Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1131: Doorways, Aventino Townhouse (Flat 1 & A)
3bed/2bath apartment on the Aventine hill, Rome
Sept 19 - 27, 2004, 8 days
The house is located in the Aventine hill area of Rome, across the street from the Circus Maximus, with a view of the Palantine ruins from the terrace. There are other buildings in the area, but the rental has its own private courtyard. There is a lot of greenery and trees. With the windows closed, the rental is pretty quiet except for the ambulance sirens (via del Circo Massimo must be a major route to the hospital, since we heard sirens on a fairly regular basis every day). With the windows open, there is quite a bit of noise from the street, since the living area is on the "second" floor (Level 1) and there were no sound breaks (i.e., trees - which would block the view!). It probably would have been much quieter if we had remained on the "first" floor (Level 0) or in the basement (Level -1). There was some kind of music festival going on nearby in the gardens off Piazzale Ugo La Malfa, so we had music every night around 10 pm to 11 pm - but it wasn't disturbing to us. I was very happy with the location, since I wanted to stay near the ancient area of Rome.
The Circus Maximus metro station is just down the street (about a 5 minute walk).
There is a little grocery store (Alimentari Fratelli Giacomini) about a 10 minute walk away on the corner of Viale Aventino and Via Licinia. The person who waited on me spoke English much better than I spoke Italian. They also deliver to the rental (but we never took advantage of this, so I don't know how much it costs). There are a number of shops and cafes on Via Aventino. We did not get the chance to explore other parts of the Aventino area.
The house was built in the early 1920's and is in very good shape. At one time it was a single family residence, but has now been split into three separate living sections: 1 for the owner's immediate family, 1 for the owner's sibling's family, and 1 for vacation rental. We only heard the other residents once during our stay.
There is a private terrace on the "second" floor. It was very nice, but we did not make much use of it due to the bugs. There is no pool.
The furniture was in good shape, and for the most part comfortable. My husband did not like the couch since it was a futon bed with not much support. There were enough chairs (there were only 3 people in our group). The rental was very clean.
The bedrooms were nice and the beds were comfortable. There were 2 bathrooms - plenty for 3 people. The basement bathroom had a sink, toilet, bidet, and stall shower. The ground floor bathroom had a sink, toilet, bidet, and bathtub with a handheld showerhead.
The kitchen was large by Rome city apartment standard. It had a four burner gas cooktop, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher - but no oven or toaster. There was a sufficient supply of functional pots, pans, dishes, and utensiles. I had no problem cooking in the kitchen - but then I was only making simple meals (i.e., breakfast in the morning; cheeseburgers or grilled ham and cheese sandwiches in the evening - I'm not a gourmet cook!). Full meals might be tricky without an oven.
Problems or Bonuses
There were no cleaning supplies (i.e., paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, comet, scrub brush, broom), which somewhat suprised me since our Paris apartment rental was well stocked wtih these sorts of things.
The main entry doorlock needed an old fashioned skeleton tooth key sort of thing that you had to place in the keyhole just so ... I can never get the hang of these things! So we used the "garden" entry that had a more modern lock and key.
We were a little concerned about the neighborhood when we first drove up and saw the policeman with a machine gun ("was this a bad part of town?" I wondered). Then we learned the American Embassy to the Vatican is next door just across the street. The tourist service providers who picked us up at our rental all commented about what a great location it was (we had a private tour with Tony Polzer of 3 Millenium Tours, and we hired a private car and driver for a couple other things).
There was an Apple Airport wireless internet connection, but my husband's laptop was not set up correctly to make use of it. The owner stated that other renters have had no problems accessing the internet.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Doorways treated us ok, but I got the feeling they were a little flaky. I don't know if they were just having a run of problems, but I had a quesy feeling in my gut until we were actually situated in our rental.
Here is a summary of the "issues": 1. I originally went with another apartment, but the owner decided not to rent it out anymore since he was going to sell it (not Doorways fault). 2. After placing our deposit, I recieved a cryptic call from the Doorways agent regarding my "2005" (!) rental. Their database was corrupted and they had me down for two rentals - one in 2004 and one in 2005. The 2005 reservation was not correct. 3. When I received my rental voucher, it had someone else's name as the client. They were still correcting all the database corruptions.
Needless to say, all of this did not leave me with a warm fuzzy about actually being able to reside in the rental (I made the reservation in April for the September rental - that was quite enough time for a lot of things to go wrong!)
The onsite person (rental owner) spoke fluent English, and was very friendly. The reality of the place accurately reflected the published information. Total cost for 8 nights in Sept 2004 (19 Sept '04 thru 27 Sept '04) was $2967. This was somewhat pricy and over our budget - but I had fallen in love with the place the first time I saw it on the internet - and my exhaustive apartment searching did not turn up anything I really, really fell in love with. So I guess it was a good thing that other apartment was not available. Its only money, right???
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definately stay here again. I loved the location and the view from the terrace. I would indeed recommend it to my best friend. One caution - there are three levels of living space. The spiral staircase connecting all three levels did not have a railing. I would not recommend this rental for people with mobility issues, the elderly and frail, or families with young children. I was worried about my elderly (77 year old) mother falling down the stairs - but it was my husband and I (ages 49 and 46) who had the most problems (we each misjudged the last step to the ground level and nearly sprained our ankles - not something you want to do when you have planned to walk all over Rome!).
Things to do in this area
The only place we ate in the immediate area was Caffe' Aventino. They had gelato and sandwiches. It appeared to be a local hangout. Piazza Venezia is about a 15 minute walk (if walking fairly slowly and stopping to take pictures along the way). The Colosseum and Roman Forum are about a 10 minute walk down Via Di S. Gregorio; the Via Di S. Gregorio entrance to the Palantine ruins is somewhat closer. It probably took us about 30 minutes to walk to San Pietro in Vincoli - it is uphill the last half of the way - we probably should have taken the metro from Circo Massimo to Cavour. We did walk to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona after stopping for a break at the Capitoline Museum Cafe - probably should have taken the bus or a taxi. Make sure you are on Via Del Corso at 6 pm when all of Rome takes their evening walk!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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