Moka pot: how is it used?2018-11-22T17:44:41+02:00

It’s true, at Casa Vacanze SPQR you have a Dolce Gusto – great to prepare a perfect espresso and many other beverages; but if you wish to taste a real traditional coffee, like that each Italian family enjoy every morning, you should try the Moka pot!

caffettiera Moka

The Bialetti Moka pot: Story of the most popular Italian coffee pot

The Moka  is a coffee machine designed by the Italian Engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933; its name comes from the Yemenite town of Mokha, as the best quality coffees were arriving to Europe from its harbour at that time. Bialetti Industries continue to produce the same model, and the unit you find at SPQR is an original product, with its typically aluminium octagonal shape representing one of its distinctive elements.

An original Bialetti Moka pot can be recognized from the logo of the Little Mustachioed Man printed on its bottom chamber. Created by a famous Italian designer, the Little Mustachioed Man was actually an animated caricature of Eng. Bialetti himself. Millions of Italian kids have grown up with this character on the TV spots of the fifties and sixties, having fun watching his amusing adventures and his mouth, changing its shape according to the letters he was pronouncing. You can see him HERE.

The Bialetti Moka pot is today recognized as an iconic design of Made in Italy, displayed in modern industrial art and design exhibitions all over the world, such as for example the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, the Design Museum of London, the Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami and the MoMA of New York.

caffettiera Moka

Section drawing of the Moka pot

How to brew an excellent coffee with a Moka pot:

  1. Buy a high quality, vacuum-packed, ground coffee – it must be specific for Moka use, the one for “Espresso” is not OK!
  2. Fill up with cold water – from the tap or still-bottled – the bottom chamber A of the Moka pot, up to level B and taking care never to reach the safety valve C;
  3. Insert into the bottom chamber A the funnel-shaped metal filter D;
  4. Fill up the filter D completely with the ground coffee, but without pressing it;
  5. Make sure that the rubber gasket and the flat filter are well placed into the lower part of the upper container E;
  6. Tightly screw the two parts of the Moka pot together: no steam must leak out;
  7. Place the Moka pot on a small burner, with the flame to a minimum;
  8. The coffee will slowly and silently start raising up to the upper container E;
  9. As soon as you hear the Moka pot starting to burble, turn off the flame: the water inside should not boil, that’s the secret to brew only the best parts of the coffee!
  10. Before pouring the coffee into the cups, take care to mix it with a teaspoon;
  11. When it’s cold again, unscrew and wash thoroughly the Moka pot with a scouring pad and just hot water: NO SOAP, NO DISHWASHER!
  12. Re-assemble and stow the Moka only after it’s completely dry.
caffettiera Moka

Famous Little Mustachioed Man

Heating system and hot water2018-11-22T17:35:45+02:00

At Casa Vacanze SPQR, heating system and hot water are both automatically managed. Domestic hot water for bathrooms and kitchen is always on and continuously available, while the heating system is managed by myself through an App. So, you shouldn’t need to adjust or change anything; here after you’ll however find some useful notes for the optimal use of the whole system.

Heating system and hot waterBoiler

The boiler is gas-fired, and for your safety it’s placed into the higher part of the cabinet on the kitchen’s balcony. It’s powerful enough to feed both heating system and hot water.

Should you feel that the radiators aren’t hot enough, or that water from the taps is not hot enough, please check that the pressure shown by the manometer is between 1 and 1.5 bar – and if the display shows an error code instead of temperature please let me know.

Riscaldamento ed acqua calda

Boiler’s self-protection block

When the boiler doesn’t work (meaning you don’t have hot water from the taps and all radiators are cold), it might be gone in self-protection mode due to different reasons that triggered its safety systems. One of such reasons, most frequent during winter season, might be that the radiators’ knobs are closed. It’s possible indeed that the guest before you closed the knobs of most of the radiators; the boiler, sensing that the water circulation is too much limited, may go into self-protection mode. Please check that knobs of all radiators are completely open, and open them if you find them closed. Knobs can be opened by rotating them anti-clockwise till the end. At this point press the R button on the boiler (Reset), it will restart automatically. If the radiators’ knobs were already all open the problem is different and a specialized technician is required, so please take note of the error code and call me or text me (my private number is into the Home Book at SPQR).

Domestic hot water

As well as in any other apartment, if two of you are having shower at the same time in the two bathrooms, problems might happen to keep constant the temperature of hot water – but this is normal. At least in winter, when hotter water is required, my advice is to have shower in shifts.

Heating system

I start by saying that town authorities, in order to promote energy saving and to limit pollution, impose a temperature not exceeding 20°C for a maximum of 12 hours/day, and only between November 1st and April 15th.
Through an App on my portable phone, communicating with the thermostat installed at SPQR, I can personally adjust temperatures and schedules of the heating system. I tried not to stay too far from the given rules but also to consider the comfort requirements of SPQR’s guests, and I reached a compromise: a temperature higher than allowance, for a shorter time.
The standard setting, then, is 21°C between 7:00 and 10:30 both AM and PM.
Should you have different requirements please let me know, without touching the thermostat – that can however be consulted to check the set temperature and the actual temperature.
I kindly ask you not to close the radiators’ knobs – if you feel too hot please let me know and I will reduce the temperature of the thermostat.
When you check-in at SPQR you’ll find the house hot, regardless from the time you arrive 😊

Note about the cabinet

The cabinet on the balcony must always be kept closed with the three latches and the padlock blocking the middle latch. This is because the cabinet doors might be slammed open by the wind, that at such height may become very strong. The key of the padlock is into the white key ring that should normally be found into the drawer of the small table in the living room. Should you need to open the cabinet to use the washer or check the boiler, it’s very important that you close it after, with all three latches and the padlock. I really thank you for taking care.

I’m sure you’ll have no problem related to heating system and hot water; oppositely, I kindly ask you to inform me immediately. My contacts are into the Home Book at SPQR!

Framtid Microwave oven by Whirlpool2018-11-15T21:50:48+02:00

For Holiday Home SPQR I selected Framtid microwave oven, manufactured by Whirlpool and marketed by Ikea. Aesthetically twin to Realistisk oven, Framtid completes its functions offering great ease of use. I’m listing up hereafter a few advices for you to manage it quickly, the whole manual can be found HERE.

Framtid microwave oven


Framtid microwave oven

Setting the clock

This procedure can be useful because in the event of black-out the clock resets to zero.

  1. Open the door pressing the opening button  (this will allow you longer time for setting).
  2. Press the Stop button  for 3 seconds. The digits of the hours will start flickering. Set the hours with buttons +/-.
  3. Press the Start button . The digits of the minutes will start flickering. Set the minutes with buttons +/-.
  4. Confirm the settings by pressing the Start  button .

Memo Function

The oven can store your favourite settings (function, power and time) and you can recall them when needed without setting everything each time.

  • How to store a setting: select a function and set power and time as you like, then keep pressed the Memo button  for 3 seconds until you hear an acoustic signal.
  • Use: press the Memo button  first, then the Start button .

Cooking, heating and defrosting with Framtid microwave oven

  1. Using buttons +/- set the operation time.
  2. Pressing the Power button  set the power level (press repeatedly to change the value).
  3. Start the operation by pressing the Start button .
    Time and power can be adjusted without stopping the microwave oven. By repeatedly pressing the Start button , the time will increase in steps of 30 seconds. HERE you’ll find a table with power levels recommended for some types of food.

Jet defrost

To be used ONLY for meat, fish and poultry with net weight between 100g and 2Kgs. An explanation table can be found HERE. For defrosting any other type of food proceed as explained at previous paragraph, setting the power at 160W.

  1. Press the Jet Defrost button .
  2. Set the food weight with buttons +/-.
  3. Press the Start button . Defrosting time will automatically be calculated based on food weight.
  4. Midway through the defrosting process, the oven stops and beeps; open the door and turn/mix the food you’re defrosting, then press the Start button  again.

Steam cooking

This microwave oven comes equipped with an orange colour three-pieces plastic Steamer. You can use it only for steam cooking fresh or frosted fish or vegetables into Framtid microwave oven. HERE you’ll find a table with some advice for each type of food.

  1. Fill the lower part of the Steamer (the deeper part) with 100ml of water.
  2. Place the steam grid into the lower part and put the food on it.
  3. Cover with the lid and place everything onto the glass turntable of the microwave oven.
  4. Press the Steam button  repeatedly, to select the type of food you want to cook.
  5. Set the weight with buttons +/-. Press the Start button . Time will be automatically calculated based on food weight and food type.

I hope you’ll use the Framtid microwave oven with care and satisfaction, and will report any problems to me: my contacts are in the Home Book at SPQR!

Rengöra dishwasher by Electrolux2018-11-15T21:52:06+02:00

For Holiday Home SPQR I’ve chosen the Rengöra dishwasher manufactured by Electrolux and marketed by Ikea. It’s a very efficient model, offering a variety of 5 washing functions, safe and easy to be used and cleaned. Here after I’m listing a few short directions to use it, while the whole user’s manual can be found HERE.

Which detergent products should we use?

  • Please, only use gel detergent, salt and rinse aid, all specific for dishwasher use. Why?
    1. Tabs or powder detergents melt completely at very high temperatures only; by using them you risk to occlude the drain ducts and even more to compromise the cleaning performance, as only a small part of the detergent will be actually available for washing.
    2. You’ll find on the market dishwasher tabs including salt and rinse aid. I strongly advise you against them. Here in Rome water is extremely hard (with high calcium content), which makes essential using salt and rinse aid supplied through the dishwasher.

Loading the baskets of Rengöra dishwasher

  1. Before loading them into the dishwasher, all solid and/or burned residuals – with special attention to melted cheese – should be removed from dishes. A dedicated brush is hanging over the kitchen sink.
  2. Dishes, pans and pots have to be loaded on the lower basket, where the hottest water will be circulating. Glasses and plastic items must be placed on the upper basket. Don’t pile up items one over the other!
  3. If you wish to place into the dishwasher also the wine glasses, please note that USING THE SPECIFIC ACCESSORY IS MANDATORY: all stems must be carefully locked into the dedicated rack as you see in picture below, or wine glasses will break.
    Rengöra dishwasher
  4. Once everything has been loaded, please make sure that spray arms behind both baskets can rotate freely.

How to use Rengöra dishwasher

Rengöra dishwasher

  1. Switch the Rengöra dishwasher on (the leftmost button) and check that the warning lights of the salt Rengöra dishwasher  and of the rinse aid Rengöra dishwasher  are not on; in such a case refill as needed, or the dishes will not be cleaned as expected. The dedicated funnel is in the drawer behind the kitchen sink to help you refilling the salt.
  2. Load the baskets and select a washing function:
    • For dishes and glasses with soil of the day, the perfect programme is Rengöra dishwasher , as it uses very hot water and only lasts for half an hour.
    • If you also need to wash pots and pans, my advice is to select the ECO programme. In fact, it lasts much longer than all others and gives excellent results.
    • If you don’t want to hear noise in the evening, start the rinsing programme Rengöra dishwasher anyway, it only lasts for 14 minutes… and next morning don’t forget to start the real washing programme!
  3. Unless you’re about to start the rinsing programme, pour the gel detergent in both compartments of the detergent container, without exceeding the maximum level. The smaller compartment is for pre-washing.
  4. Start the Rengöra dishwasher by closing its door.

I hope you’ll handle the Rengöra dishwasher with care, and will report any problems to me: my contacts are in the Home Book at SPQR!

Rengöra dishwasher

Realistisk oven by Whirlpool2018-11-15T21:53:22+02:00

For Holiday Home SPQR I chose the Realistisk oven manufactured by Whirlpool and marketed by Ikea. It’s a fan-assisted oven with as many as six different cooking functions, safe and easy both to be used and cleaned. Here after I’m listing a few short directions to use it, while the whole user’s manual can be found HERE.

How to open the Realistisk oven

This oven features a special closing lever to grant the children’s safety. This safety lever is placed on the upper right side of the oven’s door.
In substance, to open the oven’s door one must push up the safety lever while pulling the door towards you. If you’re right-handed like me, my advice is to proceed this way:

  • Hold the oven’s handle with four fingers, palm up.
  • At the same time, pull up the safety lever with your thumb of the same hand.

How to use the Realistisk oven

Realistisk oven has three knobs on its front panel:

  1. The left one will let you choose between the 6 different cooking functions, and switch the inner lamp on. The functions that in my opinion could be handier for you are these two:
    • Convection baking, marked by the symbol . It can be used for cooking and heating any types of food.
    • Defrosting, marked by the symbol . Very useful to shorten the unfreezing time of frozen foods.
      I advise you against using both functions with grill ( and  symbols), just to avoid the oven getting too dirty!
  2. The right knob lets you adjust the oven temperature (expressed in degrees Celsius). You can find a small conversion table from degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit HERE.
  3. With the middle knob you can set the cooking time. Turn the knob all the way clockwise until it stops, then turn it back till the desired cooking time matches the sign on the knob. Once the cooking time has elapsed, the oven will turn off. If the sign on the knob stays on the  symbol, the oven won’t be able to turn on.

You are kindly requested to thoroughly clean up the Realistisk oven after use!

realistisk oven

The Realistisk oven manufactured by Whirlpool and marketed by Ikea

Rowenta steam iron Focus ECO2018-11-15T21:54:41+02:00

The Rowenta steam iron you’ll find into the wardrobe of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria room is light and simple to use. This because I guessed that having just a few days to enjoy your roman holiday, you wouldn’t have liked spending time reading long user manuals or waiting for steam being created by a large ironing station. That’s why I’m listing hereafter the few instructions that will allow you to iron your laundry simply and fast during your stay at Holiday Home SPQR. The manufacturer’s whole user manual is HERE and Rowenta website is HERE.


Rowenta steam iron

How to use it

  1. Make sure the iron is not plugged in and that both the little lever and the dial are not on the symbol “steam ironing”.
  2. Open the flap door and hold the iron tilted while filling the tank with tap water, then close the flap door. Never exceed the “MAX” level.
  3. Plug the iron in and adjust its temperature basing on indications supplied by the label of each item (the number of dots on the label should match to the dots on the dial). Always based on the type of tissue, the small lever shall be moved on the “steam ironing” or on the “dry ironing” symbol.
  4. When the thermostat lamp goes off the desired temperature will be reached; now you can start ironing!
  5. Whenever needed, a jet of steam or a water spray can be generated by pressing the appropriate button.
  6. When ironing is completed, move back the small lever on the “dry ironing” symbol and unplug the iron.
  7. It’s important to empty the iron tank from unused water thoroughly!
  8. Before placing it back into the wardrobe, make sure the Rowenta steam iron becomes completely cold while keeping it in vertical position.

Please, pay your utmost attention when using the Rowenta steam iron with children around!

Hotpoint Ariston washer2018-11-15T21:55:49+02:00

At Holiday Home SPQR you’ll find a Hotpoint Ariston washer, the up-to-date and high energy efficiency (A+++) model FMSL 603 EU. I’m listing up hereafter a few advices, recommendations and suggestions for washing and drying your laundry efficiently, easily and quickly.

You’ll find HERE a short version of the official user’s manual of the Hotpoint Ariston washer. The whole original manual can be found HEREIf you’re looking for the Manufacturer’s information about the service network, the official website is THIS.

Hotpoint Ariston washer

How to do laundry

  1. Always use liquid detergent. Tabs or powder detergents melt completely at very high temperatures only; by using them you risk to occlude the drain ducts and even more to compromise the laundry results, as only a small part of the detergent will actually be available for washing.
  2. Don’t load the Hotpoint Ariston washer more than due. The max load is 6Kg and it may decrease depending on the selected programme.
  3. I assume you’ll likely need to wash clothes with different colours/materials all together, so I advise to use programmes 5 or 11 ECO, both suitable and bearing loads up to 6Kg. They nearly last 3 hours and do spinning.
  4. Never try to open the door of the washing machine while the indicator light (the last one on the low right of the panel) is on. It will go off after about 3 minutes from the end of the cycle; switch then off the washing machine with ON/OFF button and open it, leaving it ajar after taking out your laundry.

How to dry your clothes

  1. The foldaway rack is stored in Santa Caterina d’Alessandria room, into the right door of the wardrobe. Always place it hanging towards the inner side of the balcony! The ideal spot is the solid wall on the left when getting on the balcony from the kitchen.
  2. Always use clothespins to pin your wet clothes: at that height, breeze can dry them off rather quickly – and becoming lighter they may be blown away!

Note about the cabinet

The cabinet on the balcony must always be kept closed with the three latches and the padlock blocking the middle latch. This is because the cabinet doors might be slammed open by the wind, that at such height may become very strong. The key of the padlock is into the white key ring that should normally be found into the drawer of the small table in the living room. Should you need to open the cabinet to use the washer or check the boiler, it’s very important that you close it after, with all three latches and the padlock. I really thank you for taking care.

In conclusion… I think now you know enough about how to do laundry at SPQR, however please contact me for any further information! Have a fantastic stay!


Hotpoint Ariston washer

Hotpoint Ariston washer – front panel

Espresso maker Dolce Gusto by Nescafé2018-11-15T21:56:55+02:00

For you to taste a real Italian espresso during your holiday at Holiday Home SPQR, I selected the espresso maker Dolce Gusto, model “Piccolo”. It’s a small manual device, but it really makes a fantastic espresso. Furthermore, Nescafé makes available on the market an impressive range of Dolce Gusto pods to prepare different types of coffee and other hot or cold drinks – their range is much wider than that of other manufacturers. Consequently, I’m sure that with such a variety you’ll be able to meet your taste and follow your own habits, wherever in the World you’re coming from!

Espresso maker Dolce Gusto

How to use it

1. Fill up the tank with cold water. Switch the espresso maker Dolce Gusto on and wait for the red lamp into the switch stop blinking and turning to red. Place your cup under the nozzle, lowering the cup holder if needed. Lift the upper lever, take the pod tray out, place a pod and insert the tray back in.

Espresso maker Dolce Gusto

2. Close the upper lever down. Tilt the small lever to right (blue) for hot drinks, and to left (red) for cold drinks. Move the small lever back to centre to stop the supply as desired. For double-pod drinks repeat steps from “a” to “f”. Your drink is ready.

Espresso maker Dolce Gusto

3. Lift the upper lever, take the tray out and discard the used pod. Rinse the tray on both sides under running water. Insert again the tray, close the upper lever down and switch the espresso maker Dolce Gusto off.

Espresso maker Dolce Gusto

On this table I’ve listed the main pod types on the market, along with the volume to be brewed for each of them. Several other types do exist actually; in supermarkets you’ll find a part of them – if you can’t find those you want, consider that the widest choice can be found in specific shops.

The original User’s Manual by the manufacturer can be found HERE. Further information about the product and the manufacturer can be found at THIS website.
An extensive video tutorial in English language is supplied hereafter!


Yale safe2018-11-15T21:58:28+02:00

For your safety and peace of mind, a small Yale safe is fastened into the wardrobe, in Santa Caterina d’Alessandria room. The safe is electronic, battery powered. Should you close it by mistake before setting your personal code, please consider it can be unlocked only with a key of which two copies exist. One is kept by myself, the other one is at SPQR in a place known to me and my associates only. The cleaning service staff have no access to this key. Consequently, if the Yale safe needs to be unlocked, please let me know on the portal through which you made the reservation.

Official data about the Yale safe can be found at THIS website.

Yale safe

How to use the Yale safe

Setting your new personal code: open the door and the battery compartment and press the red button. Two beeps will be heard, and the green light on the front panel will light up. Within 15 seconds, while the green light is still on, key in your code (at least 3 digits), then press ENTER. The Yale safe will emit some tunes as confirmation. Close the battery compartment.

Closing: close the door and turn the handle down clockwise.

Yale safe

Opening: key in your code and press the button with the key symbol. Turn the handle up anti-clockwise and open. Using a wrong code for 3 times will block the safe.

Yale safe

Battery replacement: to be made if the red light blinks when inputting the code. If the batteries are already exhausted, open the door with the key, open the battery compartment and place the new batteries (4 units, model AA). Press the red button and close the battery compartment. Two beeps will be heard to confirm. Input the code and press ENTER. After some more beeps take out the key.

Yale safe