Selecting the Right House
The web pages have been carefully thought out so as to give you the most detailed information possible to help you make your choice. Therefore we advise you first of all to take time to read the descriptions of the properties carefully, which give you general information about the place and its surroundings, about the type of property you are looking at, about the furnishings and equipment and other useful and interesting observations. The descriptions of the properties were written by us and are accurate at the time we last visited the property. Owners do sometimes make changes without our knowledge but we do our best to keep the descriptions up-to-date. We have also tried to give a flavour of the property through the use of subjective words such as 'charming' or 'elegant' which reflect our personal taste. Furthermore we have tried to give an objective evaluation scale of the accommodation regarding the location and the interiors of the house: please see above the price column the section "Evaluation" with the symbol of the green cypresses at the margins. The evaluation scale ranges from 2 to 5 cypresses (comparable with 2 to 5 stars) for "Location" (left) and "Interiors" (right). Naturally, we are available to give you individual advice as we have personally viewed our holiday accommodation. In case you have particular needs or want to be informed in more detail about the characteristics of the chosen accommodation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be pleased to assist you.
To avoid long loading times it is not always possible to show interior photos of all rooms. For this reason you should consider the photographs of the interiors only as examples of the standard of the property in question. Please contact us if you should require further information. The floor plans are not measured exactly to scale and do not reflect the specific interiors of individual units. They serve only as helpful sketches of the room layouts.
Prices are quoted in EURO. The price table can be found in the respective property information clicking the top right tab "Prices, Availability & Booking". Prices are per week and holiday unit. The prices include all charges, unless a particular type of consumption needs to be paid for at the location. These additional costs (e.g. heating) are listed in the white section below the price table. To calculate the total price, please also add the costs for final cleaning services. In the price list you will also find more details about the property (e.g. size and opening dates of the swimming-pool etc.). They also highlight the services offered (e.g. cook or maid service).
It is particularly important that the maximum occupation numbers given are adhered to and not exceeded. This maximum occupation is printed in capital letters in the price column left (see "PAX" and figure after "PAX") and the weekly price is referred to this number after "PAX". The weekly price is given in the columns right, under the saisonal periods. The number of beds after the "+" sign refers to additional beds such as sofa-beds, extra beds or rooms which can be booked in additon to the standard facilities (see number after "+" in brackets).
If you should require those additional beds and if they are available, this must be arranged with us in writing and mentioned in the travel documents. These extra beds must be paid for in cash on arrival at the holiday location (any special arrangements will be mentioned in the white section under the price column). If you should occupy your accommodation with a smaller party group than the maximum occupation numbers no price reductions will be made in relation to the size of the party (any special arrangements will be mentioned in the white section under the price column).
Floors are counted the European way. The American first floor is the European ground floor. If an apartment is a second floor walk-up, you have two flights of stairs to climb.
Children are generally welcome, although it is understood they must be well-behaved. Some houses only allow children from a certain age upwards or the number of children permitted is limited. Other houses may add a surcharge per child - due at the destination - if this maximum limit is exceeded. Such restrictions will be mentioned in the Notes section under the price column. We can't make any exceptions on welcoming children, so please read the Notes section of the Property Listing carefully. Children of any age must be included in your count of people occupying the house. Infants in cots (under one year) can sometimes be an exception, please discuss this with us - and also if you to bring your own portable cot or if you want to find it in your rental. Also if you bring your own cot, the surcharge for the additional person might be applied.
Pets are allowed only if specified in the price list, but it must definitely be declared at the time of booking (breed must be indicated in the booking form). If pets are allowed, for some properties the tenant will be required to sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Responsibility concerning his/her pet upon reservation. The relevant form can be found under Declaration Of Accepting Responsibility For Your Pet. We will obtain the owner's consent and confirm his agreement on the booking confirmation and rental voucher. Please consider: for security reasons many owners have dogs on their property. When booking rural accommodation or accommodation with several living units in particular, please bear in mind that the owners often keep their own pets on the property and other guests might also bring theirs.
Arrival and departure:
Guests are expected to enter the properties on Saturday afternoon between 4.00 pm and 7.00 pm. Departure is on Saturday morning between 8.00 am and 9.00 am. Please respect the timetable. Early arrivals or late departures reduce the time availability for cleaning and preparing the property for the following guests. If you expect to arrive later than the above times, please inform the caretaker/property owner or us promptly. Arrivals on days other than Saturday must be agreed on in writing with HIDDEN ITALY and might be due to an extra charge to be paid on the premises.
On your arrival at your holiday home, you will be required to pay a security deposit. The amount of the security deposit required is given in the price list. If there are no discrepancies or damages to the property, the security deposit will be refunded - minus your incurred telephone costs or other additional costs.
It is advisable to bring your own mobile phone, which can usually be used throughout Europe. In some houses, the use of the telephone is limited. If this is indeed the case, this is indicated on the website with "Yes, limited telephone use" (see house description, left column under "telephone"). The limitation is as follows:
a) You can only make local calls as well as any necessary emergency calls with these telephones; telephone costs for local outgoing calls are at your own expense.
b) You can receive long-distance or international calls but you cannot make any yourself.
c) To make long-distance or international calls, the house owner can give you a pre-paid mobile phone in exchange for a deposit; it is up to you to obtain a pre-paid card at your own expense.
It is stated in the house description if the property is equipped with an Internet connection. If the connection is a WIFI connection this is explicitly mentioned. Please be aware that in some areas, specially in the rural ones, the Internet connection can be slower than expected as fast broadband is available only in the major towns. Moreover speed and reception can vary depending on the distance from the modem, thickness of the walls, and the weather.
The final cleaning service is usually charged per person (also applies to children and babies) and must be paid at the location. In some cases, a flat rate is charged, based on the capacity of the apartment.
With some of our accommodation it is possible, after consultation with the owner, to arrange for house personnel to take care of your individual requirements, at an additional charge. If services are provided, these will be listed in the white field under the price table. Please mention the services you require (e.g. cleaning during the stay, bed clothes to be changed during the week, cooking service etc.) when booking.
Bed linen - towels:
All bed linen and towels are included in the rental price of our holiday homes (unless otherwise stated in the price list). Bed linen is changed at the end of a week (on Saturday) unless otherwise mentioned. If you rent for one week, there will be no mid-stay linen change unless specified in the listing. At some homes, additional changes of linen can be arranged at extra charge. Please bring your own beach towel or mat.
Where there is a wall-mounted shower, this is indicated, although the norm is hand-held showers in baths and/or shower curtains.
"Holiday Homes" are normally equipped for the needs that usually arise during a brief stay. The equipment varies according to the level of the properties and generally conforms to the standards of country homes. It is always specified if the accommodation contains household appliances, such as a washing machine, dishwasher and hair-dryer. So if it's not mentioned, it's not provided. Please keep in mind that dryers are a true rarity, and that irons, ironing boards and drying racks are not always provided in all Italian homes. Only rarely are there other small household appliances such as toasters, blenders, etc. We have noted food processors or toaster ovens where we have noticed them, but we cannot promise to have been scrupulous about such items. Ovens are usually electric even though most heaters are gas. Usually, the coffee pot provided is of the Italian mocha type. The kitchens are all stocked with pots and pans etc. but the quality and extent of the inventory varies. Kitchen linen, such as table cloths and napkins, is not always provided. Please bring your own bath soap, dish detergent or laundry detergent. For hygienic reasons groceries or mattresses for outdoor sunloungers are not provided. Bathrooms with a bath are also equipped with a hand shower but not all of them have a shower curtain.
Some properties have on-site staff, this is specified. At some properties, owners may need to visit to manage staff or see to the activity of their farms. Please discuss this with us if it is of concern. Very large houses are sometime rented with some rooms closed off. The Listing specifies which rooms will be included in the rental and which are considered off-limits.
The roads in country areas are often untarred and, even when tarred, they can be very narrow. The quality can change slightly if road maintenance, which is the responsibility of the town halls, has not been carried out, or after bad weather conditions. The rough and dusty country road often indicates that you are near your holiday accommodation.
In Italy between 15th November and 15th April it is mandatory by law or to have snow chains in the car or to use winter tires.
Electricity and water:
There is a limit to the electricity supply to homes in Italy, including those in the countryside: normally no more than 3 kilowatts. Although it happens very seldom, using too many appliances at the same time will trip the house breaker. This does not mean that there has been a power failure, only that a breaker in the house has been triggered. It needs to be switched back on. Similarly to the U.S. and other European countries, the panel is inside the house. For this reason, we would ask you to be careful to limit the simultaneous use of electrical appliances and to be patient. In some seasons, there might be some limitations to the water supply, both in Tuscany and in the other regions of our portfolio, in particular on the islands.
In the price list we always specify if the property is supplied with stove heating instead of central heating. Stove heating is generally considered insufficient from mid-October to mid-April. Please bear in mind that country houses are normally more difficult to heat than those in the city and that there is a law in Italy regulating when heating (autonomous or central) can be turned on: from 1st November until 30th April. The cost of heating during the cold months has to be paid on the spot. Any exceptions appear in the price list. We strongly urge you to use heating, electricity, gas and water economically.
You are responsible for the extras specified in the listing and/or booking conditions. Please be sure you understand which charges you are responsible for paying. Utility charges are based on consumption and you may run up quite a bill if you spend hours on the Internet or leave lights on when you go touring for a day. Heat is costly. Estimate EUR 300/week for a medium-sized house (100 m2); heat can easily add up to about EUR 600/week for a large villa (300 m2). Air conditioning is rare, especially in large country houses. If it is available and you opt to turn it on, you can expect to triple your electricity bill. Telephones are generally available, but do not come with answering machines. All overseas calls must be charged to your international calling card. Utility charges are specified on your voucher and if metered are usually due and payable before leaving the house at the end of your stay. Additional expenses are either charged as a lump sum or depending on actual consumption. Additional expenses indicated as a flat rate must be paid immediately upon arrival, those calculated according to actual consumption must be paid at the end of your stay before you leave the house.
Since 2012 some regions in Italy have introduced visitors' taxes, the cost can differ according to the community or region. This visitors' tax has to be paid to the landlord upon arrival. Information in this regard will be given in the holiday accommodation.
The opening and closing dates of the swimming pools indicated in the price list may vary if weather conditions are bad. Heated pools are rare and costly to heat.
Insects and reptiles:
In most of the Tuscan countryside the environment has preserved its natural status and is free of pollution. This means that there are also insects and reptiles, which are certainly not a sign of lack of cleanliness, but the visible proof of the healthy state of the environment.
Complaints, queries - refunds:
We cannot rule out the possibility that, from time to time, unforeseen problems can arise. If this occurs, please speak to the house owner and it will be sorted out without complication. Also please be sure to inform us, so that within the bounds of our responsibilities and the possibilities available to us, we can take remedial action.
About country houses:
If you're new to renting abroad, remember life there might not be as convenient as it can be at home. Utility systems are more fragile, as well as many times more expensive, than in the States, for example. Bad weather can knock out service, which might not be restored immediately. Repairs of any kind are not always prompt and almost always costly. A late-summer rental during a dry season may mean water restrictions. Farm-side homes have farm-side smells and farm-side sounds. Country houses generally do not have window screens (although where they do, we've indicated this in the Property Listing), and country houses do attract mice, spiders and other bugs. Heavy rain can make for messy driving on rutted roads. Should you encounter any of these small annoyances, we hope you won't let it spoil your vacation. Just think what better stories you'll be able to tell when you return home!
Renting abroad is an adventure, no matter the level of house you're considering. If the myriad differences between an Italian home and your home, between Italian lifestyle and your lifestyle are unwelcome, you might have to conclude this is not the right trip for you and your group.
Consider your dates carefully. It is difficult for us to accommodate arrivals on Sunday, a day Italians reserve for family, rest and recreation.
If you are coming from the U.S., remember that you'll arrive in Europe the day after you leave the States, but will arrive home on the same day you leave Europe.
There are many public holidays in Italy, and usually a single holiday means a number of days off. The country essentially closes down, for instance, on the Ferragosto holiday, August 15th, as well as the following day. This is also true for Easter and Christmas and many other holidays. Please plan accordingly.
Cancellation charges are spelled out clearly in our booking conditions. As soon as a booking has been made, you are liable for all or part of your property rental cost, so do be sure you understand the financial obligation you're making before you book. Money cannot be refunded for any reason in event of cancellation, which is why we strongly encourage the purchase of travel insurance: we firmly recommend that you take out a holiday cancellation insurance policy which reimburses the cancellation costs in the event of cancellation due to illness or death occurring before departure. We also further suggest that you obtain information about other services, such as: holiday termination insurance, luggage insurance, travel (personal) liability insurance, travel accident insurance and travel health insurance. Please contact local travel agency for these matters.
Florence - Siena - Lucca - Rome:
In the old city centres you can only use cars during certain times of the day or for loading or unloading baggage.
Elba - Sicily:
In high season it is advisable to book the ferry well in advance, bearing in mind the accepted time for arriving at the house (7.00 pm).
Driving around is often difficult due to the narrow, winding roads in the area, which also means that you can hardly ever park in front of the house. In some built-up areas parking is only possible in areas with security wardens and against payment. Access to the sea is often via steep steps or roads due to the shape of the coast.
From 1st March to 31st October the only cars that are allowed on the roads are those belonging to residents of the island.
In wishing you a restful and pleasant holiday, we advise you to take care in your selection, paying careful attention to all the information contained in the house description and in the price list, so that you can be sure of finding the accommodation best suited to your requirements.