Originally thought of as only a step up from couch surfing, Airbnb has caught on with family travelers in the US. But what about using Airbnb while traveling abroad? We used Airbnb exclusively throughout Italy, and found the process to be just as secure and convenient as in the states. If anything, Airbnb Italy owners were even easier to work with, and the lodging savings were even better!
Airbnb Italy: Where to stay in Florence and Rome
When renting with Airbnb, it can be hard to know much about the apartment owner or manager. Will he or she be the type to welcome you with a bottle of wine and a binder of suggested itineraries, or be more hands off? You can’t be certain, but while reading reviews, look for information about the owner in addition to the apartment itself. The ‘best’ owners will receive glowing reviews of their own.
We had the pleasure of staying in this lovely Florence apartment, which was only steps from the central Ponte Vecchio bridge. Tucked away behind a pottery shop, this apartment was absolutely ideal. (The photo above is the actual entrance to this apartment.) Better yet, no one was using the owner’s second apartment rental, and she graciously offered our family both. For the first time in a week, our family of five was able to spread out. Our owner was the ‘bottle of wine upon arrival’ type, and even scoured the neighborhood for Christmas Day restaurant reservations for us. Truly, this was above and beyond.
The apartment we rented had a living room, bedroom with extra day bed, and pull-out bed to sleep five. There was a full kitchen (without oven…just stove top) and a dining table. All the little things were there: a hair dryer, shampoo and soap, detergent, and kitchen staples such as olive oil and coffee filters. A grocery store was located just around the corner.
We had a small patio and air conditioning and heat, plus the second apartment with all the same amenities. In fact, the apartment layouts are almost identical. The only exception: the bedroom is bigger in the lower apartment and the living space is bigger in the upper apartment.
In Rome, we rented from Airbnb again, and again, we had a great experience with the owner in terms of the accommodations, communication, and ease. We rented this unit, which was located in an upper middle class neighborhood directly on the Tiber. We were in easy walking distance of the Vatican area, a ten minute walk to Piazza Populo and Villa Borghese, and only meters from the Metro station where we could grab a train to other points in the city. Our longest ‘commute’ was to the Centro Storico (old city) where we spent a lot of time. It was a thirty minute walk without much in terms of metro access, but the entire way was scenic.
This apartment was by far the roomiest we had in Europe, with two bathrooms (a luxury!) and three bedrooms (one of which could be a living room space instead). The kitchen is very small, but we used it for snacks and breakfasts, opting to eat out for dinners. The grocery store is just around the corner, though it does close early and open late by American standards. We felt very secure here, as the apartment building had a doorman and a very elegant lobby. We loved all the space we enjoyed here; our only complaint: the street noise could get loud. I used ear plugs.
What to expect with any Airbnb rental in Italy:
- Communication from the owner. You should hear from them within a week of your check-in date, with detailed instructions for finding the apartment and asking about your arrival time. Download the AirBnB app for the easiest communication.
- Personal greeting. You will be met at the apartment by the owner or manager and given a tour.
- A per-night, per-person lodging fee. This is paid in cash to the owner (usually at the end of the stay). It’s 2,50 euro per person, per night in most cases.
- Feedback left for you after you depart. Remember to leave the owner feedback as well. This helps both of you for future trips.
What to expect only sometimes:
- Some apartments require a deposit, usually in cash, which is returned before your departure. It will be disclosed whether this is required in the apartment description on AirBnB.
- Some will have a bottle of Italian wine ready for you to uncork. Others won’t even have a bottle opener in the house. You just never know!