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Review 791: Roman Reference, Via del Governo Vecchio (#141)


Review by SteveS from MA who is a SlowTrav Contributor

2bed/2bath apartment near Piazza Navona, Rome


Feb. 18 - 24, 2004, 1 week


Located 90 meters to Piazza Navona, right next to Piazza Pasquino where the "talking statue" is. It's a great location in the heart of the renaissance Rome. Via Governo Vecchio is a residential/commercial street which has many restaurants and shops, but the apartment, being on the fourth floor and facing a side street, is quiet.

Nearby Amenities

There are many cafes, restaurants, wine bars, pizzeria, a grocery store, "Irish Bars", etc. located right on or immediately off the street. Via Governo Vecchio is a very charming street, narrow, winding, and bustling with activities.

The House/Apartment

The building is a renaissance building in very good shape. The hallways and walls are clean and well maintained. There are six apartments in the building on four floors. One of the apartments is an antique restoration shop located on the ground floor.


No garden or outside sitting area. But once you exit the building, there's a bar/cafe right in front of the building with outdoor seating.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The furniture is in good shape. The apartment is tastefully decorated in modern style with light-colored and glass tables, and bright-colored sofas. The house was clean although a bit dusty, which I thought was due to where it is in Rome, not necessarily of the apartment itself.


Very comfortable beds. There are two bathrooms, one with shower, one with shower/bath combo. The fixtures in the bathrooms are in good shape. Both bathrooms work. The shower pressure is fine.


There's a kitchen with a large pastry closet that's filled with dishes and utensils. There's a dining table in the kitchen that can seat five people. I did not cook in the kitchen, used it only to make espressos.

Problems or Bonuses

When I first reserved the apartment, I told the agency that I was looking for an apartment that's 1) near Piazza Navona 2) roomy 3) bright 4) quiet. The apartment met all these criteria amplely. At the price I paid, (about 950 Euro for the stay), I'd imagined this would be a pretty basic apartment. It turned out to be a pretty accurate guess -- the apartment is basic, functional but not austere or charmless.

The apartment is huge, even by American standards. The master bedroom is about 13X14 ft in size, it has a floor to celing wardrobe that easily holds everything I brought for the entire family. There is a walk-in closet that connects the master bedroom to the master bathroom. The children's bedroom is probably 12x11ft, it has a sloped ceiling with a skylight and two single beds, and is decorated in bright colors. It is a very charming room. The apartment is not sunny, but bright enough to me. The living room is relatively darker but roomy as well. It has two full-sized sofas, one of them converts to a double bed.

The apartment is on the 4th floor of a renaissance Roman building, that is to say it is not like on the 4th floor of your average American apartment building -- it's much higher. There's no elevator, so you really have to like stairs and be able to haul luggages up and down the stairs physically. My children love stairs, but I still hesitated dragging them with me if I needed to make a short trip downstairs to get some groceries or a cup of cafe. On average, I went up and down the stairs five to six times a day. So keep that in mind if you'd like to rent this particular apartment.

There were some little quirks. For example, the phone did not dial out. The agency had thought that the phone would connect to an 800 number, but I discovered otherwise after having bought a phone card. There is an additional locked gate after entering the builiding. The keys I got from the agency only opens up the locked gate from the outside, not from the inside. So I had to stick my arm through the iron gate to get out. Took me a bit of time to figure this one out ;)

On the flip side of being on the 4th floor, the apartment is very quite. The master bedroom faces the courtyard, which is shielded from street noise. There's an antique restoration shop downstairs in the courtyard. The shop's noise will come in late mornings. Kitchen is the loudest room in the apartment since it faces Via del Leutari, a side street that connects to Via Vittorio Emmanuele, but it's away from the bedrooms. At night, I'd close the kitchen window.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

I had a good experience dealing with the agency. The communication from the agency was clear and timely. The agent, Guglielmo spoke and write in beautiful English, in fact, I was not sure if he is American until I asked the on-site person (he is not). My favorite part of dealing with him was asking for his advise in picking an apartment. The agency represents dozens of apartments in the Navona/Campo de' Fiori area. So instead of find an apartment myself, I told Guglielmo what I was looking for, and he provided one that met all my requirements.

The agency offers a airport pick service at a fee, but they did not have a van large enough to hold my family of five people (3 are children). Also, their fee is higher than using a standard shuttle service, so I opted to use Roma Shuttle www.romashuttle.com instead.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

I'd recommend it to my friends, only after I make VERY certain my friends do not mind hauling the luggage and climbing four stories of stairs several times a day. Since I was staying in such a beautiful area of Rome, I was always rushing out of the apartment first thing in the morning to get my coffee, then later to get some groceries, then sometimes, I'd forget something so there I went up the stairs again. So that's the major contingency I would add to my recommendation.

Things to do in this area

It's 90 meters to Piazza Navona! You can go there in the morning and listen to the fountains sing and have the Piazza all to yourself, literally (Tourists don't show until 9 or later). Go there at night and wander around and let the kids run wild. Pantheon and Campo de' Fiori are each five minutes walking distance away, you can go there in the morning .... ok, you get the point.

So many good restaurants in the area. Our favorite is L'Orso 80 on the Northside of Piazza Navona (a short street called Via dell'Orso, ironically, the restaurant's address number is not 80). L'Orso has this famous "house mixed antipasto" dish -- 11 Euro will give you many plates of delicious apetizers enough to eat for dinner. But it also has some fantastic secondi plates -- especially the lamb cooked on spitfire and the grilled turbot. They open at 7:30pm for dinner. Try to get there early to avoid any wait.

The Da Baffetto's pizza, along with its price, is very comforting after a long flight. Try it on your first night.

There's this no-name hole-in-the-wall restaurant at via Governo Vecchio 18. It was PACKED with regular Romans on a Friday night. We would love to have eaten there, but we couldn't gather the coverage to wait and seat with the Romans in a crowded place with three hungry children. So that night we ate at the restaurant accross the street, this one has a name -- La Danesina. Its menu states it's a Roman trattoria but has this funny name "the Danish". Then we saw the waitresses were wearing vikings horns! So it must have something to do with cooking Roman dishes the Viking's way? No one spoke English in restaurant and my Italian is broken beyond hope, so I never did find out the insiders' scoop. We tried the veal, it was very nicely done. Later that night, the restaurant became packed by what I could tell a local crowd, (we were the only foreigners there that night), and my wife noticed that they were eating some interesting looking dishes that we had never seen. All this further piqued my interest -- a mystery restaurant that we were certain we had not ordered the proper dishes.

Navona Notte is on Via del Teatro Pace, which is a side street off Governo Vecchio. It's famous for its Mussel. We tried it and it's very good.

There's the famous Cul-de-sac next door to the apartment. We never did manage to get a table there. Always packed with people squashed to tiny tables. I wondered what the big deal was for a French restaurant in Rome anyway ;)

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

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