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Italy has a wonderful variety of accommodation in all categories, from grand villas to small family run hotels, as well as the newly developing sector of Agriturismo or farm holidays.

All the major international chains are represented in Italy, with Jolly and Hilton being the most common. However, there are also a growing number of groups of highly individual hotels that have banded together to present a common front. They tend to be independent hotels that are linked by their atmosphere, style and cost to others in different areas.

Ensure you contact the accommodation you wish to stay in and get a email confirmation of your reservation. It is worth bearing in mind that smaller hotels are not necessarily cheaper. Some of the more exclusive small hotels match the grand hotels in style and expense, but even inexpensive hotels usually offer basic accommodation.

Agriturismo, or farm holidays, is a fantastic new way to experience the countryside by staying in either private guest rooms or apartments on a working farm, vineyard or olive estate, often with an opportunity to enjoy home cooking on the premises. You will be able to help on the farm or vineyard should you want to. Usually these properties are of a very high standard and offer some of the most enchanting locations to be found in Italy. They will often have swimming pools.

If you would like to empty your mind and cleanse your soul, why not stay in a spiritual location? For hundreds of years monasteries, convents and abbeys in Italy have provided travellers with a place of refuge where they will be safe and warm. This tradition continues to this day. They are over 300 medieval monasteries situated in many Italian cities as well as picturesque rural settings. The traveller will experience the historical ambience, discover hidden art treasures, see beautiful architecture and have all the facilities of a modern 3 or 4-star hotel. Certain rules may have to be observed such as no phones outside your room, no TV or radio and being quiet when walking around the areas where the monks live.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation is aimed at quality throughout most areas in Italy. Tourists are generally welcomed with fresh flowers in their room, a welcome cocktail and the owners are always delighted to have a conversation about what is interesting to see in the area, how to get there, etc. Bed & Breakfast accommodation is an officially recognised guest room in a private home. (They can be in villas as well as apartments) Bear in mind that an Italian breakfast may not be like the 'full English breakfast' as you might only be given a cup of coffee and a croissant (or even a voucher to use at a nearby bar).

In most cities and towns in Italy accommodation can be found in private homes. If you contact your local tourist office, you should ask for "un elenco di affittacamere" which is a list of people who rent rooms. Private homes offering accommodation are not recognised as official establishments and therefore are not rated by the Tourist Office.

Pensioni, or Pensions, are no longer used in Italy. The word pensioni was used to describe a small hotel. Nowadays these places of accommodation are called 1-star, 2-star or 3-star hotels.

There are approximately 40,000 hotels throughout Italy. Each hotel has a fixed rate agreement with the Provincial Tourist Board. You will find that most hotels quote all-inclusive rates, which include taxes, services, heating, or air conditioning. If you discover the all-inclusive rate does not include value added tax (IVA), it should be added. Hotel rates are generally lower in the off peak season from November to March in main cities and towns, and in the ski resorts April/May and September to November. Hotels are classified in six categories: 1-star, 2-star, 3-star, 4-star, 5-star and 5-star deluxe (this being the very best). Reservations to these hotels can be made either through travel agencies or by writing direct to the hotel.

According to the regulations of the International Hotel Association (IHA) and the International Federation of Travel Agents (FIAVET), as well as Italian Civil Law, a hotel booking is considered valid as soon as caparra, or deposit, has been paid. FIAVET and IHA regulations also state that if a reservation is cancelled 14 days in advance and 30 days in advance during the high season, the deposit will be refunded.

The small to medium size hotels are often run by a family. They will give you breakfast (generally coffee and a croissant) but it is more than likely they won't have a restaurant. But this can hardly be a drawback when you are in a country that has superb restaurants on virtually every street just waiting for you to explore.

It is possible to rent private houses or villas. Very often these properties will be restored farmhouses. They will have independent entrances and their own garden areas. Most will have swimming pools.

Multiproprietàl, or timeshare, is an option if you are looking for a more luxurious type of lodging. Located in the centres of most major cities, these types of accommodations can be rented by the week. Italian timeshares provide the same amenities as 5-star deluxe hotels, but are generally to be found less expensive. They offer large kitchens and bedrooms, private balconies, restaurants and spa facilities.

Alberghi Diurni, or day hotels, are a fairly new phenomenon to Italy. They offer private rooms for brief periods. Included will be a bath or shower, barbershop or hairdresser, shoeshine, dry cleaning and telephones. Many of these day hotels have bureau de change (money changing facilities). These hotels are generally to be found in the centre of the cities and near the railway stations. They are open from 6am until midnight and do not offer overnight or sleeping accommodation.

Campeggi, or campsites, can be found in most areas of Italy and can be an excellent option when the summer resorts start to fill up. For reasons such as your own safety you are not allowed to set up your own impromptu campsite in Italy. If you do, you will be heavily fined. Most campsites are well equipped with a service area for motor-homes, hot showers and shops selling basic food and necessities. In peak season some campsites offer a shuttle bus to the nearest beach and/or town. The larger campsites called villaggi turistici rent out bungalows and have facilities such as playgrounds, pools, tennis courts, discos, restaurants and pizzerias.

Travel agents and local tourist offices will have details of prices, phone numbers and other information for all the types of accommodation mentioned above.

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