Last summer (2016) we noticed several good sales to Europe, so we contacted my parents to see if they wanted to go on another trip with us. Italy was their favorite option so we booked a week-long trip starting in Bologna and ending in Rome. They’ve traveled with us before so they knew what they were getting into! We ended up spending one night in Bologna, three in Florence and three in Rome.
- Bologna has lots of covered walkways with beautiful stone floors.
- If you are on the train in Economy Plus, you must get your snack and drink on their first pass, otherwise it costs money.
- In March the crowds weren’t too bad, so we probably didn’t need to pre-purchase our Vatican and Uffizi tickets.
- Watching people park in Rome is oddly fascinating, as it takes quite a bit of skill and daring to get into some of the available ‘spots.’
- Unexpectedly, we enjoyed Rome more than Florence.
Where we stayed
Hotel Metropolitan, Bologna
This hotel was in a really good location for us — a 5 minute walk to the main piazza and less than 10 minutes to the train station. Check-in was quick and both rooms were ready before 10am. The front desk was quite friendly, providing suggestions to sights around and town and making a dinner reservation at Donatello’s for us.
Our room was on the smaller side with a white leather couch and a reasonably comfortable bed. We faced the alley, and while traffic on the nearby road was light, we could easily hear each vehicle go by. The interior of the hotel was also noisy with quite a few banging doors early in the morning. All of that was even more surprising since the interiors felt new, so we thought the door and window would have been better sealed. We definitely suggest earplugs.
The bathroom shower was fairly large but suffered from weak pressure, and given the setup, water tends to leak on the floor. Our room featured a tub that looked nice but we didn’t get a chance to try it.
Breakfast was OK – fruit, yogurt, toast. Unfortunately the milk was spoiled so cereal was a no-go. Good number of pastries, and coffees made to order were good.
Overall, the hotel has a great location and was fine for a night – we’d consider other options for a longer stay.
Residenza Castiglioni, Florence
Residenza Castiglioni is a small B&B occupying part of the third floor in a mixed-use building. It was only a few minutes walk from the train station, and about five minutes to the main plaza for Santa Maria. Getting in is a bit involved with a locked gate and an (slow) elevator or stairs. Once we made it to reception we were assigned four keys to get into the building and room!
Our rooms were just off the reception room and rather stuffy. Thankfully, the big windows open wide for air movement. The room itself was a good size with a wardrobe in one corner, a small chair in the other, and a teeny TV over the desk by the window. Bathroom was fine, a little small but serviceable.
We had two main problems here. One, the windows were not sealed, so it was very noisy at night – we could easily hear the dishwashing from the restaurant down the street for example. Plus, internal noise started at 7am with breakfast setup. Earplugs are definitely needed here.
Secondly, the wifi was terrible. The main option was to login with your social media. Right away that feels sketchy, but even worse, it just wouldn’t work for our phones. After 20 minutes of struggling we went back to the front desk and got a passcode from the reluctant front desk person. Once we were on the network we still needed to login every time we returned to the room and the service was slow.
Breakfast was OK – a few cheese and meat options, cereal, and some pastries. Coffee and hot chocolate was quite good, and served with a smile(y face).
Overall there were too many issues, and we would definitely not return to this B&B.
Om2Rome is in the Prati neighborhood of Rome, near the Vatican, and about 10min walk to the metro. Once again, this B&B is in a mixed-use building, with business offices on other floors. Both reception people were quite friendly and had several good pieces of advice for exploring town (where to catch bus for coliseum, restaurants, taxi, etc.)
We were assigned room 16, quite good-sized with minimal contemporary furniture: bed (firm but comfortable), desk, small nightstands. One of the nicest parts was the large terrace looking onto an interior courtyard. Thankfully this room was very quiet!
Breakfast was very small – toast and croissants, with a few other items. Weakest offerings of the trip, but it’s so easy to find tasty food in Italy that it wasn’t a big deal. The space was tight when there were a few people eating at the same time but the room was whimsically decorated.
We would suggest wine glasses and corkscrew in rooms, or at least accessible. Also note that this was the only place we stayed in Italy without a fridge but it got chilly at night so we kept the bottle of wine out on the patio.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Om2Rome and would definitely consider them for a future stay.