I poured another glass of red wine. Berlin was my city of choice, but Josh had already been to Germany. We needed to go somewhere new for both of us, and glancing at the rain lashing down the windows of my Edinburgh flat, I narrowed our European city break to somewhere very warm.
I don’t speak a word of Italian, I’m good at French and can get by in Spanish. So when the next glass of wine led to us booking flights to Rome, I felt a flutter of excitement. I began searching for the perfect base to hang out with my best friend in Italy.
The prices of hotels in Rome stunned me, so I turned to Airbnb; it was something entirely new. Pigneto as a neighbourhood was cheap, urban, and let’s be honest, wonderfully hipster. I found the perfect little colourful apartment just a short Metro ride from the city centre. The host was enthusiastic, I messaged Josh, and we began planning our trip.
Around a month before we were due to go, I received a text just as I sat down at my desk for work. Our host had cancelled our booking, no explanation attached. I was devastated – the perfect neighbourhood and my first time Airbnb experience falling apart in my hands.
From my phone, I spent under ten minutes frantically searching for something else that would fit perfectly between our flights. I narrowed it down to three within minutes, all of them a little over our original budget but still massively cheaper than a hotel. Then, without even waiting for an answer from Josh at the bakery, I booked a beautiful apartment with Giuliana in Parione. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this one might get cancelled too.
A week before we flew, I got a reassuring email from Airbnb: we were all set to go. Shortly after this Giuliana got in touch with the many different ways we could get from Ciampino to the apartment. It was starting to get very real!
Our taxi driver left us lost and dazed in a tiny Roman street with wine bars left right and centre. I couldn’t find a street sign, and the sun was baking my skin. Before I had a chance to think, an Italian lady tapped me on the shoulder – it was Giuliuana!
We were literally right outside of our apartment, and Giuliana took us through a dim marbled hallway to our door. It was rustic, and we had to climb more marble stairs to the tiny little living room and kitchen. The picture didn’t really do it justice; I loved it. Rustic was appealing to me more than Pigneto’s white and modern flat right there and then. I could hear my Mum’s voice in my head telling me that everything happens for a reason.
All of the windows had cute shutters on them to shade the apartment from the fierce Italian heat; there was artwork, ornaments and soft furnishings everywhere. Giuliana couldn’t speak English very well, so we spoke in French (as best I could anyway). We had to take the rubbish out and recycle properly, but other than that we just had to settle into our new home and enjoy our holiday.
We went for a gelato, and fast forward five nights I was back in Scotland missing our home in Rome. But Giuliana wrote us a great review, as did we about her apartment in Parione. Now with one review to my name, I’m ready to seek out my next Airbnb hidden gem…