Rome - end of July/beginning of August
Casa Navona Apartment #4.
As advertised, Casa Navona is half block off Piazza Navona. We arrived very early (9:30 am) We were able to leave our luggage and go out to explore a little bit while they finished preparing our apartment. The apartment was located on the fifth (top) floor. 69 old, uneven, stone steps from the street to the apartment. The charm and ambiance was fabulous and worth every step. After the first few trips up the steps became routine. The apartment was very spacious and was quite comfortable.
The A.C. worked perfectly - keeping the apartment at a very comfortable temperature. Rome was hot and humid as usual in July - but the hot stayed outside. There were two A.C. units, one in the living room and one in the bedroom.
The kitchen was well equipped with utensils, pans, and dishes needed to prepare simple meals. There was a two burner electric cooktop (no oven), a very nice sized refrigerator (no freezer), and a Panini maker. The sink was big enough to wash dishes and included dish soap.
The bathroom was large. Basic shampoo was provided. The towels were plentiful and included two "bath sheet" size as well as normal bath and hand towels. Bring your own bar soap! A hair dryer was also provided.
The living room included a pull out sofa we didn't need to use it as a bed so can't comment on whether it would be comfortable. It was a very comfy sofa though! Lighting was good. There are two windows, both open and have good shutters. There was a dining table with two chairs.
The bedroom had a window with shutter. The bed was larger than queen size yet not quite a king size. Very comfortable. A large closet included dresser drawers and plenty of hangers.
We had no problem with street noise. We never heard any neighbors downstairs. Being on the top floor we had nobody above us.
We filled our water bottles each day from the fountain at the Piazza - north end. We had enough bottles to keep two in the fridge and carry two with us. We always had plenty of cool, good water.
There is a pizzeria on the ground floor of Casa Navona. Very good pizza by the slice, cold drinks and a good wine selection. He gave us a discount after we told him we were upstairs!! I am addicted to Diet Coke and it was nice to find cold Coke Light so close. We kept a bit of a supply of his pizza in our fridge for simple lunches and dinner. I took a few zip lock baggies along so keeping things fresh was easy.
We went to the market at Campo de Fiori each morning for fruit. We never did actually cook. But it was great to have the fridge for storing drinks, fruit, and pizza (to be heated in the Panini maker!) There was also a small neighborhood market on the street that goes out of the middle of the west side of Piazza Navona.
We ate at Navona Notte two nights. INCREDIBLE food and wine - at a most reasonable price! Our second night we were treated to complimentary Lemoncello after our meal. Navona Notte is a very popular spot and was very busy both nights. I heard very little English being spoken, so know some Italian for this spot!
Scavi Tour at the Vatican:
About all I can say is WOW. This was an incredible experience - even for this non-catholic. I was intrigued by the history and archeology. Our guide is very knowledgeable, and is obviously a professor. We learned an amazing amount of history during our 1 1/2 hours with him. After the tour we spent a bit of time looking at the tombs of the Popes. Then we went up into the Basilica where we spent another hour wandering. But then sensory overload kicked in and we needed to head back to our quiet neighborhood!
As we've been to Rome many times we didn't really do the "sites". We did go to St. Peter in Chains church early one morning. We took a taxi from Piazza Navona (6,50 E) to the church and walked back. While this church itself is not the most spectacular, Michelangelo's Mosses is amazing. The chains that bound St. Peter are well displayed. We were there early enough to beat the tours and had the church to ourselves for a good half hour of exploring.
Walking back to Piazza Navona, we took the route along Via del Fori Imperiali from the Coliseum, along the forum, past the Vittorio Emanuele monument and the Piazza Venezia . We had to visit the cats at Argo Argentina, checked out our favorite neighborhood church (Basilica S. Andrea Della Valle), and a quick stop at Campo De Fiori for a fruit cup.
Piazza Navona was in its full glory. All the fountains were clean and gorgeous - Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain really sparkled at night evidence of its recent restoration. The night life was fun. Our favorite performer this year was a mime. He did a simple routine but it was well done and kept the crowd captivated. We purchased a toy (the lighted flying disk that shoots up in the air) for our Grandsons. It's so much fun to play with that they may have to visit us to use it!
We had our traditional dinner on the Piazza our last night at Don Chrisciotte. Their food is so-so - but the front row seat on the Piazza is where we want to be. Sergio is still there and we had fun reconnecting with him.
We did have to check out the Pantheon - to see how much was covered with the scaffolding. Only half of the front was covered. We walked all the way around and enjoyed the evening. We did not continue on to the Trevi - but we know that even though we didn't throw in our coins, we will return to Rome!