Subject: Guest in Italy - apartment rental
A summary of difficulties we had with an apartment rental, not to discourage but for your information.

I've recently returned from a wonderful family trip to Rome. Because we were on a strict budget, we selected an apartment in Prati, north of the Vatican, which was rated one up from the lowest level and had enough space for the family. Guest in Italy was the rental agency. Unfortunately the apartment plans required a non-refundable deposit of one half and cash payment upon check-in of the other half. My family usually requires the possibility of change just for their increased psychological comfort (and, to be honest, I don't give much weight to this preference). However, in this case, we really should have moved.

The nice, clean apartment had enormous noise problems. One side of the building was being renovated with scaffolding across the facade and hammering that started at 9 AM. (The owner would have known about that.) The other side had trees being trimmed for about ten business days which meant chain saws in the morning. (I guess the city scheduled that work.) Due to a medical condition and insomnia, we usually sleep some during the day and it was simply not possible.

Without warning, the water was cut off one day (of course before any of us had bathed) and we almost forfeited the money spent and moved. (Guest in Italy offered to show us the other properties that had not yet been rented, although they stated they were limited, and suggested that the owner probably would refund the cost of unused days if we changed.) The water was back on at nighttime when we returned to the apartment and we decided to tough it out, trying to focus on the fun of Rome and its sights as opposed to packing and moving with time and money penalities.

The shower drain of one of two bathrooms was repaired when we checked in and got stopped up again midweek. We managed to leave a message for the owner (phone call in Italian and some English) and the drain was cleared again by the following Monday evening. (I put that kind of problem in the predictable/not so bad category.)

However between the noise, lack of use of one bathroom and cut-off water, my family has made me swear I will never book them into anything but a hotel ever again. I don't even dare to rent a farm house in Tuscany for the summer trip. I'll stay strictly in hotels.

I know we must have had a worse than usual case of apartment rental, but wanted to pass it on for your information.

I personally enjoyed being off the beaten track and the neighborhood treated us very well. However, I was really glad to be able to sleep without industrial-grade ear protectors again when I got back home. Betsy