Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1740: Rentvillas, Commodus
2bed/1bath apartment near Termini, Rome
September/October 2005, 3.5 weeks
The Rentvillas website says it is on the south side of the Spanish Steps, a few steps from the Via Veneto, which is misleading. It's actually adjacent to the Piazza Repubblica, which is quite different. It's closer to Termini Stazione than it is to the Spanish Steps. When I pointed that out to Rentvillas, the rep told me that it was the description given by their Italian property manager. But any look at a map would correct it -- unfortunately, Rentvillas does not disclose the address before payment is received.
On a map it is on Via Firenze between Via Nazionale and Via XX Settembre.
The neighborhood is away from the tourist areas and isn't particularly charming. I wouldn't say it's seedy, but almost. Not that convenient for sightseeing. The local property manager was not particularly helpful about the neighborhood or the amenities.
Two supermarkets nearby -- Despar on Via Nazionale and Dipardi on Via Viaminale I think... and many bars. Shops all along Via Nazionale. So very convenient for simple day to day needs. Next door: a Chinese restaurant. There's a mall under Termini Stazione, which is nearby.
The large 200+ yr old building now holds condos. Maybe 20? The apartment was clean when I got there. Some street noise. Garbage trucks come at midnight and street cleaning equipment around 1AM.
During my stay extensive repairs were going on and the jackhammering/noise level was high. All day, 5 days/week. There was a great deal of white plaster and dust everywhere for the entire 3.5 weeks. My door was covered in plastic wrap and dust. I would never have rented this pricey apartment had I known.
Bathroom: Has been beautifully redone. Nice American shower and also a tub. Towels: Four towels were provided.
Lighting: Exceptionally good throughout. Big windows, adequate natural light and high watt lamps.
Spaciousness: The living and dining rooms were very spacious. Also the bathroom.
Coffeemaker: American style provided.
Bathroom supplies: A starter supply of bathroom tissue and soap were provided.
Kitchen supplies: Dish soap provided.
Washing machine: New, but tempermental. Did a good job. Would've appreciated simple step-by-step instructions and also where to find the hanging rack.
Internet: Good to have. Their PC was slow, but once owner gave me his wireless password and showed me how to connect to the phone DSL as a backup, it was terrific. A great benefit.
TV: Huge TV in living room and also TV in bedroom and kitchen. If there was a way to get non-Italian stations, I couldn't find one. That made internet great for keeping in touch with the world. I saw a stereo with radio and CD but it didn't seem to be connected.
Unpleasant surprise -- the owner and his wife live there and simply moved out for a month, leaving all their things in place -- no empty drawers, no closet. Mid-stay they apologetically turned up to get more clothing.
Since my stay was 3.5 weeks, I found it difficult to be comfortable in an apartment with no empty drawers or closets. Had I known the owner lives here and has all his things in place, I would not have chosen this apartment for a long-term stay.
Perhaps some of this would have been tolerable had this been only a week and had I been interested in being out doing touristy things all day. This is not an apartment for someone who wants to settle in for a long stay. In fact, had I needed the second BR for sleeping, it would've been a problem -- I used the one spare bed that had a mattress for my suitcases, which served as drawers.
The fact that the apartment is lived in and has no storage for renters' things should be disclosed so that other renters know what to expect.
Supposedly a shared terrace, I never saw it.
The furnishings were old and worn. Sofa was worn and faded, but comfortable -- I slept on it for 2.5 weeks.
MASTER BEDROOM: It faced the interior court and so all the noise was centered there. A stained blanket covered the bed. I did not find it appealing and in fact, slept on the sofa for the first 2.5 weeks, till my fiancee arrived. Bed not very comfortable.
A small, short hanging rack (with a couple old dirty spare hangers) for clothes was insufficient and meant dresses and pants dragged on the dirty floor -- dirty from renovation -- white plaster dust.
Spare bedroom had one single with mattress and a top bunk with no mattress. No drawers, no closet.
KITCHEN: The gas stove was tempermental and took some practice -- and usually a match -- to get lit. Again, all the cupboards were full so no place to put my groceries except the counter, which mean no food prep space. A half eaten sandwich and vodka were left in the fridge. Not that appealing. The cupboards and drawers had the smell of old foodstuffs left there too long.
The kitchen equipment was odd. There were about a dozen mostly small and beat up saucepans, no lids at all, and one gigantic frying pan. I found it difficult to prepare meals with this limited equipment -- a chief reason for renting an apartment rather than a hotel.
Problems or Bonuses
They're detailed in other sections. Great internet, great lighting, nice bathroom, spacious living room.
Awful set of other circumstances. The problems -- and the owner's attempts at negotiation outside of Rentvillas -- were a distraction during the first week of my holiday.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The local property manager, Marco, did the minimum. He wasn't particularly helpful or complete in his briefing, did nothing besides showing me how to light the gas stove, connect to the Internet, and how to use the breakers. Although I'd arranged early arrival, neither he nor his keyholders answered any of their phones till 3 hours after my arrival, leaving me stranded with my luggage.
I have mixed feelings about Rentvillas. I had 3 different agents during my planning period and the final one was not very customer service oriented. I had made some arrangements for airport pickup and early arrival, which did not happen as arranged, and then the situation went from bad to worse.
At the front end I found Rentvillas to be insultingly accusatory (as if I could not recognize my own name on a sign, or make a phone call) but after a very rough couple days, that smoothed out and they became more interested in helping solve my problem and convert me to a more satisfied customer. Once that smoothed out, I felt better. But it was rough getting there.
I should point out that the total value of my rental was high -- the entire vacation was 4.5 weeks of rental, 3.5 at Commodus and 1 in a villa in Rocca di Papa with 5 others ... somewhere around $9K as I recall -- so my expectation of service was also high, but I do not think it was unreasonable.
After much discussion, Rentvillas was willing to move me, but did not have another property with DSL, a requirement of my stay. I decided to hang in there. After the first week the noise level reduced significantly but the dust and work remained. Very unpleasant.
I was OK with the pricey cost of the apartment before I got here, but after living here and seeing the apartment and the problems firsthand, I think the price for this apartment is exhorbitant. The location and the issues were a surprise that reduced the value of this in my mind by more than half. I am not sure if this is an issue for the Italian agency or Rentvillas, but I do feel I was misled about the location and the apartment.
I regret not renting a great hotel for less money, less hassle and way more service. On the positive side, I learned a lot for next time.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I can't in good conscience recommend this, and especially not as a long term rental. For a week where you were in and out, mostly out, it would be pricey.
This was one of those unfortunate situations that went from bad to worse. I would not have stayed if not for the internet connection. As internet becomes more common in rentals, we will have more choices.
Things to do in this area
Walk to the Spanish Steps, walk to the sights. This area had the Palazza Barbarini art museum, the opera house and is within walking distance to Via Veneto. Rome is beautiful - enjoy it.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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