Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1214: Italy Perfect, Medici
2bed/1bath apartment near Boboli Gardens, Florence
10/9 - 10/16/2004, one week
The apartment was located in Oltrarno, about 1 km. from Porto Romana. The garden wall behind the apartment separates the property from the Boboli Gardens. The neighborhood is upscale and extremely quiet. There is parking available on the streets surrounding the apartment and is an ideal location for a visitor wanting to use the apartment as a base to explore both Florence and Tuscany. The Via Senese is one of the streets radiating out from Porto Romana and this leads to the A-1 highway, so it is a quick and easy avenue out of the city. On the other hand, there are frequent (every 15 minutes throughout the day and early evening) buses running from the Porto Romana to the center of Florence. The bus ride takes about 10 minutes. On a couple of occasions when we were out late, we took a cab back to the apartment (8 Euro from the Duomo area). It took me about 30 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace from central Florence to the apartment.
The apartment is close to Via di San Niccolo which climbs through a neighborhood of beautiful villas to Piazzale Michelangelo and Miniato al Monte ... a beautiful and invigorating walk.
There are sufficient stores around the Porto Romana and there is a produce stand there every morning except Sunday and Monday. There are also a number of food stores on Via de' Giucciardini/Via Romana, which is the street leading to the Ponte Vecchio and the center of Florence. There are a lot of restaurants in the Santo Spirito area which is nearby.
I generally purchased my groceries at the Mercato Centrale in the San Lorenzo Market place in the center of Florence. This is a fabulous place to see an array of foodstuffs not generally available in the USA and see the locals shop. There are also good, inexpensive places to have lunch inside the Mercato Centrale, which closes at 2PM.
The building was in good shape and the apartment had just been remodeled. The decor is outstanding with a number of antiques accentuating the new furnishings. It is a two story building and there are two apartments in the building. The Medici apartment is on the ground floor. There are five steps leading up to the landing where you let yourself into the building and five steps down into the apartment. The apartment looks out on a private alleyway which dead-ends there. There are a number of interesting vegetable gardens in the neighborhood. The back of the house butts up agains the Pitti Palace, so it is extremely quiet.
There is a pretty little garden, although the flowers were past their prime when we were there in October. There is a partial wall separating the apartment's garden from that of the neighbor. The washer/dryer combination was located in a covered alcove in the garden and there is a shed to store the patio chairs and other items. There is no swimming pool.
All the furnishings were in good shape and very comfortable. The house was very clean. The agency's website has abundant pictures of the apartment and its furnishings, so interested persons can check out how tastefully decorated this apartment is.
There are nice big windows in all the rooms which bring in plenty of natural light. Artificial illumination was very adequate, as well.
There was a queen size bed in one bedroom and two twin beds in the other bedroom. All were very comfortable and the bedding was clean and new. Both bedrooms were quiet large compared to other apartments in which I have stayed. Plenty of storage space.
There is one large bathroom with a shower (no tub). This was fine for the two of us, but it might be a problem for a larger group.
Wow, what a great kitchen! It is very roomy and has plenty of high quality pots and pans, which was nice as I did a lot of cooking. The design is very efficient and included a dishwasher, oven, gas range and refrigerator and sink plus ample storage. There is a big kitchen table and french doors opening into the garden.
Problems or Bonuses
The agency provided me with an information guide on the apartment which included instructions on riding the bus, where to shop and restaurant suggestions. A number of travel guides were available for my use. I was given a loaner cellphone to use and this turned out to be very helpful, although I did have to stick my head out the apartment window to get good reception (evidently a common problem in Italy).
There was a DVD player and a number of English-language DVDs to watch after tiring days of exploring Florence. There was also a CD player with Italian CDs which I augmented with ones I brought from home.
As the Italy Perfect website gives thorough descriptions of the apartment and the neighborhood, there were no real surprises and I had a wonderful stay.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Lisa Byrne, the owner of Italy Perfect, was very responsive to my emails before and after booking the apartment. Maria Vittoria, the local representative in Florence, could not have been more responsive and helpful. If the guest exceeds a benchmark level of electricity and butane usage, there is an extra charge. Maria Vittoria and I read the utility meters together when I checked in and when I left, so that there would be no misunderstanding about it. I received my deposit in the mail shortly after returning home and there was no "nickel and dimeing."
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I definitely hope to stay at the Medici apartment again. I liked the Oltrarno neighborhood and getting out of the hectic centro storico of Florence. The tranquility of the neighborhood and feeling like a local outweighed the slight inconvenience of taking the bus into town.
Things to do in this area
I attended cooking classes at Divina Cucina cooking school and had a great time (www.divinacucina.com)
You can catch the regional bus to Siena at the Porto Romana stop on Via Romana, saving you the trip to the bus station near Santa Maria Novella.
We liked the Osteria Santo Spirito right on the Piazza Santo Spirito. Nice menu, reasonable prices and a great Rosso di Montalcino.
Be sure to have a meal at Ristorante Il Latini, located at Via di Vigna Nuova at Via Palchetti 6 (between the Arno and Santa Maria Novella church). Very good cuisine typical of Florence in a fun atmosphere. 160 Euro for 4 people, including molto chianti. This place gets really crowded, so be sure to get there well in advance of their 7:30 and 9:30 seatings.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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