Italy is the most popular country in the world for international travel and cities like Roma can be inundated with thousands of tourists if there is a special event on at the Vatican like a beatification or a pilgrimage arrives etc. eg when I at the last minute decided to go to Roma for the weekend in May to meet some friends the whole of rome was booked and I know many many properties. Luckily one of my owners looked after me.
When this happens you usually have to stay outside the walls which means travelling into town every day by train. The last train and bus in Roma at night also finishes at 11.45 which means you have to leave by 11.00 pm to get to the station- yes - absolutely pathetic public transport for a major city!
Last year 25 million tourists went to rome. We are talking about the most popular city in the world. On May 1 this year for the beatification of John Paul II, Rome was inundated on the day with 10 million tourists. There was not a room left standing or a subway bench if one could find a subway bench in Rome ( I have not seen any!!). I was talking to one poor tourist who did not know about the beatification and tried to go to Rome on this day. Her hopeful last minute did not eventuate and she had to catch a packed train out of the city ( standing room only) to another place in Italy as she had nowhere to sleep.
If there is a fair or festival on in the major Italian cities like a industry conference or trade fair, etc, the prices double overnight. Also if there is a special event like the regatta in Venice, major art exhibition openings, concerts, the Bienniale opening, film festivals etc Venice is completely booked out as both Venice and Florence are very small cities. In Florence the population of locals is only 300,000 people so the city is easily booked out for a major event.
Italy is not the county to do a last minute booking due to problems with the language. It is difficult to phone and to park etc. It also depends also on the standard of accommodation you wish to stay in and whether you are willing to take the risk. …Often when an English tourist rings up last minute the Italians add on an extra 50 euro for substandard accommodation. They can rip off the English greatly in a way that is seriously wrong as they figure they will never see you again and they know that you are tired and hungry and desperate for a room.
You might be given a the last available room where you cannot walk around the bed, with a bathroom where the shower sprays the whole room and the toilet does not flush properly etc. We have stayed in rooms like this when spot checking a new unknown hotel that has a wonderful internet site and says it is close to everything when much to our distaste it is situated in a horrible, noisy industrial back street etc etc.
Passion for Italy books quality accommodation where we have inspected most premises and we only work with trusted managers whom we know will treat our clients well. Some of the terrible stories we have heard from people who have done it on their own make us very upset because if they had only booked through us they would have had a much happier time and not have suffered such rip offs especially when our prices are the same as the hotels in Italy and end up cheaper as our clients return home so happy with our accommodation.