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Review 2098: The Travel Bug, Appartamento Ascanio

www.italyspecialists.com

Recommended
Review by Geralyn from CT who is a SlowTrav Contributor

3bed/3bath apartment, Piazza Mattei - Ghetto, Rome


View from the Balcony, photo by Geralyn Hoerauf

When

July 2005, 5 nights

Location

On the 4th floor of the Palazzo Costaguti on Piazza Mattei, in the Jewish Ghetto area. Two blocks south of Largo Argentina and a five block walk west to Campo de Fiori. This was a perfect and very central location for visiting all of the historic center. The Ghetto sees fewer tourists than the Campo area, and is more of a "neighborhood" with shops, businesses and restaurants used primarily by local residents.

Nearby Amenities

Well, it's Rome, so we were within walking distance of Tazza d'Oro and Caffé San'Eustachio and hundreds of other bars. We visited a small bar around the block on Via del Portico d'Ottavia both for morning coffee and afternoon drinks.

The closest grocery was about four blocks away at Via San Bartolomeo dei Vaccinari 78 (near corner of Via Arenula). This was a large store by city standards; excellent choice of fresh meats, cheeses and produce as well as an extensive array of packaged foods; great selection of beers, wines and liquers.

The House/Apartment

The Palazzo is described as being built during the 16th & 17th centuries. You enter through double wooden doors into an interior courtyard lined with frescoes. There is a security doorman just off the entrance, but we were also given a key to the front door as well as to our apartment. Apartment Ascanio is on the top (4th) floor of the building. The agency offers other apartments in the same building for vacation rental; the rest of the apartments are rented to long-term tenants. We met one (American) woman who had lived in the building since the 1970s.

There is a narrow winding staircase to the 4th floor, as well as an elevator (one person + one suitcase at a time). Ours was the only apartment on the 4th floor.

The apartment has an entry foyer, living room, dining room, modern kitchen and two bedrooms with ensuite baths. One of these bedrooms has a double bed, one has two twins; both bathrooms were very modern and had tubs with hand-held showers. Each bedroom has tall ceilings and a loft area above the bathroom. One of the lofts had an additional single bed. Off of the entry foyer is a stairway leading to another bedroom with double bed. Below this bedroom off the entry is the third full bath, with shower.

Double glass doors lead from the living room and two of the bedrooms to a narrow balcony that runs across two sides of the apartment. Not wide enough for a chair, but with an exquisite view.

Garden

No private outside areas, just the balcony.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The living and dining room furniture looked to be antique. The chairs and sofa in the living room were not the most comfortable, but then we didn't spend alot of time in the apartment. The tv was tiny and only received one English language station; again, not an issue. The dining room table seated all six of us, but without a window the room was a little dark.

The apartment was very clean and spacious. We were offered daily maid service (included in the rental price), but declined as we were only to be there for five days and the agency representative said that the maids were supplied by a service (made my husband suspicious).

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

The beds were very comfortable. The lighting in the bedrooms was good for reading. Having a bathroom with each bedroom was very nice. The bathrooms were very clean and modern with plenty of towels and toilet paper.

Kitchen

We did not cook in the kitchen, only making coffee in the mornings. There was both an American coffeemaker and a stovetop espresso pot. There were plenty of cups, plates and flatware provided. The refrigerator was very large, and came supplied with bottled water and a bottle of wine. There was plenty of counter space and a stovetop with oven.

We did not use the washing machine, but it also looked new. It was located above the kitchen in a little loft; the stair was narrow and steep. A drying rack was available to put up in the apartment.

Problems or Bonuses

The apartment came equipped with a cell phone for local use.

No problems at all.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

I found the website Italy Specialists through a web search of Rome apartments for six people. The actual agency I worked with was The Travel Bug in San Rafael California and their representative for these apartments was Janet. She was everything one could hope for in a rental representative.

I connected with her over the internet and then by phone with questions regarding another apartment in the building, before deciding on Apartment Ascanio. She returned all of my calls promptly and arranged for us to rent for less than the one week minimum. When I read a less than favorable review of another of the apartments in the building, she immediately contacted the building owner and got back to me with reassurances that all had been fixed. Even after we returned from Rome, she called us to make sure that everything went well with our stay. It was very convenient to pay in dollars by personal check (they also take credit cards) both the deposit and balance payment. We paid 1822 euro for a Monday through Friday night stay, approximately $2412.00.

The apartment is also represented by Home In Italy (homeinitaly.com) and is called Pietro I on that web site. One of my initial questions to Janet was why the Italy Specialists price was so much cheaper than on the other web site. She replied that the Travel Bug agency has a personal relationship with the building owner and that their agents stay in the building when they travel to Rome.

When we arrived at the apartment, coincidentally an agent for Home in Italy was at the apartment and arranged for us to store our luggage while the apartment was being cleaned between tenants (we arrived about two hours early). Daniela was very nice, showed us around the neighborhood and eventually showed us around the apartment.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

We loved the location and the high quality of the apartment furnishings and decor. The bathrooms were large and very clean. I would stay here again, just because of the location.

I would also start with The Travel Bug (aka Italyspecialists.com) the next time I needed accomodations in Rome or Florence. I would have no hesitation staying in any apartments that they recommend or list. They were just a pleasure to work with through the entire process.

Things to do in this area

A tenant in the building who had been living in Rome since the 1970s recommended that we try La Pollarola at Piazza Pollarola 25, off of Via dei Biscione near the Campo de Fiori. The food was simple and excellent. We ate outside with mostly local patrons. Pollo al Porchetto was the specialty and we really enjoyed it.

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

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