Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1445: Florence and Tuscany, Lanzi Apartment
studio apartment near Piazza della Signoria, Florence
5/11/05 - 5/18/05, 7 days
Location was right in the heart of Florence, practically right next door to the Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi, and the Uffizi, on the Piazza della Signoria. The area is perfect in that all the major sights are in walking distance, as are a plethora of shops and restaurants.
As mentioned above, any shops you could ever need were all in walking distance. The Standa (Italy's version of Safeway) was several blocks away, but still very walkable, especially if you're with a significant other or friend who can help shlep the grocery bags back to the place. Even closer were numerous small produce markets and stands, a few bakeries, countless cafes, and other small shops, not to mention a slew of genuinely great, non-touristy restaurants, and some awesome gelaterias (much of this was found in the very cool area of narrow, twisty streets between Palazzo Vecchio and Santa Croce).
Just past the right side of the Palazzo Vecchio, is Via Dei Neri, a street which has most of the shops you could want, not to mention a cool record store if you're into that.
Building is quite old, not sure how old exactly, but the interior has obviously been renovated more than once. Despite it being in a pretty central and noisy area, the apartment itself was back from the street, and very quiet as a result. The only noise we heard was the Palazzo Vecchio's bells striking each hour, and occasional noise from neighbors whose windows looked out in the same open "courtyard" area as the Lanzi's window. Couldn't tell you how many other apartments were in the building, but it was about a 5 story building, and there were many on each floor.
The main piece of furniture was the queen-sized sofa bed, which was comfortable enough. When we arrived it was already folded out into a bed, and we never bothered folding it back into a couch. But it was definitely preferable to the countless hotels one finds in Italy, where the bed consists of two single mattresses stuck together on a king-sized frame. The bed and sheets/blankets were all totally clean.
There was also a narrow table along one wall, as well as this desk contraption with a bunch of shelves and cabinets that took up the majority of another wall. There's also a large rack on the wall across from the sofa-bed, containing numerous books (most in Italian, but some in English), as well as a broken TV, a barely functioning stereo, and a random collection of LPs (including some records by the Smiths, which I thought was very cool), CDS, and mix tapes. But bear in mind, the CD player didn't work at all, and the turntable wasn't hooked up properly, so you had to crank the volume to make it audible. So, if you're looking at the photos on the website and thinking, "cool, I can bring some CDs since this place has a stereo," bear in mind that at the time of writing this, it doesn't work!
The apartment was definitely clean and well-maintained. It also came with linens for the bed, several towells for the bathroom, and a few fold-out chairs if you wanted to eat at the table or something (which, admittedly, would be difficult with the bed folded out).
As mentioned above, the bed was fine, and since this is a studio, the living room and bedroom are obviously the same thing.
The bathroom was a bit large, I suppose. The bathtub was big, and was perfectly clean when we arrived.
Like most toilets in Italy, the toilet tank is suspended up high on the walls, and seeing as the tank apparently didn't have a lid, sometimes water from the tank would drizzle down on you if you were still sitting on the toilet after flushing.
Also, the bathroom had a hole in the middle of the floor, covered by a small circular metal lid. Whenever we took a bath or shower, water would burble up from this hole, from under the lid, and form a little puddle. I have no idea what this was about, but it was apparent that the pipe couldn't handle too much water coming through at once, so the tub had to be drained gradually.
When I say the kitchen is tiny, I mean microscopic. It's fine for one person, but when both my girlfriend and I tried cooking some things together, she sometimes ended up kicking me out because there simply wasn't enough room!
That said, the kitchen was well-stocked with pots and pans, dishes, silverware, knives, and other essential cooking utencils, not to mention some olive oil, salt and pepper, a coffee pot, dish rags, a sponge, dish soap, etc... We had to buy more dish soap, but found we had enough to go on. There's a small fridge, and a tiny oven/stove thing, with two burners on the top and an oven the size of a small microwave. At times it seemed you couldn't use the stoves on top and the oven simultaneously.
So, we managed to cook some great meals with only a minimum of inconvenience.
Problems or Bonuses
Not really... just surprised at how quiet it was. The other reviewer of this apartment complained of excessive noise from the next-door neighbors, but we honestly didn't hear a single peep from anyone on our floor, except occasionally hearing the someone leaving in the morning. Maybe the noisy neighbors were on holiday, or had moved out.
The only other noise we heard that had the potential to drive people crazy, was on our last few days, there was some construction or renovation going on in one of the apartments whose windows looked out over the courtyard, so you could hear the sound of hammers chiseling away at plaster, echoing around, which started promptly at 8:45 AM, stopped for a 2 hour lunch at 1:00, and then ended for the day at 5 or so. Closing the window helped reduce the noise considerably, but it really wasn't an issue because we were out seeing the city for most of those two days anyway.
Also, the other wording of the other Lanzi review makes it sound like there are multiple windows, but there is only one, which looks out over the "courtyard," which is a nice big window which lets in a decent amount of light, and seemed to get enough of a breeze in the evening when opened.
This "courtyard" really isn't a courtyard per se. When you look out the window and directly down, there is a small patio with a few plants on it several floors down, but mostly what you see, when you look to the right, are rooftops of adjacent, shorter buildings, and the walls and windows of other taller buildings beyond those, not to mention thousands of cigarette butts strewn about the taracotta tile rooftops.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Agency was very helpful, communicative, and always got back to us pretty fast. This place is pretty small, so make sure you're aware of that. The fish-lensed photos may make it seem a bit bigger. But having said that, they won't deny that it's small, or "cozy." I mean, the size was fine for us, we didn't feel cramped or anything, but I could imagine some people expecting something a wee bit roomier.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, we would definitely stay here again, provided it was just the two of us.
Things to do in this area
I've mentioned some stuff above, but all the sights one normally wants to see in Florence are totally walkable, and there's a slew of great restaurants, like Pallotino, Baldovino, Aqua al 2 (all towards Santa Croce), and two great gelaterias, Vivoli and Gelateria dei Neri.
Plus, it's really fun to sit on the steps in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and people-watch, especially at night.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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