Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2647: Sleep in Italy, Via dei Greci
2bed/2bath apartment near Spanish Steps, Rome
19-23 March 2007, 4 nights
The location was halfway between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, about four minutes from each. It was an apartment in a dense residential section of old Rome.
On check-in, the owner informed us that the nearest alimentari (grocery market) was one street over, about three minutes walk away, on Via Vittoria. Via dei Greci intersects Via Del Corso (on which there were plenty of cafes, shops, and gelaterias) and Via del Babuino (on which there are high-end and chic clothing shops.) We found many trattorias, pizzerias, and ristorantes on the next parallel streets of Via Dela Croce, Via del Carrozze, and Via Condotti, as well as the cross-street of Via Belslana. Via Dei Greci itself is closed to traffic, and there are no parking facilities nearby.
The exterior of the building was basically a wall with a door, which led into a passageway. Off the passageway were several doors to condominium complexes; one of these doors led to the stairwell to Via dei Greci No. 10. I couldn't guess how old the building was - maybe several hundred or more years old. The apartment itself, and the condominium stairwell, were in excellent shape (recent renovations) and so there was no sense of deterioration.
The apartment was at the top of the stairwell, 3 1/2 floors up (a separate apartment led off from each half-turn of the stairs, so there were probably seven apartments in total). I believe that most other residents of the building were owner-occupiers, though we never met anyone else going up or down. There is no elevator, but my 73-year old father-in-law had no problem with the 62 stairs to the apartment. Being on the top floor of the building, and being in the middle of the block, it was very quiet for being in any city. My children were probably the noisiest thing anywhere in the vicinity, other than the music college one block over on Via Vittoria - from which we could hear classical concert music in the early evenings.
There was no garden or balcony. As the top floor on its half of the building, there was a lot of light and the living room (and one bedroom's) windows looked out over a courtyard of sorts - actually a lower space between all the buildings with other balconies and terraces. There were enough potted plants/small gardens among them all that I did not have a sense of being in an urban jungle.
There were both antiques and modern furniture in the apartment. The pictures on the Sleepinitaly website were accurate; it was quaint and stylish at the same time. There were enough paintings and plates hanging on the wall to add a dash of color and homeyness. It was very clean, with clean linens, sheets, and towels ... LOTS of towels, big ones, small ones, all new and soft and matching. There were four chairs and three stools; as my children range from four to nine, the stools were perfectly sized.
There were five beds in the two bedrooms, plus a double sofa-bed in the living room. All of the beds were comfortable, and this includes the sofa bed (which my wife and I slept on since we put the kids to bed early in the bedrooms.) The bathrooms included two toilets, two sinks, a shower and a tub. These were clean and bright. If I had to mention anything in this apartment as a negative mark, it was that the shower (not the tub) drained slowly because its drain hole seemed to be no more than 2cm wide. No other plumbing issues - kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets, tub, washing machine, etc. all worked well. Plenty of hot water on demand; we didn't have to turn a gas heater on to warm the water.
The kitchen had a four burner range, an OVEN, and a dishrack above the sink (allowing our drying dishes to drip into the sink.) There were more than enough pots, pans, plates, glasses, cutlery, ladles, plus the mandatory corkscrew for opening Italian wines! My wife and father-in-law cooked three breakfasts and three dinners in this kitchen; there was enough space plus there was also a sideboard as well (which can be seen in the website photos.) The kitchen was a solid choice to cook for the seven of us.
Problems or Bonuses
While we knew it had a washing machine, it was a lifesaver (especially after our kids generally had pasta on their clothes after each meal.) There was no dryer, but the tub had five clotheslines above it so there was enough space to hang an entire load to dry.
There were also lots of closets and drawers, which we never used - it would be a good choice for someone staying longer-term as well.
The wall-safe was easy to use and I felt really happy with leaving our passports and wallets in there; the apartment had bars on all the non-view windows, and a really secure locking system on the main door (as well as locking doors to the building and the stairwell). We felt very safe! And we were given two complete sets of keys so we could do our own itineraries. Bring soap! After previous experiences elsewhere, we brought along bars of soap, shampoo, and bath gel scavenged from stays at hotels, as well as a small Ziploc bag of laundry powder. (This is not a negative comment, just a point for folks to keep in mind as they get ready to go to Rome.)
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked entirely through Sleepinitaly's website. Giulia was helpful in finding us a place for seven, and communicated well in English; the transaction went smoothly (including assessing the deposit against the credit card.) Per the instructions, we brought cash to the check-in. I had an Italian co-worker call the owner to arrange the check-in, only to find the owner (Maurizio) speaks enough English.
A critical thing to have is a European cellphone; we got stuck in the non-Schengen line at FCO and it took us 65 minutes to get through Immigration. We were therefore an hour late, and arrived at 9:30pm. Maurizio was nice and did not charge us the extra fee (for arrival after 9) because I had called him three times to alert him of our progress at airport, train station, and taxi. He lives in the vicinity, so it was not difficult for him to adjust his time and wait for us... as long as we gave him the courtesy of telling him.
He did surprise me with requiring a €200 security deposit (which Sleepinitaly had not mentioned), on account of me having four small destructive children (my words, not his), but he returned it with no problems at checkout once he saw everything was still intact. (It wasn't a cleaning deposit, but truly a vandalism deposit - in fact, I would have done the same thing if I had antiques and plates on the wall and so forth. It just would have been nice to have known about it upfront - fortunately we had plenty of cash on us.)
We paid €345 per night for seven persons. While this is on the high side, I felt it was worth it because it was clean, quiet, centrally located, and the rental process went so smoothly. He said later that, next time, contact him directly at My Home in Italy and the cost would be lower since there would be no agency commission. After our experience with trying to find a taxi that seated seven to get there from Termini, Maurizio arranged for an airport transfer on our departure for a fee similar to those charged on the websites.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would recommend anyone - my friends, coworkers, relatives, etc., to stay here. Absolutely, I would stay here again. We have stayed in apartments in Florence, Vicenza, Salzburg and Vienna, and this was the best one. If fewer of us travel together (no father-in-law, or sans children), I definitely plan to contact Maurizio about his other properties. But anyone with a group of six or seven people should consider this property.
Things to do in this area
We walked everywhere from here, and it is about five minutes from the Metro station beneath Spanish Steps. My wife and father-in-law attended one of the free classical music concerts at the music college one evening, which was an added treat. Our favorite shop? The grocery market nearby, so we could get our groceries for morning and evening, allowing us to be more focused on our restaurant/trattoria searches at lunch. Our goal in Rome was sightseeing, and having a centrally located home base where our little ones could take their power naps after walking, hiking, climbing and experiencing. This was the perfect place to do that.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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