Renting a Villa in Italy

Renting a villa is a great way to travel. But to pick the right one means asking the right questions.

Renting a villa is a great way to travel. You feel more immersed in the culture and connected to a community, get to meet local merchants, and develop an intimate knowledge of the area. But picking the right one requires that you think like a detective. There are lots of questions to ask the owner or agent before making the final decision. Unfortunately, it’s the questions you don’t ask, the things you assume and for which you think you surely know the answers, which can turn a good trip into a small nightmare.

I’ve rented a number of villas and I’m always amazed, sometimes amused, at what can go wrong. Not major problems, mind you, more like minor annoyances. For example, we rented a three bedroom villa outside of Sorrento last October. It seemed perfect — beautiful décor, spacious, central air conditioning, and a magnificent terrace overlooking the Mediterranean with breathtaking views of Capri. To top it off, there was a spa on the terrace, which in my mind would be a great way to relax after touring. Before we arrived, all I could think about was that spa, sipping a cocktail, looking at the view. Note that I called it a spa — that’s how it was described, but I just assumed it was a hot tub, and I’m a sucker for a hot tub. However, there was nothing hot about it. Who would think to ask whether what appears to be a hot tub is actually heated? I went in it once, because I’ll be damned if I not getting my hot tub, but after about five minutes I realized that sitting in this thing in October was really just a good way to spite myself.

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