Home » Traveling In Italy » Accommodation Options in Italy – From Agriturismos to Villas (and Everything Inbetween)
Castle hotel (Castello di Tornano) in Tuscany. Large cypress tree in front and others to right. Swimming pool below tower of hotel. Grassy lawn surrounds the castle hotel.

Accommodation Options in Italy – From Agriturismos to Villas (and Everything Inbetween)

You’ve booked your plane tickets to Italy.  And now… where are you going to stay?

Sure, you’ve got plenty of traditional hotel options throughout the country, but why not mix it up a little and stay in a rifugio or masseria?  “Wait!” you say, “what are those?!”

Don’t worry – I’ll walk you through your options for accommodations for Italy, and I’ll give you some tips for choosing the best place for you and your group.  After all, you’ll need a stellar place to rest your head after a full day of exploring Rome with your kids, taking a cooking class in Tuscany with your sister, or hiking with your pals in the Dolomites!

Why listen to me? I live here and have been working, traveling, and staying in accommodations throughout Italy since I first touched down on Italian soil in 2003. I’ve stayed in all sorts of accommodations here in Italy – from cozy B&Bs to 5-star luxury hotels. 

So, let’s take a look at accommodation options for your visit to Italy.

Good To Know:  These are listed in alphabetical order (by Italian name), not by prevalence or my preference.  Be sure to check out the entire list.

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Agriturismo (Agriturism)

Green countryside of southern Tuscany with Pienza on a hilltop in the background. Sunny day with white clouds.
Stay at an agriturismo and enjoy views like these in Southern Tuscany

What It Is: An agriturismo, generally-speaking, is a farm stay. The word agriturismo means ‘farm tourism’ – agri (agriculture) + turismo (tourism). You can spend the night (or multiple nights) at a farm in the countryside and enjoy the spectacular scenery and get a glimpse at farm life in Italy.

Traditionally, guests at an agriturismo would help as part of the stay, but nowadays, guests are more likely to lounge at the pool or endulge in wine tastings or gourmet meals. You’ll often find the farm’s products for sale or that the meals you’re eating are made using ingredients from the farm.  On many agriturismi, you’re still able to participate in the farm’s daily life (collecting eggs, harvesting grapes or olives), and there may be animals present (fun for kids!). 
Many agriturismo owners are very involved in the day-to-day happenings, while there are also plenty of agriturismi that offer a luxurious countryside stay and you may never interact with the owners. 

Where You’ll Find Agriturismi: You’ll find agriturismi scattered throughout Italy, but Tuscany is the most recognized region offering agriturismo stays. They’re also quite prevalent in Umbria.

Stay in One: Agriturismo Il Rigo (Val d’Orcia, Tuscany)

Good To Know:  Since agriturismi are in the countryside, you’ll need your own car. The exception is if your agriturismo offers pick-up and drop-off – but you’ll likely want a car to visit villages and sites nearby. 

Good To Know: You may also see ‘Fattoria’ instead of ‘Agriturismo’ in the property’s name. Fattoria translates to ‘farm’ or ‘farmhouse.’

Albergo (Hotel)

Morning view of Mount Etna from the terrace of Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina, Sicily.
On the terrace of Grand Hotel Timeo in Sicily, looking out at Mt. Etna

What It Is: An albergo is a hotel. Seems simple enough, but Italy’s classification system may not be what you’re used to.

Here in Italia, we have the ‘star’ system (1-star, 2-star… 5-star), but a larger number of stars doesn’t necessarily equate to a more luxurious hotel. A hotel gets more stars for offering certain amenities and services. The exact system is set up regionally, so a 3-star hotel in Piedmont may differ from a 3-star hotel in Puglia.

For example, let’s look at a just a few of the factors for hotels in the region of Tuscany:

1-STAR2-STAR3-STAR4-STAR5-STAR
Min # of hours reception is staffed1212162424
Breakfast served in a dining roomxxx
Min # of foreign languages spoken by reception11123
A/C in rooms and common areasxx
Min % of rooms with private bathroom40%60%100%100%100%
Source: Regione Toscana

What does this mean for you? Don’t just book Italian hotels based on the star system. Look at reviews, where the hotel is located, photos, and prices.

Besides the star system, you’ll notice other classifications of hotels – like ’boutique’ hotels and ‘family’ hotels.

Where You’ll Find Hotels: They’re everywhere in Italy!

Stay in One: Romantik Hotel Turm (Dolomites)

Albergo Diffuso (Dispersed Hotel)

Rooms and courtyard of Sextantio hotel in Matera, Italy at night. There is ivy growing between the stone walls and there are wooden tables and chairs set up in around the stone floor.
Evening at Sextantio – Le Grotte della Civita, in Matera

What It Is: An albergo diffuso is a hotel with rooms spread out around a village, town, or even a city.  They’re a great way to integrate yourself into the local community, as you’ll often have local neighbors in your building. I like to recommend them to independent travelers and couples. Because they’re spread out, they’re not ideal for families or groups traveling together. You can read more about them on the official site for Alberghi Diffusi in Italy.

Where You’ll Find Them: They’re popping up around Italy, and you’ll likely find them in smaller towns and villages that are trying to boost tourism.

Stay in One: Sextantio – Le Grotte della Civita (Matera, in Basilicata)

Good To Know: Breakfast is often served at a local bar or café. Your albergo diffuso will give you a coupon to trade in for a simple breakfast. It’s a nice way to immerse yourself in the local community, but if you’re a ‘go-to-breakfast-with-unbrushed-hair-and-wearing-slippers,’ this may not be a good option for you.

Appartamento (Apartment)

Colorful buildings cling to the hillside in Taormina, Italy.  Looking at them from a balcony on an upper-floor apartment.
Looking out at Taormina’s streets from our apartment

What It Is: An appartamento in Italy is an apartment (or flat) that’s a part of a larger building. They may be studios or have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Staying in an apartment gives you some independence and lets you soak up local living, but if you have any issues, solving them is a little more complicated than just walking down to reception.

Where You’ll Find It: You can book an apartment throughout Italy, and you’ll find plenty of them in city centers.

Stay in One: Verdi Due (Modena, Emilia-Romagna) or Lion Rooftop Apartments (Venice, Veneto)

Good To Know: AirBnBs typically fall under this category.

Helpful Tip:  Apartments are a great option if you’re visiting Italy with kids. As a family, it’s one of our favorite accommodation options in Italy. Apartment stays allow us to have relaxed meals, they have usually more space than hotels, and they often have handy amenities like washing machines. 

Campeggio (Campground)

Campervans parked in a gravel lot with forest and tall mountains of the Dolomites in the background.
A summer day at Camping Colfosco in the Dolomites

What It Is: A campeggio is an Italian campground. While a campground in Italy may sound tempting if you love the outdoors, it’s important to know that campgrounds in Italy are generally less ‘natural’ than campgrounds you may be used to in your home country. While they’re often in beautiful natural settings, campsites are typically very close to each other and they may be set up grid-style in a cleared out area.

If you’re looking for wild, be-one-with-nature camping, Italy may not have the campground for you. Be sure to look at photos and reviews of the campground you’re interested in.

I’ve noticed that campgrounds in the mountains in Northern Italy tend to be a little more ‘in nature’ than campgrounds as you move further south.

Where You’ll Find Them: Throughout Italy, typically outside of cities and near mountains, lakes, or beaches.

Stay in One: Camping Val di Rendena (near Lake Molveno)

Good To Know: Glamping is growing here. If you’re interested, check out Såndgøld Alpine Glamping (Dolomites).

Castello (Castle)

Tower and castle walls of Castello di Meleto hotel in Tuscany.
On a visit to Castello di Meleto in Chianti, Tuscany

What It Is: A castello is a castle, and Italy has plenty of them! Many of them have been converted into accommodations. Like hotels, there is a wide range of what you get in a castle in Italy. Some are simple, dark, and filled with antique furniture – it actual feels like you’re staying in a castle. Others have been converted into 5-star hotels and the only signs of the castle may be the tower that you see from your lounge chair at the pool.

Staying in a castle can be a memorable experience for both kids and adults. My dad still talks about sitting in the hot tub on the roof of Castello di Tornano in Tuscany with his friends and a bottle of local wine (heads up, the hot tub’s no longer there). My boys are thrilled to visit castles in Italy, and even happier if they get to sleep in one!

Where You’ll Find Them: Italy’s castle hotels are spread around the country, with a large concentration in the Dolomites, Tuscany, Umbria (this is just my observation).

Stay in One: Castello di Meleto (Tuscany)

Masseria (Fortified Farmhouse)

Pool and buildings at Masseria San Domenico in Puglia, Italy.
Masseria San Domenico in Puglia

What It Is: A masseria is a fortified farmhouse complex that was built to protect the wealthy owner and the farm’s workers and their families. Masserie have been converted (in Southern Italy, and especially Puglia) into gorgeous hotels and resorts. With their whitewashed buildings, beautiful grounds, and welcoming outdoor spaces, these are some of my favorite places to stay in Italy.

Where You’ll Find Them: You can book a masseria in the countryside of Southern Italy, especially in Puglia.

Stay in One: Masseria Torre Coccaro (Puglia)

Good To Know: Masserie were built inland, so if you want to visit the beach, you’ll need to drive to one or book a masseria with a private beach and shuttle.

Ostello (Hostel)

What It Is: A hostel in Italy is an excellent place to stay if you’re traveling on a budget or traveling solo. Ostelli have dorm accommodations (often with bunk beds) and sometimes there are also single rooms. Bathrooms are typically communal, and there are living spaces for socializing or cooking together.

Where You’ll Find It: Hostels in Italy are usually in cities. Sometimes they’re in city centers, and other times they’re further out and require transport to get to a city’s main sites.

Stay in One: The Beehive (Rome)

Good To Know/Helpful Tip: Hostels in Italy aren’t only for young backpackers. They’re often a budget-friendly way to stay in a prime location (and if not in a prime location, you’ll have buddies to travel to the action with). Sometimes you can get a private room.  I’ve even stayed at a hostel with my parents and one of their favorite memories of that particular trip is cooking a pasta dish together with others in the hostel. 

B&B (Bed and Breakfast)

Bedroom with bed and white furniture in Italy. Boy at window looking out.
My son checking out our room for the night

What It Is: A B&B in Italy is accommodation that offers rooms and breakfast. They’re often family-run, and they’re a great way to get to know someone from the area. You’ll see similarities between a B&B and a pensione, garni, and locanda.

Where You’ll Find It: You can find a B&B in cities, towns, villages, and countryside locations in Italy.

Stay in One: B&B Il Giardino Incantato (Cinque Terre)

Good To Know:  Don’t expect eggs and bacon for breakfast. Italian breakfast is typically a simple, sugar-focused affair.  Think pastries and coffee. 

Rifugio (Mountain Refuge)

Red-roofed mountain hut (Rifugio Alpe di Tires) in front of Dolomites Sciliar range. It's a cloudy day.
Rifugio Alpe di Tires in the Dolomites

What It Is: A rifugio is a mountain refuge. Sometimes they’re a bare-bones place to rest your head after a long hike in the mountains, but they’re often comfortable mountain hotels with

Where You’ll Find Them: In Italy’s mountains. My favorites are in the Dolomites.

Stay in One: Rifugio Fanes (hike in and out) or Rifugio Scoiattoli (easily accessed by the chairlift up to Cinque Torri), both in the Dolomites

Good To Know: Some rifugi only offer shared bathrooms and/or dormitory-style rooms. Do your research to make sure you’re getting the right rifugio for you.

Helpful Tip: If you know you really want to stay in a rifugio in Italy, book that part of your trip first. There’s limited inventory and high demand, so you may need to shift your dates a bit.

Resort

Thermal bath at the Terme di Saturnia Natural Spa & Golf Resort in Tuscany, Italy.
A cloudy day at Terme di Saturnia Natural Spa & Golf Resort is still a fabulous day

What It Is: Resorts in Italy usually aren’t huge complexes, but they’re often themed (family resorts, spa resorts, golf resorts, beach resorts, etc). In addition to accommodation, you’ll likely find restaurants, bars, and activity areas (like a spa complex at a spa resort).

If you’re traveling with kids, look for a family resort (we’ve stayed at and like Paradù Eco Resort on the Tuscan Coast and Camping Bella Italia on Lake Garda). They include entertainment for kids (animazione), playgrounds and dedicated children’s play areas, and kid-friendly restaurants and menus.

It’s easy to spend all of your time at the resort, which is perfect if you want to relax. If you’re looking to soak up local culture and explore the area, you may want to choose another type of accommodation.

Where You’ll Find Them: Resorts in Italy are often found at beaches and in the mountains.

Stay in One: Terme di Saturnia Natural Spa & Golf Resort (Tuscany)

Good To Know: Saunas in Italy are often bathing suit free (you use them in your birthday suit).

Villa

Pink, blue, and orange sky above the yard of a villa in Tuscany. Pool on right and olive grove in background. Edge of villa on left.
A September sunset at Villa Castellare de’ Sernigi in Tuscany

What It Is: A villa in Italy is typically a large home in the countryside. They’re an excellent option if you’re traveling with a large family or in a group, because you can rent out the entire villa. Villas have more space than other accommodations in Italy, and amenities may include swimming pools, large outdoor areas, professional kitchens, chefs, and more.

You may also see them called case vacanze (vacation homes).

Where You’ll Find Them: You can stay in villas throughout Italy. Look for them in the countryside and outside of cities.

Stay in One: Villa Castellare de’ Sernigi (Tuscany)

Good To Know:  Villas vary in size and luxury level. 

Good To Know: In Italy, villa rentals are often Saturday to Saturday . Sometimes minimum stays are required (3-7 days), especially during high seasons.

Fun Fact: Villas are an ancient Roman invention. They were countryside retreats for upper class Romans.

Unique Accommodations in Italy

Inside a cave room at Caveoso Hotel in Matera, Italy. You can see the bed, a large mirror, and more furniture in the background.
Inside our cave hotel, Caveoso Hotel, in Matera

Italy has plenty of unique accommodations for you to try out on your visit:

Trulli – These conical-roofed structures dot the landscape in and around Alberobello in Puglia. While not ideal for a long stay, they’re a ‘must-do’ if you’re visiting the area. Try one of the trulli from Trulli e Puglia.

Case Sull’Albero (Treehouses) – Stay in the alberi (trees) in simple structures like Casa Sull’Albero Awen (Umbria) or live it up in the luxurious My Arbor – Plose Wellness Hotel (Dolomites).

Grotte (Caves) – If you’re visiting Matera, I recommend you stay a night or two in one of the city’s cave hotels. Try the well-located Caveoso Hotel.

Palazzi (Palaces) – Rest your weary head in a grand home for the evening, like at Palazzo Leopoldo in Radda in Chianti (Tuscany).

Monastero (Monastery) or Convento (Convent) – Accommodations in a religious building can be a monastery or convent that have been transformed into a hotel or one that’s active and accepts guests. Make sure you know which you’re booking, as there are big differences between the two! For example, you could stay in the 4-star countryside hotel, La Certosa di Maggiano, or in the simple guesthouse of of the Sisters at Istituto San Giuseppe della Montagna (Rome).

Tips for Choosing Accommodations in Italy

Three boys stand at edge of pool. Bushes and trees on right, umbrellas and loungers in grassy area on left.

Mix it up. Try spending time in different types of accommodations and different ‘luxury’ levels. For example, stay in a an agriturismo and then finish your trip at a fancy pants hotel in a city.

Decide on important amenities. These will vary depending on the time of year and who you’re traveling with. For example, do you want or need air-conditioning, a kitchen, or a swimming pool?

Location is important. Yes, that apartment outside the center of Florence is less expensive, but you’ll need to take a bus or taxi to the center every day, which increases the cost and requires your precious vacation time. However, if you’re on a more leisurely trip, you could stay outside of the center to get a feel for life as a local (but I wouldn’t recommend this with kids).

Think about what the area is known for. For example, if you’re visiting Puglia, a trullo stay is a unique experience that you won’t get to try elsewhere in Italy.

Traveling with Kids? Make sure you’re booking accommodations that are kid-friendly (for example, who wants to walk up five flights of stairs with kids or worry about their access to the unfenced pool). Are there family amenities like high chairs or cribs available?

Read reviews (positive and negative). 

Know your transport options. How can you get to the accommodation? Do you need a car, can you walk, do you need to take a taxi? Will you have parking available? Are your transport options limited once you’re there?

Consider your travel ‘musts.’ For example, are you sensitive to noise? If so, avoid booking a room overlooking a lively piazza (unless the windows are soundproof). Do you need to be near a hospital? Does your accommodation need to be wheelchair accessible or baby-proofed?

Time it right. If you would love to stay in a particular place but it’s way over your budget, think about visiting outside of high season. For example, we stay in some lovely places in the winter in Venice that are out of our price range in the summer.

Bigger isn’t always better. Or at least that’s what you’ll need to tell yourself about your room in Italy. Expect smaller spaces than what you’re used to – in the bedroom and the bathroom.

How to Book Accommodations in Italy

When I’m traveling for work or play in Italy, by myself or with my kids, I check Booking.com first. I also look at options directly with hotels and apartments.

Other options include, Lastminute.com, AirBnB, Expedia, Priceline, HotelsTonight, etc.

There are still some gems to be found in Italy by contacting tourist info of the village/town/city.  Sometimes older accommodation owners still only use the telephone for reservations (but this is becoming more and more rare as even nonni are joining hotel booking sites). I found one of our favorite places to stay in the Dolomites this way.

Be sure to check out
Where to Stay in Florence
Where to Stay in the Dolomites with Kids
Where to Stay in Taormina

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