Just about every expat living in Rome knows Steve Brenner and Linda Martinez. They’re an American couple who moved to Rome in 1999 and started The Beehive, a cozy accommodation smack-dab in the center of the city. But the real reason that everyone knows them is because they’re just friendly people who enjoy connecting with both expats and travelers. In addition to offering rooms, they host social events, such as their open-mic Storytellers evenings, and they also have a great little café that serves breakfast daily and vegetarian/vegan dinners on select evenings.
These days, they divide their time between Rome and the nearby medieval hill town of Orvieto, where they’re raising their three daughters. (Indeed, they were at their home during the interview, so when they say “here,” they’re referring to Orvieto.) By the way, Orvieto is one of the best day trips from Rome for anybody who wants to get out of the city to see small town Italy within an easy one-hour train ride from Termini Station.
On my podcast, we had a great chat about finding accommodations in Italy to suit your tastes, but also about the changes in the hotel industry in the era of websites such as TripAdvisor, the Star rating system in Italy, and just some good advice for travelers visiting Rome. These two have lived and worked in the city for over fifteen years, and you won’t find a more credible source for Rome tourism.
Finding Accommodations in Italy
One of the things that I talked to them about was the option of staying in an apartment instead of a hotel. Steve and Linda also have a website called Cross-Pollinate, which lists dozens of units scattered all over the city.
During our conversation, they made a very astute recommendation concerning the choice of location for your vacation stay. Their advice is to select a location that is NOT immediately in the area of the famous sites and squares.
Seems almost counter-intuitive, but there are several excellent reasons for this. First, it’s likely to be less crowded and expensive. But more importantly, you’ll get to see a part of the city that most visitors miss, making your entire stay more “personal.” I mean, you’re going find Piazza Navona no matter what, right? However, what are the chances that you’ll make an effort to see Villa Torlonia or Villa Ada or Caffarella Park if you’re staying near the Spanish Steps? (I can answer that for you, because I made that “mistake” myself during my second trip to Rome: zero.)
Renting an apartment is great advice, and something that I think every traveler should consider if you’re staying more than just a couple of days. In fact, I’ve created a dedicated page on my blog that links to their apartment options in Rome. This is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants a more authentic encounter with The Eternal City during their stay. Then don’t be surprised if the pastry shop below your apartment becomes your favorite memory of Rome, and not the Coliseum or Trevi’s Fountain.
Steve Brenner and Linda Martinez
I would like to give a big “GRAZIE” once again to Linda and Steve for being so generous with their time and advice. Even if you’re not ready to book your vacation yet, check out their websites for great articles about Rome and Italy. Besides listing their accommodations, their sites have great blogs–with much more practical information than you’ll find on my blog, quite frankly.
And even if you’re already in Rome and booked a room somewhere else, stop by the Beehive to say “ciao,” and have a coffee or glass of wine at their café. (You might even see me there, too.)
Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.