We booked into La Foresteria Orsa Maggiore, women’s accommodation in Rome, as one of the things about the trip for me has been to stay in as many women’s accommodation places that I can – and to continue the networking that I have begun on the Women Travel the World website.
The hostel is part of a complex of women’s organisations in 16th Century convent, which includes a women’s centre, a restaurnat, a cafe, the hostel and other organistions. The building was derelict until it was occupied by a group of feminists in the 80s. The City of Rome now rents it to them.
This is not luxurious accommodation – if you do not have an ensuite room, it can be a bit of a journey to the bathroom. But it is funky and homely, there is free internet access, a lift, lots of books to read, and a simple breakfast included. It is very much a woman’s space, and it is centrally located in the Trastevere district, 15 minutes on foot from the Vatican by the Tiber River.
Paulo is presently the manager – I had been in email contact with her since 2000 when I first set up the Women Travel NZ website. In 1997 she set up the now famous Women’s B&B in the centre of Florence, so just before we left it to catch a train to Florence to stay in this B&B it was good to sit down and swap some stories about women’s travel enterprises around the world.
One of the interesting things she said was how the she noticed almost immediately after the world wide economic crisis began, bookings at the B&Bs in Rome and Florence immediately dropped off.
We talked about changing travel patterns – a growth in domestic and ‘close to home’ holidays, and the hesitancy of women in particular to spend on luxury items in such uncertain times. Travel businesses are certainly going to sharpen the budget pen and get more creative in terms of realistic and well focused marketing and promotion.