Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2450: Owner, The Jewel of Trastevere
2bed/1bath apartment in Trastevere, Rome
October 2006, 18 nights
The apartment is located in Trastevere near Piazza Santa Maria and around the corner from Piazza di San Cosimato. You enter the complex via Luciano Manara. Also a close hop to the stairs up Gianocolo Hill and some memorable sunrises over Rome. Ten minutes walk to Ponte Sisto and twenty to Piazza Navona. Most of the apartment faces via G. Venezian and a large Vatican office structure on the other side of the narrow and relatively quiet street.
Possibly a perfect Trastevere location, close to but far enough away from the tourist trail and the hordes around Piazza Santa Maria and a wonderful neighbourhood filled with bars and shops, a vast assortment of and some notable markets and a couple of supermercatos. Restaurants, including the top rated and expensive Alberto Ciarlo just down the street, are famously abundant and ubiquitous. Still plenty of people but more of them are Trastevereans(?).
There was once a daily market in Piazza di San Cosimato but it had moved to Piazza Mastai off viale di Trastevere when we were there and the direct street to it (via Natale del Grande) is filled with all necessary supplies and services and all within a quick stroll or even a few steps (post office).
There were Internet cafes (close by on via d. Fratte di Trastevere) as well as newsstands and bookstores sprinkled throughout Trastevere.
Many transit (bus, tram) routes run nearby on viale di Trastevere and taxis will get you to your door with only a little difficulty (if the streets are jammed) and you are too tired to walk back across Rome.
The building was turn of the century or so and a very well maintained complex with numerous entrances into a gorgeous and huge central garden courtyard which in turn is surrounded by the three residential wings. It takes up the whole of the last block of via Manara and varies from four to six stories.
The apartment is on the second floor (European first) and up easy stairs with a lift to the adjacent landing shared with another apartment. A concierge/manager is on duty during weekdays.
The apartment consists of a foyer leading into a living/dining zone with an adjacent den/single bedroom that faces into the central court. The kitchen, small but very functional, also leads off this space and the five fixture bath is behind. A short hall leads to the spacious double bedroom.
From the den/bedroom there are French doors (but alas no Julietta balcony) facing into the private (public for the complex) central garden courtyard. Little seating is provided in the garden so it is generally quiet with a few paths leading through its open grassy and nicely planted green space. It did not really function as a gathering space but neighbours might stop for a quick chat.
The apartment was very clean with good furniture (a few heavy wood antiques) and decorated with taste and sophistication. It was renovated in 2002.
The dining table could easily sit six. The dining area, which was closest to the windows, also contained a large corner cabinet with most of the tableware (a very decent and complete set of 12 from Ikea). Desk and bookshelves completed this area.
The sitting zone featured a double sofa bed set across from a table containing the television and DVD/VCR players and a mini FM/CD system. This area was decorated with interesting early twentieth century prints and folk art fabrics. One quibble would be the lack of at least one comfortable armchair and a coffee table might have been useful. Still the space worked very well for we two. More light would have been available if the apartment were higher in its building, the Vatican building shaded somewhat but this kept the space cool without A/C (which is available although not required in our warm but temperate period of occupancy). A good cross breeze can be created from the den/courtyard to the street facing windows.
The den provides a light filled getaway space with plenty of books and another desk along with a single bed useful as a daybed. The walls are hung with a beautiful set of large Piranesi prints.
The beds were firm, of high quality and very comfortable with loads of very good quality linens available in the extensive wall of Ikea cupboards containing shelves, drawers and lots of hanging space both in the bedroom and the adjacent hallway leading to the bathroom.
The bathroom was, as is usual for Europe, missing that elusive extra foot usually found in North America but still had a sufficient sense of spaciousness. It contained a separate shower along with a tub/hand held unit and a good sized vanity (set a little high in order to accommodate the washer below) and the usual water closet and bidet combo. The bath linen was ample and soft.
The kitchen was efficient/sufficient with a three gas plus one electric burner stove/oven and a solid fridge. Cupboard and counter space was scarce but workable. But no cooking together. Still we managed full meals (for two). Although the kitchen was well equipped with plenty of pans and accessories, we supplemented with a few tools and a travel chef's knife. (We always do, it is hard for any host to anticipate every quirky need.) We also added a couple of things that we found useful; it all adds up I suppose. A good basic pantry is left in the cupboards.
Problems or Bonuses
The website is good indicator of sense of quality but doesn't convey the spaciousness (90 sm / 900 sf or so).
Social richness and physical convenience characterize the neighbourhood; it is not medieval picturesque as are the areas closer to the river, but has a softer, less edgy texture and Piazza di San Cosimato gives heart to the whole neighbourhood, with lots of play and gathering. If the market returns, perhaps using the newly constructed metal units on the edge, then I would suppose that this would be a candidate for my favorite family-friendly Piazza in Rome. For a few evenings, we experienced there an 'Amiche di San Egidio' event that was not only heart-string tugging but also a huge explosion of talent and heroics. I hoped for a sense of community in Trastevere but didn't expect to be so rewarded.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Paula Benevene, a noted academic, owns and operates this vacation rental apartment and does it with great style and diligence. All our queries were handled with fluent efficiency and helpfulness during the rental phase. We felt like we had discovered a friend in Rome who could get this great apartment for us. Her warm attentiveness during our stay was astute but not intrusive and her love of the neighbourhood was infectious.
The attention to detail shown in the apartment's outfitting (which included a large library of books and video material with an array of good local as well as general and specific) tourist information and all tuned to a variety of ages, tastes and nationalities) is indicative of the sensitivity and travel savior faire of this owner.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I had thought in the two weeks since our trip that in the future I might want to explore other areas/apartments of Rome (the usual central and more expensive zones) but after looking through our photos and remembering the faces of the neighbourhood and writing about the features of this fine apartment, I feel like I left behind a home and will likely long to get back to a place where I once belonged.
This apartment is indeed a jewel. And good value. Almost worth keeping it still a secret instead of writing this ode.
Things to do in this area
We walked everywhere. Looked at windows, people, buildings and dodged traffic with a developed deftness that brought some pride. In fact I began to get some perverse thoughts of 'never crossing the river' but managed to snap out of it. Good thing we had 18 days in Trastevere.
Valerie was on a quest for significant artisan/designer shops and we found a few good galleries and some great bookstores. Restaurants are everywhere and often roaring but we found a couple of quiet, sophisticated places (Spirit Divino, Vizi Capitali) to complement the plethora of excellent pizzerie (Da Ivo, Dar Poeta), trattorie and fine dining establishments that serve more traditional Roman fare.
The neighbourhood was an endless fascination but almost everyday after the morning marketing and the newspapers and laundry were done, we easily strolled over one of three or four bridges to the center of Rome and all that. The cost is ten interesting minutes; not much in a day full of walking.
The proximate green ridges of Gianocolo, the Botanic Gardens and the more extensive park lands of Villa Doria Pamphili give an easy and restful escape and some solitude. And sunrise from the Garibaldi Monument shouldn't be missed.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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