is like.
For example, we LOVE LOVE LOVE Rome. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that our Airbnb was located on this charming cobblestone street lined with authentic shops and restaurants. There were very few tourists that came through this area compared to the rest of Rome and we didn't have to walk very far to an authentic and mouthwatering meal. This location is also amazing because it was centralized to all the activities we had planned!
In contrast, we merely liked Florence. I know I know. Everyone loooooves Florence. But we found it to be just sort of cool. We have been to twice and still came away with the same feeling. It was pretty cool but we weren't blown away. I think a lot of the reason had to do where we stayed.
The Airbnb from our first trip, was really cute on the inside. But the street it was on was not cute at all and smelled really bad. It was sort of centralized but we had to walk pretty far to find good food. The one from the second trip was in a neighboorhood that was a little bit better, but it was also really on the outskirts of the city near the airport. We intentionally did this because most of our second trip we spent taking day trips into Tuscany and only spend the last two days in the city. It was more worth it to us to not have to drive through the actual city and had easier access to the countryside. The point is that both places we stayed didn't endear Florence.
Step 1: Find a neighborhood that is central to the activities you've chosen.
If you haven't figured out what you'll be doing while you are there, I recommend taking the time to do that before choosing your Airbnb.
Step 2: Be sure this neighborhood is away from big hotels and tourist traps.
Just take the time to search where the hotels are and make sure the neighborhood you are looking into is at least a couple blocks away.
Step 3: Choose a cute street
I know this seems so silly but you are spending big bucks to get over to Italy. You want every moment that you are there to be amazing! The way I ensure it's cuteness is by utilizing google maps street view. After finding a couple airbnbs in your ideal neighboorhood, use street view to check out the area and look for little cafes, ristorantes, and flowers in window boxes.
Bonus Tip: If you can't find all of these things, I would prioritize step 2 and 3 above step 1. It is okay to walk a little bit further if your surroundings are lovely!