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We found it hard to easily find lodging when "winging it" it northern Italy

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We just got back from a three week trip to northern Italy. The first two weeks were all booked in weekly rentals, but the last five nights we purposely left free so we could just do a road trip with our rental car, making up our minds as we went along about where to go. This strategy was good because it allowed us flexibility (being able to chose a location based on where the weather might be better) in coping with the terrible weather we had in Italy, but finding lodging was more difficult and more time consuming than we'd thought it would be.

We are very experienced European travelers who have been successful in many other western and central European countries taking a find-a-lodging-as-you-go-along approach, and, in fact, some of our best finds have been small places with no internet or guidebook presence--places we have found by just driving by.

After thinking about it, we decided that perhaps portions of Italy are more difficult to take this approach for several reasons. There are fifty gazillion signs on the roads, making it very hard to figure out as you whiz by (and there is always traffic on your tail, even in small towns) which signs are for accommodations. Many places have town centers with limited traffic zones, and you can't drive in the center (where lodging is most likely to be). Italy seems to require much more governmental-required tracking of tourist bookings than most other European countries we've visited, and we wondered if perhaps some people do not have signs out because it would be easier for authorities to find them for tax purposes.

After a few nights of hassles, we took to spending our late nights on the computer looking for places to pre-book in the locales we were headed for. So, a word of caution.......

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