Italian Ways to Stay: A Guide to Italy’s Accommodations + Lodging

Choosing where to stay on your Italian vacation is a crucial decision that creates the backdrop for your travels—and when your vacation is focused on cycling, you’ll be looking forward to resting your legs after a big day in the saddle. Much like everything in Europe, Italy’s unique variety of accommodations offer a glimpse into the local lifestyle and traditions. Here’s how to understand the many options for Italian lodging, including what’s in a name and what to expect during your stay.

Agriturismo (a-gruh-tr-iz-mow): “Farmhouse”

A portmanteau of the Italian words agricoltura (agriculture) and turismo (tourism), an agriturismo offers visitors an authentic taste of rural Italian life and the opportunity to be immersed in the agricultural roots of the Italian countryside. Often converted farmhouses, charming family villas, and the occasional barn-turned-luxury suite, agriturismi are acknowledged by the Italian government for their commitment to preserving traditional farming practices and agrarian ways of living.

While there’s no obligation to help out during your stay at an agriturismo, you may enjoy plucking olives in the grove, rolling pasta with nonna, or meeting the livestock who make the cheese you’ll eat at dinner. You can expect family-style farm-to-table dining since meals prepared at agriturismi often incorporate ingredients produced on-property.

Unlike a podere or fattoria—both of which are agricultural producers first and foremost—an agriturismo refers to a farmhouse where the primary purpose is hospitality.

Enjoy the agriturismo experience at Maso Grener on our Dolomites + Lake Garda Chef on Wheels Bike Tour.

Maso Grener in Trento, Italy

Albergo (al-bEHr-go): “Hotel”

Directly translating to “hotel,” an albergo is the standard urban accommodation you’ll encounter in any city or town. Purpose-built from the ground up, it doesn’t necessarily have any historical or cultural significance—so while it may exude a certain formality or old-school ambiance, this style of accommodation is a reliable option for those seeking centrally located lodging with all the typical hotel amenities.

Stay at Grand Hotel Miramare on our Cinque Terre Bike + Adventure Tour.

Grand Hotel Miramare in Liguria, Italy

Borgo (bOHr-go): “Village

Not quite a town but more than a cluster of homes, a borgo (village) is a collection of residences and structures that have been remodeled for lodging. These charming hamlets are often perched on hilltops overlooking vineyards or fields that were once inhabited by communities of farmers and their families. Intrinsic to the rural Italian lifestyle, living in a borgo meant you were surrounded by everything you needed: one building functioned as a school, another as a chapel, and another as a farming shed with tools to tend the crops.

Nowadays, borgi (plural for village) have been reimagined into hotel concepts comprised of private, self-contained apartments, cottages, or villas integrated into the historic layout of a centuries-old property. Expect unique architectural elements retrofitted with modern comforts, exceptional hospitality, an impressive food and wine program, and quiet, serene surroundings.

Stay at Borgo San Felice on our Tuscany Bike Tour or Borgo Egnazia on our Puglia Bike Tour.

Borgo San Felice in Tuscany, Italy

Castello (k-uh-s-t-EH-l-oh): “Castle”

Originally built to defend noble residents, castelli (plural for castle) have been converted into Italian luxury accommodations: you’ll find them poised atop hills in the countryside, once strategically positioned to survey the land below for unwanted visitors. Castelli have cleverly renovated interiors that incorporate the structure’s historical features, like stone staircases, archways, wooden-beamed ceilings, narrow walkways, and turrets. While castelli vary in size and architectural style depending on their historical context and the region where they’re located, you can expect most to have contemporary décor and modern amenities (like central air conditioning and showers).

Castelli are an appealing choice if you love history: they fuse the past and present, offering a chance to live like royalty—even if temporarily. Just as they did in a past life, these castle accommodations promise seclusion and privacy, since their locations can be a bit remote.

Your castle awaits at Castello di Velona on our Tuscany Bike Tour and Tuscany Harvest Bike Tour.

Castello di Velona in Tuscany, Italy

Locanda (lo-cAH-n-d-ah): “Inn”

Offering a sense of peace and intimacy, a stay at a locanda (inn) epitomizes Italian hospitality: they are destinations for travelers to dine, reside, or both. With their limited room capacity, this style of lodging is most comparable to a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast. Locandi can range from unassuming properties that prioritize personalized service to lavishly adorned accommodations with sophisticated design and upscale amenities.

For the ultimate locanda experience, stay at Byblos Art Hotel on our Verona + Lake Garda Bike Tour.

Byblos Art Hotel in Verona, Italy

Masseria (mahs-seh-REE-ah): “Farm”

The term masseria is used in southern Italy to describe a fortified farmhouse or rural farming estate—masseria are most common in Typically a complex of buildings enclosed within protective walls, these structures served as a residence for the landowner, communal housing for laborers, and shelter for livestock and crop storage. Unlike an agriturismo, fattoria, or podere where families lived and worked together to sustain a way of life, the focus of the masseria was its economic production.

Because masseria are in rural farming areas, you can expect them to resemble a country house surrounded by nature—often complemented by charming features like pools, gardens, and fountains.

Stay at Masseria San Domenico on our Puglia Bike Tour.

Masseria San Domenico in Puglia, Italy

Monastero (mo-na-st-EH-ro): “Monastery”

As the name implies, monastero directly translates to “monastery.” They were commonly built on the outskirts of Italian towns so their residents could pray without distraction, making these monasteries secluded havens that today function as retreats from the hustle and bustle of city life. Imagine terraced gardens, breakfast on the lawn, hand-carved statues, manicured courtyards, and the song of birds perched in the trees: tranquil by design, many monasteri retain monastic elements that translate perfectly into a peaceful hotel environment where it’s easy to unplug.

Original architectural features may be reinterpreted as functional spaces for modern hospitality like a cocktail bar set in a cloister or writing rooms and orangeries outfitted into suites; monasteri also tend to be super-refined with infinity pools, marbled bathrooms, and spas using herbal remedies right from the medicinal gardens.

Stay at the 17th-century Monastero Santa Rosa on our Amalfi Coast + Cilento Bike Tour.

Monastero Santa Rosa in Amalfi, Italy

Palazzo (puh-lAHt-soh): “Palace”

Built as opulent living quarters for wealthy families of the Italian Renaissance, palazzi (palaces) were grand residences built within city limits as a way for their owners to flaunt status and wealth. Adorned in frescoes and art, this type of residence was so desirable that it became recognized globally, and today is an architectural style that reaches far beyond Italy.

Stately palazzi have since been converted into hotels where classical design elements like vaulted ceilings, large windows, and elegant interiors celebrate their past lives. Every detail has been considered, from strategically positioned rooms offering the best views to fragrant gardens right outside windows.

Enjoy a lavish stay at Palazzo Belmonte on our Amalfi Coast + Cilento Bike Tour.

Palazzo Belmonte in Cilento, Italy

Villa (veel-la): “Manor”

During Italy’s Renaissance era, the noble elite sought refuge from their urban palazzi, yearning instead for scenic landscapes and spacious grounds. Make no mistake: these countryside retreats still mirrored their status and afforded residents a lavish lifestyle. Conceptualized by Italian architect Andrea Palladio, villas were also venues for entertaining where the elite would wine-and-dine guests visiting from the city.

Much like the palazzi, these grand residences influenced architectural trends in the old and new world alike, typified by Roman columns, capacious common rooms, ornate details, and interiors that invite plenty of fresh air and sunlight. Synonymous with luxury, you’ll find countless villas turned into lavish luxury hotels or private accommodations available for rent.

Stay at Villa Neri on our Sicily Bike Tour or Villa Beccaris on our Piedmont Bike Tour. Or, for those seeking ultimate flexibility and full-service luxury, unpack once on one of our private villa bike tours.

Villa Beccaris in Cuneo, Italy

Whether you prefer the warm hospitality of a rural farm stay or the opulence of a once-noble palace, your choice of accommodation can reflect how you’ll experience Italy’s culture and history. For those who desire the experience of staying at a variety of lodgings while on vacation, pack your bags and join us on one of our Italian bike tours.