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Portovenere: B&B Gli Olivi

Via II Traversa Olivo, 13, Phone: 187.790224

Reviewed by: em from NJ, review #1111

When: July 2005

Reasonably priced, with a great web site and right by the sea. Unfortunately, these were the only things great about it.

Gli Olivi is a bed and breakfast (no stars, and none deserved) located right across the road from the bay and overlooking a private docking area and inviting beaches. We were entranced by the photos in its web site--a lovely bedroom and private terrace--and its price: 100/night.

We quickly discovered, however, that photos can be rather deceptive.

We knew we were in trouble right away. The taxi driver could not immediately find the house and asked directions from a man who turned out to be a neighbor. His response in Italian referred to the owner of the property as "That b---h" or something perhaps a bit more colorful.

We knew the room would not be air conditioned, which was not a concern, but when we entered the room, we were immediately hit by the strong smell of disuse and humidity. Yes, there was a dehumidifier in the room, but the owner had not bothered to run it in preparation for our stay. We ran it constantly, and it took almost 24 hours to get rid of the odor.

The room was considerably smaller than we had anticipated and the furniture more shabby. There was a wall of closets, but when we opened them, we noticed that only a small portion of the closet had been cleared for our use. The rest was used for storage of the owner's winter clothes, and the strong smell of moth balls was pervasive. Needless to say, we decided to keep our clothes in our suitcases.

The bathroom was tiny. Again, this was not a major problem. What was a problem was the lack of hot water. We became adept at taking short COLD showers. I really missed that common Italian amenity, the bidet. This bathroom did not have a traditional bidet, but one on the floor of the shower--one I refused to use because of its awkward location and the aforementioned lack of hot water.

The bathroom had a note on the door asking us to only leave those towels on the floor that we wanted replaced. We tried to be good guests, and the first morning we left only one towel on the floor. By the second day we were so annoyed, that we left ALL the towels on the floor. This proved to be a big mistake, however. The first towels were considerably less than plush; their replacements had the consistency of Bounty paper towels.

Let me write a bit about breakfast--this was after all a bed and breakfast. We were served a traditional Italian breakfast of coffee, juice, and cornetti. Coffee and juice were fine; the bread was hard and stale. We decided that we'd take future breakfasts in town.

It was only a short walk to the center of Portovenere (perhaps 1/2 mile), and this was our last stop in Italy. We didn't mind the walk particularly in the mornings and evenings when it was not so hot. It allowed us to enjoy the beautiful view of the boats and the beaches. Were we to visit Portovenere again, though, we would opt to stay in the town center where there seem to be several hotels. I noticed that the Royal Sporting Hotel, one I remembered from my research as being rather expensive, was located just a few short steps from Gli Olivi. Given its out-of-town location and its cost, I'd opt for something else.

Anyway, Portovenere is lovely; Gli Olivi is not.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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