Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2655: Owner, Via Brescia 16 (#100428)
2bed/1bath apartment near Porta Pia, Rome
16-20 March 2007, 4 days
The location was perfect - we were worried it was a bit far from the centre. We'd spent months looking at apartments near Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and other famous areas. So we thought we'd be compromising here by booking in this slightly farther area. Well, on second thought, we didn't lose out on much. We were so close to the bus stop - in fact less than a five minute walk. For a one euro bus and/or metro ticket, we'd be in the centre of town in no time. We calculated that all of our bus fares on the trip amounted to maybe €40. Well we saved more than €300 on accommodation compared to other apartments' prices. We thought that was a fair swap and we'd do it again if we have to.
We would walk to Porta Pia where there were many buses going to the centre, the train station and various sightseeing. We were worried about navigating the buses but it was so easy. Every bus stop has signs with the bus numbers and their routes. Just find a place near or exactly where you are going and wait for that bus. Inside many of the buses announce their destinations on a display board, so it was really easy to hop on and off. Once validated the bus tickets were valid for 75 minutes so you could change buses as much as you wanted within that time. There was also the metro - Castro Pretorio Stop, which was a bit farther to walk to maybe 10-15 minutes. At first we were scared by the buses, thought it would be too difficult to use them so went to the Metro but after using the bus system once, opted for it as the stops are much closer than the Metro. Getting the Metro was useful on the day when we went to the Vatican as it was fast and I think the most convenient route to take.
As for the area in general, we thought it was very safe and in fact quite affluent and middle class. There were nice shops, cafes, restaurants and one or maybe two big cinemas. Actually the building where the apartment was, housed (as a sign at the door suggested) the Nicaraguan Consulate. We felt perfectly safe walking late at night and found the area really mellow and pleasant.
There is a supermarket nearby (open Monday - Friday until 20:30 and on Sunday from 10:30 to 12:30), a delicatessen, a big fruit & vegetable market (I think it was called Piazza Alexandra market) and there was also a confectionery shop that sold chocolates and cakes near the market. Plenty of restaurants. Before our trip I was obsessed with finding the best restaurants in Rome so that we could visit them all while in Italy. It turned out that the area where we were in had in fact plenty of restaurants and there was no need to travel to the centre of Rome. You could have just as nice a meal right near the apartment. Which we eventually did instead of trekking to look for restaurants I had discovered on the Internet.
The apartment was such a pleasant surprise - so clean, modern and beautifully decorated. As I mentioned above, we noticed that the building housed the Nicaraguan consulate. To get in the apartment, you go through an heavy duty front door, which reassured us about the safety of our belongings. Then once in there is a longish corridor with a big mirror and a vase with flowers, leading to another door. This is the actual apartment door. There were four keys, which was a bit confusing at first - two for the entrance, one for the first apartment door and the last one for the actual apartment door but we got used to it.
The apartment was very quiet - we stayed from Friday until Tuesday and only on the last two days, Monday and Tuesday there was some construction work, which was audible in the living room where we were sleeping. The people sleeping in the main bedroom did not hear it at all. So if you are going during the weekend, when the workers weren't doing any work or if it's only two of you and you'll use the main bedroom only, I wouldn't be worried about this. We found an early (9am) start during the week-days actually useful.
After going through some typical heavyweight Roman front doors, you reach the inner court yard. It's a shared inner court/garden with plants and a couple of palm trees - maybe 100 metres long - not super-big, basically. There are about three apartment sections. The one where the apartment is is right opposite the entrance doors - it said Scala 3, I think. You then enter the section where the apartment is housed. At first you are greeted by an elevator that has some rubbish at its bottom, which does not look very nice but the stairs look marble-ish and the elevator works and is the old-school metal-door elevator type. You won't need it though as the apartment is on the first floor, i.e. above the ground floor.
There was another inner court at the back, which was being renovated and building works began quite early during week days, which woke us up on the last day of our trip around 9am. But it wasn't a major problem for us. The renovation works were not visible unless you went on the apartment terrace accessible via the living room. This wasn't a problem for us as there was no work during the weekend and during the weekdays of our stay, we did want to be up and do things, so we didn't mind.
As you will note from the next section, I take cleanliness and hygiene on my trips very seriously. I have been known to buy new bedding whilst on holiday and since, carry my own in my suitcase. This place was perfectly clean and my spare bedding was not needed. My husband who has to put up with my cleanliness obsession was also pleased to discover the place was well maintained, very tidy and super clean.
The furniture and fittings were a mix of IKEA soft furnishings - pillows, blankets, beddings and quilts and antique furniture. The walls were decorated with beautiful paintings and the master bedroom had a lovely big window, which filled the whole room with sunlight in the morning. We used both rooms in the apartment as bedrooms as it was four of us but if a couple went, they could use one of the rooms as a living room to relax in. We slept in what was the living room but found it extremely comfortable. The sofa was just like a double or maybe queen even bed. My husband said it was a bit hard but I thought it was lovely and we had a great night's sleep.
The main bedroom has a queen bed which was also very nice and a single bed which an adult could sleep in too. So technically five adults could comfortably sleep in the apartment, although I think it was intended for two couples (four adults) and a child on the single bed perhaps.
The bedrooms were really nice - soft IKEA quilts like the ones I actually have at home - really good quality and very nice bedding. I am obsessive about cleanliness, so much that I actually pack bedding in my suitcase - pillowcases and bedsheets. Well, I didn't need them here. The bedding and covers were up to scratch as far as I was concerned and my spare pillowcases and bedsheets remained unused in my suitcase.
The bathroom was very modern and super-clean. My husband loved the soap and wanted me to find him the same soap while in Rome. One disadvantage was the lack of a shower curtain which lead to unavoidable bathroom floor floodage every time one of us went in the shower. Luckily we had packed our flip flops and that was okay but I think the owner needs to put a shower curtain. By the time we came back from our wanders around Rome, the bathroom floor was completely dry.
Kitchen was really well equipped - pots, pans, utensils, cups, everything really. The kitchen wasn't super modern and was a bit on the small side but we didn't want to spend much time there anyway. We just had a quick breakfast and whizzed off. There was milk and butter in the fridge when we arrived. Also, the owner had kindly bought us croissants. There was also tea and coffee. We couldn't figure how to use the coffee machine so we just had coffee on the gas cooker. We most certainly didn't do any serious cooking in the kitchen - we were in Rome! If you want to cook, you can do so at home. Our motto was "When in Rome, go out for a meal every night." We ate out every night and although we could, we didn't make any meals in the kitchen.
Problems or Bonuses
Surprises? Well, the biggest surprise we had was how great this apartment and the area it was in were for the price we were paying!
There was some construction work at the back which meant that the apartment terrace was inaccessible and covered with some scaffolding. This did not mar our enjoyment of staying at the apartment as a whole but others may find it slightly disappointing.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Having looked into booking with a couple of agencies and nearly going for a €700 for four days apartment near the Spanish steps, we were in fact quite relieved our original accommodation got cancelled. This gave an opportunity to search for last minute deals and this is how we stumbled upon the Via Bresia apartment. By booking via homelidays.com and with the owner directly we got an insanely cheap offer. It was in fact beyond cheap. We were a couple metres away from Hotel Fiume and every time we passed by it, I wondered how much a double cost there and how little we were paying! Contact the owner Anna directly via homelidays and just wait and see how unbelievably priced this accommodation is.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, yes and yes! I would recommend it and already have. Would go back there without a doubt - fantastic price, fantastic location and fantastic apartment!
Things to do in this area
There was a quite a cool little boutique shop on Via Bergamo 14 where I bought a cool hand-painted t-shirt by an Italian designer and a hand-bag made from recycled materials. It's called Oxus. If you like that kinda stuff, check it out.
On our last day, we also discovered a great eatery on the aforementioned Via Bergamo. It was open during the day only and we had a great lunch of canteen style, hot meals - chicken with peas & mushroom; seafood and also, beef and potatoes. This little accidental culinary discovery was perhaps our best meal in Italy! Unfortunately don't have the name but it was near a university building and was in fact a few doors down from the university's actual canteen. It has a sit down area and closed around 4pm as we were on our way out.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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