Renting Holiday Apartments in Italy: Beware of the Dangers

Renting Holiday Apartments in Italy: Beware of the Dangers

Think twice before choosing Airbnb for your Italian vacation.  Here are some of the reasons why we no longer rent apartments for our clients.

While renting an apartment for your vacation may sound like a cheap option, offering flexibility in great locations, the reality in many Italian cities is far from rosy.

The high number of visitors to Italy compared to the limited number of beds in some places (most notably on the Amalfi Coast and the villages of Cinque Terre), has turned renting rooms into a crazy business.   Like other countries across Europe, buying up apartments to rent out to visitors has become a money-maker across Italy, with little thought for the experience offered to those who stay there.

The housing market in Italy has always been slow, due to the tendency of many families to hold onto their grandparents homes for the day when their kids move out.  Airbnb offers them a great way to monetize on properties which have sometimes had no maintenance for decades, and the desperate quest for summer accommodation means potential renters don’t ask the questions they should.

Clients recently told us about their Airbnb rental in the heart of Naples which was at the top of a dark, narrow staircase, where they had to walk past a door which had clearly been kicked in.  In the bathroom, ants were crawling all over the shower and they were expected to pay extra for everything from arriving after 5pm to using the coffee capsules for breakfast. 

There’s little a landlord will do about the ants once you have checked in, they are unlikely to have another place to offer you if you are not happy and complaining in the evening won’t get you far, assuming the owner even speaks English.  The internet allows anyone to offer their apartment online with the help of translation software, but it doesn’t promise that you’ll be able to communicate with them in person if something goes wrong.

And suddenly your budget vacation isn’t looking like such a good idea.

It’s not uncommon for apartments in Italy not to have elevators and for guests to find themselves dragging heavy suitcases up steep, narrow staircases. Nowhere is this truer than in Venice where apartments are typically higher up because of the danger of acqua alta entering the lower floors. Unlike the majority of high-level hotels in Venice, apartments won’t have their own dock, so you could find yourself having to drag your bags over numerous bridges from the nearest vaparetto stop before you even get to the door.

And this is before we consider the cultural impact on cities where locals can no longer afford to rent.  In cities like Venice and Florence, young locals are being priced out and forced to leave their cities, leaving the centers void of local culture with high costs for food and drink aimed only at foreign tourists.

In most hotels, you are guaranteed access to arrive with your bags by car or boat, daily cleaning and a buffet breakfast, as well as an English-speaking staff who will help you with getting to know their city.

We believe that when you visit Italy, your presence should have a positive impact.  You should be able to enjoy the wonderful history, nature, art and food the Italians are so proud of without paying over the odds, yet at the same time benefiting the local economy.  We work with local guides and drivers, local restaurants and wineries and with a lot of small, family-owned hotels, who are passionate about showing their country to visitors, so that you can get the best from Italy and give something back every time you visit.

For more on the ground advice and reliable accommodation options, get in touch with our team today:

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