Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1423: Florence Vacations, Cavour Attic
1bed/1bath apartment near Porta San Gallo, Florence
April 8th - April 27th, 2005, 3 weeks
Cavour Attic is located in a quiet, residential neighbourhood in Florence, a few blocks north of San Marco and only a half-block south of Piazza della Liberta and Porta San Gallo - a perfect location for me, as I wanted to be out of the busy-ness of downtown, and it was!
The apartment is one of only 2 apartments on the 5th floor, overlooking the courtyard in back of the building. Because of this, it is incredibly quiet and, other than occasionally very muted sounds from the apartment next door, there was no noise whatsoever! Being on the top floor, there is very little view of the yard below, but the 2 terraces more than make up for that and I preferred them to a garden, because of the privacy that they afford.
I loved the location, a short walk to cafes, an Esselunga supermercato, a bank and loads of other amenities. I also totally enjoyed being in a residential area, where people are going about their everyday lives and I was privileged to be a small part of that for a few weeks.
Right around the corner, a half-block north of Cavour Attic and a right turn on viale Giacomo Matteotti, is a very chic little place to stop for something to eat - Café Principe. The owners are extremely helpful, and with my beginner’s Italian and their occasional bit of English, we managed perfectly well. They are open for the morning locals to stop and grab an espresso and pastry, as well as for anyone wanting a delicious lunch or a well-prepared cappuccino and dinner later in the day. I don't know if they were closed during the afternoon or not - I was never there during that time of day, but I didn’t notice a sign to that effect any time that I was in the café.
There are 2 coolers at the front of the café, where I found a good selection of chilled wines, beer, juices, water and other cold beverages. It was often easier for me to buy a couple of 1.5 L bottles of water here, that to schlep them home 5 blocks from the supermercato, along with the other groceries…(a few times in the rain!)
I walked to the Esselunga Supermarket on via Masaccio several times a week, for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as great ciabatta.
The tabachi is right around the corner to the left, on viale Giacomo Matteotti, and is very convenient for buying bus tickets - I opted to buy a Carte Agile, which allowed me 25 bus trips for 20E. There is also a local bank on this street, just down the street from Café Principe.
Other shops and stores populate the neighbourhood... a hair salon, tailor, pharmacy, shoe stores and several cafes, for example.
Everything I wanted or needed was within walking distance for me, although I love to walk and am used to it, so someone who is not conditioned to walking may find this a little far out from the downtown... but then, there's always the bus, right across the street!
The building is an old Florentine palace, in excellent condition and very well-maintained. The entry doors are beautiful solid wood doors with brass handles, the inside entry has marble floors and walls, and the lobby is also marble throughout and in excellent condition.
There are professional offices on the main and first floor. As well, there are other apartments, but no disturbance or noise was evident during my 3 weeks there.
As well, in the same building, is Ostello Gallo D'Oro (http://reservations.bookhostels.com/londraweb.com/hostel.php), a hostel that is well-run and has an exceptionally nice couple managing it. When I first arrived at Cavour Attic, I was serving dinner to my family one night and had, of all things... no corkscrew! I ran downstairs to the main desk of the hostel, begging... and with a huge smile, they promptly handed me one!
Because the apartment is located on the top floor, there is no view of the inner courtyard and no access to it, that I know of. The terraces more than make up for the lack of a garden, especially the large one, because they are private and sunny, laced with foliage and flowering greenery and yours alone ... you don't have to share! There is space for several people to be very comfortable sitting outside on the large terrace. There is no pool, and I never missed having one!
The furnishings are a combination of comfortable modern pieces, blended with several very lovely antiques. Everything is well-looked after and in excellent condition. In the kitchen/dining room, the table is a large marble-topped antique piece with 6 chairs, complete with cushioned seats. The living area is more than adequate for 4 -6 people - it was wonderfully spacious for me, and when I had company there was plenty of room for everyone to find a seat and be comfortable. This apartment was very clean and well-cared for.
A queen-size bed, an antique vanity with 5 drawers, 2 night-tables and a ladderback chair complete the master bedroom, with room to spare. Along the end wall under the sloping ceiling, there is wall-to-wall storage behind sliding wooden doors - perfect for hiding luggage, shoes and other miscellaneous clutter.
The skylight in the ceiling above the bed opens to allow fresh air into the room. The bed is amazingly comfortable and there are a wide assortment of linens - blankets, several sets of lush, thick, white cotton sheets, pillowcases and a warm flannel and wool quilt that chases the chills on cooler days. I loved the bedroom, I slept very well in the silence of the room, and was extremely comfortable in the bed... it felt like my own bed at home!
The sofa in the living room makes into a double bed, and although I never used it, I understand that it is very comfortable. The single sofa in the TV room also can be used as a single bed.
The bathroom is small but compact, and space is well-utilized... so much so, that when I closed the door, it cleared the edge of the vanity sink by 1/2 inch! The marble floored shower has quite good water pressure due to the dedicated water supply that is for this apartment only. Each morning I flipped on a breaker, activating a pump that assured me of ample water supply for the whole day - and flipped the breaker off after 5 minutes - very simple. The sink is large and there is excellent storage for toiletries and personal effects on either side of the mirrored medicine cabinet - the cabinet opens for more storage on the shelves inside. A toilet and bidet complete the bathroom. The walls are tiled with antique white and delft blue striped Majolica tiles - a window opens onto the back area to allow for fresh air circulation after showering.
There are several stacks of snow-white towels provided for the bathroom and they are in excellent condition and very thick and absorbent.
A dream of a kitchen is to the left of the entry, and is fully functional and well-equipped with a Paul Bocuse double-wide 4-burner gas stove with 2 ovens plus a warming table to the left of the burners. The fridge is full-sized, and there are 2 antique wooden cabinets that hold dishes, all the groceries and small household gadgets. A full-length marble counter-top with a recessed area that acts as a draining board runs the full length of the cupboards beneath the back window. This window looks directly onto the apartments across the courtyard. However, there is privacy because of the distance between the buildings.
There is a small terrace off the kitchen, outside the glassed French double doors - geraniums and a collection of potted greenery decorate this area, and all I had to do was water them once a day.
The kitchen is well-supplied with good-quality cookware, a 12 place setting of very attractive china, a good supply of cutlery, good steak knives, kitchen knives, teapot, espresso maker, good quality pots and pans, a couple of good frying pans and all the accessories for meal prep. I cooked several full meals for my family and thoroughly enjoyed using this kitchen!
Problems or Bonuses
Problems? None, at all - I am very particular about my living space and this was an elegant and comfortable place to call home for 3 whole weeks. The only problem was that I had to leave! I will go back often!
Bonuses? There are too many to mention, although several come to mind immediately - the rental company, Florence Vacations, and the manager, Lorenzo Duranti, couldn’t have been nicer to me. Lorenzo was gracious and kind in making sure that there was nothing that I wanted or needed - the apartment was completely satisfactory and the agency was excellent.
It was a pleasure to have an elevator, air-conditioning, a great kitchen, immaculately clean and well-stocked living quarters, a wonderful location and an excellent rental rate... and all of this in one apartment!
The apartment was more than a pleasant surprise for me... I loved the photo of the kitchen cabinetry on Florence Vacations website and the apartment was much better than I imagined and much more attractive than photos on the web could show. I chose this apartment out of all the ga-zillions out there, because of that gorgeous kitchen and my decision was finalized because of Lorenzo's exceptional service, via e-mail.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Florence Vacations is an agency that I highly recommend. This was my very first trip to Europe, and I was more than a little apprehensive, because of all that I didn't know how to do or didn't know where to find. So, in the planning for this trip, I was likely a little over-cautious... my contact person was Lorenzo Duranti, and he was fabulous! From my first contact with him via e-mail, to the moment I left Florence on my last day, Lorenzo made sure that nothing was missing for me - he provided pick-up at the airport and transportation to the apartment in an air-conditioned Mercedes van, driven by a really cool driver, Claudio, who went out of his way to be helpful and courteous in making sure everything was taken care of for me. Lorenzo's English is superior to my Italian by far, so we had no problem with communication at all!
During my stay, I only needed to call Lorenzo about a couple of small things, and he was very prompt in helping me with them, in spite of the fact that he was very ill with a terrible cold. When I left, Lorenzo arranged for Claudio to pick me up, take me to Santa Maria Novella train station for my train to Pisa and stay with me until we were certain on which track the train would arrive.
My security deposit was returned to me promptly upon departure and Lorenzo seemed to know that I had left the apartment clean, with the linens washed and hung to dry... and had no problem refunding my deposit on the spot.
Before I arrived, Lorenzo sent me a list of museums and galleries that I wanted to see, and he pre-booked tickets for me. He was quite generous in making sure I understood that he would book any and all galleries and museums that I wanted to visit.
The apartment was far better than the description and the photos on the website represented... it is elegant and quite lovely... a pleasure to rent... made me wish I could stay a few more weeks!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I highly recommend Lorenzo Duranti, Cavour Attic and Florence Vacations - in particular, Lorenzo! The only problem I have in recommending this so highly is that it may ensure that the apartment will be fully booked from now on, and I’ll not be able to get in again! I'd be happy to recommend this apartment to my best friend.
I was a bit apprehensive about renting an apartment over the internet, but Lorenzo was so prompt in his responses and so generous with his assistance in providing me with everything I wanted to make my stay comfortable, that my apprehension vanished after our second e-mail.
Things to do in this area
What was there to do in the area? Everything - San Marco and Galleria dell’Accademia, with Michelangelo’s powerful ‘David’ plus his 'Four Prisoners' is a short 3 block walk. Giardino dei Semplici and Giardino della Gherardesca are exceptionally beautiful gardens and provide an alternate and peaceful way to walk downtown. Mercato Centrale and Trattoria Mario is a 7 block walk and San Lorenzo and the Duomo are a short bus ride, or a 10 minute walk, away. I didn’t have time to explore the area around the Piazza della Liberta, and north of the Piazza, but it will be something I will reserve for another trip.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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