Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 282: Palazzo Olivia, Apartment
apartments in the historic center, Rome
five times in three years, four days to two weeks each time
I can't imagine a finer location for a rental in Rome. On a little street, but one block from Piazza Navonna and 1/2 block from Via Vittorio Emanuele, one of the most important streets in town.
There are so many places to eat, shop, snack, pick up basics and amenities and I was so impressed with the neighborhood, that I wrote up a list for the website that put me onto the rental.
A smallish building that has been renovated from top to bottom in recent years. I know that because last year I took my entire extended family to Palazzo Olivia for Easter. We occupied SIX of the eight or so units and each one was excellent. And on each visit we find more amenities (coffeemakers, fans, washing machines) in the rooms. The kitchens are surprisingly well equipped for a rental. The bathrooms are newly done and attractive as well as extremely functional. There is a elevator now, too. That's great for the luggage or for people who don't want the schlep up the stairs. (I personally enjoy the stairs). And the double-glazed casement windows shut out the sounds of Rome whenever you'd prefer not to be reminded that the best part of Rome is literally right outside your door.
None of these amenities because you are, after all, in a Roman apartment. But I suggest you have the biggest amenity of all outside your door: the heart of Rome within a few steps. The Piazza Navonna about 200 paces away and the Campo dei Fiori just a two-block walk. That's pretty compelling, especially the longer you stay.
Most importantly, everything is spotless. Al the furnishings are new and true to the minimalist design. The owner is extremely accommodating about getting you whatever else you need. He seems to learn from each guest and each visit we've made there is more and more in each room. The best comment I can make: I feel at home there. You truly do feel this is YOUR place in Rome. There is virtually nothing to remind you that you're in a rental.
All the bedrooms are nicely, minimalistically designed. The beds are extremely comfortable. The sheets and blankets are of high quality. The bathrooms are new, all marble and tile, with good showers, great commodes and sinks and lots of light. The owner is very gracious about providing more towels and the like. I truly get the sense he wants his guests to live in the style that he lives (he resides in the top-floor apartment).
The kitchens are smallish, but fully equipped and of a very high quality. This being Rome, with so many restaurants and cafes at every turn, you really have to force yourself into thinking about cooking for yourself. But the kitchens are great to cook in. Everything works. Everything always works. And if you need something special, the Campo is just a few steps away and you can buy it for extremely reasonable price.
Problems or Bonuses
The best bonus is the owner, Stefano Sbordoni. He lives in the building and is one of those in-the-know Romans. He's always asking where you're eating, always has a recommendation or a tip; where to eat, where to shop, etc. And he always seems to be known by the owner of the place he sends you and you're treated like royalty when you mention his name.
His standards are incredibly high. He has always been extremely gracious about helping with any special request (and, needless to say, the visit we took six apartments, and had some senior citizens and children, there were plenty...). I have always gotten the sense he wants you to live and play in Rome and have the same access as he does. And now he's owns his own restaurant and that gives him the chance to pamper you at lunch or dinner, too!
There are many wonderful touches: He has arranged for a car service to be available to you at the Rome airport, so you can be picked up by people who know the owner, know exactly where the Palazzo is, and how to make sure Stefano is there when you arrive. Even though I am conversant with Rome, it's a great pleasure to be met at the airport and brought direct to your destination with NO work required on your part. (By the way, the price is the same any ANY cab...)
The only possible negative I can think of: because the Piazza Olivia is on a tiny street (via dei Leutari), cars are not permitted. So you will have to carry your bags about 15 feet to the front door.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I'm biased, because the folks who launched TuscanHouse, the agency that arranged our trips, are friends from the USA. But I have sent literally dozens of folks to TuscanHouse (both known and unknown to them) and everyone raves about the service. The owners both speak fluent English (one is Finnish, one Australian). They know EXACTLY what Americans want from a rental or a villa and they balance that with their gracious and gentle suggestions to think outside the box, try something new, and go with the flow (a trouble for some Americans, as you know...).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We've already stayed again -- and again and again. My wife and I have not only ALREADY sent our best friends and families there, we're so wowed by the place, we help promote because we think it is a great alternative to a hotel in Rome. And we've stayed in many, many Roman hotels. This is not only more cost effective than any 4-star in Rome, it's better because everything works and you have so much more more and so many more amenities.
Things to do in this area
We're so wowed by the Palazzo and the neighborhood, I wrote up a restaurant guide based on our stays and even a local shopping guide, which TuscanHouse has now posted on its website.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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