FREE guide to Renting a Villa in Italy for more tips):
1. Make sure there's someone available nearby 24/7 in case something goes wrong. I learned the importance of this first-hand when I rented a villa in Tuscany and none of the toilets worked! Fortunately, the owners had a local handyman nearby to respond and fix the situation.
2. Decide if you really, truly want to be in the countryside. I'm amazed at how many of my readers rent a villa and then realize that they can't walk into town or it takes a half-hour to get to any major sites. Think about the location and your daily plans.
3. Ask for references. Renting a villa in Italy can be a major investment. As the owners or rental agency if you can e-mail or call previous renters and then be sure to ask what they liked least about the rental and or anything they wish they had known beforehand.
4. Do some online sleuthing. One villa can be represented by the owner directly as well as several villa rental agencies. Most companies "disguise" the villa by giving it a different name. So take some of the key descriptive terms as well as the town where it is located and Google it. Also look at an image search. You might find the same villa offered at a cheaper price.
5. If you're renting through an agency, ask if they agency owners or the person you are talking to has personally visited the property. At the best villa rental agencies, at least one key staff member has personally inspected the villa.
For more tips on how to rent a villa in Italy and a list of the best rentals and rental agencies, broken down by region, get a FREE copy of Dream of Italy's Guide to Renting a Villa in Italy
Photo by Fuyunum, flickr.com