Group Therapy: Renting a Villa in Italy

When I’m feeling lonely for my friends back home, I get the urge to (first, become rich) and (then) rent a villa in Italy for an entire summer, and invite them all to stay with me. I imagine long days in golden sunlight, cooking experiments with fresh food, lazy afternoons chatting and cocktailing by the pool, and at least one crazy night out and about in the nearest major city.

I’m pretty lucky in this regard – no, I am not rich; but I must admit that of my closest friends, not one of them would be annoying during this imaginary summer of love. As for as my criteria go, they would be my ideal villa mates:

1. No picky eaters. We use real butter, we eat meat, and carbs are our friend. No one in my gang sits at the end of the table nursing a bowl of weeds.

2. No camp counselors. Everyone enjoys sleeping as little or as much as they want, and doing whatever they want in their waking hours. I will not be awakened and recruited into mandatory sunrise yoga.

3. No slobs. If someone thinks it’s alright to leave food on the floor and underwear on the couch, then they’re springing for the daily housekeeping service.

4. No cheapskates. If we’ve worked out a group budget, we’re sticking to it. No one is going to only drink one bottle of wine the whole week or complain that Katie ate all the cheese. United we stand, and all.

5. No whiners. We are all incredibly fortunate to have the time, the means and the motive to commit this crime of sybaritic luxury. There is no boredom in paradise.

In terms of the actual villa – I’d say these would be the most important criteria:

1. Bedrooms for everyone. You don’t want to have to tiptoe around bodies in the living room.

2. Lots of kitchen space. I personally have visions of a huge stone cook’s kitchen, but I’d settle for lots of counter space for food prep and bottles, and an open plan so whomever’s cooking isn’t stuck away from the fun.

3. Outdoor areas. A large table with plenty of chairs is key – as is that area being covered. You don’t want to be cooped up in the house, and you don’t want to have to run inside with all the plates and bottles if it it starts raining.

4. Check out the possibility for a cook and/or maid during your stay. Many villas offer it, and it’s worth it to work this into your group budget for at least half the time you’re there. You don’t want to experience the chores of a home just because you’re staying in one.

5. Your location. As I’ve said before, sea trumps all – but that’s just me. And the further south you go, the easier it will be to take advantage of their off-season rates while still having nice weather. Many people love the rolling hills of Tuscany, and it is lovely; but I get antsy if I’m not near water. Also, being near the sea can mean foregoing a pool within the villa grounds.

Now that the bitching is over, let’s take a look at this paradise of which I speak:

This gem of a place in Montepulciano has plenty of room for 10 people, a pool, and an open kitchen plan. And at $4758 per week, that’s $67 per person per day. Not bad!

I’m hyperventilating about this place on Ischia. For nine people, it works out to $82 per person per day in the off season. But, their high seasons are very narrow, so it’s entirely possible that this one is very doable.

Cinque Terre boasts this lovely perch, for six people only $70 per person per day. I’ll see you there on that magenta sofa, where I’ll be gazing at the sea.

I’ve actually stayed here. I had the poolside apartment to myself and had one of the ten best sleeps of my life. I don’t want to know how much it is, because I wasn’t paying for it – but here’s a picture to prove it!

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