Planning a trip to Italy is big. It takes a lot of time and effort to decide an itinerary, research the various destinations, figure out transport and, of course, find a place to stay.

With hundreds of websites you can find thousands of options, but which one is right for you?

For years the first and only choice was a hotel. Lately, apartment renting sites like airbnb have introduced a whole new way to travel: short-term apartment stays.

Those aren’t your only options, however. Sure, you can get a hotel or even an apartment, but you can also rent out a castle, stay in a monastery or a mountain hut. Farms open their doors and so do families. There are a ton of different accommodation options in Italy, so let’s look at some of the main categories:

Hotels


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Classic and easy, a hotel is a perfect option to stay in the center of town, have full-on amenities (if you choose wisely) and be fully taken care of. All that said, I don’t particularly care for most hotels I’ve ever stayed in in Italy.¬†Even with a three to four-star budget, I’ve stayed in some¬†questionable rooms. The buildings are old, the furnishings too, and though it can be charming, it can also be unpleasant. Stinky rooms, ancient beds, rickety (or nonexistent) ACs. Before you send indignant comments, I’m aware that there are some drop-dead gorgeous hotels. The Grand Hotel Portovenere seems just dreamy and I’ve been drooling over this month’s CN Traveler’s Instagram shots of Hotel Il Pellicano in Tuscany, but if you’re not on a five-star budget I’d say to do some extra research with your hotel and double check what they offer:¬†Air conditioning in the summer and parking if you’re driving are a must!

Apartment-stays

Luckily, we’ve fully entered the world of Airbnbs. This is a great option if you’re traveling with friends or family ‚Äď it’s often cheaper and some of the accommodations can be just as ritzy as a glamorous hotel.¬†Stay in a 300-year-old¬†trullo home¬†in Puglia, a modern treehouse near Florence or a country home overlooking the sea in Sardinia. Or¬†just get a simple, centrally-located apartment at a fraction of the price of a hotel!

Note: I’ve never used any of those apartments, I just did a quick search of interesting accommodation on Airbnb, but that’s not the only site available. Try Homeaway, Booking.com, Trip Advisor Rentals, whatever!

B&Bs

There are two types of B&Bs in Italy:

‚Äď A small property rented out by owners who live nearby, usually with a common room.

‚Äď Ritzy Bed and Breakfasts¬†American-style. A sort-of boutique hotel with a few rooms, each decorated differently and breakfast service only that tends to be just as expensive as a regular hotel.

While¬†the ritzy places exist in Italy and can be quite wonderful, more often a B&B is a¬†family-run room rental that tends to be inexpensive and relatively spartan.¬†There are laws dictating how many rooms it can have and still be considered a B&B, so in any case you know it will be small. We chose this option when staying overnight in Verona for an opera. Not unlike an Airbnb, we had a room and bathroom to ourselves, and a small kitchen and living/eating area shared with another room. No problem for a short-stay and a great way to meet some locals. We’ve always¬†found lovely hosts with plenty of advice on the area!

Agriturismi

An agriturismo is a farm designed to also receive guests, whether for a meal, accommodation or a combination of the two.¬†Usually in the countryside, it’s the perfect way to partake in Italy’s relaxed culture, get to know the people and enjoy the freshest of local food. It can also be super budget friendly! When it works with¬†our destination, an agriturismo is our favorite accommodation option in Italy! It’s the best of a hotel with the best of an apartment-stay, and almost always in a beautiful location.

You can find agriturismi listings on most accommodation booking sites, booking.com etc., as well as Agriturismo.it. Sometimes they call themselves country houses or farm-stays.

Read more: What is an Agriturismo and Why You Should Stay There

Monasteries and convents

Pilgrims and weary travelers of all faiths have been offered refuge by monks and nuns for centuries. Today’s Italy is no different. Hundreds of monasteries throughout the boot have rooms available for travelers, whether religious or not.

Monks live in simple rooms and¬†the same is offered to travelers.¬†You may have a room to yourself or you may be in¬†a shared dorm.¬†Expect¬†a bed, table, window and¬†religious motifs ‚Äď the bathroom is often shared.

Originally open to offer more accommodation to¬†pilgrims¬†to Italy,¬†many monasteries simply ask visitors to pay what they can, others have set prices. Usually you’ll find¬†peaceful, affordable accommodation, and get a completely unique perspective on Italy’s religious culture while you’re at it. You can also expect a good meal!¬†Italians say that nobody eats better than a monk, and with shared mealtimes in many monasteries, you’ll get the chance to¬†put¬†that expression to the test.

Read more at ReidsItaly.com and find monastery accommodations online at Monastery Stays and ospitàreligiosa.it.

Rifugi

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A Rifugio is a mountain¬†cabin found along major paths throughout the Alps. If there’s space available, you can stay the night for a small fee. The rifugi vary on comfort and cleanliness; some located in the Dolomites are as nice as a major hotel, with food cooked by genuine cooks. Most, however, are simple mountain cabins run by volunteers. Expect simple food, shared accommodation and a damn-good time!¬†It’s easy to be happy and make friends when you’ve hiked far to get to your accommodation and you’re joined by other tired, satisfied hikers. Italy’s major hiking organization, CAI, has a list of 774 mountain¬†cabins and huts to choose from based on where you’re hiking. Some, of course, can be reached with very little hiking as well and at about 20 ‚Äď 30 euro for a shared dorm, they can be an incredibly inexpensive way to soak in Italy’s Alpine culture.¬†

Huts are usually about three hours walking apart. Nicer cabins are called¬†rifugi, more spartan accommodation are called¬†bivacchi.¬†It’s best to book in advance during the high-season and to double check if the huts only offer meals or a place to sleep as well.

Castles

Of course, you can always go upperclass in Italy. Ok so technically, this is the same style/steps as an apartment-stay but, you know, a castle instead. The bel paese has a 2,000+ year history, most of which was spent defending one hill from another. There are no shortages of castles! Now, plenty of castles have been renovated and rented out, ready to make you feel like a king or queen for your stay!

Find your favorite here

Campsites

Photo via

Photo via

Camping in Italy, like in America, ranges from renting small bungalows, to camper vans to pop-up tents. The real planning involved is knowing¬†where¬†you can camp. Unfortunately, there’s not a national law on wild camping. Instead, each region and park are free to decide if and how you can camp in the area, so¬†it’s best to set up in a proper area.¬†A campsite for a one-person tent¬†ranges from¬†12 – 20 euro. Camping.it¬†can help you¬†find a campsite and plan your trip.¬†Here are some incredibly beautiful ‚Äď and inexpensive ‚Äď options!

Written by ginamussio

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