Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1168: Roman Reference, Via Belsiana (#104)
2 bed/2bath apartment near Piazza di Spagna, Rome
September 11-18, 2004, one week
The apartment is located about three blocks from the Piazza di Spagna on via Belsiana, a handy location for walking to many of the sights in the eastern half of the centro area. The bus stop is a 10 minute walk. The A Line metro stop is at the Piazza di Spagna.
While the apartment is advertised as having "normal quiet," there was a lot of street noise early in the morning as daily garbage removal and restaurant restocking occurs and locals retrieve their cars from the underground car park just below and across from the apartment.
Arriving on Saturday can be a problem as via Belsiana is a one-way street accessed from via del Corso which is closed to all traffic except buses and taxis. Our van transport from the airport could not use via del Corso and had to back up via Belsiana to avoid having us transport our luggage some distance.
There are many restaurants, trattorias, and cafes nearby as well as several small stores selling groceries, meats, wine, etc. A supermercato is on a nearby street, but we didnít find it for a couple of days as there was no information provided at the apartment. It is close to the up-scale and expensive shops and restaurants that line the via Condotti and several other streets just off Piazza di Spagna.
My wife and I and our friends are experienced renters of apartments and villas in Italy. This apartment is 2 bedrooms, 2 baths located on the second floor (US third floor). No elevator, but that was clearly noted in the listing.
Raffaella, from Roman Reference, met us at the apartment and was very pleasant, but explained that the previous renters had broken the key off in the lock. The owner would be contacted to repair the lock, but it would still work with some fussing.
The apartment had a worn and tired look and was definitely disappointing. The "sunny living-room" was marginally sunny and the choice of huge wall hangings made it old museum dreary. A small round table in the corner of the living room served as the dining table. The living room furniture was old world uncomfortable and we most often opted to use the chairs around the table. The kitchen is very small, no window, and not well lighted or ventilated making cooking less enjoyable.
Cleanliness through out the apartment was not good. Food had been left in the cupboards and refrigerator, all of which had to be thrown out as spoiled or full of food pests. We had to purchase three light bulbs the first day as bulbs in bathrooms and other areas were out.
The bedrooms and beds were fine, although the master bedroom has only an open rack for clothes, no closet or wardrobe to store clothes. The master bath was the typical bath-with-wand shower that takes some getting used to. The second bath had a combination tub and stand up shower, which worked well.
The apartment has a dishwasher and clothes washer, which was not noted in the listing. Raffaella was unable to explain how either worked so we were left to figure that out. Despite the fact that, early in the week, our wives wrestled for more that a half-hour with the broken lock to open the door, the lock was not fixed until the morning we left.
The problems with the kitchen are described above. It is windowless, dark, hot, and not a pleasurable kitchen for cooking. The pots, pans, and dishes were adequate, but we bought our own cutting board out of concern for cleanliness.
Problems or Bonuses
There were no helpful instructions relating to the apartment, the appliances, or the location of nearby stores such as the supermercato. The listing said cleaning was included twice a week, but mid-week we were informed that that was only for the summer schedule. The apartment has a telephone, but it is not for the use of the renter. We had purchased a cell phone the first day (79 euros) and I highly recommend that option for anyone traveling independently for several weeks in Italy.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
While we did not let these experiences dampen our enjoyment of Rome, all in all we cannot recommend this apartment or Roman Reference. We should have been informed when we booked that no maid service would be provided. They should have ensured that the apartment and especially the refrigerator (which had a bad smell) was clean. We found the personnel at Roman Reference sympathetic to our problems, but they were not pro-active in solving them. We paid $1525 USD for the second week in September, 2004.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would not stay here again nor recommend it to anyone.
Things to do in this area
The sights of Rome are well known, but I think the lesser known Domus Aurea, built by Nero, is well worth a visit. Reservations a must in the high season. Trattoria Gigi on via Belsiana had excellent food at modest prices. Diner at La Rampa near the Spanish Steps was only okay, rather noisy, and not up to the standards of previous years.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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