An Unforgettable Family Reunion at Villa Vesta, Magnificent Estate near Rome

Last week we received a  lovely review about one of our favorite properties, Villa Vesta, that we would like to share. Because it can sleep 20 and has plenty of space, both  inside and out, to entertain a crowd, to relax, and especially to celebrate a major life time event, we often host small weddings and family reunions, there.

Villa Vesta Event

But this past summer, we hosted a two week event which took months of planning, as we helped with planning of events for every day, gala feasts, with beautiful multi-course meals loaded with favorite local specialities, from plentiful seafood to porchetta, and of course local fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

Villa Vesta China
Villa Vesta’s cabinets of fine dishes

We organised tours for the  family that ranged from the very young to the elderly and frail in wheel chairs,  including the Vatican and the Colosseum by wheel-chair; vineyards by car and bike, special restaurants, a trip to Sora, and so much more.  Though it kept us busy, the response that we received made it all worth while.

Villa Vesta Entrance
Entrance to Villa Vesta

Villa Vesta Sitting Area
A Comfortable Seating Area Open to the Vast Garden

Villa Vesta Stairs
Entrance Hall

Villa Vesta Estate
Looking Out Over the Garden Estate

Rocco, who planned the event for his multi-generational group moved us beyond words, with the heartfelt narration of his family history. Read on;

“We will never forget the beauty, the staff, the food, the location and support provided by Adriana and the Commendable Rentals team which provided the backdrop for our Italian family reunion. My grandfather, Ernesto, was born in Sora, Italy in 1890. He left for America in 1906 to find a “better life”. Actually, he was leaving his abusive step-father whom he would watch abuse his mother. He left his mother and sister behind, vowing to return one day to bring them to America and to get away from the abuse at home. He did create a beautiful life in Rhode Island and he did return to collect his mother 4 years later. However, his sister married and stayed in Italy. In the over 100 years, Ernesto’s family grew to over 90 Italo-Americans. While in Italy, his sister, Christina’s family grew to almost the same size. As many of the “elders” in my family were in their 80’s, Athena, my beautiful partner and I decided to create a once-in–a-lifetime reunion. We needed lots of coordination, facilities that would accommodate 2 large receptions and a responsive staff. Right from the start, it was clear that Adriana and her team would be able to help. They were amazing. The house was better than the photos, the staff quickly became part of our family, the food was wonderful and beautiful memories were created as part of this very special trip. We brought over 20 family members from Rhode Island and about 30+ of our Italian cousins showed up for 2 separate catered events, with live music, tents, sit down meal service, bar, flowers, and translators it was beautiful. We sat outside around the pool in the beautiful private grounds of the villa. The elders, met their cousins for the first time. There were hugs, tears, laughter, dancing and true connection. Adriana, thank you…what a wonderful magical place! It was truly a once in a lifetime event. About 8 weeks after the reunion, Zia Anna, the matriarch of our Italian family passed away. She was honored at both family festas and was a beautiful woman. The last time I saw her, she was smiling, with tears in her eyes and she gave me a big hug thanking us for creating this special moment bringing the family of Christina and Ernesto together for the first time”

For families who want to reunite, there is no better place!

More about Villa Vesta


Reacquainting with Rome

We just returned from 10 days in Rome. Although we lived there for many years, this city will never lose its appeal. Where else is it necessary to stop every 50 yards to admire an ancient building, a provocative statue, a scene from “La Dolce Vita”, a painting glimpsed through a window, a dramatically modern restaurant or any other of the myriad views that the city nonchalantly offers, as if observing 2500 years of civilisation is “normale”?

What other place on this globe has given so much culture, art and engineering to the world, not just once, with Ancient Rome, but twice, with Renaissance Rome too? Nothing can match the greatness that Rome has given to the world. Add a glorious climate, great food, wonderful wines, stupendous music, the warmth of the people, and Rome’s charms far exceed its drawbacks.

Of course there is a price to pay for all of this. There is so much history and architecture to preserve, that no city or even a country could possibly afford to maintain it all in pristine condition, let alone one managed like Rome and Italy are managed. So dilapidated monuments are everywhere, laughable “lawns” abound in the parks, and the traffic strives mightily to reach the heights attained by Naples’ inhabitants, but happily never quite attains that level of insanity. The governmental administration at various levels is questionable, and not averse to corruption.

The people, being naturally resistant to rules and regulation, are not averse to surviving in chaos. Within limits, this too becomes a perverse attraction as one thanks God that this unique gem is not run like Singapore or Zurich, but remains a vibrant and living museum to our shared human civilisation.

There is limited prospect that Italy will be “Great” again. These people were “Great” longer than any other civilisation. They’ve learned that being “Great” is not all it’s cut out to be, that there are more useful, pleasant and productive things to do than being “Great”. Just being in Rome is one of them.


8 Events to Include on Your Rome Itinerary This Year

"Triumphs and Laments" on the Tiber
“Triumphs and Laments” on the Tiber

Rome is a captivating destination of new sights and old history. The Eternal City has something to inspire anyone through its effortless charm – whether its the first visit or revisiting many times over. With half the year remaining, Rome’s special events calendar is still in full swing. If you’re taking advantage of a last minute holiday or planning fall and winter vacation, here are a few current and future events that would be a great addition to your travel itinerary in Rome:

Triumphs and Laments (pictured above) – A free “outdoor art” exhibition spanning a portion along the walls of the Tiber River. This large-scale contemporary artwork is by South African artist, William Kentridge, and is truly a skillful presentation depicting historic aspects of Rome highlighted by the surrounding Roman views.

Viaggio nei Fori (Journeys through Ancient Rome) – In two separate storylines, journey through the history of Julius Caesar and the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, through a spectacular multimedia presentation set among ancient ruins. Through October 2016.

Estate Romana (Roman Summer) – An annual vibrant summer event throughout Rome consisting of a wide range of cultural events, music, media, exhibitions, and more from July to September. With venues throughout Rome, you can enjoy Rome’s wonders with an added twist, like an open air concert set at The Baths of Caracalla. Visit the official website for a list of daily events planned around Rome, categorized by type.

"Lungo Il Tevere"
Festive summer events along the Tiber River – “Lungo Il Tevere”

Lungo il Tevere (Along the Tiber) – This annual summer festival is most recognizable by the white tented stalls and booths along both sides of the Tiber River featuring pop up shops, tasty morsels and drinks. In addition to the booths, scheduled exhibitions, music, art, and film events are showcased nearby. Find a map and events on their website.

L’Isola del Cinema – After strolling along the riverbank, catch an outdoor film in the charming atmosphere on Rome’s island, aptly named Tiber Island, as it is located in the middle of the Tiber River.

St Peter's Square
St. Peter’s Square

Jubilee – Even if you are not on pilgrimage, this is an extraordinary year to visit the Vatican City. Pope Francis announced an ‘extraordinary Holy Year’ – an event that last happened in year 2000, and is marked by the opening of sealed “Holy Doors” in the great basilicas, including St. Peter’s. An historic and special event lasting through November 2016.

Roma Europa FestivalAn art lovers festival, Roma Europa is an annual cultural event featuring art, dance, theater, music, and film. Events from June through September.

Rome Jazz Festival In celebration of Jazz, Rome hosts an annual Jazz Festival in November – the perfect complement to aperitivo. Stay tuned for this year’s schedule.

Opera and Theater SeasonAutumn begins the new culture season for Theatre and Opera in Rome. Enchantment can be found in many places in Rome, but experiencing Opera, Ballet, and Theatre in the Eternal City is a memorable experience.

Rome night

ROME RENTALS


An Embrace with Culture From a Vacation Rental

Rome keyholeWhen you search for places to stay in Rome, Paris, or wherever your desired travel plans take you, a slew of choices appear: from hotels, hostels, convents (believe it or not), apartments, B&B’s, free couches, and of course, vacation rentals. Surely, personal preferences will rule out many options quickly, but the choices can be overwhelming,  What begins as an eager attempt to plan a fun vacation, can quickly become a daunting and tiresome task- making your eyes blur and your head ache. Talk about information overload! Going with the safe choice for fear of exploring new options can make you miss out on a magical experience. I’m happy to share with you my first experience in a vacation rental and how I saw my future vacation choices changed forever.

Before I became a member of the Commendable Rentals Team, my introduction into the world of vacation rentals came when planning my first trip to Rome.  Beginning with my usual routine to search for a place to stay, something caught my eye as I scrolled the pages for Rome lodging. Renting an apartment instead of a hotel both intrigued and inspired me. I had always wanted to stay in a foreign country as more than just a tourist in a hotel. I wanted to embrace the culture of the Eternal City, not just seeing the sights, but living the culture, like a local. I wanted to hear the locals speaking (ah, lovely Italian!) and interacting in their daily lives, not only through commercial transactions. The idea that I could rent a house or apartment from a local and pretend it was my home was immensely appealing. And actually, it did become my home- at least for the extent of my stay, and always in my fond memories.

Living Room

The beauty of staying in a vacation rental is that it already has the feel of home. Here at Commendable Rentals, we pride ourselves on selecting homes with character, just like the one I rented. From the unique decorative details to the charming authenticity of the buildings, each special vacation home brings the comfort and familiarity of “home” while resonating the local vibe of each destination. For those historically-inclined, especially in Rome, you can often discover interesting stories about the history of the residence. A building’s architecture can be aesthetically pleasing, but the architect, design, and background of a home (and its owners) might bring new life to your stay. Like in a good story, immersing yourself in the setting and gaining a sense of living the adventure elevates the experience.

Vacation Rental KitchenA unique memory I acquired while staying in a vacation home can be attributed the full kitchen. While I did my fair share of eating out, I loved browsing the local Roman fruit and vegetable markets. The large Testaccio Market (where our partnered Expert Roman Food Guide takes her market tours) has such an expanse of regional delectables, I couldn’t resist buying fresh market items to bring home. Even something so simple as washing a snack of fresh tomatoes (so delicious in Rome. Pairing them with the fresh mozzarella, even better!) or creating Italian-inspired meals, the convenience of the kitchen’s refrigerator, appliances, dishes, and real utensils made me feel like I was in my own kitchen.

moka-potI was also able to learn something new in my vacation rental kitchen that gave me the feeling of being Italian, and very proud of myself! When I wasn’t indulging in a coffee break and people-watching at the quaint sidewalk cafes, I was able to privately experiment with different freshly ground coffee beans that I picked up from an Italian specialty store. I attempted making “perfect” cup of espresso using an Italian coffee percolator stocked in the home. As I had been told, though the process is simple enough, the grounds, packing, timing, and pour all contribute to a good espresso.  Coffee aficionados or those that frequent Europe may not see this as a novel experience, but it was something that this budding traveler appreciated doing in coffee-cultured Italy. Among memories of the Colosseum, the vast halls of art at the Vatican museum, the rustic cobblestoned alleys, I still remember quietly enjoying the espresso I poured fresh from the percolator into the cutest blue espresso cup, and sipping it on my balcony overlooking the Roman streets.

Whether a short or long term stay, a vacation rental can offer originality to your vacation that other places cannot. I loved the apprehension and courage greeting Italian neighbours in the elevators with ‘Buongiorno’, and learning informal ways to say good evening. I was able to learn where people buy their newspapers, what they buy at the grocery store, and how they throw their trash (Rome has quite an emphasis on recycling); the things that seem insignificant but are part of the local culture someone would not experience in a place that caters to tourist traditions.

The vacation rental experience is not for everyone, however, it should be a consideration for anyone. For travelers like me looking to experience something beyond a typical hotel stay, the vacation rental option provided an extra layer of intrigue to my travels. On top of that, for someone that is just curious about how people in different places live, this also gave me a chance to peek inside the world of a local’s life…and for that short while, I lived that life, and loved it.

Alley


5 Reasons for a Rome November Getaway (with an added bonus!)

Rome Colosseum

What do you want to see when you visit Rome? Does the Colosseum come to mind, in all its gory, yet fascinating, history? Or perhaps joining the jovial crowd around the enchanting Trevi Fountain while devouring a melting gelato. On the topic of tasty treats, what about the assortment of decadent food Rome has to offer – so much more than pizza and pasta (although, those aren’t bad choices either!).

Rome is a mecca of sights, sounds, and tastes for both the new and frequent visitor. The summer months are brimming with travelers visiting this exciting city, but November brings a different flavor. The city is a little quieter, the locals are back from their own summer vacations, and a lighter, festive air arises. Whether you have visited Rome before, or are looking to experience the Eternal City for the first time, November can be the perfect month for you.

Close your eyes, hear and smell the chestnuts roasting at the end of cobblestoned alleys, and drift off to your Rome adventure. For inspiration, we’ve come up with five reasons that will get your senses stimulated for Rome in November:

NUMBER 5 – CRISP, COOL WEATHER.

Rome Old Marketplace#5 – The weather may be cooler, but you can still find beautiful sunny days when visiting Rome in November. Many of Rome’s greatest sights are outdoors, and strolling through the ancient city is a fruitful journey in itself. Pack a jacket and be glad it’s not blistering hot like it was this recent summer. Plan to walk through the ancient roads of Rome – like the sprawling Roman Forum, where Julius Caesar and great Roman minds once strolled along, where remnants of important government buildings and temples played a pivotal part of the city’s development.

NUMBER 4 – FEWER CROWDS.

Rome cobblestone street#4 – By November, the peak season crowds have dispersed, giving a little breathing room while meandering through the city. While Rome’s great attractions are always in demand, the city gains a little elbow room. You can feel more at ease getting the right angle and taking the perfect photo of the Pantheon’s oculus, take your time with a glass (or two) of Italian wine, and gain a calmer, yet still energetic, appreciation of the city.

NUMBER 3 – WINE, OLIVES, AND TRUFFLES.

Tuscany Vineyard#3 – Late Autumn/Early Winter is the season for many tasty offerings. You may see an abundance of the season’s regional fare in Rome’s flourishing markets, or plan a day trip to catch the magic of the grape and olive harvest (on the downswing of the season), or catch aromatic truffle fairs full swing in November.

NUMBER 2 – “CULTURE” TRAVEL.

Theater#2 – Beyond the commonly known sights of Rome, November is an excellent time to catch the new culture season for Theatre and Opera. Also throughout November, two much anticipated events occur – Romaeuropa, a variety of artistic performances found throughout the city at different venues, as well as a week-long jazz festival. What better way to immerse yourself in the city that has inspired so many people than through artistic performance.

NUMBER 1 – ITALIAN FOOD!

Rome Carciofo Artichoke#1 –  What can we say, Italian food is timeless despite season. November brings savory artichokes, delightful porcini mushrooms, floral broccoletti, hearty pumpkin, and divinely produced parmigiano-reggiano cheese – all especially tasty Fall foods in Rome. Many restaurants will serve excellent seasonal fare, though shopping through Rome’s local markets – an entertaining excursion in itself – and planing an Italian-inspired culinary adventure in a fully equipped home kitchen is a satisfying and unparalleled activity. Do as the Romans do, and end your meal with a warm espresso and lively conversation.

**BONUS**

Welcome Rome
If you’re planning a visit to Rome, and are looking for that perfect place to hang your coat in a professionally managed, yet true Roman flat, we have some special November deals for you! Enjoy your slice of the Roman life!

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