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Short-stay apartment in Italy -- common practices?

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Hello everyone,

I found an apartment on Homeaway we'd like to rent for 4 nights this summer: http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p464361

We have confirmed availability and let the owner know we'd like to rent it. I asked if he had a written agreement. He replied that I can make a deposit of 80 euros via Paypal and the balance is due in cash upon arrival.

Is this the typical practice? Would you require a written contract (detailing cancellation policy, etc) or is this not done for short-term rentals in Italy? I'm not wild about paying cash though it is not like he asked for it up front.

Your advice/experience is most appreciated -- thanks!

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