Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1024: Florence and Tuscany, Lanzi Apartment
studio apartment near Piazza della Signoria, Florence
May 27th - June 27th 2004, One month
The apartment was superbly located right off the Piazza della Signoria, 3rd floor of building with lift. One window of the apartment overlooked a "courtyard" of other apartments which could be noisy at times. However, midnight was clearly a magic hour in that all noise seemed to stop after that point. It was possible, with the windows and shutters open, to hear loud noise from protests/concerts/etc. in the piazza or Uffizi corridor.
The drawback of the location was the thinness of the walls and the neighbors who lived there when I was there, who apparently owned/worked at a bar and would return home at 2-3 am and make the expected noise. See problems below!
The location was smack dab in the center of Florence, everything was in walking distance - including the Oltrarno equally as much as San Lorenzo. Nearest grocery store was probably the Standa near Santa Croce ... completely walkable ... but there were numerous bakeries, fruit and vegetable stands, little markets (particularly on the side streets near Palazzo Pitti) and deli/meat and cheese places in every direction.
This was a good size apartment building - 5 floors total I think, and there were 3 other apartments in my hallway. It's an older building, and the apartment was in okay shape. Once in a while the water would be off in the afternoon, but I don't know if this was because they happened to be working on it at the time or whether this was a chronic problem. There was construction going on a couple of buildings down, but that did not impact my stay in the least.
I was on my own for the majority of my stay (3 of the 4 weeks) until my husband arrived. The apartment is big enough for 2 and probably no more. Bed was comfortable. Not much other furniture, really.
As stated, bed was comfortable. Bed/living room was okay. Bathroom was large for an apartment of that size, and worked well enough (had some plumbing issues with the hot water heater, shower spray and toilet, but all were fixed within 12 hours of my reporting them).
The kitchen was tiny, but serviceable. I don't think that you could comfortably cook a "full" meal in the kitchen, but for one/two people you could get by. Two stovetop spaces, larger toaster-oven, smallish sink and okay-sized fridge (for a kitchen of this size).
Problems or Bonuses
This was a serious problem for me (see the message board for my posts on the problem). The couple who lived in the neighboring apartment were quite loud - both in watching television and cooking, and in their fighting, which occurred on a pretty regular basis (I would say every three to four nights). For the first two weeks I slept maybe 4 hours a night because of these problems and was a total wreck. I complained to the owner of the apartment and to the rental agency, and the neighbors did quiet down after that (it took a couple of complaints though), but I never did feel completely comfortable because the damage was done, so to speak, and I would always go to bed stressed out wondering whether or not the neighbors were going to keep me up again that night.
The owner (actually the owner's brother) told me that he had once used the apartment as his office and had heard the two fighting during the day when he was there, so he was very sympathetic and understanding of the situation. This made dealing with it a lot easier than it had been, because everyone was anxious to resolve any problems that I was having.
The only other minor problems I had were with the toilet not flushing properly, the shower spray being very weak, and the hot water being lukewarm. These were all fixed right away and I did not have any problems after that. I did have brown water or no water on a couple of occasions, but I think that this was a building problem that they were working on at the time rather than something chronic.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency did very little after I moved in, but they were very responsive and helpful beforehand. All emails were answered quickly and all questions were answered thoroughly. Barbara - the representative I dealt with - spoke English well and was very nice. I was able to wire my rent rather than hand over cash when I got there (I don't know if this was an exception for the agency or for the owner, but it was a very nice touch). She forwarded my problems on to the owner, and let them work things out with me in terms of the problems that I was having. I am sure that it helped that the owner (and her brother) were very responsive to my concerns and wanted to help.
The place was much smaller than I expected, but I think being American and accustomed to large spaces this was more of a personal issue than a representation issue. Also since I was on my own the size wasn't a problem. I had an English friend and a New Zealand friend who saw my apartment, the NZ girl was amazed at how small it was and the English girl wasn't suprised at all. Interesting perspectives. The apartment was all that it needed to be and nothing more.
I paid 1000 Euros for the month of June, plus a 250 euro security deposit. A bit pricey for such a small place, but considering the location I guess I can understand.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
The neighbor issue that makes it most difficult for me to recommend/not recommend this apartment. If the neighbors were to move, or reform, or whatever, I would probably not hesitate to recommend the apartment. I personally wouldn't stay there again, but that is because I would prefer to stay on the Oltrarno or somewhere a little more residential in the future rather than smack dab in the middle of things.
But it worked at the time because after class everyone would go back to my place for a bathroom break and water bottle refill before going out to do stuff because it was such a central location. Also, there was no question of the safety of the area because it was in the middle of everything, I never worried about coming home too late at night.... But ughh.. those neighbors.
If you did decided to rent this apartment, and are a light sleeper, I would recommend a white noise machine or keeping the fan (there is a small fan in the apartment) on all night to drown out other noise. Actually this (white noise machine) is on my list of things I must carry for all future travels because I am a sound-sensitive person when I am going to sleep.
There are a lot of things going for this apartment, location - location - location. I guess one would have to decide whether they wanted to take the risk of some late night entertainment from the neighbors.
Things to do in this area
Anything and everything you want to do in Florence is at your doorstep. Eat lunch in the Piazza Santo Spirito with a sandwich from the little niche sandwich shop with the two nice brothers running it (don't remember the name, but it is right across from the church before you get to the actual piazza - on the left if you are facing the piazza) and enjoy a gelato at Cafe Ricchi afterwards. Always get your gelato in the city center from Perche No - especially the watermelon!! (cocomer if I remember correctly).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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