1. Before you go, call your cell phone company and purchase travel insurance.
A working cell phone is essential. It will enable you to contact the owner or key holder prior to your arrival, and stay in touch with him/her throughout the week should an issue arise. With the help of your cellular provider, ensure that your cell phone is unlocked and has the correct 900/1800 bands to be used internationally. You can then either sign up for an international call/date package, or rent or purchase an Italy SIM card. A personal WiFi hotspot, like the MiFi device, is a great way to avoid excess data charges. Click here to find out more about using your cell phone internationally and renting a MiFi device. Regarding travel insurance, let’s face it: Things happen. Safeguard your vacation investment in the event of an unforeseen accident, illness, or event. We recommend Travel Safe. Call RentVillas for details: 1-800-726-6702.
Plan on using it—a lot. Poor signage is common throughout the Italian countryside. Your rental voucher will include GPS coordinates for your villa. Rent a GPS unit with your rental car, or bring one from home with Italy maps loaded. GoogleMaps on your smartphone is also a good bet (but bear in mind roaming charges).
3. Learn some basic Italian.
Even a cordial “buon giorno” will earn you serious points. We’re not suggesting that you become proficient, but rather that you have a few key phrases under your belt to be called upon when shopping or dining. Amongst Europeans, Americans are notorious for their lack of facility with foreign languages. Do what you can to change this perception!
4. Stock up on groceries and household supplies before you arrive at your villa on Saturday.
Most stores are closed on Sunday. Plan on stopping in the town nearest to your destination and visiting a local market, like a COOP, Conad, or Eurospin. This way, you’ll have enough food to last you until Monday. If you’re traveling in the spring, summer, and early fall, be sure to purchase plug-in anti-mosquito devices (Vape is a popular brand) and/or coils. Mosquitos go hand-in-hand with countryside living!
5. Ask questions.
When you arrive at your villa, request instructions for operating appliances such as European-style dishwashers, washing machines, and stoves, as well as steps to take in the event of a power outage. Sometimes, written instructions are provided, but not always! It’s also helpful to inquire about utilities, such as heating (available November 1st – April 1st) and/or air conditioning. Although the owner or key holder remain at your disposal for questions or concerns throughout the week, the more you know about enjoying your home away from home, the better your experience will be.
6. Shop at the weekly markets.
Every town and village in Italy has a weekly open air market. Here you’ll find fresh, seasonal produce, cheese, bread, salumi, housewares, and clothing, to list only a handful of available items. The markets offer the perfect way to learn about local cuisine. Keep an eye on where the natives shop—they’ll guide you to the best vendors.
7. Attend local cultural events.
As a customer recently stated in his property review, if you should see a sign for an event in your local village, do yourself a favor and check it out! Concerts, theater, and seasonal gastronomic and religious festivals are a fantastic way to get to know the culture of the region.
8. Allow time to simply enjoy your villa or apartment.
It can be tempting to plan to spend every last minute day-tripping and seeing the sights. Consider carving out a day (or more) to simply enjoy your home-away-from-home with family and friends. You won’t regret it!