Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3424: Dolce Roma, Campo de' Fiori
2bed/2bath apartment near Campo dei Fiori, Rome
January 2008, 14 days
This apartment is in a really great location in the historic centre of Rome, near the markets and restaurants of the Campo de'Fiori. It's also a very easy walk to Vatican City, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Capitoline Hill, or Campidoglio, as well as the Ghetto and Trastevere.
Very close to the apartment, there are two very good grocery stores for all of the essentials. Both have deli counters with cheeses, cold cuts, also pasta, wine, meat, frozen and fresh goods, bakery goods, coffee and any other items you might need. One supermercato is merely a few steps away from the apartment, the other is about one block away on the busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele. There are other grocery stores near the Piazza Navona as well.
Further, there are excellent bakeries, cheese shops and gourmet stores around the Campo de' Fiori, as well as the wonderful daily market in the Campo which features all kinds of fresh produce, fish, meat, spices and almost anything else you can think of! There are numerous great restaurants, cafes/bars, and enotecas all within a short walk. Ditirambo, near the Campo, is an excellent restaurant, as is Grappolo d'oro Zampano, and the lovely and popular Pierluigi, which is less than five minutes' walk away from the apartment.
There are also clothing and jewellery stores, antique and book shops, all within the maze of tiny streets around the neighbourhood. You could stay a month here and not even begin to visit all the possibilities within a 10-minute walk of the apartment.
The building is several centuries old and one must climb two fairly steep staircases to reach the apartment. A small fountain is placed at the first landing, which is open to the sky, the sun and rain. It's a cool effect.
The building is very quiet. There is an apartment at the first landing, and a second one which is a further two stories up. I met the friendly older gentleman, a college professor, from the top floor one day, but otherwise never heard or saw the neighbours.
The Dolce Roma apartment itself is modernized and extremely comfortable. Others have described it as a quiet oasis in a bustling neighbourhood and that's an excellent description. A living room window opens above the first floor landing and looks up to the sky, bringing light and fresh air into the cozy living room.
Because I was there in January, I used the heat from time to time and it worked very well and quickly. So I'm assuming the air-conditioning would be as efficient. There is an ironing board and a new iron, vacuum cleaner, brooms and so on in case of a cleaning emergency.
There isn't any outdoor space and because this is in the historic centre of Rome, no pool.
The apartment was spotless -- Dolce Roma employs an excellent cleaner. (And I'm a bit fussy!) The furniture was in good shape, two small sofas and a couple of end chairs in the living room making it comfortable for a group to sit together and listen to music on the CD player, which sits on the mantelpiece.
Natalia (the owner) has some nice decorating touches, including a tromp l'oeil fireplace in the living room as well as guidebooks and a stash of paperbacks for rainy days. There is a colour TV in the master bedroom with local channels.
I was traveling alone and so I stayed in the master bedroom, which has an extremely comfortable, firm queen-sized bed. Good pillows and linens and a large armoire. A friend stayed the last night I was in Rome, using the smaller bedroom, and she told me she had never slept so well in her life.
She, like me, found the apartment to be a great change from hotels. One small drawback: there is no closet in the second bedroom. However, there is a very large coat closet (and a separate broom closet) in the entrance area, where clothing can be stored.
The two bathrooms were very clean and very well equipped, although there isn't much shelf space. (Which probably says more about me and over-packing than it says about the apartment.) There are huge heaps of good, plush towels and washcloths, and large stacks of toilet paper (I have been told that many vacation apartment don't supply paper towels or toilet paper!)
The shower stalls were small, but that is often the case with stand-alone shower stalls, as opposed to showers in bathtubs. They certainly weren't uncomfortable.
The kitchen was well-equipped with a good gas stove, oven, microwave, full-sized refrigerator. I did some cooking and found everything I needed -- including lots of dishes, pots, plus coffee, tea, sugar, biscuits, olive oil, spices. Natalia even provides milk, jams and rolls for a few breakfasts, so guests don't need to go shopping immediately after arriving.
Everything worked very well and was very clean. There were even lots of garbage bags and light bulbs. There's also a good-sized kitchen table with several chairs, although seating could be a bit cramped if there were more than a few people sitting and others cooking in the kitchen at the same time. Two large windows let in plenty of light and air. The dishwasher works very well -- although it takes a good two or three hours to run a load of dishes!
No laundry facilities and there is a tiny balcony that looks down over the courtyard which is shared by other, nearby buildings. That means lots of light and air in the kitchen, although the balcony is too small for chairs and really only has room for plants and what I think is an air-conditioning/heating unit. Natalia makes it very clear on her website that the balcony isn't really usable for sitting.
Problems or Bonuses
This was a fantastic rental experience. There were no hidden, last-minute fees or charges for heat, or cleaning, gas or water use. As well, the free, wireless Internet access worked perfectly throughout the apartment and was wonderful to have.
The double-glazed bedroom windows kept out all the noise from the street. I had worried about this, because I'm a very light sleeper, the street is fairly busy and there is a bustling bar directly across the narrow street, at ground level. But with the bedroom windows and shutters closed, the bedrooms were dark and completely silent.
Two locks on the steel entrance door from the hallway made the apartment feel very secure, and Natalia provides a cell phone for guests to use, with her contact numbers pre-programmed. I also used the cell to call back to Canada several times, and Natalia called me almost every day, just to make sure everything was well.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I can't say enough great things about Natalia and her husband Walter, the owners of Dolce Roma and this apartment. They were exceptional hosts, easy to deal with, prompt in replying to emails, extremely accommodating and anxious to ensure I had a great holiday experience in Rome.
Natalia met me at the apartment when I arrived, explained how things worked (how to use the gas stove, for example) where the nearby grocery stores were located, where to buy time for the cell phone. Both she and Walter are well-traveled people, former Alitalia airline staff, so they understand what travelers need.
In fact, because it was January and Natalia wasn't terribly busy, she spent a great deal of time with me (I was traveling alone after my brother was forced to drop out.) Natalia took me on several shopping expeditions; she invited me to lunch with her Roman friends; she arranged a discount opera ticket for me to a sold-out performance of Tosca; and she and Walter invited me along for a tour of a new archeological exhibition.
They were extraordinarily friendly and helpful. They also gave me a good discount on the apartment rental rate because it was low season.
I had read many wonderful things about Dolce Roma on Slow Travel, but I was still amazed at their welcome and all the small things that they do to try to make their guests' stay more enjoyable.
Natalia also showed me her Forum apartment, a smaller studio with a gorgeous balcony, in the Monti area. It looked absolutely lovely, the same attention to detail.
The photos and information on the Dolce Roma website gives a very accurate reflection of how both of these apartments look, their neighborhoods and generally, what a visitor can expect.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would recommend this agency without any reservations and there is no doubt that I'll return to one of Dolce Roma's apartments the next time I'm in Rome.
This was my sixth visit to Rome, and without question, it was the best visit I have had. This wonderful apartment, which made me almost feel like a Roman, played a significant role in how comfortable I felt here.
Things to do in this area
There are so many wonderful things to do in this area, or within a short walk. The Vatican is less than a 15-minute walk away, and twice I've taken the Scavi tour, which stretches underneath St. Peter's. On this visit, I also took an excellent Context Rome Vatican Art tour as well.
There is great shopping close by the Campo de' Fiori apartment, and so many wonderful museums and churches to visit. As well, the Capitoline Hill, or Campidoglio, is also about a 15-minutes walk and spectacular, with its views across the Forum to the Coliseum. The Campidoglio has two excellent museums as well.
On this trip, I was also able to finally get inside the Palazzo Colonna, which is only open to the public Saturday mornings because the family still lives there. But the public areas are filled with great art, and fans of Audrey Hepburn's movie Roman Holiday will recognize the great hall from the film's closing "news conference" shots.
Also nearby is the wonderful Palazzo Galleria Doria Pamphilj; the Ghetto isn't far away, nor is Trastevere and the lovely Villa Farnesina. This particular apartment, the Campo de' Fiori, is extremely well situated.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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