Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3836: Rome Capital Apartments, Cesare
3bed/2bath apartment in Trastevere, Rome
21 September 2008, 3 nights
Located at Vicolo del Bologna 31 in the Trastevere area very close to the Ponte Sisto, the pedestrian bridge across the Tiber. We really loved this area. Third trip to Rome and have previously stayed near to the Piazza Republica and to the Colesseum - which were both very good - but the atmosphere here in Trastevere really suited us this time. Part of the historical centre of Rome and within easy walking distance (20 minutes max) of the main points of interest in the centre. Plus well serviced with buses (including the fab and fun electric 116 and 125 routes) and trams to anywhere more than a 15 - 20 minute walk. Vicolo del Bologna is classed as 'pedestrian' which in Rome means foot traffic, bicycles and motor scooters (vespas etc). It can be a bit busy at night when people are walking to and from the many funky and fun eateries and bars in the area (including the wonderful, tiny Da Poeta pizzeria directly across from the apartment - yum, yum!!!) but we found hanging out of the windows people watching to be an endless source of pleasure - especially for the younger members of our party (11 and 16).
The area is really well serviced for anything you want or need. Cafes, restaurants, bars, pizzerias, fresh food markets (Piazza San Cosimato), tabacchi (for your stamps, bus tickets and sweets) etc. There are several small grocery stores (alimentari) very close by including a mini-market only a three minute walk away in nearby Vicolo de Cinque (closed Sundays) plus a big Standa (open every day) in the basement of the department store about 15 minutes walk away in Viale Trastevere on the corner of Via San Francisco a Ripa. There is a bakery in Via Moro, a fruit shop close by (I think it was also Vicolo de Cinque but I could be wrong) plus lots of other useful shops. We needed an extra sink plug and managed to break the little stove top espresso pot (heavy handed Australians!) and both were easy to find at hardware/kitchenware shops right at the end of the street. I found lots of good information in the Italy Slow Talk about what is in the area. Of course - you can always ask people where there are the shops you need! Good practise for your Italian.
The building is in the medieval section of Rome so expect aged doors, faded pictures of the holy family, crumbly facades and lots and lots of cobblestones everywhere you look. There are apartments all around shoulder to shoulder in Vicolo del Bologna and we loved looking out of each window and seeing life and energy and people's washing and zillions of TV aerials all around us. Most buildings are rendered in earthy colours and when the sun sets and rises - they simply glow! Tons of graffiti - but hey - that's the modern world and Rome is no different to anywhere else.
The apartment is on the second of three floors and there is no lift - but this gave a good opportunity to burn off gelati excesses! Inside it is remarkably spacious with high ceilings, lots of windows and light. We were seven and there was plenty of room for us in the apartment. A very clean and fresh feeling - the pictures at the website are accurate. We slept four in the main bedroom (queen sized bed, two single beds), two in the second bedroom (queen bed) and one in a single bed in a little alcove bedroom - no windows to the outside but a big skylight above the door so there was light.
You can view the property directly: Cesare.
No garden or outside sitting area but the many windows were all large and they looked out onto such interesting old buildings that we didn't really mind.
The furniture was fine. Comfortable, clean, serviceable and enough chairs for all seven of us to squeeze around the kitchen table if we needed to. Lounges were comfy and TV was big enough to entertain the teens. No phone line into the apartment so you'll need your own mobile - we bought Italian SIM cards and put these in our own GSM handsets and also used payphones.
There was a wireless modem so if you brought your own wireless enabled laptop or iTouch or iPhone type of device you should be able to get Internet access.
I know that some people find Italian beds to be hard but none of us noticed this. They were great and there were lots of clean white sheets and towels etc so we had all we needed.
There were two bathrooms - one with a shower over the bathtub, toilet, bidet and washing machine (which we used - it was very handy). The second was a toilet and washbasin plus mirror and power-points so it was good to use for teeth cleaning, makeup etc. while the other one was occupied.
The only tricky thing was that the hot water system is tiny so with seven people it didn't take long to run out and it takes a loooooong time to heat back up again. As a result we resorted to good old Aussie 'bush showers' - ie use minimal warm water to wet down, turn water off, soap up, turn water back on for a rinse. Then if this fails, simply throw a tantrum if the person before you is in there too long (hey - we're family!)
We didn't cook any real meals - but we did use the kitchen constantly to make our breakfasts, lunches and continual snacks throughout the day using fresh bread, fruit, cheeses, cold meats, spreads, salads etc.
There were plenty of plates, cups, cutlery etc and if you wanted to cook full meals, there were enough pots and pans.
Problems or Bonuses
No actual surprises but a plus was that the area is so vibrant and interesting - well suited to anyone of any age who likes to be in the midst of life and energy. I guess for some people this could be a minus if you are after peace and quiet - but we loved it.
One good surprise was the spacious nature of the apartment - it felt great to walk into and we really enjoyed the style and atmosphere of the place. However, an important thing to mention is that there is no air conditioning. We were there in late summer (end of September) so the days weren't too hot and the evenings were cool - we could close out any late night street sounds by shutting the windows. The windows were very soundproof - once they were shut any noise was completely minimised. But in the heat of summer, you might need to have the windows open at night. I think then you would certainly notice the street noise (people and scooters - not cars) and for some this might be a problem - if you don't use earplugs.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I dealt directly with the representative of Rome Capital Apartments, Chiara, for the booking and she was great to deal with. Quick to reply to emails and when I phoned, very easy to talk with - her English is excellent. We had no problems with the booking or with our arrival at the apartment - on a Sunday morning, jet-lagged and straight from a 24hr flight from Sydney.
Chiara's colleague Signora Conselata arrived exactly when she said she would and was helpful, kind and professional - her English is also very good. We paid a small deposit by credit card and I would recommend taking the balance as the correct cash in euros to pay on your arrival.
The price does vary according to the number of people staying at the apartment and the time of year so it is best to look at the Rome Capital Apartments website for all the details.
The description of the apartment at the website matches the reality and we weren't disappointed.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
If our favourite apartment in via Labicana (near the Colosseum) wasn't available, we would definitely stay here again in autumn or spring and we might even risk the busy nature and heat of summer without an air-conditioner. Why? Because of the space, cleanliness and comfort of the apartment, the proximity to everything you need plus the great atmosphere of Trastevere. It made our first three nights in Italy very, very enjoyable!
Things to do in this area
Tons and tons of great things to see and do - hey - you're in the heart of Rome! I won't mention them all here - just not enough space. But keep reading through Slow Talk and Slow Travel postings and reviews about Trastevere and you'll find out so much. That's all I did!
But if you can fit in a pizza at Da Poeta, a coffee at the Porta Settimiana gate around the corner and a round trip on the little electric 125 that stops only a couple of minutes away in the Via della Scala then you should at least get a bit of a taste of Trastevere!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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