NeoPatrick in Rome

Aug 11th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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NeoPatrick in Rome

Our week stay in Rome started on a sour note. We were flying Business class BA from Gatwick to Rome as part of our involved freebie FF package. But BA couldn't get their act together to let us know what gate or when we were leaving. At one point -- 5 minutes after our scheduled departure but no gate had yet been announced, I went to another BA rep at a different gate and asked how we could get information on how delayed we might be. She called, looked me square in the eye and said that our flight would be on time. I asked how that was possible since it was already 5 minutes PAST departure time and there was no plane, no gate, and no check-in started. She repeated that our plane would be on time. Where do they hire these people?

Anyway, after an hour, they did post the gate, and we departed quite soon after that -- all the way to the tarmack where they discovered a mechanical problem and we sat for another hour until they actually fixed it. So our arrival in Rome was two hours late (they actually made up some time in the air). This was a potential problem as we were being met by Romeshuttlelimousine, but they had checked and were right on time to meet us -- no problem. But now I was worried about our host at our SleepinItaly apartment who was planning to meet us two hours earlier. Our driver dialed her number on his cell, and we left a message that we were on our way. Fortunately on arrival, there she was saying "this is Italy -- of course you are late" as if it made no difference in the world.

I've written elsewhere about the fact that our ATM cards were blocked on our arrival in Italy despite our advising BofA of our plans. Seems since we had already been gone for 30 days they removed the travel information. So we arrived with only about 200 euro instead of the 900 euro we were supposed to have in cash for our rental. Again the owner couldn't have been nicer. She said, "no problem. Tomorrow when you get it straightened out with your bank, you'll call me and I'll come pick up the money." When I did finally get it straightened out and had the cash the next day and called her, she mentioned she was getting ready to leave town for a few days so she'd come by at 7 PM on our final night in Rome if that was convenient and pick up here money then. She did.

The apartment was wonderful -- our favorite so far in Rome:
http://www.sleepinitaly.com/files/apt_minerva.html
Despite sleepinitaly telling me there was no separate shower there was -- a very nice walk in one. But although it is air conditioned, the only unit is in the bedroom in the back of the apartment so it really wouldn't do much for the living area. This proved to be a non issue as Rome was surprisingly NOT hot the week of June 26 to July 3. And the age old apartment with about 2 foot thick walls stays surprisingly cool.

We didn't do a whole lot this trip, about our sixth (?) to Rome. We did finally go to the Palantine -- somehow never gone up there before. I found it OK, but felt we really hadn't been missing much. In addition it seemed expensive as they only sell an admission WITH a coloseum ticket -- which we didn't even want. We spent a lot of time looking for Nero's house "above" the coloseum, to find that it isn't open despite a fairly recent guidebook I had. We were impressed with the Michelangelo Moses at St. Peter in Chains. We caught the last day of the wonderful Marc Chagall exposition at the museum within the Vittorio Emmanuelle, and while there discovered the new glass elevator on the back of that building that takes you to the top for some of the greatest views in Rome. I hadn't heard anything about this -- apparently just opening a few months ago.

Otherwise we mainly did a lot of walking in various parts of town, visiting markets, popping into churches, or just enjoying the ambiance of the city.

As I've mentioned before our meals are VERY slow, as Lee with his Alzheimers takes forever to eat anything. Who else would chew a mouthful of penne for 150 chews???
I made a habit of warning the waiters not to start a second course until we finished the first one, and more than one waiter remarked they'd never seen anyone take an hour to eat a plate of spaghetti before. But we DO enjoy eating.
Where?

Ristorante San Eustachio in the square of that name. Wonderful meal -- incredible fried zucchini blossoms lighter than air.

Al Vantaggio, a previous discovery near Popolo for their "tipica" menu of tonnorelli cece and pepe -- a square spaghetti with pecorino and pepper, involtini of beef cooked like osso bucco with peas, and great ricotta cheesecake. We love this place.

Pallaro -- I must confess these places that many rave about the portions just don't do much for me. The experience was fun and it was cheap, but the food was so-so at best. This is a place Lee's eating really messed them up. There is no menu so they bring things automatically in courses, but since we weren't ready when they were serving 20 diners the next course, we'd have to wait for the next round of that course. In other words, they cook in batches for 20 or 30 and you're on a sort of time schedule with the other diners. The antipasta was very good, but the pasta was pretty bland and tasteless and roast veal was dry and nothing to write home about. Again we had ricotta cheesecake which I'd rate about 2 compared to Al Ventaggio's version that I'd rate a full 10. I think you go there for the fun experience -- not for the food. I loved "mama" in her head scarf and big rubber gloves looking like she was there to scrub the toilets, but greeting everyone as if they were family.

Santa Lucia -- a pretty garden next to the Raphael Hotel where we had eaten a few years ago, but has changed hands but was very good and a really lovely setting.

LaRampa by the Spanish Steps for a huge lunch, starting with the fantastic "all you can eat" antipasta bar that had EVERYTHING on it.

Le Volte on Piazza Rondanini, not a terribly exciting meal. The lamb was way overcooked and nearly all bones. Lee's saltimbocca (his standard order) was actually bland tasting -- no sage?

Monte Carlo for WONDERFUL pizzas.

A wonderful lunch at Trastevere on Piazza Renzi. Great spaghetti cartiocchi (sp?), the foil wrapped version with tons of shellfish and fresh tomatoes.

Osteria Pigna, our real favorite -- good as always and we sat in the little "alley" at one of only three tables. Nice as this was a really hot night.

La Caravella in Prati. After ordering from the menu, I went to the restroom and passed a blackboard with the daily special of tonnorelli with porcini and clams. I changed my order and had one of the BEST dishes of our stay in Rome.

I loved popping out each morning for my morning coffee while Lee (who doesn't drink coffee) was getting dressed. I started doing the "stand at the bar" thing like a real local. And most afternoons we'd interupt our walks with a granite somewhere in the shade. And each morning we'd do cereal and fruit in the apartment -- as close as we came to cooking. Picking out fruit each day at a market for the next day's breakfast almost became an obsession.

Great week in Rome.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Sounds like a lovely week. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Are you home now? I loved the apartment looked fantastic.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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yk
 
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Fabulous! =D>
yk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:18 AM
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Enjoyed the report. Someone complained earlier that she had posted a travel report and no one comment on it. Her feelings were hurt. So I will now commnet on all reports -- well done !!
fmpden is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Hello NeoPatrick,
I always enjoy reading the details in your reports.

"This is Italy - of course you are late!" Gotta love the Italians! I'm so glad it worked out for you.

We've had problems with BofA and Citibank ATM cards on long trips too. I hate it when you call them back and they want your social security number, mother's maiden name, etc., all the while you're in a public place making a call. At least there was money in the ATM for you. Many times when we tried, it was out of money. Too many tourists, I guess.

Good job!
kopp is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Not to repeat it all, but among the ATM problems we also had a limit of $600 per day instead of the $1000 per account per day our bank said we had. Seems BofA cut it back because it was international. And although we have two totally separate checking accounts, because we can access each others, BofA cut one when the other reached a limit as they said "if a thief was accessing one account, they could access the other one too."
And most Italian banks limit you to 250 euro per withdrawal. I couldn't figure out why a second withdrawal wouldn't work -- because 500 euro put us over that "unknown" $600 limit. And although I had called them and they removed the block, they put another one on the following week when I started stockpiling euros for two more apartment payments. After three daily withdrawals in a row of 400 euros each, they closed my account. When I called they said "yes, I see where you informed us you are in Europe, but these withdrawals seemed excessive and suspicious." Who do they think they are? My mother?
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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NeoPatrick - I love Rome! Thanks for posting the link to the apartment you utilized. I'm going to bookmark it for future excursions to the Eternal City. Am I correct that they'll rent by the day, per the website? Or...is it only by the week?

I had to chuckle (at your expense) at the BofA story about them "parenting" your spending...
dorkforcemom is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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What a lovely apartment. It's nice to just be relaxed and wander and explore. That's what vacations are for.
crefloors is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:09 PM
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The Nanny Bank!!!

I always enjoy your reports. I especially like you restaurant suggestions...they've never failed me!
jody is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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I should have mentioned that the apartment is listed with a couple of different agencies. Although I found it through SleepinItaly, my dealings were with the owner who also gave me her card and said you can deal directly with her. She is very particular about the apartment. She and her husband own it and would love to still live there -- but they had a baby and needed to move. Still she treats it with love and care and expects renters to as well.

[email protected]

It met all our requirements -- is only one flight up and has a wonderful view of the side of the Pantheon and out to the square in front of it. While it can be noisy with the windows open, the bedroom is well removed in the back of the apartment, down a couple of steps with wonderful old beamed ceilings. Quiet and dark as can be.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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Excellent report..the apartment looks great! Restaurant San Eustachio is apparently well known for their fritti...glad you enjoyed!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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why did my link come out that way?
it is: lucia_giorgi
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Patrick,
One flight up is NICE. One of the complaints we had with our apartment was it was 5 flights up with no lift. The website said 3 flights... I knew that would not be fun as we travel heavy but 5 was a drag each and every time. I was doing enough walking to burn off the pasta without the stairs
dawnnoelm is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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I am happy you and Lee had a nice time in Rome. Thank you for listing the restaurants you ate at. They will come in handy when I return to Rome in October.

Tom
TRSW is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Thanks for the great report, as always. Thanks also for the detailed apartment description; I've profited by staying in other Paris and Rome apartments that you've recommended and will be staying in Al Poggiolo next May. Hopefully, I can work my FF tix so that I can add the Minerva for a couple of nights.

(I almost booked your Venice apartment too but decided to go with La Rosa di Venezia instead.)

Thanks again for your help!
mvor is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Thanks for the report! Wow, what a great apartment and a minimum of stairs!

I, too, had great luck with SleepInItaly and bad luck with BofA ATM withdrawals!

vivi is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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J62
 
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Nice report, thank you for posting.

Re BofA, I used my ATM card at the banco di Roma (right next to Torre Argentina) at the beginning of July and had the same problem - could not make a 2nd withdrawal for 250Euro despite assurance from my US branch that I had a $1000 daily limit.

For some reason, also, they did not charge me $5/wd. Not sure if it's because I complained, or they have some unannounced agreement with Banco di Roma.

J62 is online now  
Aug 11th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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What a fabulous looking apartment! Thanks for the restaurant list - I will save for our next visit to Rome. Sounds as if you both enjoyed the visit to Rome - that's great!
Marianna is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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Great Info
Glencoe is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 03:07 PM
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Nice trip report NeoPatrick. So glad you and Lee had a pleasant trip after initial issues. I Do plan to return to Rome one day.
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