Booking Information

Travel à la carte

Before you complete your booking form, please use the Availability Request Form or call us to check availability and discuss which house and location best suit your requirements.

Prices quoted are per apartment or villa per week and include a weekly change of bed linen and towels (but not beach or pool towels). For longer stays, some owners leave adequate provision of linen so guests can change the beds themselves. Use of water, gas and electricity (except for heating) is included at most houses. Heating is normally an extra charge, payable locally, and is either metered or charged at a fixed daily rate. Where a telephone is available it is usually charged according to units used, and the amount is payable locally at the end of the holiday. Where a communal washing machine is available guests may be charged for its use. Details on what is provided at each property are sent out with our directions and house notes. However, if you would like to know more before booking, please ask or email us.

Booking and Payment
As soon as you have reserved your chosen holiday on the phone or through the Internet, and received confirmation of its availability you should immediately fill in, print off and send the booking form, with your deposit.

We then confirm the booking to you in writing.
The deposit is 30% of the villa rental price. For those taking our insurance, the premium should be paid with the deposit.
The balance is payable eight weeks before departure. Those booking less than eight weeks before departure must pay the total amount on booking. Payment of your balance by credit card attracts a 1% service charge.

Everyone travelling with us must be insured and you will be insured automatically unless you state otherwise on the booking form.
Those travelling on their own insurance must send us a completed questionnaire about the cover provided.
The lack of facilities on some islands and the vulnerability of sea transport to bad weather mean that we might refuse to accept a booking if we deem your insurance cover to be inadequate.

Bonding – your protection
When booking a holiday with Travel à la carte, you can rest assured that your holiday payment is protected. Travel à la carte has lodged a bond with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). This guarantees that you will be refunded in the unlikely event of the company’s insolvency.

Duration of holiday
The minimum stay at our villas and apartments is one week. For extended holidays of over two weeks, please enquire for prices.

Party Size
The maximum number of guests for each property indicated in the price list must not be exceeded. Villas may, however, be booked by fewer than those indicated and this may attract a reduction in price in certain cases at certain seasons.

Booking Alterations
There is a charge of £30 for each alteration made.

Office hours
Our office hours are 09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday and 12:00 – 16:00 on Saturdays from January to September. Tel: 01635 863030.

Accommodation standards

The self-catering accommodation offered on this web site ranges from large private villas to small converted farmhouses but there are certain basic standards that you can expect. All properties will be supplied with the appropriate number of kitchen utensils and pots and pans for the maximum number of guests the property can hold. All have a fridge and a cooker. The typical cooker has gas rings and an electric oven, although some of the smaller properties do not have an oven at all. larger villas may have their own washing machine and / or dishwasher, while elsewhere there is often a laundry room or washing machine for communal use. Italians tend to drink coffee rather than tea, so you are more likely to find an expresso maker than a kettle or a teapot. Where cots are provided they may not necessarily be of the type or standard found in the UK. Irons are not generally provided. More details on what is available at each property come with the house notes sent out after booking. We hold plans of some properties which can be sent out on request.

Water and electricity
Many properties get their water from a local council-run aqueduct, while others receive theirs from local springs. In most cases it is probably drinkable but in general we advise you to drink bottled water. The year 1998 saw one of the driest summers on record in Italy and none of our owners experienced problems with the supply of water but nevertheless we do ask clients to be sparing in their use of water.

If you use many electrical appliances at the same time you may find that you get cut off. Generally speaking, domestic lighting is much weaker than in the UK, which can make it hard to read comfortably indoors. Please do not leave lights on if they are not being used. Current is 220v as in Britain but you should take continental twin plugs or adapters if you want to use your own appliances in Italy.

Changeover day, arrival and departure
Changeover day is Saturday in all properties. You should arrive between 4pm and 7pm, when you will be met by the owner or keyholder (if you’re running late you will need to notify the keyholder in advance.) You should vacate the property by 10am on departure day.

Other arrival days may be possible at some properties outside peak season. Please enquire.

Breakage Deposit
It is customary in Italy for guests to pay a security deposit to the villa owner for the duration of their stay. The deposit, normally between Euro 150-300, but up to Euro 550 in the case of larger villas, is paid to the owner on arrival. Owners may accept the deposit in the form of a euro-, travellers’ or sterling cheque as well as Italian Lire. A few will take a credit card number. The amount, which is specified in the notes to each property, is repaid to you on departure (minus the cost of any breakages, should they occur). The deposit will usually be retained by the owner until central heating and telephone charges, where appropriate, have been calculated.

The properties are thoroughly cleaned before your arrival. Some properties include the final cleaning cost in the rental, others it is an additional charge payable locally. Where properties have daily cleaning this is indicated in the notes to the properties. Additional maid service can sometimes be arranged at an extra cost, usually Euro 10-15 per hour. As a courtesy to owners, we ask clients to leave the property in a clean and tidy condition on their departure.

Swimming pools
The opening season for swimming pools is usually mid-May to mid-September though many owners are happy to open the pool earlier in the year and keep it open longer if the weather is good enough and there is enough demand. In each property description we include the dimensions of the pool. If you need to know about the depth of the pool please speak to our reservations staff. Unless stated, swimming pools are not supervised, nor are they heated.

Some of our properties are part of what is known as the ‘Agroturismo’ scheme. These are working farms where one or more of the old farm buildings has been converted into holiday accommodation, sometimes converting a large farmhouse into a complex of smaller apartments. This may mean that, although you have an independent apartment, you have to share the garden and pool with other holidaymakers. In some cases the proprietors live in a neighbouring building. You will find that they are very hospitable on your arrival and helpful if you have any problems but otherwise keep a low profile. Many of the farms produce their own olive oil, wine, fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses which guests can purchase at very reasonable prices. Some owners may offer to cook for the guests and where this happens any payments are agreed locally. If you have any communication problems with an owner please contact our local agent.

House notes
Notes on your property, with full directions how to reach it, will be sent out after receipt of your holiday balance.

Passports, visas and health

A valid ten-year passport is required for entry into Italy. Holders of full British passports and nationals of countries which are members of the EU do not require a visa for entry into Italy. If you are not a British citizen or do not hold an EU passport please check with the Italian Consulate (0891 600340). No vaccinations are required for British or EU citizens entering Italy.

Foreign Office travel advice
Up-to-date information about your holiday destination and advice for British citizens travelling abroad is available from the Foreign Office. Contact the Travel Advice Unit, 1 Palace Street, London SW1E 5HE (tel: 0870 606 0290, fax: 020 7238 4545) or visit the website at: The advice is also on BBC2 ceefax page 470 onwards.

Opening hours and public holidays
Almost everything closes for lunch in Italy. Opening hours for most shops, supermarkets, banks and petrol stations are generally 8.30/9.00am – 1/1.30pm and 3.30/4pm – 7.30/8.00pm. Some banks only re-open for an hour in the afternoon. ATM machines (cashpoints) are widely available in both Tuscany and Marche and should be able to provide cash for most types of credit and debit card. Petrol stations, if closed, will often have an ‘automatic pump’, which works on advance payment by either cash or credit card. The following days are Italian public holidays: 1 January, 6 January, Easter Monday, 25 April, 1 May, 15 August, 1 November, 8 December, 25 & 26 December.

Food Hampers
At some properties we can arrange a food hamper for your arrival. At others, an owner or housekeeper may offer dinner on your first evening at modest cost. Advance shopping can also be done at some accommodation. Such services can be helpful when arrival is on a Saturday evening, as few shops open on a Sunday.

Food hampers cost £40 and includes wine, fruit juice, water, bread, butter, eggs, pasta, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, fruit, salad, cheese, honey, cold meats, tea, coffee and sugar.

A dinner on your first evening, served by the owner or housekeeper, will cost around Euro 25-30 per person and is paid for locally. Any shopping done in advance of your arrival should be also paid for locally.

Acceptance of credit cards
In the larger towns and cities acceptance of credit cards is broadly comparable to the UK. In more rural areas it is difficult to generalise and you should not assume that cards will be accepted. Many restaurants will accept plastic but some, especially small, family run places, will not. Some small petrol stations and grocery shops will not. If in doubt, ask first or look for the credit card logo.

The local currency is now the Euro, in which most payments have to be made. Shops and restaurants all charge for purchases in euros; cash machines will dispense euro notes.

As a rough guideline to the likely exchange rate, and for a quick conversion, over the last year the euro has been worth 70p. If you pay for purchases with a credit or debit card, your account will be debited by the sterling equivalent of the euro. You will, of course, be able to take euro travellers’ cheques.

If you would like more information you can speak to your bank or consult the travel pages of the Foreign Office website, or the European Central Bank website at 

The great outdoors
Many of our properties are in rural areas where it is not unusual to find mosquitoes, flies, ants, mice, lizards and even snakes. Insect and mosquito repellents can be bought locally and fairly cheaply. Sheepdogs, even if they look friendly, should not be approached or petted. Local farms can produce farmyard smells.

Cockerels will crow in the morning and neighbouring farmers will sometimes use farm machinery. All of these things are a normal part of living in the country. However, should anything begin to seriously affect the quality of your holiday please contact our local agent.

Please note that owners of rural properties tend to keep dogs, some of which can be large and energetic. If you or any of your party are concerned about dogs, please ask our staff at the time of booking.

Travellers with disabilities
We would ask any client with special needs to speak to our reservations staff. Holiday Care Services (01293 774535) have an information sheet on travelling in Italy for people with disabilities.

Getting there

There are a variety of ways to reach Italy and, with the advent of cut-price scheduled airlines, the situation is changing all the time. To keep track of the changes and make the most informed decision, travellers to Italy need an expert service and for those in the UK Travel à la carte can recommend Distinctive Travel in London. They are specialists in Italian travel and will advise on and book flights, ferry crossings, rail and motorail journeys. You can ring Distinctive Travel on 0207 237 8111, mentioning that you have booked your accommodation with Travel à la carte.

Driving in Italy
UK driving licences are valid for driving in Italy but must be accompanied by a translation, which can be obtained from the AA or RAC. You will need your vehicle registration document and proof of insurance cover. A translation is not required for holders of a pink UK licence. An international driving licence is not required for EU Nationals. A Green Card is proof that your insurance policy meets the minimum legal requirements of the country visited. Officially, it’s no longer necessary for visits to Italy but there have been reports of motorists still being asked to produce one, so it may be worth taking one for security – if in doubt check with your insurer. You must carry your driving licence, insurance and registration document with you when you are driving.

Italy has an excellent road system and driving can be a pleasure but there are some points to be aware of, particularly for first-time visitors. Italians drive on the right and usually give way to the right. Driving on many stretches of motorway in Italy requires the payment of a toll. A card is collected from an automated toll booth coming on to the motorway and you are charged at a staffed toll booth at the exit. As a rough guide, at the time the brochure went to press Pisa-Florence was 8,000 lire, Ancona-Bologna 16,000 lire. On many motorways payment can now be made by credit card.

Many of the properties on this web site are reached by a stretch of what is known as ‘strada bianca’ or ‘white road’. This is usually a gravel-surfaced track which is perfectly navigable, although sometimes a sustained period of heavy rain can wash away the surface leaving the track very uneven. If your car has very low ground clearance please check with our reservation staff.

Seatbelts are compulsory, front and rear (even if it seems that nobody is actually wearing one). Infants up to 9 months must occupy a child seat. Children from 9 months to 4 years must travel in the rear of the vehicle in a secured seat. The speed limit is 110km – 130km on motorways, 90km on other roads, and 50km in built-up areas. In case of breakdown drivers must carry a warning triangle.