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Italy: Bed & Breakfast Establishments 2008

 

Summary

B&B's were a treasure for us in Sicily in 2008 though it would have been difficult to use them without all 4 of the following:

--our own cell phone internet access and laptop for selecting particular B&B's online as we traveled

--enough Italian competency to make reservations by telephone

--a European-compatible cell phone for calling our hosts shortly before arriving as many requested

--GPS for actually getting to the door once in town.
Elsewhere in Italy the B&B's are generally easier to access than in Sicily.

 

Problems B&B's Solved

We fell in love with the B&B lodging option while in Sicily in the spring of 2008. We tumbled to them as a lodging alternative part way through our visit by staying at one and learning of a website for others from a sticker on the door.

Bill quickly targeted the 3 star places as a good match for us. Most nights we could find a nice 3-star for about 60 that included a private, en suite bathroom; indoor storage for our bikes; and occasionally a kitchen. These were also much more nicely decorated and outfitted than hotels in a similar price range.

B&B's are a new phenomena in Italy and most that we saw in Sicily began operation between 2000 and 2006 when the EU funded their development. Several we stayed at were in their first weeks or months of operation. That meant that most all were fresh and modern--very nice.

A truly wonderful feature for us was that most B&B's are small, usually 1-3 rooms with the largest concern we used having 8 rooms. That meant that we never shared our space with noisy school groups. We've lost more than 1 night's sleep in Italian hotels to dozens of out-of-control school kids screaming in the halls until the wee hours. Neither the chaperones or the hotel staff thought that there was a problem. Their attitude was that it would be silly to quiet a large group for the benefit of a few other guests--a law of the jungle approach. But these small B&B's just don't have the space for a school group.

Many of the hosts were prepared to function as local tourist info resources, especially when their town lacked a tourism office. Many provided city maps and museum brochures and would answer general sightseeing or route questions, though often only in Italian.

 

Checking the Details.....

Is the private bathroom in your room "in camera" or down the hall?

Is the B&B located where you want to be, such as close to the center of the old town or in the countryside?

Ground floor rooms tend to be noiser, cooler, damper, and mustier than upper storey rooms.

A balcony or terrace decreases the chances of a room with no view of the sky.

 

Challenges In Using the B&B's

Many of the B&B's only advertise on the internet, so good internet access is essential for locating and selecting them. Internet access cannot be counted on while traveling in Sicily and many other parts of Italy.

A given B&B's internet site may be multi-lingual, but the host may only speak Italian, which complicates matters when making telephone reservations as we did. Planning farther ahead and booking online would solve that problem, but again relies on good internet access.

Locating the B&B's once in the town can be difficult. Bill started using GPS the same season and it was a huge help in getting to our new B&B each night.

 


We declined to eat the worst B&B breakfast we'd paid for.

Breakfasts

The rooms were uniformly nice in the 3-star bracket but the breakfasts were all over the map. Italian breakfasts are usually meager--often prepackaged cookies and coffee. Our worst was prepackage toast; jelly which had glucose syrup as the first ingredient; juice which had glucose syrup as the first ingredient; and coffee. We skipped it entirely and made our own.

A number of rooms were set-up with self-serve breakfasts, usually with prepackaged buns or toast and a coffee maker of some sort. A minority of B&B's tempted us with fresh, high quality baked goods and fresh fruit. Rarely were German breakfast standards of cheese and cured meats offered and then only in small quantities.

Several places handed out a coupon for a coffee and a roll at a bar. Usually the bar was across the street or at least in the neighborhood, though in 1 town it was a couple of miles away.

My advice is to shop for the room and not the breakfast.

 

Websites

www.bbplanet.com became my preferred site for Italy in 2009. The reviews (not all in English) are invaluable!

www.bed-and-breakfast-sicilia.com

www.anbba.it

www.ilovebandb.com

 

Several Specific Recommendations (2008-2009)

La Spezia: La Villetta del Golfo (5/09)
This newer, purpose-built B&B in a quiet neighborhood was a real find; 60. No English on the TV;  a welcome mini-frig; and a spacious and comfy room. The host's English skills were just good-enough on the phone to manage though use of our limited Italian served us well. There were mosquitoes here and no provision for their control was provided. Via Pitelli in Localit Paglari behind the naval port and about 3-4 km south of the center. GPS was a big help in locating it though printing out the map on website would do. www.villettadelgolfo.it. Tel within Italy: 328 674 3689 (more numbers available on website.)

Mestre (near Venice):  B&B Villa Ricordi,
Via Sernaglia, 14, 30170, run by Monica Biasiolo, villa.ricordi@alice.it, 3382499566. 70 11/08 thru BBPlanet.it. To go into Venice, it is an easy walk to the train station from the B&B or you can catch a bus on the nearby street. The pleasant English speaking hostess will help you with the details. Very fresh and clean. These ground floor rooms took about 24 hrs to warm-up in late November. There is no garden or lobby or place to hang-out other than your room.

Pisa: B&B Le Piagge
The enthusiastic, English-speaking host Giorgio lived-up to the rave reviews on BBPlanet.it. Near the center of town and the Arno River at Via di Vietta 41, 70 for 2. He will give you a lift at no charge to and from the airport or train station. No English on the TV; heat and air conditioning are available as is the use of a small refrigerator. There is a small garden with seating area. Mosquitoes were a problem when we were there in May 2009 though Giorgio provided pull-in devices for their control in the room and burned a repelling coil around the doors in the evening. It's a pleasant 30 minute walk into the tourist district or Giorgio will give you a round-trip lift. A pleasant B&B but not outfitted in a way that suits us for a long stay (no table or chairs in the room). Tel: +39 347 889 1586, +39 050 38 69 400.  www.bblepiagge.it

San Remo: Pollon Inn
This is a basic, functional place in the center of the city near the sea, 70 for 2. HVAC noises from across the street and grill smoke from the restaurant below were annoying in our particular room, but our somewhat noisy AC remedied both. New furnishings and fixtures in an old building.  There is BBC on the TV and both Wifi and international calls are free! Reception isn't staffed for this 3 room "affiticamere" ("rooms") so a phone is helpful to have when you arrive (or at least the phone number in hand). The host gladly accepted our bikes, though it's a long flight of stairs up 1 level to the rooms. There is a bike shop nearby: left out the door and up the hill, left again and watch for it on your left. Find the Pollon Inn at Via Pallavicino 17; Tel; 0039 334 944 2483.; www.infosanremo.com

Treviso: (near Venice): Mezzaluna B&B
at Via Zecchette, 48, www.bbmezzaluna.it; info@bbmezzaluna.it ;0039 0422 231838. It was 70 for 2 in early March, 2009. A comfortable, quiet room with a private bath offset from a busy street. A large supermarket is perhaps a 20 minute walk along the main road to your left, towards the center. Bus is the best way to get to the center. We would stay there again. On the back of their business card was the Eden Treviso B&B at Viale Quindici Luglio, 49; www.edentreviso.com; same telephone.

 

Trieste: Tourist Info highly recommended B&B Ponterosso in Palazzo Ponterosso 3, 1st floor 60. On the south side of the Canal Grande near main plaza with Tourist Info office. Tel: +39/040/2600312 or+39/349/0925955 cell. We weren't able to connect with them and instead stayed at B&B Ad Hoc on via Paduina off of Viale XX September which was OK but we'd try hard to stay elsewhere next time as there was no outdoor window and it felt like someone's apartment leftovers.

Udine: Casa Angela or Angela's apt outside the historic center (B&B near Eurospin). www.casaangela.it, angelasabucco@hotmail.it, Tel 337 532623. Nice place, nice hostess, we'd stay there again.

Vallecrosia (a few miles east of Ventimiglia: Villa dei Pini
This lovely 3rd generation family home is set in a shaded garden right on the main road along the coast, only a few miles (13km) from the French border. The hostess speaks English, the host understands English fairly well and is very accommodating. Bikes were kept in their open garage though the grounds are fenced and secure. There were mosquitoes one of the 2 nights we were there in June and no air conditioning, which is a difficult combination. No TV; confirm that you are getting a private bath. 72 for 2 with an Italian breakfast, 62 for 2 without though the prices are higher in July and August. Via C. Aprosio, 453 (north side of the main road, SP1); Tel: 333 7923119; www.villladeipinibedandbreakfast.com.

 

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