Well, it’s hard to believe but our very first stay in Italy has come to an end and now we’re in Lake Garda wondering when this traveling lifestyle is going to truly sink in. Right now, it still kind of feels like a fantasy, but we’re thinking when enough days pass that we’ve been away longer than our longest vacation it will all start to feel more real. I’d say another week or two.
Going to Rome first was the absolute right decision for us. I know I already mentioned this in other blog posts, but it just felt like the perfect mix of foreign, yet comfortable. It also helps that it’s incredibly easy to navigate, food from basically anywhere will be the best you’ve had since your last trip to Italy, and the people here are generally very kind: they stop, they say buongiorno. In Rome and in Italy in general we’ve never gotten the sense that we’re unwelcome, all very good things when you’re warming up to long-term travel.
What also really helps is staying in the right place. Port and I checked into Hotel Nerva late Friday afternoon as a thunderstorm finished making its way through the city, and I’m very content knowing our time in Rome could not have gone more smoothly had we stayed anywhere else.
For anyone visiting any big city, location matters, but for photographers especially having easy access to wherever you want to shoot at the earliest hours of the morning makes life infinitely easier. It means not having to pay for tons of cabs to rush to a spot before the crowds, and wake up times that are a whole lot more manageable. Nerva was a Godsend for us in this way. I’ll get to the hotel itself in a minute, but even if it had failed in every other category (it did not) where it is would’ve likely made up for it. On a quiet pedestrian-friendly cobblestone side street, right next to the Forum of Augustus, and in the very center of Rome’s oldest most historic corner, Nerva is literally smack-dab where you want to be.
Typically with hotel posts I do a quick list of five things we loved about our stay, but just because the location really was that good, for this post I’m going to do 5 things about why Nerva is in the perfect location, too. I’ll start with that, so here we go:
1. It’s not on a main road, but a side street, so even though it’s not in a tall building the street noise (except for the church bells, which I always love) was nonexistent.
2. It’s less than 5 minutes walk from The Colosseum if you go to the left….
3. …and less than an 8 minutes walk from The Trevi Fountain if you go to the right (& only about 6 minutes more to reach the Piazza di Spagna from there).
4. …and about four minutes from Piazza Venezia, but you get the gist, it’s literally the most convenient location of all time. Anything you want to see is in walking distance.
5. There’s a church right across the street and up about a hundred meters or so. Early in the morning (like six am!) there’s a choir that would be practicing (I think it was a children’s choir), so as Porter and I slipped out to go photograph the city, coffees in hand, the very start of our walk was always in silence listening to probably the best church choir either of us have ever heard through the windows. I hate the word magical, but it was that.
Now onto the hotel itself:
1. The layout. This hotel reminded us a little bit of our favorite boutique hotel in Paris, Le Pradey. Not just because of convenient location and a small number of rooms, but because it has that closed, comforting floor plan that always feels quintessentially European. The halls have white winding walls, beautiful minimalist paintings, and the hotel rooms doors are opened by “real” keys. Elegantly cozy, is the descriptive I would go with. And for us, that’s always exactly what we’re hoping for in a hotel.
2. The bathrooms are this brown-toned marble that Porter kept referring to as “dinosaur egg.” I love marble bathrooms, but this exact tone and color showed the kind of intentional, thoughtful design we both love, and yes, Porter, it did kind of feel like being inside a dinosaurs egg (I wrote a description of it down in detail in my “if we ever have a house” note page on my iPhone, just in case).
3. The staff. They’re tremendously warm and kind and always smiling. It’s a small team, so after just a day or so there are familiar faces around saying hello and asking how your day has gone. Our first afternoon there the concierge sat down with us with a map to help us figure out the best plan of action for ticking off everywhere we wanted to see. He also gave us a list of three or so restaurants in every area of town that they considered the very best. This helped a lot because they weren’t chosen based on how upscale they are but on quality, so Porter and I felt like we weren’t throwing money away to have a beautiful meal (which you just shouldn’t have to do in Italy!).
4. Breakfast and the breakfast room. Porter and I, like most people, have a special place in our hearts for hotel breakfasts. Nerva’s will always stick out because their breakfast room is layed out like the quaintest little city coffee shop, but is just for guests. It made every morning feel smoother and more relaxing, and they have a never ending line of Italian breakfast foods they’ll serve you if you’re a little jet lagged and a little hangry. Also, I missed European coffee so much and it has not disappointed. Added perk- they serve complimentary coffee tea and pastries at the hotel every afternoon, and because of its location it usually makes sense to pop in and take advantage of that (we did every day but one).
5. The eco-minded details. Natural, made-in-house bath products, locally sourced foods served from the kitchen, and a general ethos of supporting small, locally-driven businesses resonated with our whole ethos while we stayed here. To put it simply, we felt very at home and appreciated.
I’m not sentimental, but writing this kind of cements that our first stay has really ended. I think someday I’ll wish I could replay this chapter of our lives over and over.
Hope you enjoy the pics & have enjoyed following along so far!
Anna Lisa & Porter
*thank you to Nerva Boutique Hotel for sponsoring this post, as always all thoughts and opinions remain our own.