First of all...

We don't speak Italian. Will we have problems in Italy?
Is renting really for us?
So why is renting your apartment any better than a hotel?
Is renting cheaper than a hotel?
How far ahead do we need to book?
We have no restrictions as to time: when is the best time to travel to Rome?
Will our flat be centrally heated?
What about air-conditioning?
We have an unusually well-behaved cat. Can we bring it with us?

We don't speak Italian. Will we have problems in Italy?

Not really. Italians are marvelously friendly people as a rule, and believe us, they've seen it all. Many Italians speak rudimentary English, especially virtually all waiters, and if the first one you ask for something doesn't understand, ask someone else. Smiling, gesturing, and pointing are useful.

Is renting really for us?

The most important question of all. You must be absolutely honest with yourselves – and with us – about your standards and your expectations. If you're accustomed to staying at nice hotels and depend on the concierge's assistance, you may not be happy staying in a flat making your own bed. Can you really live without hotel service? Can you live with your sheets and towels changed weekly?

If you rent a flat and the light bulb burns out, or if the toilet paper or soap runs out, you replace it by going to the store (in this case, just around the corner) and buying what you need. You take the trash out and make your own bed. You also make your own plans for daytrips, and your own restaurant reservations. Although we try to be generous in giving advice, we simply are not hotel concierges.

So why is renting your apartment any better than a hotel?

The reason many guests give us is precisely that they're tired of the type of travel which involves packing and unpacking and moving from hotel to hotel every couple of days. We find most people hate that kind of travel.

Staying for two weeks in a hotel if you're a small family? Forget it. An accommodation of your own will let you have real quality time together. Perhaps even more important from a practical point of view, food is so much easier with children when you've got your own place. It isn't that you have to cook every night, or at all. But a kitchen gives you the capability of doing takeout, heating food up, and dining on real dishes, not paper plates.

In another area of concern, guests have repeatedly told us over the years that they're tired of the superficial. They want to get an in-depth look at our beautiful city and its surroundings.

To us, the best thing about renting a house is the how the rhythm of our daily life becomes transformed. Whether we're in the country or the city, in the mountains or by the sea, we love getting up and out on an excursion early. We enjoy having a big lunch out. But after consuming that big lunch, often washed down with several glasses of wine, we can think of no more alluring prospect than returning home, taking out our mystery novel, and relaxing. Relaxing without a claustrophobic hotel room to call home, relaxing with the ability to raid the refrigerator, with the ability to throw together a salad in the evening and not go out to endure, yet again, the full 3-hour ceremony. Renting a house allows your trip to become a real vacation.

Is renting your flat cheaper than a hotel?

Not necessarily. Now, it's quite true that you can find a 3rd- or maybe even a 2nd-class hotel in our same range or less, including, of course, daily maid service. So we readily admit that staying in a hotel can be cheaper, though with ordinary 3-star hotels in Rome, running 250 euros per night or more, it’s hard to imagine a hotel being advantageous in terms of cost.

But again, the whole experience is different. Having your own apartment with a living room, a separate bedroom, and a kitchen is entirely different from staying in a hotel room. You may not get the daily maid service (although this can be arranged), but you get a lot of space and charm. The ability to shop the produce markets and prepare your own lunch with fresh ingredients is a wonderful thing.

Finally, and sticking strictly with cost considerations, the true comparison should be between an apartment and a hotel suite, not a hotel room. If this is the measure, then the apartment wins hands down.

If you're a couple with two kids, we think that's a bargain these days, at least in Italy. If you're used to staying in deluxe hotels at $400 to upwards of $800 or more per night for a room (a room, not a suite), we think our lovely apartment is a real bargain.

How far ahead do we need to book?

The answer is: Before someboy else does. It only takes one other person to come before you and ruin your chance to stay at our place.

However, we urge you please to email us no matter how short the notice, even as late as one week ahead of time. Who knows, you may get lucky.

Rule of Thumb: Our most requested periods are April, May, June, September, and October. If that is the period you want, then get your act together early. There aren't that many exclusive flats to go around.

Another thing about Rome: it doesn't usually have seasons. Our experience is that February and March are just as popular for rentals as the Spring and Fall months.

Again: email us anyway.

We have no restrictions as to time: when is the best time to travel to italy?

For us the best time to come to Rome is March or April (avoiding the week before and the week after Easter) or November. Alternatively, any winter month. And finally – you won’t believe this – August. Why August? Because if you can take the heat, the cities are emptier than virtually any other month in the year. Rome in particular literally opens up. It’s the only month in the year when in Rome you can drive sanely and park a car virtually anywhere you please.

Will our flat be centrally heated?

Yes, of course. The apartment has a new gas heating system and it works fantastically well. It will heat up the flat in about 10-15 minutes. The flat itself is not cold: the thick 800-year-old walls keep the inside temperature very stable. If you're coming to Italy in late spring or early fall, you may never turn the heat on, but give yourself the peace of mind that if it does turn cold, you will have heat.

Heating in Italy is nearly always charged as an extra, either as a flat rate per diem or metered by consumption. We prefer to check the gas-meter and charge it by consumption: in this way everybody knows what has to be paid and there'll be no surprises for any of us.

What about air-conditioning? Can't we get A/C?

No. There is no A/C.

Why? The flat is extremely well ventilated and its thick walls really do keep the inside temperature very stable. In this sense air-conditioning would only be a way to run up the electric bill, increasing pollution and global warming. If you can't live without air-conditioning, a hotel is probably a better choice.

We have an unusually well-behaved pet. Can we bring it with us?

You must ask permission to bring your (small and well-behaved) dog, and this will not invariably be granted. Cats are generally not allowed, because too many other renters are allergic to them or their recent presence. Nor are ferrets, hamsters, pet pigs, mice, etc., allowed. In any case, having had a pet in the flat extra cleaning charges are going to apply. Again, please inquire before.