Everything you need to know
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A holiday in Italy is different from one in Britain - and there are some variations you should expect, especially if this is your first experience renting in Europe. We want you to know what to anticipate, so that there are no surprises other than wonderfully pleasant ones. Most people find the cultural differences a refreshing challenge as well as a lot of fun. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference.
Acting as Agents
Tuscan-Retreats Ltd acts only as agent for the owners/managers of the properties and providers of the other services featured on our website. Your contract will be with such Third Parties. References to 'we' and 'our' below means, Tuscan Retreats acting as agent.
When you confirm your booking with us you are entering into a binding contract with the owner of your chosen property and (where applicable) the providers of any other services (please see our booking conditions).
Prices are charged in blocks of one week. If one week falls in April for example and one in May, then each week will be charged separately - one week at April price and one at May price. If one week spans two price bands, then the price applies for the band where most of the stay falls.
There is now a tourist tax payable applying to all guests age 14 and over.
The tax is E1 per person per night, up to a maximum of E5 per person. This tax is halved for stays occurring between 1st October and 30th April.
The tax is payable in cash on arrival to the owner.
All our properties offered are individually owned and range from large converted farmhouses to smaller modern villas. Standards vary from basic to more sophisticated. Access to some of the properties may be by a steep or unmade track. We therefore advise people not to take sports or low slung cars on holiday. We will be pleased to assist with any queries about the suitability of your chosen property. Please be aware that items such as kettles and toasters are not always used in Italy and it is often the case that tumblers, not wine glasses, are used for wine. Family life in Italy centres on meals and the table. In a many houses you may find fewer comfortable seating/sofas etc. than you would expect in a 'British' one.
Entrance & Exit Days
In July and August, most properties with pools, have a Saturday changeover day, although some can also accommodate a Friday or Sunday (please ask us). If you hire a property without a pool, we can usually be much more flexible. Entrance to the property is anytime from 4pm onwards, please let us know in advance if you planning on arriving late, to ensure we can accommodate. Exit time is prior to 10am on the day of departure.
We take a security deposit of E500 for each property, payable with your final payment. This is refunded 7 days after you leave the property, assuming no damages. You can purchase a security deposit waiver from us for E50 per booking, which will cover you for accidental damages up to E500.
Local Registration Laws
Notwithstanding the information you have provided to us, your property owner is also likely to ask you to complete a form on arrival to register your stay with the local authorities. Please note this is obligatory for the owners to complete, and we are grateful for your co-operation in this regard.
Whilst we are happy to assist guests, when possible, with certain additional services arranged (payable locally), please note that we do so as your agent and do not enter into any contract with you for these. Your contract will be with the supplier of the service concerned, which will be subject to the supplier's own terms and conditions.
Only those persons named on your booking are entitled to stay in the property that we have booked on your behalf. Property owners do not allow overloading of properties since their insurance will become invalid, and they risk losing their letting licence or paying a huge fine. The maximum house capacity stated in the description cannot therefore be exceeded.
Directions to Property
Directions to your property, together with useful local information will be sent out along with confirmation of receipt of the balance for your booking. If you intend to use a SATNAV system, please remember to bring your property instructions too, as we have found SATNAVs to be inaccurate for the last part of the journey. We would STRONGLY ADVISE you not to take a mountain route if directed and plan a route via main towns/cities.
Staples are not supplied in self-catering accommodations. You are responsible for purchasing all of your groceries and supplies. Sometimes a few items may be provided (including an initial supply of toilet paper) and some owners will give gifts of wine or olive oil, but since it is not required, please do not assumethat basics should be provided.
Towels and Linen
Unless otherwise stated fresh linens and towels are provided weekly if your booking is for 2 weeks or more. If you require more frequent changes, this can be arranged for an additional cost. If you have booked for more than 1 week but less than 2, then you will need to request your linen change and will be charged accordingly. Most properties have washing machines for you to keep your towels fresh. In general, unless stated otherwise, pool and beach towels are not usually provided. Please take your own towels for use at swimming pools or beaches.
Water from the kitchens cold water tap is generally safe to drink but you may prefer the taste of bottled water, which you can buy at the local supermarkets.
Electricity / Water
Normal summer usage of water, gas and electricity is included in your rental. There is always an extra charge for heating and air conditioning, which must be paid locally, if this is not the case it will be mentioned on our website. On occasions, supply of water and electricity can be erratic, particularly in the peak summer months. Water supply can be interrupted or electric fuses may trip, Italy is one of a few countries where the government has introduced a system of electricity limiters to contain the national consumption. This means you must be careful when using more than one appliance at any time, as the limiters will shut the electricity off. Italy's standard electricity is 220 volts and they use a two or three-pin plug, it's worth considering this when bringing any personal electrical goods on holiday.
Some of our villas and apartments have washing machines, but none have tumble-dryers
Swimming Pools are not open all year. If use of a swimming pool is important to you, and you are travelling outside the period 1st May to 1st October please check with us to confirm the availability of the pool for your chosen dates.
The majority of the properties we offer have a BBQ, either in-built or portable. Please note that it is not your cleaner's responsibility to clean the BBQ and we would kindly ask guests to leave it in a good condition.
Telephones and WIFI
Telephones are not usually provided, especially since so many Europeans travel with mobile phones. Unless the description specifies that there is a telephone, there is none. If you require a fax machine or computer hook-up, let us know at the time of booking so we can advise on properties with the service you require.
If your house is advertised as having WIFI the owners will do their best to ensure this facility is always fully available, but they are not responsible if the facility is lost for a period due circumstances beyond their control (for example storms can result in loss of access, which should be reported to the owner). Please note speeds in the countryside/mountains may be slower than you are used to, and it would be rare to have internet with the capacity for downloading films/games etc. Please ensure such items are downloaded before you leave for your holiday. The internet is basically for information/normal browsing/communication. Downloading films/games etc is highly likely to result in fees being charged by the owner.
In some properties, there may be entertainment equipment such as a play station, iPod dock etc. Where this is the case you should take your own games and/or other equipment with you. The equipment is used at your own risk and we cannot be held liable for any damage caused to any games etc. In some properties there may be satellite TV. We cannot guarantee the reception of specific channels on television, which may not be in the English Language.
Cots and Highchairs
A cot, for babies under two years, and a highchair, is in most cases provided free of charge at our properties if requested at the time of booking the property. If there is a charge for a cot or highchair, you will be advised of this at the time of booking. Although most of our properties provide cots and highchairs that comply with British standards, we cannot guarantee that this is the case in every case.
There is no need to scrub the floor when you leave, but dishes should be clean and put away, rubbish should be disposed of, and your apartment or villa should be in a tidy state. It will be cleaned after you leave and if found to be in a dirty state extra cleaning charges may be made.
If you stay for 2 weeks you will have a mid stay clean. If you stay for less time than this and still wish to have a clean, you will need to contact us to arrange, and there will be a fee to pay.
Pets are not generally accepted by the house owners. If you want to bring one with you, please check in advance if this is possible. If accepted, you may be requested to pay an additional security deposit and/or provide adequate insurance. There will be a fee of E35 per pet per week.
Is very expensive in Italy and should be used sparingly, but of course, you'll want to be comfortable. If you are cold, please notify the owner of your villa or apartment. Heating charges are not normally included in the villa rental price but are payable locally based on (metered) consumption. Please never leave windows open while the heat is on. Unless new regulations come into place, in Tuscany the heating can be used only from November to the end of April (8 hours a day). Outside of this period the possibility of using the heating and the cost of such must be determined directly with the owner or his/her representative.
Even though you are on holiday, the locals are not, and on rare occasions building work might commence without prior warning near to a property. Whilst we have no control over this, we would always try to advise you in advance of your holiday (should we be aware ourselves), and wherever possible intervene to try and halt work.
Because our properties are individual, the degree of privacy and seclusion varies greatly from one to another. Many houses do have neighbours and during the course of the holiday you may find pool cleaners and gardeners visit regularly.
Currency & Language
All towns and most large villages will have at least one cash machine. Credit cards are accepted in most town restaurants and shops, but it is advisable to carry cash too, especially for smaller shops and more local rustic style restaurants. We would advise you to have a phrase book handy as English is not widely spoken, this is especially useful in restaurants!
Train - Train travel in the area is cheap and reliable, but not enormously frequent. They tend to be geared to commuters rather than tourists, so days out need to be well planned. To plan ahead, check trains on www.trenitalia.it
Buses - Whilst there is a local bus service, which is both cheap and reliable. Like rail travel it is not particularly frequent and is geared to commuters rather than tourists. A timetable can be found at most tourist information offices and central bus stations.
Taxis - Local taxis are available and generally have to be pre-booked, although increasingly taxi ranks do operate from some of the larger towns. Taxis for airport pick-ups can be arranged. Contact us for details of cost and availability.
It is essential that you have travel insurance, both to protect you against liability in the event of cancellation, third party damage to the holiday property, and also to cover medical expenses and other losses whilst on holiday. In addition, all European Union guests should carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables you to get free or reduced cost medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident whilst away.