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Review 1437: Owner, Rome is Home

www.rome-is-home.com

Recommended
Review by Doru from Canada who is a SlowTrav Contributor

1bed/1bath apartment near Campo dei Fiori, Rome


When

April 28 - May 7, 2005, 9 nights

Location

We stayed 10 days (9 nights) at the apartment of Biancamaria and Massimo, on Via dei Chiavari. After using my GSM phone to have Massimo guide the cab driver to the one-way Via dei Chiavari, the de Majo family was waiting for us, waving from the fourth floor above. As we stepped in the apartment, we stepped into a vision of light: the apartment is literally drenched in light, thanks to the array of windows, its exposure, and the large windows being above the line of rooftops. The apartment is located in the heart of historic Rome. One would be hard pressed to find a better location, considering that, while as centrally located as it can be, the building and the street are still very quiet, away from the crowds.

Rising above the foundations of the Teatro di Pompei, the building retains vestiges of 13th century frescoes and beams which are just as old, or older. Being on the 3rd floor (4th North American), the apartment is gained by elevator, a true rarity in this historic part of Rome.

The location is ideal: less than 5 minutes of relaxed walk would take the visitor to any of Campo de’ Fiori, Largo Argentina, Largo Arenula, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon (more on this below). A few more minutes will take one to Piazza di Venezia. Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, with all its public transportation, is about 100 yards from the door of the building. Sant’ Andrea della Valle, with its huge dome, represents the virtual centre of the described area. Although so close to and at the epicentre of major tourist attractions, this is a genuine residential area. A few days spent there will acquaint you with the faces of the locals, and shopkeepers, who will be pleased to politely return your “buon giorno”.

Nearby Amenities

Newcomers to the apartment, just ask Massimo to draw for you the access map. To summarise, it goes like this (graphics not included), all directions from the door of the apartment;

- Turn left and on your right down the Via dei Chiavari is the Forno (Antico Forno Roscioli) bakery with freshly baked products throughout the day. Do not pass by without getting and munching on a warm chunk of pizza bianca, the local equivalent of the Parisian baguette;

- Turn left and at the first left corner is a very pleasant café-bar;

- Go left to the end of the street and right in front of you, on Via dei Giubbonari, you have the Enoteca Salumeria Roscioli, with a great selection of meats, cheeses, pâtés, wines, etc. ;

- A few more steps on the left is the coffee bar/pasticceria;

- Three left turns from the door of the apartment will take you to the supermercato;

- Left to the end of Chiavari and then right on Giubbonari will take you to Campo de' Fiori;

- Turn right and you get to Sant’ Andrea della Valle and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II;

- From Sant’ Andrea, the first stoplight on the left will take you straight into Piazza Navona;

- From the same point, the first stoplight on the right will take you to the Pantheon;

- If you need an ATM, two left turns from the apartment take you to Largo Arenula, where you have two banks: Banco di Roma and Unipol.

- A short walk from Largo Arenula takes you into Trastevere;

- Plenty of taxis, if needed, in the nearby Largo Argentina. Taxies are not very expensive in Rome. We used them quite often.

The House/Apartment

The history of the building’s foundations goes back to before the times of Caesar. In fact, Caesar’s ghost is probably patrolling and securing the neighbourhood, since experts say he was slain by Brutus and the rest of the conspirators quite nearby, more or less where Teatro Argentino is, in the Piazza Largo Argentina.

The owner of the apartment will point with justified pride to the frescoes remnant of the 13th century structure and the huge support beams, which could be even older. Incongruously, after one has admired the ancient frescoes and beams, one turns to find a modern elevator, a heaven-send after arriving with heavy luggage or when returning to the apartment after a long, exhilarating but also exhausting typical Roman walk.

The building is spotless in all common areas and we had never heard any sounds from the other apartments.

Garden

Being an apartment with windows opening way above the line of rooftops in the neighbourhood, a garden was not an option. However, sitting on the sofa or armchair in the living room and gazing outside would make one feel the freshness of the air, the heat of the sun, let in sounds from the street below, and it would be just as relaxing with a book and coffee or glass of wine as if one were indeed outside in a garden. This being said, from the same position in the living room, looking beyond the immediate roofs, one gets tantalising glimpses of successful gardening in some of the farther away balconies and terraces. Good photography options with adequate zoom.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

More than large enough for two people, the apartment is furnished and decorated eclectically, modern pieces sharing the space with more traditional ones. Being arranged with good taste and within a more than adequate space, it all comes together in a very pleasant manner.

We had the luxury of having just about any appliance one would need in order to live independently, as well as a radio (Massimo made sure to tune it to an excellent classical music station), a TV set with a very good reception (alas, only Italian channels, ultimately a good occasion to brush up on the language), a cellular phone pre-charged with sufficient Euros to last us for the 9 days by using it only for local calls, reservations, etc. At our request a land-line phone was prepared, for a reasonable fee; we ended up using it very little. In fact, it was used mostly by the owner, calling in to ask how we’re keeping, whether we need anything, etc. But we liked the safety of having a land-line, just like at home. When we needed it, Biancamaria provided and Massimo made the effort to drive over and deliver a hair dryer which will now remain in the apartment for the use of future guests.

The apartment has central heating, which works quickly and warms well, as we discovered in the first two nights after arrival, when Rome was still a bit chilly at night.

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

The bedroom is spacious and bright, and a large window opens to the same view of red-tiled rooftops as the living room window. The bed is, I believe, king-size, and extremely comfortable. Pillows, linens, blankets, etc., were supplied in abundance, clean and fresh. In the bedroom there are two huge cabinets which would house the clothing of a large family, a welcomed toilet table with chair, and there is sufficient space to place suitcases and travel bags out of sight.

There is a very pleasant and spacious dining room, with a table and chairs for four, a sofa-bed which opens with ease to become a very hospitable second bed if necessary, bookshelves, coffee table, and two comfortable low chairs. The 4-piece bathroom is small but more than sufficient, with the shower stall typical for Italy: narrow but efficient. There is very good ventilation, with an efficient fan.

There is ample lighting in all rooms of the apartment, for evening and night and hot water under good pressure at all times.

Kitchen

We didn’t do cooking, but could have should we have decided to do so. All that is needed to set a nice table and to cook, boil, etc., is available, clean, very well taken care. The cabinets and shelving in the kitchen are well organised and supplied and some immediate necessities were prepared, until we got around, later in the day, to go to the supermercato. Appliances include a gas cook top, a spacious fridge, a small oven, a dishwasher, and a clothes washer/dryer. And a sliding door allows, facultatively, complete separation of the kitchen from the rest of the apartment.

Problems or Bonuses

We had no “bad surprises”. If any, all were good, starting with the wonderful owner family, the size of the apartment, its brightness and its fantastic location.

Rome-is-home has also a first-class web site, with great information on the neighbourhood’s history, tips on where, when, and how to take advantage of its location, very clear rental terms and conditions, recommendations on guide books and books about Rome, etc., all presented with engaging humour.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

The apartment is being rented by its owners, who speak excellent English. From the very first email exchange we found them to be wonderful people, caring for our needs, prompt in replies, possessing a special personal warmth doubled with a sense of humour which conquered us. We can’t think of a finer family, of finer people. For Biancamaria and Massimo treat their renters not as customers but rather as personal guests. And they have a little daughter, the adorable Delfina, and if you pine for your own missing kids or grandkids, hug Delfina and all will come to feel just right again.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

We would go back and stay at the apartment any time! Alŕs, life is such that this remains a dream. This being said, we have already pre-notated the owners of our intention to return about the same time next year.

The location is ideal, being equidistant at about 5 minutes walk from either Campo de’ Fiori, Largo Argentina, Piazza Navona or the Pantheon. Can’t think of a more pleasant base to return to after hours of exploration in Rome, whether to rest, to set up a quick cold meal, or cook if the fancy so takes you, after shopping at the friendly Forno Roscioli (where we found a “paisan” from Vancouver via Montreal) and the Enoteca Salumeria Roscioli, or earlier in the morning in the Campo. In sum, we can’t recommend enough this delightful apartment and the wonderful family renting it out. We thank them for the favour of having us there.

Things to do in this area

All Roman history is within walking distance, so just get out and find it, practically at your feet, waiting to be explored. Life in Rome thus becomes quite simple and you can concentrate your attention on Rome itself. Tip: plan for lots of walking, have good, comfortable shoes, watch the little scooters scooting by, and the cars competing with you for the few inches of available space on the narrow streets.

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

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