Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 279: Palazzo Olivia, Apartment
apartments in the historic center, Rome
June 2002, 1 week
My last review of Castello di Montegufoni seems to have stirred up a hornets nest of controversy. The main reason for the feint praise of the castle was that our accommadations the week before at the Palazzo Olivia were by comparison pleasant. However this is subjective.
We booked through Zak at TuscanHouse who arranged our pickup at the airport. Our driver waited over an hour for us at arrivals after Air France lost our baggage. We were driven to the Palazzo Olivia in style in a Mercedes limo (at less than the cost of a taxi).
The Palazzo Olivia is a 17th Century palace converted into modern apartments. The location could not be better - about 30 seconds walk from the Piazza Navona which is Rome's equivalent to Covent Garden with fountains, street entertainment and all the buzz of the city.
The apartments are nestled on a small sidestreet large enough for the occasional motor scooter, but not wide enough for a car. In this respect the street outside is practically pedestrianized.
The property has both one and two bedroom apartments. They have high ceilings and as a result although the floorplans aren't huge (probably 400 sq ft for the 1 bed) they feel spacious and well lit. Apartments aren't air conditioned but a fan is provided.
There is a small well maintained elevator which never failed us during our stay.
The interiors were exemplary. The most welcome thing arriving in Rome after travelling for nearly a day is a fridge stocked with bottled water, a few cans of soda and some cookies for breakfast, all at no extra charge. Stefano, the owner, anticipates everything you might immediately need - from dish cleaning soap and sponge to laundry soap.
The bed was large (a lot larger in fact than the beds at the Castello di Montegufoni), large enough for our 1 year old to comfortably sleep between us with arms spread out. The mattress was great.
It was clear that Stefano is a big fan of Ikea with almost all of the furniture sourced from the store. As a result the apartment is smart and modern without being extravagant.
You'll find a 20" TV with satellite which means you can get CNN and BBC World. If that isn't enough for you walk 2 minutes out of the door to a local Irish pub where there's cheap Internet connections to send email and browse the web.
There's also a phone. We made many local calls to find our luggage which had been lost by Air France but weren't charged (local calls are not free in Europe).
Finally the thing that made the entire week was Stefano, the owner. As mentioned we lost our luggage, Stefano called the lost luggage office and even went to the distant airport to see if he could find it. Stefano gave his cell phone number to Air France and coordinated collecting it once it finally materialized out of Charles de Gaulle limbo. We had a medical issue and Stefano called his local doctor for us.
There is a small but functional kitchen with gas hobs, Ikea plates, cutlery and pans are provided. The fridge has a freezer compartment. The bathroom has warm water with very strong water pressure. The thing we appreciated the most was the washing machine inside the apartment which was a godsend for us with our 1 year old. It meant that we started the remainder of our vacation at the Castello di Montegufoni with a clean wardrobe.
When we first arrived Stefano gave us a local map and oriented us. This is important. There are very few supermarkets in downtown Rome, and those that do exist have small easily overlooked facades. Had we not had this put on a map for us by Stefano finding the supermarket would have been a trial.
The location really made it all. Not only is the Piazza Navona and all it's bustling pavement cafes on your doorstep you can walk to St Peters/Vatican City in 15 minutes, the Pantheon in 5 minutes, Trevi Fountain in 10 and Spanish Steps in 20 minutes. If you stay in the many international hotels in the Spanish Steps area you end up being the wrong side of the City requiring travelling by bus or taxi.
BOTTOM LINE: We could not recommend the Palazzo Navona enough for visitors to Rome. It puts you in the heart of the city.
The owner anticipates all the little things you'll need immediately upon arrival meaning you're not forced to go to the supermaket when it's the last thing you want to do.
Even if it costs a little more than where you were planning it will save you $20 in bus fares or $50 in taxi fares since it's so central.
Palazzo Olivia really puts you in the center of a great city.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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