- Ask if the person you are talking to at the agency has actually visited the property. If not, ask to speak to someone who has.
- Ask for photos of every room of the villa and ask for references from previous renters.
- Google the name of the property (although agencies often change names to avoid you booking through a competitor) and see what you come up with.
- If you know exactly which area of Italy you want to stay in, look for an agency that specializes only in that region; it may be better informed.
- Ask about 24-hour service in case something goes wrong at the rental (and be sure someone at that emergency number speaks English).
- Consider renting a villa that is on a larger estate. There are more services available and the managers probably have more experience.
- Don’t assume there is a phone line or Internet access, ask first.
Plenty of other bits of advice and reviews of 10 rental agencies are part of Dream of Italy’s Special Report: Villa Rentals. Every paid subscriber receives online access to this issue and nearly 40 other back issues as well as 10 upcoming issues. SUBSCRIBE NOW and also receive a free e-book on Florence (another incentive, subscription rates go up March 10!)