More Than You Ever Thought You Wanted To Know
We can’t sleep together in a 54-inch double bed with any creature larger than our cat. This is why whenever we rent a house in England we suffer. How do those overfed English people do it? In England, in fact, we resign ourselves to suffering in a different way: twin beds.
In Italy, you’ll be happy to learn that the bed situation is actually pretty good:
The matrimonial bed. A so-called letto matrimoniale is 160 or 180 centimeters wide, sometimes, if you’re really lucky, two full meters. If it’s 160, which is the minimum (and the most common) that means 63 inches, wider than the 60-inch American queen-size bed and significantly wider than a double. In the rare event it’s 2 meters, that means 79 inches, or about the size of an American king-size bed; this is far less common.
The twin bed. An Italian twin bed comes in two sizes: narrow and narrower. It is unfortunately more often than not narrower than its American equivalent. They come in different widths, between 80 and 100 centimeters (32-39 inches). We try to encourage our owners to get the widest twin beds possible. Sometimes, they have the temerity to ignore our advice. Sometimes, the size of the room just won’t allow wide twin beds. We do our best.
The “divisible matrimonial bed” a/k/a “unifiable twins”. Often a matrimonial bed is made up of two twin beds pushed together and made up as a matrimonial. Why? Because the owner understandably tries to attract as many different types of guests as possible. If a 1-bedroom flat is rented to two unrelated friends or two siblings, it may be that they don’t want to sleep in the same bed. Being able to split the matrimonial into two thus adds flexibility to the rental.
Many of our couples fear that if the beds are pushed together, they will fall through the crack. Or they just don’t like the idea of the two beds pushed together. We can assure you that if the twin beds in question are of good quality – and this is key – then pushing them together and putting matrimonial bed linen on them – from mattress cover to sheets and blankets – results in a perfectly acceptable matrimonial bed. We have slept on matrimonial beds formed in this way on at least 50 occasions over the past 10 years, and in many cases, we’ve not even noticed the separation.
The “one-and-a-half” bed. Also sometimes referred to as a “French bed”. In Italian, this is called a “piazza e mezza”. It’s what the French call a “grand lit”. It’s about 48 inches wide. It’s going the way of the dodo, but it’s still common enough to comment on. Some old-fashioned Italian owners consider this to be a suitable sleeping surface for 2 persons. We don’t, no matter how much in love we are at any particular moment. This is a bed we encourage all of our owners to avoid. But sometimes it’s there already. In this case, we describe it as a single bed. In fact, it’s great as a single bed.
Terminology. We try never to use the phrase “double bedroom”. It’s too confusing. If you read this phrase in the literature of our competitors, especially if it’s the English translation of an Italian agency’s propaganda, you can never tell what it really means. In Italian, a “camera doppia” means a bedroom with two twin beds, not a room with a double bed or a matrimonial bed. This is the source of endless confusion.
In Vacanza Bella’s property descriptions, when we say “matrimonial bedroom”, we mean a bedroom with one matrimonial bed, and we try to specify whether that bed is divisible into twins or not, sometimes by using a phrase like “queen/twin bedroom”. If we say “twin bedroom”, we mean a bedroom with two twin beds, generally not unifiable. If we say “single bedroom”, we mean a bedroom with one twin bed, or a “one-and-a-half bed”.
Woolen mattresses. A well-made and well-maintained woolen mattress was once a sign of social prestige in Italy. And in some circles, it still is. If a well-maintained woolen mattress is placed on a good-quality box spring, it’s the best sleeping surface we’ve ever encountered. If it’s not well-maintained, it’s a disaster. Italian bed quality is now up to American standards, far moreso than in either England or France. Most of our owners have regular orthopedic spring mattresses placed on frames made of wood slats (our preferred) or wooden platforms; or on good metal-mesh frames; or, less commonly, on American-style box springs. A few have kept the tradition of woolen mattresses, and in all cases these are well-maintained.