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Review 2906: Easy Reserve, Berna (#7347)

www.italy-villas.it

Not Recommended
Review by Dave P from UK

2bed/1bath apartment in Lerici, Liguria


Lerici from Berna Apartment, photo by David Purdy

When

16-30 June 2007, 2 weeks

Location

In the centre of Lerici, in a built-up residential area on Via della Repubblica. The locality seemed fine.

Nearby Amenities

Good location in Lerici for pedestrian access to nearby shops and restaurants - using Via XX Septembre to reach the east end of Via Cavour/Via Petriccioli and Conad supermarket, and Salita Le Sare to Via Roma close to the sea front (both routes approx. 250 metres from the apartment); there was a grocery also selling bread, water, wine, situated next door to the apartment block.

A detailed Lerici street-map with a full complement of street names was impossible to obtain, even for money - we downloaded a map available online and printed out sections before we set off (Mappa del territorio). There was a decent bookshop selling maps on Via Roma (near to Via Gerini) and a Tourist information kiosk was situated near the seafront on Via S. Biaggini (‘Venere Azzurra’).

The House/Apartment

The web site said: "Bright apartment (70 m2) in a palazzo in the small city of Lerici ... 5th fl. (no lift): equipped terrace (45 m2) on three sides of the apartment, living room (TV), kitchen/dining room (oven, freezer, washing machine), 1 double bedroom, 1 twin bedded room with terrace (facing the mountains), 1 bathroom with bath. Simple furniture. Central heating"

Good-sized apartment for four people but for ‘palazzo’ read ‘apartment block’ (top floor), perhaps constructed late 1960s/early 1970s, and so in an older style and some older fittings. We don’t mind older apartments, but someone else has described it as little dowdy. Fifth floor might be a problem with heavy luggage.

However, being on the top floor it offered an excellent view from the terrace of Lerici town/adjacent coast and opposite coast (Portovenere etc.). The same terrace, adjacent to the kitchen, was sheltered from the morning sun, and so good for breakfast on the terrace; it also has a drop-down canopy/sunshade. We ate out on the terrace every morning, and likewise on those evenings when dining in.

The immediate locality seemed to be moderately quiet - we could hear no significant noise through from adjacent apartments - but some might think it a bit noisy on occasion from outside sources.

You can view the apartment directly: Berna Apartment.

Garden

No garden, but private terrace with really good views.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The furnishings were generally acceptable, but cleanliness in parts was a concern. It was borderline tolerable, but it wasn’t quite good enough - see ‘Problems or Bonuses.’

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

The bedroom opposite the kitchen seemed to have new furniture, and its bed was comfortable (tending towards firm, which we like). Bathroom: a new-ish bidet was chipped/cracked and the bath’s ceramic lower surface seemed impossible to clean (it was probably just worn-out). There was an intermittent ‘drain’ smell in the bathroom (perhaps from the bath?).

Kitchen

Reasonably well-equipped, and functionally acceptable, with older-style cupboards and new fridge-freezer.

Problems or Bonuses

The prior apartment cleaning not sufficiently thorough: there were several cobwebs at floor level, with evidence of previous occupation (a length of spaghetti and a cherry stone on kitchen floor, streaked sink unit side panel, encrusted soap powder in washing machine tray), bedroom drawers were dusty. It was simply not good enough when it cost us nearly €2,000!

  • No bins/waste receptacles in kitchen or bathroom
  • No guidance for waste disposal/recycling: e.g., separate communal waste bins were situated very near to the apartment block (one each for paper, plastic, glass and urban waste, but not for organic waste as we saw in La Spezia)

A couple of minor things:

  • The TV aerial lead was adrift of connecting plug (fixed by trimming the cable and reassembling the plug - not everyone would be happy doing that)
  • No serrated bread knife: this seems to be a common practice in self-catering accommodation in France and Italy by supplying only straight-edged knives. Solved by buying one and donating to inventory (as usual!) Sharp, straight-edged knives used with hard-crusted bread are accidents waiting to happen!

The bonuses were: 1) the location of Lerici as a good base for visiting the area, and, 2) the excellent view from the terrace.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

The booking agency, Easy Reserve, the parent company of Italy-Villas, was helpful, and couldn’t be faulted. The local contact, assumed to be the owner, was friendly enough and spoke reasonable English. However, the booking agreement showed Cuendet as the owners. The descriptive information was terse (noted above).

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

No - not until the standard of maintenance is upped a notch (the agency say that our comments have been relayed back to the owner).

It's a pity, because the apartment has some real strengths and also there appears to be a lack of rental accommodation in Lerici.

Things to do in this area

Restaurants in Lerici that we tried and would/did visit again:

  • Bontà Nascoste - Via Cavour, 52 (pizzas and more)
  • En Tragia - Salita Canata, 2 (on the road continuing past Via Roma out of town towards San Terenzo, seafood, busy)
  • Il Frantoio - Via Cavour, 21 (a touch more formal, busy)
  • Piccola Oasi - Via Cavour, 58 (examples of typical local food)
  • Vecchia Lerici - Piazza Mottino, 10 (in the old part, in a small square towards the castle end of the town, we had very good Angus steak)

Public bus transport nearby, e.g. by the municipal building/‘Town Hall’ on Piazza Bacigalupi (next to the car park), buses to La Spezia (35 minutes), Tellaro (15 minutes, some attractive private gardens to walk past if you explore), Sarzano (20 minutes; and head for the older town centre) etc. - buy bus tickets before travelling from the nearby newspaper shop and elsewhere where the ‘ATC’ label appears in shop windows. The main railway station is in La Spezia - at the end of the bus route - and there is also a railway station in Sarzana (possibly a more limited service). We found the final destination was clearly marked on the buses and the service to be inexpensive and fairly frequent.

By boat (in season, e.g., Consorzio Marittimo Turistico, ): visit Portovenere (30 minutes) or Cinque Terre (e.g. Monterosso 1 hour 40 minutes). We got off at Monterosso and walked to the next town, Vernazza, which took about 1 hour 45 minutes, and caught the boat back. This involved many steps: it has been suggested that it might be better to tackle it the other way: Vernazza to Monterosso.

Castles to visit, most with a modest entry fee: Lerici, Portovenere (Castello Doria), one in Sarzano and another just outside, known as Sarzanello (‘Fortezza Castruccio’ on our map) a short way out of the town, approximately 750 metres, via more steps, can be reached on foot from Via San Francesco and Via Montata Di Sarzanello, unmarked, but past Casa delle Missioni on the left, or visit by car. Lerici, Portovenere and Sarzanello castles offered good views over the surrounding areas.

Walk along the very pleasant pedestrianised sea front to San Terenzo (about 30 minutes) - we did this on several occasions.

Sample the local wine, e.g., Colli di Luni Rosso (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata), Denomination of Controlled Origin red: the two types that we tried were very good.

Take a camera ! (and binoculars, says my wife).

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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