Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2066: Sleep in Italy, Via dei Pastini
1bed/1bath apartment near Pantheon, Rome
April 6th-9th (2006), Three nights
Apartment Via dei Pastini is located approximately 50 yards or less from the Pantheon on Via dei Pastini street. If you are facing the front of the Pantheon, Via dei Pastini is behind you to the left with a cafe and gelato shop on the corner. The location was incredible. Walk outside a few steps and there's the Pantheon! The apartment is on the second floor of a three or four story building.
There are lots of places to dine in this area and a few small food shops. We actually bought groceries near Campo dei Fiori our first day in Rome while we were out exploring. We ate our evening meals close to the apartment on Pastini. We ate two nights at Fociolaro on Pastini which we enjoyed very much (mostly local patrons).
The apartment building I assume is very historical, but did not inquire on dates. The building and apartment are in very good shape. I am sure the apartment was renovated in the recent past. The main entrance is located through a charming door that leads into a gated foyer which leads to the stairs to the apartment on the second floor. The apartment is right off the landing as one comes to the second floor. The apartment is entered through another charming door into the living room area which is a good size. There are two sofas. One is a sleeper where my daughters slept. There are lamps and wall sconces (good lighting). Photos of the apartment on the agency's website are accurate. There is a window in the livingroom looking down on the street scene below. My daughters were bothered by the noise the first night; found their earplugs in the travel bags from our flight to use. No complaints second or third night. It was either quieter or they adjusted. All of this area is pedestrian only so the noise was just people walking back from dinner etc. nothing too rowdy. The room off of the livingroom through a pocket door is the bedroom, good size with very comfortable bed and beautiful oak antiques (dresser, armoire, lamp tables. Good lighting in bedroom. There is a television in the bedroom but we never turned it on. The kitchen is located in the next room from the bedroom up one step. It is small but charming with regular sized fridge, cooktop and oven. We found everything we needed. We did not cook any meals but did use the space for breakfast, coffee, afternoon snacks,etc. The one bathroom is located off of the kitchen. Pretty small, but nice. We were well adjusted by now to the small showers. Plenty of good sized towels. In the livingroom there is a dining table with fold down leaves that sits out of the way. We never opened it up for use but used the small table and stools in the kitchen for snacks as well as the table and chairs on the patio.
There is a large terrace/patio off of the kitchen with table and chairs. We spent most of our time out there. While there is no view; except of the rear of the apartment, we felt very fortunate to have this outdoor space as the weather was so nice and it was a very quiet and peaceful place to take a break with a bottle of wine, cheese and bread, olives and other yummy snacks we really miss about Italy. The owner has large potted plants and palms on the patio to help provide a sense of privacy and green outdoors.
The apartment was very comfortable for us, spotless and clean, well tended to as the owner lives upstairs. We did not use the livingroom as a place to visit and lounge because my daughters used it as their sleeping space and we preferred the terrace off of the kitchen to hang out. As I mentioned, there are two sofas in the livingroom, a china cabinet, a drop-leaf dining table, and side tables.
Our bed was very comfortable, would have liked an extra pillow, there may have been some in the armoire, I think I saw some extra pillows the last morning there. The bed linens were clean, crisp, and smelled nice. The girls said the sleeper sofa was comfortable to sleep in (it had already been made up when we arrived). As I said, just one bathroom, which worked out fine for just four of us. No tub, just a shower, plenty of hot water. Nice sink and mirror, and a place to plug in a hair dryer. Toilet and bidet of course.
We did not eat any cooked meals using the kitchen here, but had we planned to there was plenty of pots/pans, utensils, etc. There is a photo of kitchen on agency's website. There is an oven, but no dishwasher. Cabinet over sink has drainer for dishes to dry after rinsing. There was not an American coffeemaker, only Italian style for stove top, which I never figured out how to use so I drank instant here in the morning, but I survived.
Problems or Bonuses
Good surprises, Rome in general. First time visit for me, I expected it to be much larger, noisier, etc. and that I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. On the contrary, I loved Rome. I expected the area near the Pantheon to be a bit run down. Yes, the buildings are old but everything is kept up nicely (very valuable real estate), didn't notice much if any graffiti nearby which is very common in Italy. Another surprise (neither good nor bad) was all the spring break school tours and crowds in every city we visited in Italy, including Rome. We had expected this time of year before Easter to be off season with fewer crowds but this was not the case.
Two bad surprises: 1) The ATM near the Pantheon had crashed and we had planned on withdrawing our rent money right before we checked in to the apartment. Being unfamiliar with where another might be and the owner waiting for the rent money, my husband did a cash advance on a credit card, very bad move, he took a huge hit with the fee and exchange rate, do not do this!
2) The other bad surprise was that the owner presented us with the amount owed that included our deposit amount which had previously been paid by us to Sleep in Italy when we originally booked the apartment. So now we owed both the balance and the deposit (again) to the owner if we wanted the apartment. This was not the fault of the owner. She is a very pleasant and beautiful woman but speaks no English and even with our phrase book did not want to attempt to remedy this misunderstanding. So we paid her, got a reciept, and called Sleep in Italy to get to the bottom of this error. The gentleman my husband spoke with said that they had no record of receiving the deposit amount even though it did appear on our American Express bill. We didn't want this to ruin any part of our day so we decided to take it up with American Express when we returned home. A month later as I write this the amount in dispute has been credited back to us by American Express while they investigate the error. I am sure this was just a mix-up, but in the future I would confirm with Sleep in Italy or any other rental agency that requires a deposit that they indeed have a record of the deposit and the correct balance due.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I have somewhat mixed feelings about Sleep in Italy. We usually dealt with Guilia (Julia) when we communicated e-mail and sometimes it could be frustrating communicating, but others who have used them have had no problems. We would use them again as I feel the deposit error was most likely a mix-up. They do have many properties, which probably causes some confusion. We were very happy with our cozy apartment and would have liked to have extended our stay, but it was not available an extra night. The rental rate per day for four people was 140 Euros.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, we would definately stay at Pastini again and recommend it to friends and family, as it was comfortable and convenient and a good value. It would be great for just a couple (less rent) and for a family of four like us if two siblings are okay sleeping together on a sleeper sofa. I don't think I would stay there with another couple because it would not be private enough as you do have to go through the bedroom to get to the kitchen and bathroom. I assume because of the location, this apartment is very popular and one would need to reserve it well in advance. We originally tried to book it in the fall for April dates, but it wasn't available. When we inquired again in December it was available for three nights we needed so I suppose there may have been a cancellation. If you are looking for luxury, one would need to book a luxurious hotel room or apartment (you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway). It was great for us, roomy, clean, safe, convenient, comfortable, and we could not have nor would we have spent double or triple for a quad hotel room.
Things to do in this area
Staying a few steps from the Pantheon was quite surreal for us, had to keep pinching ourselves. There are lots of pizzerias, restaurants, and little shops nearby. The gelato/coffee shop is just a few yards away. We walked just about everywhere. Somedays we would taxi to a farther location (like the colosseo) and walk back (no problem). We walked to St. Peter's and then took a taxi from Vatican Museum to Via dei Corso (not far from the apartment) so my daughters could go back to the (to die for) store we had visited the day before. To get a taxi from the apartment you go to Largo Argentina on Vittorio Emanuele, this is where taxis que up. We walked to Campo dei Fiori several times (used an internet point there) and also Piazza Navona.
I did carry our cash around my neck in a small purse but we never encountered any of the possible problems I had read about (pickpockets and gypsies). There were many carabinieri (police) around our neighborhood, probably because of the national election that weekend and the huge crowd of visitors. As I said everything was easy to walk to, visiting Trevi fountain every evening after dinner was close by. We even walked to Trastevere. The one afternoon we planned on the Spanish Steps was a no-go for us. We could see the crowd (or mob) from blocks away and we took a vote to go elsewhere. It is possible to get away from the crowds, head over to the neighborhood near Piazza Navona where we discovered charming and interesting streets to explore with little pedestrian traffic and (in spring) lovely wisteria decorating the buildings and apartments.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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