Cristiano and Giuseppe Grifone are brothers living in Rome who have two apartments there that they rent to tourists. We found them on the Web,, Cristiano is a professional classical musician who, it turns out, had visited my home Seattle on a tour where he played at the University of Washington. Giuseppe is also musical, but works as some sort of engineer. Cristiano speaks better English than Giuseppe, or is at least less shy about using it.

Renting an apartment sight unseen is a bit scary, and we worried that it would turn out to be a broom closet, or even non-existent. But the Grifones and their apartments are very real, and very charming.

We stayed at the one in the Testaccio, just below the Aventine hill. The Testaccio Market, filled with lots of little stalls selling meat, cheese, kitchenwares, and a bazillion shoes, is right around the corner. The apartment is funky as hell, all dark woodwork and sort of nautical brass appointments. It has one big room with a Murphy Bed and a long hallway that looks like the entrance to an Italian Restaurant, lacking only the plastic grapes. There is a small kitchen and bath.

It sleeps three, though there were only two of us.

The building is an oldish one, and the apartment looks out on two “courtyards” that are really more like light wells.

For our three week stay, mid-Jubilee, the price couldn’t be beat. It worked out to about $25 (U.S.) per day for each of us.

The apartment, on Via Marmorata, is also just a short walk to the bridge across the Tiber to Trastevere, another down-home neighborhood.

The apartment is on multiple bus-lines and tram-lines and a short walk from the Piramide subway stop, which is also the station for the train to Ostia, for a daytrip of marvelous Roman ruins.

As a result, we could get to anywhere in Rome a tourist would want to go, in a short time, with few transfers. Yet we came “home” after a day of touristing to a real neighborhood, shopkeepers greeting us from their doorways, people walking their dogs, kids returning from school.

The Griffones are well worth checking out if you are planning to go to Rome for more than a couple of days.