Unbelievably friendly and warm staff who gladly gave expert travel advice and recommendations that only a Roman would normally be privy to.
- Loic Diels
I LOVE this website and will gladly recommend it to anyone headed this way. Nothing disappointed us!
- Mary-Iris Taylor
I have been using Cross-Pollinate for about 10 years now. The service is consistently great and I can always find just the kind of apartment we like, at the right price.
- Hirani Himona
A really great idea - with a network of hand picked little rooms/guesthouses. If only we could have this in more city destinations!
- Zoe Buck
I love Cross-Pollinate and every time we go to a new city I look to see whether they have some accommodations over there.
- Arantza Aldea
The two places I have stayed at from Cross-Pollinate have been among the best across Europe. Highly recommended.
- Nicholas Burn
Thanks a lot to Cross-Pollinate for the opportunity to experience a city as an insider! We really enjoyed our stay in Rome and Venice and look forward to more.
- Tatiana Marchenko
Cross-Pollinate was very helpful when the owner of the B&B wanted to charge us for the baby under 2 y o. It would have been difficult without them since the owners did not speak any english.
- Yulia Pichugina
This was our only stay with a C-P apartment and we were very pleased with the entire process. Will look to use them again on our next Europe trip!
- Anthony Giglio
Great web site and quick response from the team a CP made the whole experience easy and hassle free. I have already recommended CP to quite of few of my airline industry colleagues and I'm sure they will make use of their excellent service.
- Shane Pickles
Cross-Pollinate was extremely helpful! They found us a place to stay in our price range when many other places of business couldn't help us.
- Sarah Seminutin
Cross-Pollinate was very easy to use, and it is so much better to stay in places like these than big corporate hotels; you get a much better feel for the place.
- Kaspar Deane
Very straight forward. Well done. Definitely would use it again. Love these type of alternatives to hotels!
- John White
Cross-Pollinate was fantastic and easy to use. We used Cross-Pollinate to book a room in Florence (the second leg of our trip), which was everything I thought it would be. We have recommended Cross-Pollinate to our friends.
- Barbara Carlin
Cross-Pollinate are great - the descriptions are accurate and they are very responsive to questions.
- Dominique Bayne
Cross Pollinate was just the best. I had tried a couple of places before coming upon them. As soon as I sent the first email I stopped looking for any more websites. I just wish they expanded to every city in Europe. Their knowledge, helpfulness, etc. was second to none.
- Caroline Collis
In the center of Orvieto, on the Via del Duomo – a main road that runs from the 14th century cathedral to the town’s medieval clock tower is a small shop called “L’Orvietan”. The shop’s owner, Lamberto Bernardini, took the name from Girolamo Ferranti, who in 1603 obtained the license from the city of Orvieto to sell a medicinal potion of his own invention. As a travelling salesman, Girolamo toured Europe with his potion, becoming known as the “Orvietan” (the guy from Orvieto), a name that later was used to refer to his medicinal.
Later, in 1647, Ferranti passed the formula down to Cristoforo Contugi, who obtained the royal privilege and exclusive rights to sell it, from King Louis IV.
For 200 years, “Orvietan” was all the rage as a protection against poison and love sickness, being cited in many books and pharmacopeia. References to it appear in works of Walter Scott Kenilworth, Molière, Voltaire, and Balzac.
Lamberto, an antique book collector as well as shop owner, came across a copy of Niccolo Lemery’s Farmacopea, published in 1697, containing a few recipes for the potion, and with the help of a few pharmacists and herbalists, recreated the potion is the form of a digestive liqueur which can be enjoyed as an aperitif, an after dinner drink, or in a tea or coffee.
Here’s a quick video of Lamberto and the story of Orvietan:
It’s easy to conjure an image of Paris, New York, or London in the winter. But what about Rome? For most people, it’s a city famous for its piazzas, public fountains and other statues that adorn the city; outdoor monuments like the Pantheon and the Colosseum. It’s a place to have a long, leisurely dinner al fresco and a coffee at a sidewalk cafe. It’s true – the summertime in Rome is dreamy, and it’s a living, outdoor museum. In the summer, the days are long, light is gorgeous, and the sky is always clear and blue. However, it can also be hot, crowded, and expensive in the summer.
Visiting Rome in the winter is like visiting an entirely different city. There are a number of relatively unknown advantages, such as cheaper stays, shorter (or no) lines, and some activities and experiences that just aren’t available in other seasons. And it’s still just as beautiful – we might get some dark, rainy days, but more often than not, the weather is fairly mild and the skies are still clear and blue and the city is just as magical as it is in the summer.
For the last 3 years, to take advantage of empty rooms in our hostel, The Beehive, and to make up for the fact that not many people really have an image in their heads of Rome in the winter, we invite around 10 bloggers and social media experts to come and stay and experience #winterinrome. We put together a weekend of activities, tours, walks, and meals – some that we do ourselves and others from friends and colleagues doing interesting things. The goal is for these bloggers and social media influencers to spread the word (and images) of what Rome is like in the winter – to help promote our city in the off-season.
On Friday we started the day with a great food tour in Trastevere, by Eating Italy Food Tours. Our guide, Domenico, who also runs Tram Tracks, (an unforgettable, live music/dinner alternate reality experience aboard an old tram), took us around the neighbourhood, tasting all kinds of goodies, from supplì, to the best porchetta and pizza bianca ever, to creme brûlée and vin santo at a restaurant whose wine cellar is 160 years older than the Colosseum!
We then did an e-bike tour around the Roman Forum, Imperial Forum and Colosseum with The Roman Guy, who then took everyone out to find the best cocktails in Rome.
Saturday was vespa day with Scooteroma, visiting street art and covering lots of ground.
Lunch was made back at the Beehive by Viola (my 10 year old sous-chef) and I, and then the group headed back out with Personalised Italy to visit San Giovanni and San Clemente.
That night we had our monthly Storytellers night back at the Beehive, with tales of getting “busted”, and then were treated to a Tuscan dinner, prepared by Pamela Sheldon Johns of Poggio Etrusco.
On Sunday we were taken by Context Travel to the Palazzo Massimo, Rome’s best underrated/unknown museum and saw frescoes and mosaics that date back to the 2nd century BC – we’re talking entire rooms of villas preserved in ways that blow Pompeii out of the water. This museum deserves an entire post not just for the collection inside, but because it’s an amazing example of how certain sites never make the “bucket list” even though they have some of the most important and insightful works inside.
Lunch was hosted at the Gatsby Cafe at Piazza Vittorio, a laid back, hip, vintage cafe on three levels with food provided by other locals such as Panella, Radici Pizzicheria and Gelateria Fassi – all gems in an area that doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves.
For more information, pics or just to follow along with the rest of group, here’s a list of the bloggers and sponsors that participated:
Denya Pandolfi - Grazie a Te Facebook & Instagram: @grazieateblog Twitter: @denyapandolfi
Civitavecchia Port(commonly referred to as the Port of Rome) is located approximately 70 km north west of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Besides serving cruise ship lines, there are also ferries embarking to Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Tunis and Barcelona.
The pedestrian-friendly town sits along a seafront promenade with a lot of nice bars, restaurants and open-air cafes to enjoy. There’s even a small shopping center. If you have a couple of hours to kill, it’s not a bad place to hang out, however, if the major part of a day is open to you, we recommend going into Rome.
Have a look at this aerial map of the port to get your bearings:
Aerial map of Civitavecchia
PLAN YOUR TIMELINE
The most economical way to get from the piers to the center of Rome is by train. Figure on a one-way trip costing €5 to 16€ (one-way), and taking about 45 minutes (Intercity trains) to 1.5 hours (Regional trains) between Civitavecchia Station and Rome’s main railway station, Roma Termini. From there, it’s easy to catch the Metro (subway) or buses to reach the city’s main tourist sites. Trains between the two stations run every hour (sometimes two per hour, depending on the time of day). Click here to search for train times and fares.
Important! Don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to get from your ship’s quay to Civitavecchia Station!
Here’s a breakdown of the drill:
Take the free shuttle from your ship’s pier to the cruise terminal.
From there, buy a ticket for the Argo bus (departures every 20 minutes) at any bar or newsstand. It’s only a 10-minute ride.
By foot. From the shuttle stop outside the entrance of Varco Fortezza, walk 650 meters (9 minutes) to the train station. (See Google Map directions below).
Private Train Service (cruise customers only)
For cruise travelers there’s limited, direct private train service to the Vatican Station (St. Peter Square) from the Port, but it’s seasonal and not available every day. Ask your cruise line for details or click here for more information.
*Note: Local cabs at the port are not permitted to transfer people to and from the Civitavecchia train station.
A TICKET TO RIDE
If you’ve decided to go to Rome by train from the port of Civitavecchia, we suggest you purchase the BIRG Ticket (5 zones). It’s a great value because:
it allows unlimited trips on all public transport to and from the port, and all over the city of Rome
it’s good from the time of validation until midnight.
the BIRG can be purchased right at the station.
YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS
While the train is the most convenient and cost-effective way to travel into Rome, if you have money to burn you can choose to:
Yesterday I voted for the first time in an Italian election as an Italian citizen. I’d been researching the issue, and asking everyone I know for their opinions, for months, and the truth is, I can’t think of a worse issue to have as my first time. Were this first time sex, it would be the equivalent of doing it in the backseat of a car with someone you don’t even really like – memorable, but disappointing.
For those who haven’t yet recovered from the US elections and didn’t even begin to sort through what this was all about, I’ll give a very brief, Cliff-Notes version – basically just what you need to know so that you can have an opinion about it at a dinner party, and know what it might mean for the future of Italy, the future of the EU, and how that might effect anyone who wants to come here on vacation.
WHAT WAS THE REFERENDUM ABOUT?
The question asked to Italian citizens on the ballot was essentially (and forgive my terrible, literal translation):
Do you approve the constitutional law concerning the provision for exceeding the equal bicameralism, a reduction of the number of members of parliament, containment of costs of institutions, the suppression of the CNEL and the revision of Title V of the Second part of the Constitution? Yes / No
In my own words, it was about reducing the size of the senate and changing their power so that laws would be quicker to pass and governments couldn’t be ousted as easily. In addition, the Provinces would be abolished as well as an organization called CNEL, all of which would have saved taxpayers X amount of money.
Sounds good, right? Smaller, cheaper, and more stable government is hard to turn down!
The first bit of messiness was that Renzi, the Prime Minister, originally said that if he couldn’t get these reforms to pass, he would step down as PM. For many, that made a “No” vote the equivalent of “Out with Renzi”. He then took back that statement, and in the back and forth, the issue became for many people, the equivalent of a “Yes” vote meaning “Renzi stays”.
After Trump’s victory, the foreign press called this a potential ‘Third Act’ in the Brexit/Trump/Italexit saga. Many also feared that Italy, looming on the brink of a serious banking crisis, would be in such a state of uncertainty were Renzi to step down, that the EU would be in turmoil if we delivered a “No” vote. The foreign press also speculated further about how the only party that would come to power post-Renzi was the 5-Star movement, which has been on the record as being anti-EU (even though they’re also on the record for being pro-EU).
HERE’S SOME OTHER THINGS THAT THE ISSUE BECAME ABOUT:
- If Renzi steps down, that will leave a space that could only be filled by the 5-Star (antiestablishment) movement which could then lead to referendum on leaving the EU alla Brexit – which could be bad. Or good!
- If Renzi steps down, that could force the President of the Republic to create a technocratic government to tide us over until the next elections in 2018 – which could be bad. Or good.
- The far right sees a “No” vote as the same kind of “No” that the UK delivered and the same kind of “No” that the US voted (against Clinton and the establishment), which would then pave the way for more Salvini/Putin/Le Pen/Trump right wing extremists. Which would certainly be bad. Unless you’re into that, in which case it would be good.
So a vote on constitutional reform, involving the size and cost of the Senate, turned into a vote either for or against the PM, a vote for or against the EU, a vote for or against Populism and the Establishment (which, in this case, we don’t really know if it’s Renzi and his proposal or saying no to Renzi and his proposal).
WHAT WAS IT REALLY ABOUT?
Those who broke down the actual text of what was proposed (myself included) found the following issues of concern:
- The remaining senators would not be elected directly by the people. They would be appointed by other politicians.
- The remaining senators would also hold a second public office, so would have to divide their time between the two jobs, and incur higher costs in getting to/from Rome to complete their duties as senators therefore reducing the potential savings.
- The senators would have legal immunity, which could lead to all kinds of corruption (and just, why?).
- No salaries would be cut, therefore making the issue of saving money no longer at the center of the argument.
- The process by which a law becomes a law, instead of following the current, slow, yet single procedure, would follow 10-13 different procedures (the actual number not 100% agreed on) that, if disputed, would end up in the constitutional courts to be disputed to death, which means that there’s no guarantee that laws will be any easier to pass then they are now.
- That governments would be more stable, but also more powerful, and that could be good (if the government is good) or it could be REALLY bad (if the government is bad).
- For some reason they also threw in there that the number of signatures needed to bring a public vote forward would be much higher than it currently is, which just had no place getting squeezed into this.
Well, we know what happened. Italy voted “No” about 60 to 40, and Renzi immediately stated he would turn in his resignation the following day.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Good question. It’s doubtful we’ll hold early elections, so the President will have to form a government that will last from now until 2018. In the meantime, that means nothing’s changed at all. The laws, and the process by which they become laws, has stayed the same. Today, and tomorrow, Italy will have the same problems that it had yesterday and the day before.
For the tourist, this might mean that the Euro will fall against the dollar a bit, which could make your trip cheaper. Otherwise, you can plan that Italy is going to be the same dichotomous, beautifully messy, chaotic and confusing place that it was and might always be.
But if you really want to understand Italy, just watch this oldie but goodie:
I was recently invited to go on a special tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with LivItaly Tours – special because they’ve added VR glasses/goggles so you can see computer generated recreations of the sites while in them.
We – my 10-year old daughter and I – met with a group of other bloggers at the nearby Caffé Propaganda in the Celio neighbourhood, just next to the Colosseum, where we had a drink and demo of our glasses.
They work with your smartphone through an app you download in advance. Once at a site, you select it in the app, and it recognises your motion, so as you turn the view changes.
We started off at the Colosseum, talking about how it got its name and the colossal statue of Nero that was once next to it – and that thanks to the VR glasses, we could see again.
Being on a group tour means jumping the substantial line, which even in November was pretty long.
Now, I’ve been in the Colosseum many times, and have had a number of guided tours there too, but for my daughter, despite being born in Italy and living here, this was her first time. She’s currently studying the Greeks in school, so this was an interesting way for her to connect the dots to the ancient world. She was full of questions, and our guide, Rachel, was full of answers. The glasses were appealing to my daughter not only because of the cool/fun factor, but because many of the monuments and ruins from the ancient world require a lot of imagination to see what they were really like, and visualising them with the glasses makes it come to life much easier.
Next we headed up the Palatine Hill, where the emperors had their palaces, and saw over the Circus Maximus, the world’s largest sports arena.
For the final part of the tour, we heading into the Roman Forum, once the downtown of the Roman Empire, and thus, kind of the center of the entire world.
The entire tour probably lasted between 3-4 hours, and we were engaged the entire time.
I’m a big fan of walking tours in general. There’s a number of quality tour companies in Rome and in general they are all worthwhile – the more you’re able to invest, the more likely you’ll have a smaller group size and a more knowledgeable guide. Visiting many of these sites on your own, without any additional information or guide, can be an underwhelming experience, so I do recommend doing a tour.
Having the VR glasses was a nice addition too, especially for kids, who can be hard to keep interested. I also felt that our guide was great with kids too – she was happy to get questions and visibly pleased to be able to answer them in a way that kept more questions coming.
The price of their tours are slightly higher than other similar tours, due to the VR glasses, but you get to keep them afterward, and they work for other sites as well (and for other VR apps). They also offer a guide that’s full of recommendations that go behind the sites – food, markets, shopping, etc.