Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2744: Sleep in Italy, Palazzo Massimo
1bed/1bath apartment near Campo dei Fiori, Rome
March 2007, 7 nights
Right in the middle of Rome, at 141 Corso Vittorio Emanuelle. Piazza Navona is a block behind, Campo dei Fiori is across the street. The church of Sant’Andrea della Valle is kitty-corner to the Palazzo Massimo; for opera fans, this is the church where Act I of Tosca takes place.
Ready-made foods at the shops in Campo dei Fiori a short block across the road, any number of bakeries, grocery stores, wine shops in the area. There is a taxi-stand less than five minutes walk at the Largo di Torre Argentina, very good Internet Point right at the corner of the block. And of course, lots of eateries at Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Navona and all the surrounding streets.
The Palazzo Massimo is a 16th century city mansion designed by Peruzzi and is one of a few places in Rome that belonged to the Massimo family, whose antecedents date back to the third century BC. The family still owns it, our landlady was Isabella Massimo and the name plates on our neighbor’s apartment doors (we peeked) still included a few Massimos. This place is also listed in guidebooks, which I did not realize until after we got on the plane and cracked open our Rome guidebooks.
The building is admired from the outside for its curved colonnade and the only time visitors are allowed in is on March 16 every year, when the family chapel is opened to the public to commemorate a miracle that took place in 1538. Apparently a young son of the Massimo family was briefly raised from the dead by Saint Filippo Neri (then the boy decided he’d rather die and go to heaven). There is another Palazzo Massimo which is now the Museo Nazionale Romano in the Quirinale district.
There are no less than three gates to unlock and lock again. The entrance is under a portico. The portico is protected by an iron fence and gate that is shut and locked on weekends, but which is kept open during the week. Then you open a big wooden door, which brings you to the entrance to the paved courtyard, complete with gatekeeper in an office by the gate. Then there is another metal fence gate to actually get in to the courtyard. There is a 1930’s era elevator which just about holds two people and luggage although somehow the gatekeeper managed to get in with us as well. The apartment is on the third floor (as in ground, 1, 2, 3), which is also the top floor, so an elevator is good if you have packed for more than a week of travel.
If you take the stairs, there are sculptures and plaques on the landings, bits of antiquity and family history. Very cool. On the first floor (not ground floor) there is a very fancy door which we think is The Chapel. But we never got around to asking if we could take a peek. Maybe next time.
You can view the proprety directly: Palazzo Massimo.
If it had been warmer, the terrace would have been a real bonus for sitting around and putting up your feet at the end of a long day of walking. It looks down into the courtyard, so no city views, but there is lots of greenery in the form of large potted plants. Very pleasant and sunny.
The apartment looks just like the photos in the Sleep in Italy site. The floors are marble, tile in the living room and bedroom, and parquet elsewhere. The ceilings are about twenty feet high, with faux-coffered ceiling decorations. There are big comfy couches slip-covered in white, a big coffee table where you can spread out the antipasti you purchased at the Campo dei Fiori for a picnic supper with friends, and a TV.
The apartment is an L-shape, with the living room and bedroom as the arms of the L and the closet room, breakfast table, kitchen, toilet, shower and dressing table in a warren of small partitioned areas in the corner of the L.
We were fine with the cleanliness of the place, but the apartment could have been in better repair. At the same time, I think there is only so much you can do with a place that old. The French doors out to the terrace did not always shut tightly, some of the marble was cracked and the parquet a bit creaky. We just chalked it up to being in a historic and quirky old building and enjoyed living in two HUGE rooms. The living room had plenty of light coming in from the French doors, the bedroom was rather dim.
We were there in late March and it was fairly cold, about 10 – 14 degrees C. But the apartment was well heated with radiators, and the duvets were plenty warm.
There were two twin beds, each under a canopy and with reading lamps on bedside tables. We would have preferred a queen size, but the mattresses were very comfortable, the sheets clean and crisp. We slept very well.
The bathroom was the one thing that I did not enjoy. The bathroom area was made up of a small room for the toilet and sink, a small room for the bathtub, and a small area that contained a dressing table with mirror. Let me stress that there was plenty of hot water, and the shower on the bathtub worked well but unfortunately the layout was very “bitsy”, on different levels and felt very cramped.
There was also a “walk-in closet”, another room partitioned off that contained an Ikea wardrobe, a freestanding rack, and a chest of drawers and a big mirror. So plenty of storage space, but a jarring note in an otherwise well-furnished space.
We did not cook at all apart from making toast and tea for breakfast or assembling antipasti, so the kitchen was perfectly adequate. There are lots of dishes, cutlery, glasses, a mini-fridge and small appliances. For cooking there are two sets of hot plates on the counter tops (as in four burners in all). The kitchen is a reasonable size, and there is a breakfast table and chairs in the area just outside, which is like a short hallway between the living room, kitchen and bathroom areas.
Problems or Bonuses
Location, location, location.
And quiet, the apartment was very quiet, which seems amazing considering that it is smack in the middle of a busy main street but stone walls do keep out noise, and we faced into the courtyard and not out onto the street. Apart from emergency vehicles with sirens, we did not hear any other traffic noises, and there weren’t any rowdy neighbors either. I think that apart from this one unit, all the others are occupied by permanent tenants or family.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked through Sleep in Italy, and the cost was €150 per night for a seven night stay, plus €25 for final clean up. Utilities included so all in all, for a place in the middle of Rome it’s pretty darn good. The agency reps (Giulia and Giorgio) who communicated with me replied fairly promptly to my emails, some of which sounded rather amused, like “it takes some time to process” so obviously they move at a slower pace but it all happens on time. We had no problems at all.
Our landlady Isabella was out when we arrived but the gatekeeper called Isabella's daughter, who met us at the apartment and showed us the amenities.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes. It’s not four-star the way we'd rate it in North America (thanks to the bathroom) but the price is reasonable, the location is unbeatable, it’s quiet so you can get a decent night’s sleep, and on top of it all, you get to stay in a historic palazzo. We would stay there again, despite the bathroom negatives.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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