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Booking AirBnb or apartments in Bologna and Florence

I'm currently planning a trip to Italy In Oct/Nov 2024. Working on lodging now. I already have hotels booked for Venice and Verona based on the helpful advice from this forum. I'm thinking about booking an apartment in Bologna and Florence. Is there a specific platform or website to explore? AirBnb does not give you an exact location until after you've booked. And some of the reviews almost sound to good to be true! I may still get a hotel but wanted advice on best way to book apartment. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
6476 posts

Booking.com lists apartments and it includes adddress
The reviews there can only be posted by those who have actually stayed at the property

Posted by
16706 posts

I like booking.com for apartments; they make it easy to look in a particular area you want. And the rating system is helpful. As noted above, the reviews are honest.

Last time we stayed in Bologna at Residenza Ariosto by Studio Vita (found on booking.com) and I go back there. They have several nice modern apartments in two buildings across the street from one another on Via Marsala, at ;No. 11 and 13 (if I remember correctly). They have an office on the ground floor in one of those, so you see a real person when you check in, and they are available by phone or message if you need anything.

We had 3 keys to the apartment: the first to the big solid outer door on the street, one to the Residenza Ariosto area of the building, and the last to our own apartment, one of 3or 4 along the corridor. Checkout was simple—-we just dropped the keys in a box by the middle door before we left.

We really liked that location, close to Piazza Maggiore, with several grocery stores within a block or two. I only wish we had found Sapporo and Dintori earlier. It is part of the Conrad grocery chain, but very upscale ( think Whole Foods) with nice takeout options if you don’t want to cook.

https://itab.com/cases/a-grocery-experience-enhanced-by-history-and-culture

Posted by
10297 posts

We had a "misrepresented" apartment in Bologna for 10 days as we radiated out to Florence, Padua, Ravenna, etc., rented through one of the platforms. Rereading all the rave reviews afterwards, I started picking up repeated language, and some without hyperlinks which meant the "reviewer" was no longer active (and probably never existed). I signaled the listing platform that the reviews were fakes, but nothing was done. A few months later, a New Yorker left a review blasting the place. I joined in. So beware as History said. Lola has a reliable lead for you.

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you. It's always good to hear another's point of view and experience.
@ Lola - I will look into those recommendations.
I've never booked anything through booking.com as I always like to go straight to the source. But it looks like some of the apartments don't have direct booking. I'll research this further.

Posted by
16706 posts

Ginger, I prefer to book directly with the property as well, so after I find a hotel or apartment I like on booking.com, I search to see if they have their own website or booking site. With the apartments in Italy, some do, and some do not.

I believe I did find a website for Studio Vita or maybe it was Residenza Ariosto, but did not use it for some reason. It may have been in Italian only, but normally that would not deter me as I can figure that out, or consult my husband who is a serious student of that beautiful language. So I think the problem was there was less information about the units on their own website, or maybe a different cancellation policy, or something. But if you do find their website see what you think and if you are comfortable with it.

Posted by
3 posts

I use airbnb for all stays other than hotels (for which I use points). Some owners do not give out the exact address until closer to the rental time, but others give it right away. I would not let that deter me. I go by the reviews. We've stayed in multiple airbnbs and have yet to be disappointed (knock on wood). In fact, some of them have been very memorable for all the right reasons.

We, too, are traveling to Italy in October, and except for Rome, are staying in apartments/homes/farm stays all found on airbnb. I also use their "experiences" to find neat owner-lead activities such as baking classes, personal tours, a dog-walking activity with Irish Wolfhounds in Ireland (which was awesome, btw), etc.

Posted by
1435 posts

We stayed in two apartments in Bologna for a week each in December, and both were excellent. One was a 2-bedroom Airbnb and the other, after family arrived, was 4-bedroom from booking.com, so both probably too big for you.

We try to stay in "Guest Favorite" and "Superhost" Airbnb apartments. And prefer ones with lots of reviews, which I read very carefully and "between the lines" (like, "lively neighborhood" might be secret code for "noisy at night".

Same experience with two Airbnb apartments in Florence on two different trips, but those were several years ago.

Posted by
3200 posts

Hi Ginger.
I always rent from Airbnb or booking.com for apartments.
I’ve had 12 trips to Italy, and had only two “bad” apartments out of around 25 or so.
One was an independent back in ‘08 ; one was Airbnb last May, which I complained to Airbnb about, and did get a small refund for.
That place is no longer listed.

I only stay in hotels on my first night, to get over jet lag, then I move to an apartment the next day.
I’ve rented in Bologna and Florence, and have had some lovely places with even lovelier hosts.
Look for places with many reviews, not just positive ones.
Some of the negative reviews are about silly things such as not enough t tv channels, but if there are many about lack of cleanliness, iffy plumbing, or lack of communication….move on.
Also really examine the photos, and look for places with lots of photos of the actual rooms, not ones of vases or coffee cups or wall art. (Why?🧐)
Look for actual ac units and washing machines visible in the photos if that’s what you need.
Ask questions of the owners and see how they respond.
If you need recommendations, I’m happy to share mine .
Of course, the good places get booked up fast.

Posted by
60 posts

All good advice, thank you. I've stayed in many airbnb's but they have all been here in the US.

S J - I would love any recommendations you have. And isn't it funny how you get a picture of a table or a vase or a plate? That is so weird!

Posted by
2 posts

I have just heard Florence has banned AirBnB, but I have an AirBnB reservation.

We'll be there for 3 nights in June.

Anyone have insight?
Thanks!

Posted by
2 posts

Ok but does anyone know if this is enforced? Or what could happen -- could we be fined? Prohibited from using the rental?

Posted by
145 posts

We loved our Bologna apartment last month
From Airbnb. It’s called:
Nice apartment in the city center.
Hosted by Roberta.

Great host, great price, perfect location.
We stayed there 2 weeks while taking Italian classes.

Roberta was the most responsive and accommodating host I’ve ever had. Tell her Fran says hi!