Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1468: Owner, Via Toscanella Apartment (#9714)
3bed/2bath apartment, Oltrarno, Florence
May 21 - 26, 2005, 5 nights
The apartment is located on Via Toscanella, a small pedestrian street located about a minute west of the Ponte Vecchio in the Oltrarno section of Florence. It is quite near the intersection of Via Toscanella, Via de'Vellutini, and Via dello Sprone. Excellent location, but also quiet. The apartment is on the first floor (as referred to by Italians; we call it the second floor).
There is a good coffee bar just around the corner, a small cafe/wine bar across the street (popular with the locals but quiet), and a supposedly very good restaurant at the corner (again, frequented by locals and requiring reservations both for lunch and dinner -- we unfortunately did not eat there during our stay). There is a small alimentari almost directly below the apartment, and the Magi Market (small supermarket) is within walking distance. Of course, we walked to the Mercato Centrale to purchase most food. All of central Florence is within walking distance.
The passageway from the portone to the front door of the apartment was a bit dirty but the apartment itself was very clean and in very good shape. After having some nighttime noise problems in other apartments in Italy, we were afraid that we might have problems because of the nearby restaurants but we had no problems with noise and all slept peacefully throughout the night (the bedrooms all face interior courtyards).
There are a couple of interior courtyards and they are kept in good shape. One has a pool with fish in it. I did not see a sitting area.
The apartment was clean and well-maintained. The dining room table seats eight so there was plenty of room for the six of us to eat together. The living room has a sofa and two large cushioned chairs as well as a couple occasional chairs.
There are three bedrooms: a master bedroom with a "matrimonial" bed, a second bedroom with three single beds (I'm not certain but it might be possible that two could be pushed together to make another "matrimonial" bed), and a third small bedroom with one single bed. The sofa also converts into a bed but who wants to sleep on a sofa bed on vacation?
There is an air-conditioning unit in each bedroom and in the living room and these work well.
There are two bathrooms. The large master bathroom has a very nice shower with water jets that squirt from all over, if you want, and a foot massager. I think there is also the possibility of using a sauna function, but you have to ask the owner about using it. There is also a sink, bidet and toilet.
The second bathroom is very small and only has a toilet and a sink/shower combination fixture. There is a showerhead and you can direct the water to flow either into the sink or through the showerhead. We did not use this shower because the room is quite small and the water would have gone everywhere. Besides, everyone wanted to use the master bath shower. There were six of us, and we managed.
I loved the kitchen! It is the best feature of this apartment. It seemed more fully equipped than my own kitchen! There is a gas stovetop with five burners, an electric oven, a full-sized refrigerator/freezer, a dishwasher, a washing machine, a microwave oven, and even an American-style coffee maker (there are also several Moka stovetop coffee makers). I noticed that there was an electric hand blender but do not remember if there was an electric mixer. There is an electric toaster.
There are tons of plates and more than enough silverware. There is also a nice set of sharp cutlery knives. The pots and pans were of good quality, with clad bottoms.
This kitchen must have been set up by someone who enjoyes cooking. It has a nice layout and is open to the dining area. Several people could be in the kitchen at the same time.
Problems or Bonuses
I was surprised to find out that the apartment was equipped with ADSL, which was available for use for a fee of 1 Euro per day. It was nice to be able to just plug the cable into my computer and have internet access "at home" during the stay. There is also a printer, but I did not use it. The apartment has a couple of phones (one is cordless) on which you can receive calls and from which you can make calls from if you are using a phone card (like the Europa card). I believe that you can dial directly from the phone if you arrange for this with the manager.
We were also happy to discover that the Satellite TV carried several English-language stations (you could even see Jay Leno, if you so desired). Not that we watched a lot of TV, but at least I had not seen an English-language broadcast in about seven weeks and enjoyed being able to watch the news.
The lighting in the apartment is very good. Additionally, there are a couple of skylights in the kitchen that have electrically-controlled shades.
The management expects the apartment to be left reasonably clean upon departure (e.g., they want all food removed from the refrigerator, and want the dishes washed and sinks and showers to be left clean). They also require that you leave as much toilet paper as you found. All of the "apartment rules" are adequately spelled out in a small booklet in the apartment.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I believe that the person we dealt with in making our reservation, Stefano C., is the father of the owner of the apartment, who is in Paris. This is what I gathered from talking with the apartment manager. Mr. C. required us to make a 300 Euro deposit to secure the reservation (we paid a total of 850 Euro for 5 nights). We paid the deposit via credit card via Paypal (he would have also accepted a wire transfer), and we paid the balance in cash upon arrival.
Mr. C. did not offer us a rental contract so I asked him for one. He did not know what I wanted to have put in it so I wrote it up for him, including information about the total price and what that was paying for (including electricity, gas, heating, air-conditioning, final cleaning, etc.), as well as what would happen if either party failed to honor the contract. He then included the contract that I had written in the paypal transaction. I was amused by all of this. By the way, I communicated in English with Mr. C. The apartment manager, Beatrice, is a native English speaker.
We thought that the reality of the place was even better than the published information.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definitely stay here again. It was an extremely good value for the price. I would heartily recommend it to others as well. I actually hesitated about writing this review because I was not sure if I wanted the rest of the world to know about the apartment.
If you are interested in renting, be sure that the sleeping accommodations suit you. The second bedroom has three singles, and one is elevated, like a bunk bed. This may or may not suit you. It would be worth finding out if two of these beds could be pushed together if you have a second couple that wants a bed together.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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