If you’re a student, a money-savvy traveller or simply like meeting new people, you’ll have heard of Airbnb. With properties in over 190 countries, it’s known as a marketplace for cute, cheap(er) and quirky properties around the world. And this September, I decided to dive into their listings and find an Italian escape for a few weeks.
Airbnb is great if, like us, you’re tight on time and pennies. We had just a few weeks spare between the end of B’s degree and the start of my job in Edinburgh, and were desperate to sneak some sun onto our pale Scottish bodies. It took a while for us to find the perfect place on the website, but finally we stumbled upon the apartments at Agriturismo Caprareccia Bianca, an hour north of Rome.
We all know the stereotype Airbnb property championed by hipster Instagrammers: it’s a twee, treelined cottage in the heart of somebody’s garden; it’s a granny flat turned bright apartment with mod cons; it’s a tiny but charming converted shed. But more and more properties are appearing online that — far from adhering to Airbnb’s ideal of being ‘extra space’ in somebody’s home — are already full-blown businesses.
So it was with our Italian apartment. Although Airbnb provided an easy and safe way to book relatively cheap accommodation (£470 for 10 nights), this property didn’t quite give us the true ‘Airbnb experience’. Our apartment wasn’t isolated or part of a local’s home; instead it was one of three holiday homes attached to a larger farmhouse. And the steading itself was actually used as a function room, as we learnt one noisy Saturday night.
Although it doesn’t offer the truly personal, not-totally-for-profit principle that Airbnb extols, the setting of Caprareccia Bianca more than makes up for that small niggle. We opened our shutters in the morning to our small garden, ate meals outside with Lilliputian lizards for company, spent hours on the sun loungers with our books, and woke up every day to that stunning panorama over the Sabine hills.
And the silence (apart from that Saturday night…) was just bliss. Coupled with the gentle heat of September, we couldn’t have asked for more tranquil surroundings to escape to. And as an antidote to that peacefulness, it took us just an hour to get to Rome on the train from a nearby village. Caprareccia Bianca boasted that perfect balance between lazy days at the pool and bustling moments in the capital’s hot streets (more blog posts on this to come, featuring disgusting amounts of gelato…!)
It’s going to take a few more tastes of Airbnb globetrotting to get what it’s really about. And although our Italian retreat near Rome maybe didn’t quite meet our expectations in terms of an ‘organic’, community-focused travel experience… well, we wanted relaxation with a view. And that is exactly what we got.
Have you tried Airbnb? Where did you travel and what did you think?