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Insta Q&A: It Takes a Villa in Tuscany

Christina Talcott

Hi folks, and welcome to Insta Q&A, the midweek edition of the Post's Travel Q&A column. This is where we'll continue our Q&A dialogue, and where you get a crack at being the expert. That's right. If you think you've got the answer to your fellow travelers' questions, we want you to jump in.

Here's how it works. If you have a travel question, send it in to, as usual. We'll continue to answer as many of your questions as we can in the weekly column, which runs online and in the print edition. But each Wednesday, starting today, we'll publish an additional question right here. I'll take a whack at it, and then, if you know something about the subject, feel free to chime in yourself -- just hit the "Comments" button at the end of the entry.

Got all that? Okay, so this week's question is from B. Potter of Raleigh. B. writes:

"We are planning to rent a Tuscany villa for five adults and three children next fall. Could you advise us on the most economical and safe way to organize the trip? I have seen villas advertised on the Internet but am worried about deposits, authenticity of pictures and information."

There a few things you can do to minimize potential problems, B. Here are a few pointers:

* As a rule, rent from an established company, not an individual. Insist on a contract. Ask the company how long it's been in business. Check it out with the Better Business Bureau, in this country, or run its name by the tourism office of the country you're visiting.

Rest and relaxation in Florence. (Grand Hotel Villa Cora)

* To make communication easier, consider using a rental company with offices in the U.S., or at least North America. Examples:, Villas of the World, Homes Away, Italian Villas.

* Use only agencies that publish photos of their properties. Yes, photos can be misleading, but at least you'll have some idea what the place looks like.

* Ask for references from past customers, and check them. Don't rent from a company that refuses to put you in touch with its previous clients.

* When calculating the cost, remember it's not just about the rent. Ask about extra charges like agency fees, cleaning fees, electricity bills and security deposit.

Okay, now it's your turn. Who's rented a villa in Tuscany (or elsewhere in Europe) and has tips for B.? What did you learn the hard way? If certain towns or villages are better (or worse) than others, do tell.

-- K.C. Summers

By Christina Talcott |  November 12, 2008; 7:39 AM ET  | Category:  Europe , Insta-Q&A , K.C. Summers
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We rented a villa in Cinque Terre, Tuscany from an international Villa rental agency. While the villa was very much as advertised in a technical sense, it turned out to be "cold" and more like a museum, something difficult to sense from photos.
Also, the kitchen utensils were sparse and created problems for four couples cooking and dining together. So I'd advise specifically asking about whether the kitchen is, in fact, properly equipped.

Posted by: bigMac3 | November 12, 2008 12:56 PM

I used

earlier this year to arrange a villa rental near Siena.

The villa was wonderful but I also was very pleased with the thorough and efficient communication via email and phone with I had with the UK-based company.

Posted by: tngland | November 12, 2008 2:56 PM

And Tuscany Now just happens to have an ad at the bottom of this entry! We're nothing if not a full-service blog.

Posted by: KCSummers | November 12, 2008 5:19 PM

KC again. I'm posting this comment on behalf of a reader in Brooklyn who's having technical problems:

I've been trying to post a comment to the Italy Villa Q & A. Even though I AM signed in, I keep being asked to do so. I'm in a perpetual loop that won't allow me to comment! Help!

In case this can be posted as a comment:

Several years ago my entire family of Mom & Dad, sisters and brothers and their spouses, and my husband and our 2 kids rented 2 villas in Italy (10 of us). Both villas were way beyond our expectations! The 1st was just north of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Well furnished with furniture and
kitchen supplies. We cooked dinner every night (some of our fresh vegetables came from the villa gardens) and ate al fresco with a fantasticview of the ocean. The housekeeper also brought fresh fish (until we had to ask her to stop!) and freshly made mozarella. Our 2nd villa was in Florence and was part of a 200 (or more) yr old historic property in the heart of the city. However, the house and the surrounding grounds were at least 5 acres and you wouldn't know the city was right outside the gates. The bus stop was right there and in 5 minutes you were at Il Duomo. I could go on and on about both properties! My sister and I found both
properties by searching the web for Italian villa rentals. We did not find them through the same agency, however. I won't revisit the common sense points in choosing/renting a villa, but just wanted to say there are
many fabulous villas available for rent. With such a large group, the savings in food costs and the cost of the villa vs hotel room costs was substantial. And, last but not least, living in a villa makes you feel much more a part of the community and culture. Happy renting!

Carol Chacamaty

Posted by: KCSummers | November 12, 2008 5:35 PM

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