There are loads of interesting options for accommodation in Italy, ranging from short-term rentals to bed-and-breakfasts to agriturismi to five-star hotels, and there are almost as many publications that suggest the best ones. Guidebooks are a popular option, but remember that each listing usually only represents what the authors managed to scrape together in their short stay. The most complete guides, in my opinion, are ones from the Touring Club Italiano (www.touringclub.it), a nonprofit group that has been scouring the country for the finest hotels and restaurants for decades. The only hitch is that many of its publications and its website are in Italian only. Make use of the area’s tourist board offices and websites, which have information on just about every hotel, campground, and bed-and-breakfast in the vicinity. This is the most democratic method, but there are no filters for what may turn out to be a dive.
Once upon a time, traveling in Italy was a lot more adventurous, especially in the South, where there were no real hotels to speak of. When the state put the first highway through Campania and Calabria in the 1960s, it also sponsored the construction of Jolly Hotels, a brand found all over the peninsula today. Just about every other chain is present in Italy, as well as luxury hotel associations such as Romantik Hotels and Compagnia Grandi Alberghi, which guarantee an opulent stay in familyrun resorts, not cookie-cutter chains, for a not insignificant price. A step below the albergo is the pensione, usually similar in quality to a two-star hotel, and then there is the af itacamera, or room rental. These are most common in budding tourist spots with insufficient beds in the summer. Room rentals can be a risk, but usually make budget travelers very happy.
The two relatively new entries in the world of Italian Map are the agriturismo, a family-run farm that serves homegrown produce and has a few rooms for rent, and the bed-andbreakfast, which might be thought of as the urban and suburban equivalent, although without the homegrown produce, of course, and not nearly as reliable in terms of quality. The agriturismo option has a lot of fans, and for good reason. The food will be authentic (if rustic), the rooms cozy, and the price reasonable. For more information about agriturismi, check with the national organization Agriturist at www.agriturist.it. The final options are monasteries and convents. Pilgrims are often welcome to stay in them for a nominal fee, and the experience sometimes involves prayer and meditation. If you feel more religious than usual when visiting Rome, however, you can forget about the free Map. Many church-run residences around the Vatican now cost about ‚100 per night. Practicalities Obviously, you’re going to need a comprehensive guidebook to find the best hotels and dining in Italy. The selection is vast. Below are a few of my suggestions.
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