Where you stay is a very important part of any travel plan. Nowadays there are many options in terms of places to stay and depending on the type of vacation you are planning, your accommodations can play a huge role in making or breaking your traveling experience.
Here’s a look at different types of accommodations you’ll commonly find in Southern Italy. Whether you are looking for a slow relaxing rustic experience or a place to unwind after endless hours of sightseeing, you can most certainly find the perfect “home base” for your travels.
When making arrangements for accommodation, a traveler’s first thought is a hotel. Which makes perfect sense since they are literally everywhere. But, they can also be quite expensive especially if you want to say close to the city center. When booking a hotel, you really need to do your research and take into account location and accessibility to public transport. Keep in mind that for the most part, public transport in southern parts of Italy isn’t very reliable and doesn’t run late at night. Also, don’t depend on the star-rating of a hotel. All countries have different criteria in determining a hotel’s star-rating so consider this when making your decision.
Things to always keep in mind – hotel rooms in southern Italy tend to be smaller than those you’ll find in America and a double room usually means two twin beds. Also, more and more hotels offer Wi-Fi and internet access but don’t expect it to come without a price. Staying in a hotel has its advantages – most are equipped with maps and brochures to help you get around town on your own. And don’t forget, normally room keys are left with the front desk when you go out for the day which isn’t such a bad idea because some hotel room keys are incredibly large and bulky! You can ask when you check-in to be sure.
B&B (Bed and Breakfast)
B&Bs in Italy are becoming more common, especially in bigger cities where there is more competition to attract budget-conscience travelers. Although the term “bed and breakfast” is starting to be used more frequently, in some places they are also referred to as locanda or pensione. What to expect from a bed and breakfast will depend on where you are in the world. In Italy, a B&B is usually a small family-owned “hotel” that offers some amenities, daily cleaning services and breakfast. But, if you are expecting an elaborate American or English breakfast then it’s best to ask first, as most B&Bs will offer coffee, tea and light snacks. Also, many B&Bs won’t have a reception desk or on-site staff to cater to your every need, so if that’s what you are looking for maybe a hotel is your better option. That’s not to say you won’t find your hosts helpful and informative, after all they are local so they will know all the great places not typically found in the guidebooks to eat, shop and visit.
If you are planning a sightseeing vacation in a bigger city, a B&B can be a great option because they are usually centrally located and/or close to public transportation. It is usually very easy to get to all the major attractions and sights in the area. The concept of B&B is still very new and so what you are likely to find will vary quite a bit. Additionally, there are many great B&Bs in prime locations that will give you a sense of “home” while you are away.
Staying in an agriturismo is becoming increasingly more popular as travel enthusiasts seek new experiences that go above and beyond the typical sightseeing vacation. The word agriturismo comes from the Italian words “agricoltura” (agriculture) and “turismo” (tourism).
What exactly is an agriturismo? Well, in the most basic terms it’s a “farm-stay” where farm owners have either reconstructed or restored old buildings or farmhouses on their land to use for travel accommodation. Sounds rustic, but it doesn’t have to be. Nowadays, agriturismi come in all shapes and sizes – whether you are looking for a quiet romantic getaway or even a unique family vacation. You can find all types of accommodations from small, cozy rooms to mini-apartments. Also, many agriturismi will serve foods made from the products found on the farm or locally. We’re talking authentic home-cooked Italian cuisine!
Staying in an agriturismo is a wonderful way to see the gorgeous countryside that Southern Italy has to offer – from its rolling hills of olive trees to gorgeous vineyards. It’s truly a great way to experience rural Italy. And the price is usually much more appealing than that of a hotel.
But, don’t go rushing to book an agriturismo just yet; there are some important things to consider first. The countryside in Southern Italy is breathtaking and many agriturismi are completely surrounded by it which means getting to it can be difficult since they aren’t usually accessible by train or bus. Some owners will offer an airport or train station pick-up but they won’t be your driver for your whole trip – they are first and foremost farm owners. Even if you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay, you will need patience because many roads are unmarked and you may find yourself in places that even your GPS doesn’t know.
However, if you are looking for a slow-paced trip mixed with cooking classes or wine tours, having an agriturismo as “home base” is a great idea. You will most likely find down to eart,h friendly people and possibly even be invited to have lunch or dinner with the owners and a bottle of their exceptional homemade wine. You most certainly won’t get that from a hotel.
Masserie (the plural form of “masseria”) are very similar to agriturismi. The difference being that they are fortified farm houses or country houses typically found in Puglia, mainly near the coast between Bari and Brindisi. These dwellings, some of the oldest dating back to the 14th century, were once a defensive system used to prevent attacks by the Turks or pirates. Many masserie have preserved their high stone walls and watchtowers which were once an integral part of protecting the population from invasions.
The masserie today are usually found on working farms which produce olive oil, wine or produce. If you are looking for a relaxing experience in Puglia, a masseria is a great solution because it allows you the opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes of Puglia. And, there are a wide range of masserie, from economical to luxurious, that offer different amenities and experiences such as cooking classes for guests. Some masserie also have a small restaurant serving up typical Pugliese food using local products.
When choosing a masseria, keep in mind its location. If you are interested in sight-seeing and visiting different parts of the region you’ll most likely need to rent a car as they aren’t usually accessible by public transportation. Also, many are family-owned which on the one hand gives you the chance to really experience Puglia, but may become difficult if your Italian isn’t great and the owners don’t speak English.
Our custom vacations include a range of accommodations specifically chosen with your preferences in mind. Get in touch today about our custom vacations and tours!