Recommended Vacation Houses & Apartments

Self Catering Gems in Italy

(Continued from Page 1: Self Catering: Explore and Experience Italy!)

Here are our highly recommended places to stay around Italy. I've stayed and in all of these places and would in any one of them again.

Recommended Accommodations in Italy, North to South

Torre Barolo - Piemonte

Torre Barolo, as its name implies, is a 17th century tower, modernized inside to have all the creature comforts. It looks down upon Barolo castle. You can do so while eating dinner n the summer because there's a terrace on top. There are great restaurants withing walking distance, (in Barolo, food is art) and you can go to nearby Barbaresco and drink the regions famous wine in a former church. See Wine Tasting in a Church: Barbaresco. Lots of stairs, as you might expect, so if you can't deal with them then this isn't the place for you.

Calboccia - Umbria

Calboccia was our very first vacation rental. Calboccia was once a large family farmhouse (almost 4000 square feet of area) that's been split into an upper and lower apartment. We stayed up top.

The location is perfect--right on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. You can take cooking classes at the local restaurant (La Chiusa--excellent food!).

Il Fontanaro
fontanaro vacation rental

Il Fontanaro Agriturismo in Umbria (Near Tuscany)

Il Fontanaro, where you'll settle into the slow life rather quickly, has a variety of lodging options, from apartments to whole farm buildings, all with kitchens. The farm produces top quality olive oils and wine, and Alina operates a very well-stocked wine cellar. The vacation rental complex is a short walk into the interesting town of Paciano and a little further to Panicale. Lake Trasimeno is within easy reach if you have a car, and wine lovers will want to visit the Madrevite Winery.

La Piazzetta di Pascelupo - Umbria

If you're looking for peace and solitude like the neighboring monks (well, perhaps not so much solitude as a hermetic monk...) you might try looking inside Monte Cucco Regional Park for this city resurrected from the 1996 earthquake and the fabulous and inexpensive vacation rental called La Piazzetta di Pascelupo inside the park.

Agriturismo Montestigliano - Tuscany, Siena Province

montestigliano vacation rental

Agriturismo Montestigliano was once a very large family farm estate recently transformed artistically into vacation apartments and villas. If you get tired of hiking the trails, or heading over to the local bodega to get interesting local food to eat, you can hop in a car and be in Siena In 15 minutes or so. A great staff eager to help you get the most out of Tuscany is at your service.

Castello Ripa d'Orcia - Tuscany

Castello di Ripa d'Orcia is a thirteenth century castle that offers a Bed and Breakfast in addition to self catering apartments. It's in the Val d'Orcia near the favorite tourist towns of Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia in Siena province. There's an on-premises winery and restaurant as well, so you don't have to cook unless you want to. There are some great walks in the area.

Your friends will be impressed if you tell them you've stayed in a castle apartment, believe me.

Antica Dimora San Pellegrino - Viterbo: Lazio

Antica Dimora San Pellegrino
fontanaro vacation rental

Viterbo has the largest medieval center in Italy, and you can spend your time smack in the middle of it, staying in a medievel tower in the picturesque Piazza San Pellegrino. Antica Dimora San Pellegrino is spacious, full of art, and is very highly rated by people who've stayed there. There is free, secure parking outside the historic area if you have a car. 

It is also a medieval tower, and there are stairs to consider if you can't deal with them.

The tower in the picture to the right is the location of Antica Dimora San Pellegrino.

Historic Apartment in Mondavio, Le Marche

Historic Apartment Mondaviomay be the greatest value of any vacation rental we've stayed in. Four bedrooms and four baths, a very professional kitchen with a six burner stove, and the first time we saw it, we thought we might loose each other. A three minute walk gets you to the fabulous castle, Rocca Roveresca (1482-1492). The Bar il Ducca is where you get your morning cappuccino and freshly baked pastry with a great castle view.

Cross the road in front of the apartment and you'll enter a little park hosting Al Giardino della Rocca which serves lunch and dinner--and it's a bar where you can get an aperitivo and a few snacks.

There are plenty of little towns around to explore around Mondavio. Five stars from me!

Walking the narrow streets to the pizzeria in Mondavio

mondavio, le marche

Masseria Posta Santa Croce - Puglia

Nature lovers and walkers should get all wound up over the trails that zig zag through the Posta's property. We wrote about an eventing walk in Paradise Found! discovering Nature in Puglia.

Within a half hour drive from Posta Santa Croce you can reach the famous Castel del Monte. Beach goers can visit several seaside towns in that time: Barletta, Trani, Bisceglie, Molfetta, and Giovinazzo. 10 minutes away is Ruvo di Puglia, where you can discover the ancient richeness of the area via a very interesting archaeological museum, then experience a cathedral with crypt, shops and places to eat including the excellent UPEPIDDE RistorArte, where you can try local specialties.

Pietro and his family will make you feel like a Puglia native. If you go in late September or early October he'll introduce you to Olive Dolci, sweet olives you can pick off the tree and saute in a couple of minutes.

posta santa croce masseria

Posta Santa Croce
Via Sant'Andrea / SP85, Strada Santa Croce, Bisceglie (near the A14 autostrada)

Central Loft: Varese - Lombardy

Many of the vacation rentals on this page are rural and reflect earlier times. Central Loft in the town of Varese is very modern, yet fits nicely into of the historic center of town. Underground, secure parking is provided. The little balcony overlooks the town center and bell tower (they turn off the bells at night, you may be happy to know). There are two very nice bars directly as you exit the apartment. The town itself has a very lively apertivo or happy hour and a good variety of food from all over is available.

Central Loft

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