Where to stay in Sulmona
One of the fundamentals in organising a trip is choosing where to stay, and that includes not just the specifics of your ‘bed-for-the-night’ but primarily what type of holiday you want to have. Thankfully in Sulmona (and indeed throughout the wider Valle Peligna) there are many different options and something to suit all tastes and all budgets.
There aren’t any big, international hotel chains here. The largest hotel is Santacroce Meeting – a family-owned establishment with 78 rooms just outside of town. The Santacroce family also runs another smaller hotel called ‘Ovidius’ near Sulmona’s Cathedral. On the other side of town you can check out Hotel Armando’s – it is also family run and it’s in a quiet side street within easy walking distance of the town centre. Many travellers still prefer a hotel experience which offers a professional concierge service and a degree of autonomy, and we know you won’t be disappointed with what is available. Here is our list of hotels in Sulmona.
A lot of modern Italian B&B’s would have been called a ‘Pensione’ a few years back. ‘Bed & Breakfast’ is now the internationally accepted designation for exactly that, and it may not be quite what you are used to. Often the owner or manager does not live on site, or you might stay in a self-catering apartment where you make your own breakfast. Note that here in Abruzzo there are local norms which dictate the number of rooms, a maximum number of guests, and what can be served at breakfast. If you are lucky you may get something delicious and homemade but it could equally be a croissant in a plastic wrapper. There are a number of well-established and popular B&B’s here in Sulmona. Here is our list of B&B’s in Sulmona
3. Vacation Rentals
The number of independently owned & operated vacation rentals in this area is increasing all the time. Self-catering is a popular option for many travellers, especially those who are visiting for a week or more, or who like to cook. Mostly these are offered via AirBnB and the other well-known listing sites such as HomeAway and Trip Advisor.
Here is our list of Vacation Rentals in Sulmona.
4. Alternative accommodation
The Italian term ‘Agriturismo’ refers to a farm-stay holiday where you will most likely sleep in a room in the old farmhouse, or a converted farm building, and be able to sample a selection of homegrown, organic produce. These are by definition out of town and provide a unique way to enjoy the countryside. The closest Agriturismo to Sulmona is at Tana della Volpe near to the village of Pacentro. There is no campsite here in Sulmona although the ‘Campervan Park’ at Piazza Ruggieri (Via Japasseri) is popular with European visitors.
5. City centre or countryside?
Sulmona’s city centre is delightful. Traffic is restricted and during the summer there is a lot of life on the streets. People sit outside at the bars & cafes and many restaurants have a courtyard or an outside space. If you want to wander around sightseeing during the day and then have a choice of local places to dine, choose a destination in the centro storico or nearby. If you prefer to enjoy the mountains with a picnic each day, then you may prefer one of the local villages or vacation rentals dotted around the Valle Peligna. Accommodation outside of Sulmona will also tend to be priced lower than in town.
6. Will you need a car?
If you are staying in the centre of Sulmona for a few days you won’t need a car. If you plan to explore the surrounding villages, or maybe head off into the Parco Nazionale della Majella, or go to the beach then a car is recommended. Your cheapest option may well be to hire a car at Pescara airport or in Rome. Alternatively, you can contact local hire firm Orso for rates and availability of vehicles. Note that the centre of Sulmona is a restricted traffic zone so you may not be able to drive right up and park outside your chosen destination. There is, however, plenty of free parking outside of the centre only a short walk away.
7. When to come?
A recent Conde Nast Traveller article stated that ‘…there is no bad time to visit Abruzzo’. Whilst we think this is extremely flattering it might help to be aware of a few local events and holidays. Sulmona is a year-round destination but the principal tourist season runs from Easter to the Italian holiday of Tutti Santi on November 1st. Easter is always booked up many months in advance. The period of the Giostra Cavalleresca di Sulmona (last weekend of July & first weekend of August) is very popular. From mid-June to the end of July, much of the budget accommodation is pre-booked by those attending the CO-SI opera programme.
Note that the biggest Italian holiday is Ferragosto on August 15th although the Italians traditionally choose either the beach or the mountains at this time of year.
Generally speaking, June, July, August & September are peak season. The shoulder months of May & October are popular too. Those who enjoy walking and physical pursuits may prefer the cooler months and indeed April and November can offer ideal weather for outdoor activities. Don’t forget that Sulmona is only 45 minutes away from some excellent ski resorts so the option for using it as a base for winter sports should be considered.
Italian school holidays start in the first week of June and the schools go back in the second week of September. Many children attend local day camp during June & July.
Not all public holidays fall on a Monday here and so dotted throughout the calendar are an Italian phenomenon called ‘Il Ponte’. This is essentially making a long weekend by bridging the public holiday with an extra day. So, if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, Italians will bridge the Monday to create a 4-day weekend. We list the Italian public holidays, and our own Saint’s Day of San Panfilo in our list of annual events, here.
8. Families & Pets
Most families will tend to choose a self-catering apartment for flexibility with meals times and private space. Some establishments do have larger family rooms or suites such as at Santacroce Guesthouse. Most will also provide a child’s bed on request and younger guests will often be free of charge. Italians often travel with their pets so many establishments will also accept small dogs in the room. Very few travellers from abroad will bring their pets with them but it is certainly an option.
9. The comforts of Home
Most old palazzi don’t have elevators so if you want to enjoy a view from your window or balcony then you will almost certainly have a climb. As compensation, some establishments have great balconies and terraces from where you can enjoy the mountains or one of the piazzas. The view above from the terrace of Sei Stelle B&B is generally considered to be the best here in Sulmona. If you are lucky, you will find air-conditioning, spacious bedrooms, king-sized beds and walk-in showers etc. More often than not, however, you won’t. Please don’t be disappointed. A large part of Sulmona’s charm is that we are a little bit out of the way, and a little bit behind the curve. Prices do reflect this so we think it’s a good compromise.
10. How to book
You can start your search using Trip Advisor, Trivago or Expedia. Booking.com is also a favourite here in Italy. AirBnB is taking the market by storm and you will find many options for great vacation rentals, single rooms and B&B’s which simply don’t advertise anywhere else.
Most establishments will prefer you to book directly as the commission taken by the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) can be quite high. The majority will speak good enough English for you to email them with your requirements. Going direct will almost certainly get you a better rate and we believe that the personal contact from the outset will enhance your experience. Many hotels, B&B’s and Vacation Rentals also have their own website and/or a Facebook page where you reach them directly. You might need to use your detective skills a little to find them though… 😉