What To Expect
A holiday in Italy is different from one in Britain - and there are some variations you should expect, especially if this is your first experience renting in Europe. We want you to know what to anticipate, so that there are no surprises other than wonderfully pleasant ones. Most people find the cultural differences a refreshing challenge as well as a lot of fun. Most guests rave about their villa stay, and they come home ready to book again for the following year. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference.
YOUR VILLA OR APARTMENT will be clean and welcoming, with modern plumbing, and an adequately equipped kitchen or kitchen area. Unless otherwise stated, there will be a gas or electric hob (and sometimes an oven), sink with hot and cold water, refrigerator, adequate cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery, glasses and other household equipment to a reasonable standard for holiday use and suitable for the number of people the house accommodates. We inspect all of our properties regularly; in addition, we ask guests to complete a questionnaire about their villa or apartment and we update our information frequently. If there is something you absolutely need, ask us if it is supplied or pack it to avoid being disappointed. If some essential small item is missing, please ask the owner or their representative if they can supply it for you. Please be aware that items such as breadboards, kettles and toasters are not in general use in Italy and it is often the case that (except in restaurants) tumblers, not wine glasses, are used for wine. Family life in Italy centres on meals and the table. In a few houses you may find fewer armchairs than you would expect in a ‘British’ one.
ARRIVALS are usually set for Saturday, between 16.00 hours and 19:00 hours. On the ‘change over-day’, following the departure of the previous guests in the morning, the accommodation will be properly cleaned and prepared prior to your arrival. In general, the ‘change-over day’ in the villas and apartments is a Saturday. There are one or two exceptions (with Friday start dates, for example) and many owners are also more flexible about the arrival and departure day in off-peak months, so please ask us if you wish to start and finish your booking on a different day of the week.
Do not turn up at the property (unless by special agreement) earlier than the stated arrival time, the property may not be ready for you to occupy and the owner may deny you, or not be available, to give you access. If you are going to be later than 19.00hrs, you will need to inform the owner of any delays; otherwise, you may find you are unable to get into your villa or apartment until the following day, in which case you would have to spend the night at a hotel, at your own expense.
It is best to arrive during daylight hours, when shops are open and you can pick up supplies. If your flight itinerary requires a very early morning or late night arrival, or if you are going to arrive on a Sunday (traditionally a family day in Europe), special arrangements must be made and agreed with the owner in advance.
TELEPHONES are not usually provided, especially since so many Europeans travel with mobile phones. Unless the description specifies that there is a telephone, there is none. If you require a fax machine or computer hook-up, let us know at the time of booking so we can advise on properties with the service you require, or you can visit internet cafés for checking e-mail.
ELECTRICITY in Europe is used more carefully because of the high expense. For instance, in Italy, houses can have 6 KW (kilowatts) or 3 KW. Please ask the key holder which of the two is supplied with your villa. This will be the maximum amount that can be used at any one time without blowing a fuse. Appliances use the following: electric oven (2.5 KW), clothes washer (2.5 KW), dishwasher (3 KW), or iron (2 KW). Each electric bulb uses 60 watts. If you are staying in a villa with several major appliances and a pool pump, it is essential to stagger electrical use or the electricity will cut out. Please respect the European custom of turning lights off that you are not using and when you go out.
HEATING is very expensive in Italy and should be used sparingly, but of course, you’ll want to be comfortable. If you are cold, please notify the owner of your villa or apartment. Heating charges are not normally included in the villa rental price but are payable locally based on (metered) consumption. Please never leave windows open while the heat is on. Unless new regulations come into place, in Tuscany the heating can be used only from November to the end of April (8 hours a day). Outside of this period the possibility of using the heating and the cost of such must be determined directly with the owner or his/her representative.
ELECTRICITY, WATER & GAS SUPPLIES. Normal summer usage of water, gas and electricity is included in your rental. There is usually an extra charge for heating and air conditioning, which must be paid locally and is generally a standing weekly charged or based on metered consumption. On occasions, supply of water and electricity can be erratic, particularly in peak summer months when demand is high. Water supply can be interrupted or electric fuses may trip if, for example, several high wattage appliances are switched on at the same time.
KEYS are expensive to replace. If you lose your key or lock it inside, there will be a substantial replacement fee. Always remember to close the windows and lock your villa when you go out. Owners’ insurance does not cover their furnishings if you leave windows open or doors unlocked; if there is rain or theft, you will be held responsible for damage or loss of their possessions and for yours. Please double check each window and door before you go out, no matter how short the trip.
STAPLES/PROVISIONS (including GROCERIES AND TOILETRIES) are generally not supplied in the self-catering accommodations and you will need to shop for whatever you require. Some owners may provide a small welcome pack but since they are not required to do so, please do not assume that any basics will be provided.
COFFEE & TEA are generally not provided. There will usually be a coffee maker in your apartment or villa; most often, you will find either a coffee filter or a stove top espresso maker. Kettles are still not so common and many Italians use a small pan to boil water.
TAP WATER from the kitchens cold water tap is generally safe to drink but you may prefer the taste of bottled water, which you can buy at the grocery store.
TOWELS usually come as something of a surprise. In Italy towels tend to be thinner, and generally one bath towel and one hand towel per person is provided. Unless otherwise stated, fresh linens and towels are provided weekly but sometimes beds are left for the guest to make up.
POOL & BEACH TOWELS are not usually provided, because Europeans travel with their own. Please take your own towels for use at swimming pools or beaches or buy an inexpensive beach towel (generally in plentiful supply from the local markets). CLEANING there is no need to scrub the floor when you leave, but dishes should be clean and put away, rubbish should be disposed of, and your apartment or villa should be in a tidy state. Some owners levy a final cleaning charge, payable locally in Euro, where this applies it will be indicated in the price list under ‘extras’.
AIR CONDITIONING is quite rare in Italy. If your apartment description does not state that there is air conditioning, then there is none. Even without air conditioning, most older buildings have thick walls and are naturally cool. If the weather is hot, keep your apartment cool by following this time-honoured tradition: carefully shut all windows and doors during the day, closing the shutters and drawing the curtains to keep the sun out. Open up in the cool of evening and close everything up again the next morning.
FLY SCREENS are also rare and are usually found only in areas where mosquitoes or flies are plentiful.
INSECTS including spiders, ants and mosquitoes are naturally occurring and not something that we, or the property owners have any control over. Many of the properties are in the countryside and part of country life is that insects do exist and will, in all probability, enter the houses at some point. Spiders can spin webs in Italy as quickly as they can in the UK and other countries, ants can appear at the drop of a crumb and mosquitoes can and will have a nibble if they get the chance.
UTILITIES are expensive in Europe and one way Italians keep expenses down is by doing without air conditioning and tumble-dryers, and by using less heat and light than we do. Some of our villas and apartments have washing machines, but none have tumble-dryers. Some estates have a fee based communal washing machine provided.
BREAKAGE & DAMAGE should be reported and paid for before leaving your villa or apartment. In most cases, a security deposit is required to be paid to the owner in cash upon arrival. It will be returned to you, less any utility or damage fees.
GARDENS vary and are generally left in a more ‘natural’ state than British ones. Outdoor furniture is provided at all properties with gardens.
SWIMMING POOLS are generally open from mid May to end of September although some owners may vary this. If use of a swimming pool is important to you, and you are travelling out of the peak season, please ask us to confirm the availability of the pool for your chosen dates prior to finalising your booking. Unless otherwise stated, swimming pools are not heated.
ADDITIONAL SERVICES can be provided at most properties and whilst we are happy to assist clients, when possible, with the arrangement of certain additional services (payable locally), please note that we do so as your agent and do not enter into any contract with you for these. We cannot guarantee that any such service will be provided (even where confirmed) and will not be liable if it isn't. Your contract will be with the supplier of the service concerned, which will be subject to the supplier's own terms and conditions.
Such services may include the provision of rented telephones, televisions, videos/DVDs, pool heating, extra cleaning or cooking services, bicycle or boat hire etc. If things go wrong, our local agent or representative or the house owner will intervene with the supplier to try to find a solution.
ROADS can be unpaved, and driveways to villas can be winding, hilly, or rutted. If this is a concern for you, be sure to tell us when selecting your villa.
DRIVING in a foreign country is easier than most people think, but there are a few issues to consider when choosing a rental car. Guests who rent vans often regret their choice; European cities are not van-friendly with their ancient, narrow streets. Usually, it’s better (and less expensive) for two couples travelling together to rent two smaller cars instead of one larger one; it also gives you flexibility to pursue different interests and activities at times. Traffic regulations are almost the same as in the UK except, of course, that you drive on the right. A British driving licence is valid in Italy but, with the exception of pink UK licences, must be accompanied by a translation, obtainable from the AA, RAC or ACI frontier offices. If you propose to drive from the UK to Italy you must also take your vehicle registration document and proof of car insurance cover. A green card, obtainable through your insurance company, is advisable. Without one your cover may be reduced to ‘Third Party’ only. Some policies now extend your UK cover to certain European countries - please check with your insurance company.
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBILITY is much less prevalent in European countries than in the UK. If you have a handicap of any kind, please tell us so we can help you make the best choices for your holiday. If you have severe allergies, be sure to let us know before selecting a villa. Keep in mind that museums are often not wheelchair friendly, centres of cities may be closed to cars, and trains are just about impossible. If you travel with a wheelchair, you are better to travel with a small, portable, folding chair.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS happen all over Italy in the spring, summer and autumn months. As accommodation providers, Traditional Tuscany market to the independent traveller and cannot attempt to be a tourist information service for all the events and festivals that take place in the various regions throughout the year. Notices of festivals and events are clearly posted on dedicated tourist information sites and generally when you are in close proximity to towns or villages there is a good chance that at some point during the year a festival or event of some sort or the other may be taking place. If you are concerned that a particular festival or event may affect your enjoyment of a property please ask us to check the details prior to finalising your booking.
TOURISM TAXES Rome, Florence and Venice have recently introduced a tourist tax for non-residents. The local administration is in charge of the tax and therefore different conditions and requirements apply. For more information please refer to the official website of the town-hall in the province you wish to visit or contact the Italian State Tourist Board, who will be able to make a search on your behalf.
To give an indication of what to expect, all visitors to Florence, Italy, who are staying overnight in accommodation within the province of Firenze (Florence) will have to pay a “Tourism tax”. This tax applies to all residences, apartments, hotels, villas, guesthouses, hostels and campsites. Amounts vary from €1 to €5 per night, depending on the “official rating” of the accommodation, and will generally only apply to the first seven consecutive nights. Note that children under 10 years of age are exempt.
Unless otherwise stated, the tourist tax will not effect any increase in room rates on our site. You must pay this tax directly to the accommodation provider you are staying with and they, on your behalf, will then do the paperwork and pay the tax directly to the municipality.