About Villas

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windowA villa can be a great way to experience Italy. But villa stays aren’t for everyone. We added this section because so many people ask about villas, and we find that no one else is giving them candid comments about how a villa stay can be different from what you’re envisioning.

Going to an area where you’ve never been, committing to one lodging and one location for the entire time, based only on a website description, expecting to explore a large area from a remote base, but wanting to relax at the same time, assuming you’ll find a rich cultural experience, but having no local contacts, all in one week — it can be a recipe for disappointment unless you have a plan to avoid the pitfalls.

Villas are being mass-marketed, as if you need only to plop down somewhere in Tuscany for a week to have a magical vacation.

landscape1Villas work best when you can tap into some local knowledge, as if you’ve traveled before in Tuscany, or if you’re going with other people who know Tuscany. But if this will be your first independent travel in Tuscany, and if you’re planning to choose a do-it-yourself villa based only on an internet description, be very careful. Read here to learn what can make your villa experience less enjoyable than you might expect. Then, if you’re not sure you’re ready to gamble on the do-it-yourself villa concept, have a look at one of our Tuscany packages that use hotels and driver-guides instead.

  • Based on the website description, you think your villa will be in walking distance of a rustic village, but find it’s actually near a strip mall, and that “village” has 16,000 inhabitants (taken from an actual experience)
  • Your villa was described as being in a quiet location, and it is — down a very long, bumpy road, far from services, and you don’t feel like you’re in Tuscany — you just feel really isolated
  • You start out driving to some nifty places you’ve read about and find that Italy, or even just Tuscany, is effectively bigger than you imagined ~ you realize that your villa is not well-located for getting around (maybe that’s why it seemed like such a good deal) ~ the places you hoped to visit are dropping off your list as you revise your expectations further downward
  • You think you’ve got the pool all to yourselves, then you meet the people next door who think they’ve got the pool all to themselves
  • The idea of “shopping for fresh ingredients” and cooking in your villa sounds like fun ~ then it hits you, why come to Italy to eat your own cooking, and clean your own pans, and take out garbage? ~ but you find there are no restaurants nearby, and food preparation, like housekeeping, is now just a hassle
  • Sitting by the pool looking over the hills of Tuscany is great for the first afternoon ~ then it occurs to you that you could sit by a pool anywhere ~ you’d better get out and explore Tuscany, but you find that’s easier said than done
  • Without any prior arrangements, or knowing just where to go, or having anyone to ask, the idea that you can just stumble into what’s good about Tuscany is dissolving quickly, along with your remaining time
  • The only person you “know” in Tuscany is the one who gives you the key ~ who drives away with no interest in what you do next ~ so you find yourselves alone with the pressure to have a great Tuscany experience
  • You figure you can at least visit wineries, but then you learn that you don’t just drop into most wineries in Italy without an appointment
  • You can’t seem to make any connections with the local people, you don’t know where to go to find the experiences you envisioned, and you start hanging around the villa thinking you might as well be in Montana
  • You realize that to the locals, you’re just the people in for that week ~ they have no interest in forming a relationship ~ this is not your “under the Tuscan sun.”
  • You get back and start learning about all the nifty things you could have done with your time if you had known better, instead of stumbling around on your own

How do you want to describe your vacation? “We stayed at a Villa,” or…”We had a great time in Tuscany.” We’ve all got that idyllic image of a villa stay in Tuscany. Every year, thousands of people arrive at villas thinking it will just happen. If you’re lucky, it will just happen for you. But if you don’t want to depend on luck, do some serious study before taking a villa — read books, study maps, routes and driving distances, and most of all, talk to as many people you can find who’ve traveled there AND who will be candid with you. Even after all that, your internet choice of an actual villa can still be a big surprise.

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