How to enjoy Berlin in the Heart of Winter

Though the German capital might not be your first idea for a winter getaway, it is actually magic under the snow and culturally exciting during the winter months, with film, dance and food festivals, Bauhaus celebrations, and even a fashion week! Here is a list of must-sees and dos in the German capital currently.

Photo: Berlin Partner GmbH/FTB-Werbefotografie

Berlin is today a young and active international city, offering lively nightlife, many cafés, clubs, bars, street art, numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest, and the month of February is particularly sweet for art lovers: from Feb 7th to Feb 11th is held the Berlin Independent Film Festival, which offers plenty of screening and business opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers. The exciting programme of films, workshops and networking events combines the commitment to indie filmmaking ideals with a solid understanding of their potential in the marketplace. All films are screened at the Babylon Cinema in Berlin-Mitte and are in English or with English subtitles. Extra tip: this movie theatre offers midnight movies every Saturday, with a live music orchestra!

Photo: DPA

Held around the same time – Feb 7th to Feb 17th, the Berlinale is the city’s most glamourous event. With more than 400 films shown it attracts the elite of the film industry as well as the largest audience of any film festival in the world. But the festival has much more to offer than just the screening of films. For two weeks, workshops, panel discussions and joint projects encourage collaboration between all the participants. And at the exclusive Berlinale parties, people, art, glamour and business meet.

Dance is also promoted: each year young people aged between 10 and 21 from around the world meet in Berlin to share their love for dancing at the Tanzolymp, a dance event with workshops, seminars and competitions. The main aim of the festival is to support and increase the popularity of dancing, and also provides insight into the variety of dance aesthetics and artistic styles. Another festival, The Days of Dance or Tanztage, is a contemporary dance festival focusing on the discovery and support of up-and-coming choreographers and dancers based in Berlin.

 

Design and architecture are not left out, since 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus design school. For the centenary, many galleries, museums and other institutions in Berlin make the ideas of the Bauhaus visible and tangible, such as “Bauhaus – Modernism around the globe” at Willy Brandt Haus (16 January – 14 March 2019), which exhibits the works of photographer Jean Molitor, who has traced Bauhaus architecture all over the world for over 10 years. He found it not only in Berlin but also in Saint Petersburg, Havana, Casablanca und Guatemala City. The city and its periphery offer a lot of examples of this very recognizable architectural style, especially the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008.

To enjoy all these festivities to the fullest, Commendable Rentals has selected three extremely elegant apartments, perfect for families traveling together but also great for business travel. Located in the same chic building on Winterfeldstrasse in the Schöneberg area, you can choose the 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom apartment, depending on who you travel with!

The rooms are spacious and very tasteful, with lots of light, deliciously comfortable bedding and fully equipped marble and mosaic bathrooms as well as state of the art kitchens in each property. These apartments are perfect for those who crave space and comfort, in an excellent, central location, next to Potsdamer Platz. The building itself dates back to 1900 and has been lovingly restored to its former glory. It is within walking distance to a great variety of bars, restaurants and shopping, where you can experience the best of this dynamic city. Commendable Berlin offers both the comfort and ease of a hotel and the familiar feeling and facilities of the best home away from home.


From Rome with Love

Most cities around Christmas vie to be the most festive and spirited, but few European capitals are as dedicated to bringing the Winter Wonderland to life as Rome. Whether you arrive in the Eternal City by day or by night, you will be charmed by the crisp yet mild December weather, and the glory of Rome’s winter blue skies. Last minute Christmas shopping rushes, the nonchalant strolls of locals trying to differentiate themselves from the tourists, and of course the Christmas lights, add energy to the glow, as Nativity scenes and Christmas markets pop up all over the city. If you arrive by night, don’t miss a drive pass the majestic and romantic Colosseum; its recently renovated arches are particularly beautiful when lit by spotlights against the dark sapphire blue sky.

The Christmas holiday season in Rome officially starts on December 8, the holiday of the Immaculate Conception, or Immacolata, and ends on January 6 at the Epiphany – when La Befana, a sort of Christmas witch is the lead character – and it is indeed magical: it is a great time to see the city in a -literally- different light and to discover the great Roman Christmas traditions. If you are by yourself, feel free to prep a special playlist for the occasion: Culture Trip has put together a wonderful list of songs inspired by the beauty of Rome, and there in one for every taste and every moment of the day (waking up to Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day by Morcheeba is the absolute guarantee of a good mood all day long)! Though it is holiday season, most shops of the city are usually open -with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, and New Years’ Day- and most of the major sites and monuments that have entry tickets, including the Colosseum, Forum, and Borghese Gallery will all be open on the 26th, despite that day also being a holiday. We recommend planning your visits on the 26th, as the museums and churches will be much less crowded than usual.

Whether it is your first time in Rome or you are a newbie in the city, start your day with a bit of Christmas sightseeing; and whether you are religious or not, you should look for the numerous Nativity scenes scattered around the city: they will surprise you by their artistry, beauty and inventiveness. The major one this year is held of course in Vatican City, but there are beautiful ones in every major and minor church of Rome, which counts more than 900 churches, cathedrals and basilicas. We recommend Santa Maria del Popolo, created and built by famous painter, sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century, Santa Maria in Trastevere in the charming, bohème district which gave it its name, or the Pantheon, to couple historical beacons and Christmas sightseeing.

In the mood for some Christmas shopping? There are a lot of beautiful, eccentric and charming Christmas markets all over town! All neighbourhoods offer something. Vintage pieces and hipster vibes are what the district of Monti is about, and Mercato Monti is the perfect embodiment of its way of life. You may find there the ideal Christmas gifts: clothes, accessories and other artisanal pieces await! Good to know: in December the market doubles in size, promoting more than 50 local talents.

Monti is really a charming neighbourhood, and we happen to have a great apartment there for you to live like Romans do: our  Bella Vita is located near the Colosseum and is the ideal place to rent for a family of 4 or 2 couples. Previous guests describe it best: “The perfect Roman Holiday! Both modern and historic- this was the perfect home base from which to explore Rome”.

Other Christmas markets punctuates the city, find an exhaustive list right here.

After all this wandering, you stomach might start to rumble; fear not! Rome is filled with charming and delicious trattorias and pizzerias, including two of our most favourites: Da Francesco and Fiammetta. Both are located just steps away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of the Historic Centre, and are dear to our hearts. Da Francesco, where the truffle pizza is close to heaven, is located on Piazza del Fico, right in front of Bar del Fico, one of the most popular bars in Rome. There you can sip your spritz or martini while peeping at fashionable locals and waiting for a table. Don’t hesitate to visit their website, as they even provide true Italian recipes should you want to test your cooking abilities back home!

Fiammetta is another true hidden gem: it is in a great location, just around the corner from Piazza Navona, but without the fuss of tourists. The menu is as varied as it is appetizing, with sitting options both inside and out. The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fire oven, as any good pizza should be. Go Italian all the way and try the white pizza with mozzarella covered in salty, peppery endive.

Should you want to celebrate Christmas both at home and in Rome, just stay on Piazza Fiammetta and book our lovely 3-bedroom apartment! Fiammetta is so much better than a hotel: this spacious apartment sleeps up to 6 guests and is beautifully proportioned and elegantly furnished, in a modern yet timeless idiom, blending art and antiques with modern design. Original beamed ceilings and polished terracotta floors underline its historic origins and add warmth to the coolness of the white walls. Cherry on the cake: The kitchen is designed for chefs, so you will be able to try all these wonderful recipes by yourself!

Commendable Rentals has a lovely, extensive collections of palazzi, houses and apartments to rent in Rome, find the perfect place for you and start enjoying your Roman Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

The Commendable Rentals team


Precious family time…

What a world we live in! With globalization and tough competition, job relocation is sometimes the lot of many scattered families around the globe. Believe us, we can relate! What better way to keep the family bound tight than to organise a family reunion? It could be for a family birthday, for a holiday celebration, an anniversary, or simply because it has been too long. Here is a simple, yet very effective recipe to any successful family gathering. First and foremost, you must pick a place, and not just any place: it should be in an attractive area, central or at least easy to get to, preferably with mild weather (we wouldn’t want to be stuck inside all the time, now, would we?), both extensive and comfy, with a homey feeling that makes all relax: as the host, you want to have your family close by and comfortably settled. The surroundings should offer both activities for every generation and relaxed and intimate areas for time out or reacquainting moments. And finally, what would be a family reunion without qualitative family meals? To ensure you get all that – and more! – we recommend two choices, in two different countries which, although very different, easily check all of the above.

Should your family be spread throughout Europe – lucky you! – or should you simply look for an exceptional venue, Mediterranean countries always come first to mind. There is first beautiful Italy, where we found right next to Rome, its capital, the perfect Villa for your family retreat. And though we are of course accustomed to organizing parties and events, it is always with a bit of surprise – and a warm feeling of pride – that we read the wonderful reviews our guests leave us after some time spent in our wonderful properties. Villa Vesta was praised numerous times by its visitors, and here is how they describe it in their own words:
“absolutely beautiful”, “has to be seen and experienced!”, “a beautiful location and a wonderful trip managed end to end exceptionally well”, “we look forward to our next trip”, “We loved the location, the peacefulness, how well equipped it was and the pool was wonderful to swim in after a long day in Rome. We would highly recommend this place to anyone!”

Need we say more? The area around Villa Vesta offers of course beautiful Rome, always a good idea no matter what time of the year, Tivoli and the marvellous gardens of Villa d’Este and Villa Hadriana, but also Castelli Romani, a natural volcanic park with amazing scenery, pretty Ariccia and its Palazzo Chigi (barely a 20min ride), Frascati with its flourishing vineyards and enotecas, Castle San Castello in Sora, and of course Grottaferrata, built around the Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, founded in 1004, and summer home of the Popes. But the Villa will certainly captivate you and your loved ones, as everything there is designed to make you want to stay.

France would be more convenient for you? Fear not, the French Provence welcomes you at the Bastide de la Félicité. Located in one of the most interesting parts of Provence to visit, anyone who visits La Félicité will nevertheless want to spend a lot of time there, as our happy guests sum it up themselves:
“Paradise”, “Essence of Provence in total luxury”, “Fantastic property, bedrooms, grounds, pool, playground and tennis court”, “sumptuous property”, “the staff was so very helpful, friendly and accommodating”, the long list of praise matches the extensive attention to every single detail inside and outside the house.

But you will want of course to discover the charms Saint-Remy, Avignon (a 30min drive) with the Popes Palace, its city center which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and the Festival d’Avignon, l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a wonderful site famous for its many antique shops and Sundays antique markets, Eygalières, only 15min away and probably the most beautiful village in the Alpilles, Arles, home to the Rencontres de la Photographie, and finally Les Baux de Provence and the Carrières de Lumières, a high technology multimedia performance in the ancient and giant caves that were quarried to build the town.

In Italy or in France, we will of course take care of your transfers, itineraries, visits, wine tastings, or any activity you would feel like trying. Call your loved ones, set a date, and reunite in style!


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


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


Escape to Cartagena, Colombia – A Tropical Adventure

Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia (also Cartagena de Indias)

A city of vibrance, beauty, history, and perfect tropical weather

Cartagena, Colombia is possibly the most attractive city in the western hemisphere, located on the northern coast of Colombia. Recently named the #2 ‘Destination on the Rise‘ in the world by Tripadvisor, you will find more than the typical coastal resort town in this historic city, whose fortress and walled city have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The preservation of its historical colonial heritage, the vibrant old town, with its cobblestone streets and bright colonial mansions, combined with the tropical climate, beaches, numerous islands, and friendly atmosphere create a charming paradise retreat.

Where to stay in Cartagena –

Old Town. Cartagena’s principal attraction is the walled city, an enclosed walking city filled with colorful colonial mansions with flourishing hanging flowers, old cathedrals, monasteries, plazas – a wonderful maze of beautiful sights and vibrant energy. There are many historic sights to see, and so much to discover by just wandering through the streets. Wandering is how the owners of Commendable Rentals found the stunning Cacrtagena Palace, a Palace-turned-Apartments with a rich history, a charming owner, and equally charming accommodations. Restaurants and shopping are plenty in Old Town. Catch the right view, and you can enjoy the blended view of the old and new, historic rooftops in the old city, a shimmering Cartagena Bay, and a skyline of newer developments.

NEW TO OUR COLLECTION – VILLA ALEXANDRA

Cartagena Celedon

Great for families, reunions, retreats – a 5 Bedroom, 5 Bath Villa in the heart of Cartagena, its Historic Old Town. This is the perfect Cartagena accommodation for those looking for the elegance and service of the best hotels, as well as the privacy of a private residence in a spacious home. With a courtyard pool, rooftop Jacuzzi, and hanging hammocks – fall into blissful relaxation. There’s even an option to add on a 36-foot boat for a trip to nearby islands.

Here are a few photos of Villa Celedon and the rejuvenating properties of this relaxing home. See more on the property page.

Upcoming events in Cartagena

NOVEMBER

Independence Day and Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant (Fiestas de Independencia) – This is a 4 day annual festival held in the beginning of November flooding the streets, beaches, rooftops, and sea. From floats, street parades, boat parades, costumes, indoor and outdoor parties, this is Cartagena’s likeness to Carnival.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

HAY Festival – Annual celebration of literature, philosophy, film, and music with special guests often attending for discussions, book signings, and talks. Concerts are held in the piazzas.

BOOK YOUR TROPICAL ADVENTURE TODAY


Upcoming Events in Sermoneta, Italy

See more of Sermoneta

Welcome to Sermoneta.

A perfect medieval Italian village, Sermoneta is about an hour drive south of Rome, with a wealth of touring possibilities within and surrounding the city.

Sermoneta is a rare, largely unchanged hilltop village, with the fortress of the Castello Caetani (Caetani Castle) looming over its preserved beauty.  Set in the Lepino Mountain Range, stunning views overlook the vast countryside and out to the sea.

While the village itself is worth the visit, with cobblestone alleys, historical intrigue, and not to mention the serene Italian way of living, there are also plenty of events and sights to see that showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance. Here are some of the upcoming events you should plan for in 2016:

Gardens of Ninfa
Starting with the enchanting Gardens of Ninfa. The magical gardens are listed #1 things to do in the Latina region on Tripadvisor – certainly not to miss if you can catch a visiting date. These romantic gardens have been preserved around restored ruins, with a uniquely perfect climate allowing the gardens to flourish. To preserve the delicate nature of the gardens, there has historically been very limited openings to visitors. This year, more open days are available than in the past, giving visitors a chance to see one of the most beautiful gardens of Italy. Plan your trip – see all 2016 Gardens of Ninfa dates.

Love music? Several summer festivals showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance, like Maggio Sermonetano – a series of concerts and events in the streets of Sermoneta, or Festival di Chitarra “Caroso” – an international guitar festival in August.

Of course, there’s always room to celebrate wine and food! See all these exciting events below –

Sermoneta tower MAGGIO SERMONETANO (MAY SERMONETA)

Music and art fill the streets and squares of Sermoneta during Maggio Sermonetano (May Sermoneta). Enjoy free events of several musical genres, from popular music, jazz, classical to workshops, poetry, cinema, and more.
SEE MORE: MAGGIO SERMONETANO

 Sermoneta Caetani Castle

 

FESTIVAL DI PONTINO DI MUSICA

In June and July, the International Campus Foundation of Music organizes concerts of classical music, chamber music, and contemporary in the beautiful setting of Castello Caetani.
SEE MORE: PONTINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Chitarra FESTIVAL DI CHITARRA “CAROSO”

In August, authors and performers from around the world celebrate the world of Guitar, with plenty of performances around Sermoneta.
SEE MORE: GUITAR FESTIVAL

 Wine SKYWINE FESTIVAL

A local cultural event at the end of August, the SkyWine Festival showcases the regional food and wine, as well as art, for a total cultural immersion.
SEE MORE: SKYWINE FESTIVAL

 Olives SECOLARE FIERA DI SAN MICHELE
At the end of September, experience a traditional fair exhibiting local specialties, from organic products, food stands, wine, as well as musical entertainment, shows, seminars and farm education.
SEE MORE: SAN MICHELE FAIR
 Gardens of Ninfa LIFE DRAWING AND FRESCO PAINTING CLASS
NEW! A unique opportunity to learn history, ancient techniques of life drawing or fresco painting in the Gardens of Ninfa, under the guidance of professors from the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome.
SEE MORE: ART IN SERMONETA


Of course, a holiday in Sermoneta wouldn’t be complete without an equally beautiful place to stay –
Domus Doull

Sermoneta Review

BOOK YOUR SERMONETA HOLIDAY 

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