Southern Italy in detail

Sleeping

Southern Italy has a varied range of accommodation and it’s generally a good idea to book your accommodation in advance. This is especially important if you're visiting coastal resort towns during the high season (July and August), when booking three or more months ahead is advised.

  • Hotels Span cheap-and-charmless to chic-and-boutique.
  • Agriturismi & Masserie Family-friendly farm stays range from rustic farmhouses to luxe country estates.
  • B&Bs Anything from rooms in family houses to good-value studio apartments.
  • Pensioni Similar to hotels, though pensioni are generally of one- to three-star quality.
  • Hostels Many ostelli offer both dorms and private rooms with bathroom.

More Information

When considering where (and when) to slumber, note the following:

  • Book ahead if travelling in the high season, especially if visiting popular coastal areas. Also consider booking ahead if visiting cities or towns during major events.
  • Some hotels, in particular the lower-end places, barely alter their prices throughout the year. In low season there's no harm in bargaining for a discount, especially if you intend to stay for several days.
  • Hotels usually require reservations be confirmed with a credit-card number. No-shows will be docked a night's accommodation.
  • The high season is during July and August, though prices peak again around Easter and Christmas. It's essential to book in advance during these periods.
  • Rates drop between 30% and 50% in low season. In the winter months (November to Easter) many places, particularly on the coast, completely shut down. In the cities and larger towns accommodation tends to remain open all year. The relative lack of visitors in these down periods means you should have little trouble getting a room in those places that do stay open.
  • Most hotels offer breakfast, though this can vary from bountiful buffets to more modest offerings of pastries, packaged yoghurt and fruit. The same is true of B&Bs, where morning food options can sometimes be little more than pre-packaged cornetti (Italian croissants), biscuits, jam, coffee and tea.
  • Where applicable, our accommodation reviews list minimum to maximum high-season rates. Where indicated, half-board means breakfast and either lunch or dinner; full board is breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Accommodation Breakdown

  • Agriturismi Working farms or country houses that offer rooms and often meals made using local and homegrown produce.
  • B&Bs Range from the basic to the luxurious. Most have five rooms or fewer, sometimes with a shared bathroom outside the room.
  • Pensioni Family-run guesthouses – facilities tend to be more basic (and prices lower) than at hotels.
  • Alberghi Hotels – Ranked on a star system (one to five) based on amenities alone.
  • Affittacamere Low-cost rooms rented out by private owners.
  • Rifugi Usually simple mountain huts for outdoors enthusiasts.

Agriturismi & Masserie

An agriturismo (agriturismi in the plural) is accommodation on a working farm, where you'll usually be able to sample the produce. Traditionally, families simply rented out rooms in their farmhouses; it's still possible to find this type of lodging, although many agriturismi have now evolved into sophisticated accommodation.

Unique to southern Italy, a masseria (masserie in the plural) is a large farm or estate, usually built around a fortified watchtower, with plenty of surrounding accommodation to house workers and livestock. Many have been converted into luxurious hotels, agriturismi or holiday apartments. A masseria isn't necessarily old: sometimes new buildings built around similar principles are called masserie.

To find lists of agriturismi and masserie, ask at any tourist office or check online at these sites:

  • Agriturist (www.agriturist.com)
  • Agriturismo.it (www.agriturismo.it)
  • Agriturismo.net (www.agriturismo.net)
  • Agriturismo.com (www.agriturismo.com)
  • Agriturismo-Italia.net (www.agriturismo-italia.net)
  • Agriturismo Vero (www.agriturismovero.com)
  • Charming Puglia (www.charmingpuglia.com)

B&Bs

B&Bs are a burgeoning sector of the southern accommodation market and can be found in both urban and rural settings. Options include everything from restored farmhouses, city palazzi (mansions) and seaside bungalows to rooms in family houses. Tariffs for a double room cover a wide range, from about €60 to €140.

Specialist B&B booking sites include:

  • BBItalia.it (www.bbitalia.it)
  • Bed-and-Breakfast.it (www.bed-and-breakfast.it)

Camping

Italians go camping with gusto and most camping facilities in Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily (less so in Basilicata, where camping options are few and far between) include swimming pools, restaurants and supermarkets. With hotel prices shooting up in July and August, camping grounds can be a splendid option, especially given that many have enviable seaside locations.

Charges often vary according to the season, peaking in July and August, when accommodation should be booked well in advance. Typical high-season prices range from €10 to €20 per adult, up to €12 for children aged under 12, and from €5 to €25 for a site. Tent campers are expected to bring their own equipment, although a few grounds offer tents for hire. Many also offer the alternative of bungalows or even simple, self-contained (self-catering) flats. In high season, some only offer deals for a week at a time. Note that most camping grounds operate only in high season, which is roughly April to October (in many cases June to September only).

Lists of campgrounds are available from local tourist offices or online.

  • Campeggi.com (www.campeggi.com)
  • Camping.it (www.camping.it)
  • Italcamping.it (www.italcamping.it)

Convents & Monasteries

Some Italian convents and monasteries let out cells or rooms as a modest revenue-making exercise and happily take in tourists, while others only take in pilgrims or people who are on a spiritual retreat. Many impose a fairly early curfew, but prices tend to be quite reasonable.

Two useful, if ageing, publications are Eileen Barish's The Guide to Lodging in Italy's Monasteries and Charles M Shelton's Beds and Blessings in Italy: A Guide to Religious Hospitality.

Online resources that can assist you in your search include:

  • MonasteryStays.com (www.monasterystays.com)
  • In Italy Online (www.initaly.com/agri/convents.htm)

Hostels

Ostelli per la gioventù (youth hostels) are run by the Associazione Italiana Alberghi per la Gioventù, affiliated with Hostelling International (www.hihostels.com). A valid HI card is required in all associated youth hostels in Italy. You can get this in your home country or directly at many hostels.

A full list of Italian hostels, with details of prices and locations, is available online or from hostels throughout the country. Nightly rates in basic dorms vary from around €15 to €50, which usually includes a buffet breakfast. You can often get lunch or dinner for roughly an extra €10 to €15.

Many hostels also offer singles and doubles. Prices can vary greatly between destinations; for instance, a double in high-season will cost around €80 in Naples and €145 in more exclusive Positano. Some hostels also offer family rooms or self-catering apartments. Keep in mind that some hostels have a curfew of 11pm or midnight.

A growing contingent of independent hostels offers alternatives to HI hostels. Many are barely distinguishable from budget hotels. One of many hostel websites is www.hostelworld.com.

Hotels & Pensioni

While the difference between an albergo (hotel) and a pensione (guesthouse) is often minimal, the latter will generally be of one- to three-star quality while a hotel can be awarded up to five stars. Locande (inns) long fell into much the same category as pensioni, but the term has become a trendy one in some parts and reveals little about the quality of a place. Affittacamere are rooms for rent in private houses. They are generally simple affairs.

Quality can vary enormously and the official star system gives limited clues. One-star hotels/pensioni tend to be basic and usually do not offer private bathrooms. Two-star places are similar but rooms will generally have a private bathroom. Three-star options usually offer reasonable standards. Four- and five-star hotels offer facilities such as room service, laundry and dry-cleaning.

Prices are highest in major tourist destinations. A camera singola (single room) costs from around €35. A camera doppia (twin beds) or camera matrimoniale (double room with a double bed) will cost from around €60.

Online accommodation-booking services with a focus on hand-picked and boutique hotels include:

  • Great Small Hotels (www.greatsmallhotels.com)
  • Secret Places (www.secretplaces.com/italy/guide)
  • Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com/destinations/italy/hotels)

Offbeat Accommodation

Looking for something out of the ordinary? Southern Italy offers a number of sleeping options that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

  • Down near Italy's heel, rent a trullo, one of the characteristic whitewashed conical houses of southern Puglia.
  • Ancient sassi (cave dwellings) have found new life as boutique hotels in otherworldly Matera, a Unesco World Heritage–listed town in the southern region of Basilicata.
  • In Sicily's World Heritage–listed Val di Noto, you can slumber in sumptuous aristocratic palaces at Seven Rooms Villadorata in Noto and Scicli Albergo Diffuso in Scicli.
  • Creative types will appreciate Catania's Asmundo di Gisira and Castel di Tusa's Atelier sul Mare, art hotels with rooms and suites designed by Italian and international artists.

The Slumber Tax

Visitors may be charged an extra €1 to €7 per night. This is known as a 'tourist tax' or 'room occupancy tax'.

More Information

Italy's tassa di soggiorno (accommodation tax) sees visitors charged an extra €1 to €7 per night.

Exactly how much you're charged may depend on several factors, including the type of accommodation (campground, guesthouse, hotel), a hotel's star rating and the number of people under your booking. Depending on their age and on the location of the accommodation, children may pay a discounted rate or be completely exempt from the tax. It's also worth noting that the maximum number of nights that the tax is charged can vary between cities and regions.

Most of our listings do not include the hotel tax, although it's always a good idea to confirm whether taxes are included when booking.