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
I’m a big fan of making my own bread and pasta and think it’s worthwhile for everyone to learn – it’s easy, cheap, and for most people, what you can make at home is much better than anything you can buy from a store.
However, it’s another story when you live a 2 minute walk from a fresh pasta shop like La Bottega del Tortellino.
For years we’ve dutifully bought their ricotta and spinach ravioli at least once a week. In a pinch, we’ll get a few portions of tortellini to serve in broth, or the potato and taleggio cheese ravioli which we’ll toss with butter and sage. Yes, this is what we get to eat when we’re too lazy to cook – fresh pasta, usually made no more than a day ago.
The owners have a 10 year old daughter and I often see them at the elementary school. Having chatted with them a few times, I understood that they had an unlikely story – having decided to change careers and become professional pasta makers.
The following video is about competing with big business, a changing food culture in Italy, and of course, pasta!
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.
There are many upsides to booking a vacation rental property in Venice. Some of these include budget-friendliness, convenience, room to spread out, and kitchens to prepare some of your own meals.
But what if you arrive in town way ahead of your check-in time (generally around 3pm) and/or there’s a space between the 11am check-out and your train or flight departure? With 3 hours to kill, what ever will you do with your bags?
Although a handful of properties may have reception areas or offices that will hold your bags, most are privately owned and don’t offer this service. You don’t really want to be sipping your Bellini in St. Mark’s Square – having to keep one eye on the beautiful architecture and the other on your Samsonite, do you? It’s a myth that rolling bags are prohibited in Venice, however, dragging them up and down tiny footbridges all morning may not be your idea of fun.
Your worries are over…
Located in the historic center of Venice, a 4-minute stroll from both Piazza San Marco and the famed Rialto Bridge, Venice Luggage Deposit provides a solution to one of the most common travel dilemmas.
Called a deposito bagagli in Italian, Venice Luggage Deposit offers reasonably priced, per-day holding of your luggage, with discounts for multiple bags. Special delivery service is available and they also accept oversize or unconventional items (i.e., surfboards) – but that costs a little bit more. If you prefer, you can also make arrangements beforehand online, although no appointment is necessary – just drop ‘em and go!
You’re now ready to roam the winding streets and canals of Venice, hands free.
Venice Luggage Deposit Castello 5496, Calle de la Malvasia
(+39) 041 476 4907; Cell (+39) 320 294 05 00
Hours: 9:30am to 5:30pm (holidays included)
The numbers we use to understand time might be universal, but as a concept it’s culturally malleable. For example, in Germany, a place where things are precise, an appointment for 2pm means you are expected there at 2pm.
In the US, a culture of eagerness and over-achievement, for that same appointment, one would expect someone to show up between 1:45 pm and 2 pm if they were serious about it. Maybe 2:05 pm if they weren’t.
In Italy, an appointment for 2pm really means anywhere from, say, 2:30pm to… never.
Being late in Italy doesn’t warrant an apology, nor does it have to actually be acknowledged. One can even exercise their right to not show up at all and offer no explanation.
The concept of time is flexible and changes based on where you go, and in Italy it’s incredibly flexible. There’s a whole vocabulary in Italian of vague terms that refer to how long things will take: un’ oretta (a small hour), una decina di giorni (10-ish days), and there’s the different ways to interpret time too, such as “90 days” which could mean literally, 90 days from today, or it could mean 90 “working days” which can take 7 months or more.
It’s basically all meaningless unless, of course, we’re talking about food, in which case time is not so flexible.
In many countries, we eat when we feel like it. Breakfast for dinner, 24 hour restaurants, etc. But in Italy, one doesn’t eat lunch at 11:30. Ever. Dinner at 5:00pm? An Italian would think, “what the hell is that?”. It makes no sense here to eat dinner that early.
Time in Italy revolves around food. Think of the clock like this:
Generally speaking, the morning lasts until 12pm, when lunch time (pranzo) begins, lasting until 3pm. Morning is also the only time one would have breakfast, which in itself is optional – although lunch is not!
Between those times you can have a merenda (a snack) or getting closer to dinner you can go for an aperitivo. Coffee you can have anytime, but milky coffee drinks only in the morning – while a cappuccino is frowned upon in the afternoon, a caffè latte is tolerated. And a milky coffee drink is not an apertivo or dessert.
Aperitivo time (what we call wine-o’clock) can be 6:00, maybe 6:30pm, and goes on either until dinner, or can even substitute for dinner depending where you have your aperitivo.
Dinner (cena) begins around 7, 7:30pm when restaurants re-open. But if an Italian invites you to dinner at their home, they probably expect you there between 8 and 9pm.
All those other numbers that mark the non-food related times of the day? When in Italy, don’t worry about them.
The moral here is twofold: when traveling in Italy, don’t stress too much about being late. Go with the flow. Unless it comes to meal times, in which case plan exactly where you’ll be and when so you don’t get caught in that dead zone between 3pm and 7pm.
And remember, l’ora di pranzo è sacra (the lunch hour is sacred).