Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2498: Sleep in Italy, Via Nicolo III
1bed/1bath apartment near St. Peter's, Rome
Oct. 2006, 10 days
The apartment was in a very large apartment block almost on top of San Pietro rail station. The rental includes the apartment on the fifth floor and a portion of the roof above the apartment. The neighborhood felt safe, but the apartment suffered from noise starting with the 5:00am announcements and trains at the nearby station, the 7:00am call to mass by the bell tower under 100 feet from the bedroom window, and the honking and arguments in the apparently undersized parking lot in the courtyard immediately below the apartment. We were told this was a quiet location and were therefore very sorely disappointed.
Two grocery stores (supermercati) are within 1/4 mile in opposite directions. There are a few restaurants.
There was very little noise from the surrounding neighbors, but exterior noises abound as referenced above. The apartment is in a building that is very large, but divided into entryways. There are three apartments on each floor of this one's entryway and two in the basement, so about 17 apartments share the stairwell. I'd guess there were 8-10 similar entryways in the building. The building is pretty obvious on Google earth, so, it's definitely a large structure. It's not an ugly modern apartment block, but particularly by Roman standards, seems relatively recent.
You can view the apartment directly: Nicolo.
The terrace is the apartment's main selling point. After our complaints (and admittedly, numerous others), the agency has corrected their descriptions to make clear that the terrace is completely separate from the apartment. To access the terrace, one must go out the apartment door (and if you have not previously experienced Italian apartment locks, you may not appreciate that this is trickier than in the US), up the public stairs, then through a difficult to use locked door with a different key, and out onto the terrace. This level of separation came as a huge, unwelcome surprise.
The apartment itself has views of the parking lot and the adjacent building, but nothing else. The terrace has a very nice view of St. Peter's dome almost as shown on the web page. What does not show on the photos on the web site is the other portions of the roof separated by unsightly chicken wire into other "private" terraces or the clotheslines that criss-cross this "private" terrace. The owner of the apartment is absentee and has entrusted the running of the apartment to someone who lives in the basement and this person (supposedly without the owner's blessing) utilized the clotheslines on the "private" terrace during our stay for her laundry, so in addition to meeting the neighbors on the adjacent portions of the roof, expect to have clotheslines and possibly other people's clothes interfering with the view.
There is absolutely no place in this rental that will have a view in case of inclement weather.
The apartment was spotlessly clean, one of the few happy surprises of the rental.
However, there were severe maintenance issues that went unresolved during our stay and there was a failure to provide sheets for the pull out bed (again unresolved).
There are five keys needed to function in this rental and our set of keys did not include one for the elevator. The single beds have odd foot pads that prevent them from being pushed together and they flatly refused to provide sheets for the pull out, despite a specific advance request (and we did not think to check for sheets before handing over money). Lights in the bathroom did not work, hot water was offline for part of the stay, the toilet had to be coaxed into flushing, and the furniture was not in top condition. The single beds were miserably uncomfortable. The pullout looked nice, but again, we had no sheets despite advance requests and phone calls and emails while there, so we did not test it out.
The bathroom was marginally functional (toilet, hot water, and light issues noted above). The shower was incredibly small by US standards: 25 inches x 25 inches (I've had much larger showers on board ship!)
The kitchen was very well outfitted with all sorts of pots, pans, and serving options. A few of the glasses have nasty chips, so, except for a need to be careful when pulling them out of the cupboard, there was ample supply of all the things we needed to cook full meals.
Problems or Bonuses
We were very surprised to find no view from the apartment, the external noise level, no sheets, no elevator key, no bathroom lights, and no help from the agency to resolve any of these issues.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We've rented several apartments in Italy previously without a problem. The level of misrepresentation here was something we'd never experienced. We had also never been left entirely on our own before. The agency takes a deposit and makes an appointment with the owner, and then you're on your own. In this case, the owner had the cleaning lady (who spoke no English) let us in, and then she conveniently could not understand our complaint about the misrepresentations. When we insisted (in Italian) that the agency be called, she finally called the owner who claimed this was all the agency's responsibility and told us to pay the rest the money in the next five minutes or leave.
If you don't have your own cell phone and a willingness to make a hotel reservation somewhere, there is very little you can do to counter this.
The agency did apologize for the mess after several complaints via e-mail, and indicated that it was a mistake that the apartment was listed as having a view, as being quiet, and that we'd been promised a matrimonial style bed and not provided with sheets. The other problems they insisted were the owner's responsibility and not theirs, but of course, this owner was not willing to give any sort of refund.
Note that although the agency advertises that they take credit cards, only the initial deposit (one night's accommodation) can be charged; the rest must be paid in cash upon arrival. So, you will only have the ability to contest one night (out of ten in our case) should their descriptions prove false. We did eventually get our deposit back.
This apartment is offered through many different companies. We had actually also seen it on Roman Reference. Because their web page on apartment 201/Via Nicolo III currently shows factual errors as outlined above, we felt it was important to note that it is also listed there.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
If other apartments with views and a more central location were more than twice as expensive as this one, and it was a period where good weather was expected, we would probably stay here again. However, at the time we rented this apartment, the above conditions were certainly not true, so I don't think we'll ever visit the Nicolo apartment again.
Things to do in this area
The apartment looks closer in on a map than it is in walking reality. Between the hill and the Aurelian wall, the only way to get into the heart of Rome is to take the train from the train station or go through St. Peter's square. Some days the square is closed due to events. The advantage is that you're constantly walking through the square and we saw the Pope several times as a result.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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