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Review 3127: Owner, Rome is Home


Review by Doru from Canada who is a SlowTrav Contributor

1bed/1bath apartment near Campo dei Fiori, Rome

The dining and living rooms, seen from the entrance, photo by Doru


September 4-6 and 15-29, 2007, 16 days


The apartment. We returned to the Rome is Home apartment on Via dei Chiavari after two years. The return was planned for May 2006 but illness forced us to bite the bullet and cancel, with all the financial consequences. I promised myself that we will be back as soon as the inconvenient heart issue is taken care of. The goal was to return in September 2006 instead of the missed May trip. In September the apartment was already committed. Instead, we went to France (tough choices!) and booked the Italy trip and the Rome apartment for September 2007.

The point of this story? Just to explain that the Rome is Home apartment has become for us “our” Rome apartment and that, although sure other options exist in Rome, we just wouldn’t stay anywhere else and would tailor our trips to Rome on the apartment’s availability. This should say it all. In fact, this readiness to return one can find expressed over and over again by all those who have posted reviews about the Rome is Home apartment on this web site.

So, when I sat in front of the PC to write these lines after staying in the apartment for 16 days in September, I re-read the very positive 2005 review and frankly, I’d have to write it all over again, and so I have spared the reader this duplication by providing the link.

In September 2007, the apartment was just as welcoming as two years earlier, as full of light and fresh air, as well maintained and cared for, and the family who owns it, Biancamaria, Massimo and their beautiful daughter Delfina, were just as ready to help, to make things easy for the guests and to let us glimpse in their own life. Sure, Delfina is much taller now, and fully bilingual (her English, in her elfin voice, is a music to behold), Massimo’s beard sports three more gray hairs (maybe more ...) and Biancamaria was absorbed in preparing their new home in Sutri for guests and all worried about paints, and curtains and other decorations. They made us feel part of the family.

So, what I will now set to do here is to talk about changes.

Of course, Rome has been there for almost three millennia, so it is hard to talk about changes when the context is the Eternal City.

The changes in reference belong to the more modern Rome.

The Roscioli. For example, the celebrated Antico Forno Roscioli on Via dei Chiavari has changed its profile somewhat. It now also sports a deli, where one can have sandwiches prepared or take out warm food. There is a variety of delicious takeouts to choose from, all Roman typical fare, and don’t miss the gnocchi, warm and fresh every Thursday (Thursday is gnocchi day in Rome, so they told me), or the porchetta d'Arricia when they have it (Arricia is situated in the Castelli Romani region, near Rome). The front of the store also serves a variety of cut-to-required-size pizze, in addition to their usual and delicious pizza bianca. Roscioli uses only non-animal fat and is the mecca for gluten- and lactose-intolerance sufferers. We were at Roscioli about three times daily over 14 days (Sunday closed) and this place kind of monitored our days.

While we were in Rome there were passionate political discussions related to the rise in grains and, of course, flour cost, and Roscioli was featured repeatedly on TV news and so all Roscioli workers and owners became subjects of public attention and enjoyed it very much together with their customers! On the other hand (there is always another hand, alas), the former Riscioli deli located on Via dei Giubbonari, which two years ago had a small dining area at the back, has expanded into a restaurant while retaining the long and rich deli counter. The problem is that the place is packed, and tables for two were set along the deli counter, which makes it unappealing to try to talk to the deli clerks over the heads of people dining. It also became crowded. We were there once and never went back, while in the previous visit to Rome we bought from there, almost daily, prosciutto, mortadella, salumi, cheeses and wine. Well, not all changes are for the better.

Internet cafés. A change for the better: there are now two large, well lit and well equipped Internet Point locations on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, one right across from Sant’Andrea della Valle, the other further from Sant’Andrea della Valle, on the same side as the Basilica but towards Largo Argentina, near the bus station on the same side. The latter Internet Point site is less busy. Both use “yex” magnetic membership cards (identification is required by law as an anti-terrorism precaution) and the cards can be loaded for up to an hour in increments of 15 minutes. The good thing is that if one has time left on the card, it can be used another time, at any of the similarly equipped Internet Points as well as at another chain under the name Internet Train. Another nice feature: if one runs out of time, there is a time grace of five minutes during which the card can be reloaded and the connections or documents will not be disconnected or lost.

A mobile phone in Rome. The owners of the Rome is Home apartment provide their guests with an Italian mobile phone, preloaded with an initial amount. Adding euro to the phone as needed may be done quickly and painlessly at the TIM store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 93/95, on the side opposite to Sant’Andrea della Valle in the direction of Largo Argentina. There are no charges for adding euro to the TIM SIM card; the process takes a minute to complete. By dialling 4916 one can find out at any time and at no cost how much value is left on the card (or how much was spent on a call).

Taxis. If one uses taxis in Rome (we do, for farther destinations in the city), theoretically taxis can be taken either at their regular stations (for Via de Chiavari the closest station is two to three minutes away in Largo Argentina) or via radio-dispatch. For the latter, if you trust your Italian, you need to dial 06-3570 (the number is preset on the mobile telephone provided by Rome is Home). A taxi called via radio dispatch will come with the meter already running. We used this facility a couple of times but as we gained more experience we discovered that, despite all rules, regulations and friendly advise that this is not allowed in Rome, we flagged taxis successfully in Rome quite a few times.

Another taxi related tip is that traffic access to Via dei Chiavari is quite tortuous and many taxi drivers may have problems finding the street. We started to ask taxis to drop us off in front of the Basilica Sant’Andrea della Valle and saved time, money and hearing the complaints of the “lost” drivers.

ATMs. One of the concerns of many travellers is the security of withdrawing funds from ATM machines. We were already well familiar with the locations of BNL and Unipol Banca in Largo Arenula, one each at each side of the corner of Via S. Anna. We can add to the list the ATM of UBI Banca Popolare di Bergamo on Via Monte della Farina, the same little street on which there is the small neighbourhood supermercato. The location is very safe, particularly because it is next door to the restaurant Le Maschere, a busy place.

Culinary discovery. Others discovered it before us and reported on it. We became devotees during this trip. The discovery is Ristorante S. Anna, on the little street with the same name which opens from Largo Arenula. In 16 days we ate there five times, with guests or just the two of us. It is a pleasant, welcoming place, with daily fresh fish in addition to the classics of the Roman cuisine. The service is discreet, the staff would allow us patiently to figure the choices and preferences in Italian and assist where necessary with a few leading words in English. The best way to order in this restaurant is to ask the waiters what they recommend and follow. I will write a review on S. Anna and will add a link here in due course.

Which guide books to bring with you to Rome. None if you stay at this apartment. Over the years the bookshelves in the apartment’s dining room became richer not only with books to read but also with guides left behind by previous renters. Why would people leave behind very good and absolutely actual guides when returning home? It is a mystery to me; we leave behind paperbacks we read (five on this trip, three from me and two from Josette) but would never leave guide books. Anyway, there is in the apartment a riches of books, Rome guide books, Rome maps and Biancamaria and Massimo have collected in a folder all printouts left by their guests, a huge folder full of suggestions, information and tips.

Back to the apartment: Yes! We warmly recommend the Rome is Home apartment, and its friendly and accommodating owners.

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

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