Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1532: Owner, Behind the Tower
1bed/1bath apartment in Pisa, Tuscany West
February through April 2005, 3 months
Behind the Tower is a perfect location for someone who wants to experience Italian life in a charming city (Pisa) and also travel around the surrounding area by car or by train. Behind the Tower is a 5 minute walk from the Campo dei Miracoli. (You can see the Leaning Tower from the front window!) Getting around Pisa from the apartment is easy, as the San Rossore train station and a local bus stop are both less than 5 minutes away. The central train station in Pisa (Pisa Centrale) is about a 5 minute ride from the San Rossore stop. Behind the Tower is also in a good location for driving in and out of Pisa as several main roads pass right by the apartment.
There are several good restaurants and coffee shops within a block and other really wonderful restaurants within a 20 minute walk. Public transportation is certainly available and nearby but I walked almost everywhere. Walking near the apartment and around Pisa is very pleasant and almost all of the major attractions are less than a 30 minute walk, including the major tourist sites, the Pisa Centrale train station and the shopping areas along Borgo Stretto and Corso Italia.
One of the best things about the apartment is that there is a very large grocery store less than a block away. It is very similar to the large "super" grocery stores in the U.S., and you can buy just about anything there - even good wine.
The apartment is in a row of private, attached houses. The apartment is on the second floor and has its own private entrance on a busy street. The apartment is in excellent condition - clean, cheerful, and well stocked with kitchen utensils plus an iron, ironing board, washing machine, microwave, drying rack, and CD player. A small porch in the back of the apartment opens off the kitchen and faces a little garden. There is a clothes line attached to the porch. The bedroom faces a busy street so you do hear traffic noise, although the traffic does abate by late at night.
The porch is small but a great place to have cup of coffee or a glass of wine. The porch is not shared and overlooks a small garden that belongs to another apartment on the 1st floor. (You can see the San Rossore train station from the porch.)
The apartment is extremely clean and well-kept. It is not fancy but "homey" and very comfortable and pleasant - wicker chairs, plants, brightly colored dishes.
There is a very comfortable king-size bed and plenty of pillows and drawer/storage space.
The bathroom is brightly lit with a large mirror and hair dryer. There is no tub and the shower is small like most European showers, but it is completely adequate - plenty of hot water and good water pressure.
The kitchen is spotless and a pleasure to cook in. It is well stocked with good pans of different sizes and very attractive dishes. All the usual utensils are available along with the common spices.
Train travel around Italy is easy and pleasant. The apartment is so close to the train stop that it is simple to hop on a train and go wherever.
The Tuscan roads, even in April and early May, were much more crowded than I had expected and driving (and finding a place to park in the tiny hill towns) was not as pleasant as I had anticipated. So I only rented a car on a couple of occasions and otherwise stuck to the train, which was marvelous. With a Eurail pass, the hassle of buying tickets and worrying about changing plans was eliminated. (Although you still have to reserve seats on some of the trains.)
The owners, Gloria and Marcel are truly wonderful. I found the apartment on-line and all was as advertised. Marcel picked me up at the airport and brought me to the apartment. I always had a telephone number where I could reach them if there was a problem. When I arrived there were fresh flowers on the kitchen table along with a welcome basket containing wine, pasta, and sauce. They also left a packet containing maps and suggestions for sites and restaurants. They were always cheerful, kind, and helpful.
I most definitely recommend this apartment. (I am hoping to come back next spring!) I was in Pisa on sabbatical for three months. I worked during the week and traveled on long weekends and for an additional week at the end. As a woman living and traveling alone, it was very important to me to be in a safe, pleasant apartment with helpful landlords that speak English. Gloria and Marcel were certainly the best in this category. I didn't run into any problems, but it was reassuring to know that they would be available and gladly help should I need them.
Pisa is a delightful town to walk around and the University with its thousands of students gives the town an interesting young feeling. Besides the usual attractions, two of the places away from the tourist sites that I particularly enjoyed walking were the Piazza Martiri della Liberta (lovely open space surrounded by stately homes and tall trees where the locals stroll and eat their lunches) and the walk along the river from Piazza Garibaldi to the park past the Ponte della Vittoria and next to Via delle Piagge (wonderful architecture and view of the river.
Salza on Borgo Stretto sells the most delicious chocolate and pastries. In colder weather, the hot chocolate is spectacular!
I traveled mainly by train, and it was easy to visit many of the nearby cities in a day or even part of a day (Florence, Genoa, Liverno, Lucca, Montecatini Terme, Cinque Terre), and using Pisa as a base, I could easily take long weekend trips by train to Turin, Milan, Rome, and Pompei.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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