Where not to Stay, Italy


I’m starting this post with hotels that didn’t turn out so well, then continuing to apartments.  The scenes in the gallery above show both the reasons I chose these particular hotels; i.e. my weakness for terraces, and that even when the hotels turn out to be poor, there are always beautiful things to see nearby.

Hotel Reale, Montecatini Terme

In 2018, I chose this hotel over Ercolini and Savi where we stayed in 2016  partly to save a little money and partly because it looked gorgeous on line.  Here’s the review I wrote after our stay: I told myself I’d never get fooled again by a web site but once again I got sucked in by pretty pictures. What looked to be beautiful hotel with a garden and pool is a 1950’s throwback with tiny rooms, plywood furniture, no fridge and a hairdryer and phone from the Flintstones. Add a surly staff that won’t make dinner reservations and you have the stay from hell. The coups d’grace was being told that the hotel chef was excellent. Dinner [which we had one time only] was mediocre at best.

The one positive was a good location, close to the main piazza and an easy walk to the park and funicolare to Montecatini Alto.  And the courtyard was lovely; a nice place to sit in the evenings.  I used the pool once after a long hot day of walking. I wrote: I just did a few laps in one of the coldest pools ever; rivaling the cruise ship.  But man it felt good and hopefully it helped my hips and ankles which are killing me. 

Hotel Fortuna, Perugia

This was another 2018 disaster.  Before we left Chianti to head to Perugia, I checked reviews for Hotel Fortuna and have no idea why I didn’t see the negative comments before booking.  As I wrote in my journal: The hotel is exactly as described–dated and weird.  But the staff’s been helpful (not) and the terraces are nice. And here’s the review I wrote on TripAdvisor:  Bizarre Beyond Words:   I wish I’d seen some of these reviews before booking although most of them are too kind. Other than the location I can’t think of anything good to say. It is a rabbit warren of rooms which if they’re like ours are dark, cramped, and cold with furniture and fixtures from the 1950’s. We had the extra bonus of a bathroom in the hallway. I thought the breakfast buffet was mediocre at best and the coffee was terrible. When we told the concierge on Saturday that we wanted to go to Assisi on Sunday, she failed to mention that there are no buses on Sunday. The Sunday staff said we could take the train and walk to the town. It’s at least a 2 mile walk uphill on a busy road. The coups d’grace is that the only way to get wifi is to sit in the library where you have to turn on the light every 10 minutes. We did make new friends (sitting in the library) but it was wildly inconvenient.

On the plus side we enjoyed having a glass of wine on the terrace at the end of the day and a couple of times in the late afternoon after our excursions.   I’ve also written about it in my Perugia post and below is a gallery of the terrace.

Terraces are sort of my downfall.  I’ve booked more than one hotel based solely on the terrace and had the hotel itself be less than great.  Still there’s nothing better than a glass of wine on a beautiful terrace watching the world go by.

Hotel Coronari, Rome?

I put a question mark here because the hotel has a great location a couple of blocks from Piazza Navona and is an easy walk to most of the sights such as the Spanish Steps  But don’t expect much in the way of service or amenities.  The hotel itself is quite small and narrow, with concrete floors in the halls and rooms which make for a lot of noise, especially late at night.

There was never enough hot water for my sister and me to take showers within an hour of each other and the concrete floors made the room feel even chillier than it was.

The breakfast is pretty average and don’t make the mistake of asking for a second coffee or not liking the weird scrambled eggs.  And when I asked the staff where I could get a coffee in the neighborhood, I got an answer in rapid fire Italian.  After my sister left, one of the staff came up to me and asked if I were OK, like I couldn’t function without my sister.

Overall for what I consider a mid-range hotel, I thought it was seriously lacking in service and warmth.

Carlton Grand Canal, Venice

Our tour from Venice to the Greek Islands used this hotel, which was light years away from the other hotel we stayed at in Venice, Hotel Canal Grande, especially in terms of service.  I wrote in my journal: Waiting for our room @ the Carlton.  They treated us like garbage when we got here, questioning our reservation and apparently refused our luggage from Hotel Canal Grande. So we have to wait for our luggage as well.  I am foaming @ the mouth.

It was definitely a tour group hotel; noisy, poor quality breakfast and any extras were quite expensive.  For example, after our Dorsoduro tour I suggested we have a limoncello in the hotel which set me back 27 €.  Crikey!!

  But it was easy for our water taxi to pick us up here to go to the port for our cruise.


The ‘Renaissance’ Apartment  (Air BnB)

Piazza de’ Pitti  Firenze 

I chose this apartment after enrolling at a language school, Italianme, on via Tornabuoni, largely because of its convenience.   I intended to leave a negative review with Air BnB but then thought, ‘what’s the point?’

Here’s what I was going to write:  Why is no one honest with reviews?  Are renters afraid of getting a bad review themselves?

The pictures, description and reviews made this place look charming.  Not so.  My first impression was a dark, cold apartment in desperate need of updating.  And it only went downhill from there.

The weird towels, lumpy pillows, ancient moka, mismatched cutlery and dishes and scratchy blankets all screamed second hand store.  In addition there was no microwave and the first time I took a shower, I found that the plug on the hair dryer didn’t fit any of the outlets.

The owner apparently has several apartments and presumably could afford to buy decent towels, pillows, a coffee maker and a microwave.

The manager begrudgingly came back several times to try to fix the lock on the front door and to show me how to get the heat to come on, after I spent my first night sleeping in my coat. 

The one positive factor is that it was only 10 minutes from my language school.  I regretted not renting a small studio near Piazza Ferrucci that I have rented twice before.  It is always clean and warm and the owner lives upstairs.  But I was concerned about the long walk to school; in retrospect, a small price to pay for comfort.   Still I had a positive experience at my language school, Italianme, and enjoyed my walks, seeing the lights of Firenze.                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Be Italian Flats, Naples

I had a terrifying taxi trip when I first arrived in Naples, where the taxi driver dropped me off at the far end of via Duomo and I had to walk almost the entire length of the street while texting Cosimo, the ‘concierge’ who finally picked me up on his moto.

 After showing me the keys and taking my money, charging me 20 euros more than my reservation, Cosimo left, at which point I found there was no heat, no blanket on the bed, much less any food or water in the flat. I spent one of the most miserable nights ever.  The next morning, after a lot of begging on my part, Cosimo came and put fresh batteries in the remote that turns on the heat and found a duvet in another apartment.  I never saw him or anyone again.  He did arrange for a ‘friend’ to take me to the train station and his ‘friend’ charged me 15 euros for a 5 minute trip.Be Italian Flat

The online pictures make these apartments look warm and charming but they are cold and barren with no services. The kitchen was poorly equipped and there were no restaurants close by.  I had to subsist on soup and sandwiches for three days.  I was ecstatic to leave.

Despite the hassles with my apartment and the terrifying taxi trip, I would definitely go back to Naples.  It is a fascinating city and deserves a second visit, preferably when the weather is nicer.  Read more in my  Three Days in Naples   post.

BeB Caruso, Sorrento

First, contrary to the information online, this tiny 3 room bed and breakfast is not in the centro; it’s about a mile east in a working class neighborhood with few amenities. The fact that it took me a good half hour to drag my luggage from the bus stop to the B and B, should have been a clue.  I found one nice restaurant nearby but the pizzeria the owner recommended was awful; visualize a calzone with canned tomatoes. Nor is there a garden. I reserved and paid for a garden room but there is no such thing. I had a room on the main street with constant traffic noise. But the room facing the back is even worse, the Circumvesuviana train goes right behind the building every 30 minutes.

And I don’t think I’ve ever met a more unpleasant owner. He persisted in calling me madam in a tone that said ‘you’re old and stupid.’ When the water tank in the bathroom started leaking, he acted like it was my fault and stuck my hand under the hot water to demonstrate ‘caldo’ as if I didn’t know. My last morning he insisted I had to check out at 10:30 am even though he knew my bus didn’t leave until 5:00 pm, then insulted me further by pantomiming how to use the elevator. As someone with 2 law degrees, I think I can figure that out.

While Sorrento was a bit gloomy in late October, early November, my day trip to Positano was fabulous, one I’ll never forget.  You can read more in my Three Days in Sorrento, Positano and Pompeii  post.











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