Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1726: Sleeping in Florence, San Lorenzo Apartments
2bed/1bath apartment near San Lorenzo, Florence
May 2005, Four nights
We spent four nights in Florence in late May 2004 before moving south for a month in the Tuscan countryside south of Siena. I initially thought we would stay at a hotel for these four days, but then I found these apartments for less than the cost of a hotel room. Our family of three is pretty self-sufficient, and we would actually rather stay in an apartment that gives us more space to spread out. We also like the flexibility to eat some of our meals in an apartment, which is another cost savings.
Gianna is the owner of the San Lorenzo apartments and owns some other apartments in Florence too. She was great to coordinate with by e-mail: prompt, friendly, and good English skills. We were able to make a deposit and pay our balance with our Visa card, which was extremely convenient. We paid 150 euro a night for our two-bedroom apartment. The price for a week is 900 euro, so about a 15% discount for a full week stay.
Gianna has six apartments in a building on Borgo San Lorenzo, a busy pedestrian street between Via de Cerretani and the Basilica de San Lorenzo. The apartments are on the second and third floors; what we Americans know as the third and fourth floors. There is not an elevator, so pack light and be prepared to get some exercise going up and down.
Gianna’s assistant Gabriella lives in the building and is an on-site manager. Gabriella was friendly and efficient and spoke good English. We were able to coordinate a late checkout on our last day, and Gabriella even offered to let us store luggage for most of the day in her own apartment. We did have a problem with one of the air conditioning units, and Gabriella quickly made arrangements for a fan on the side of the apartment where we had the problem.
We stayed in the “Casini Apartment,” on the top (American fourth) floor. This was a great apartment and much preferable to a hotel room. The apartment appears to be newly-renovated and was very clean and light. I really liked the sparkling hardwood floors. The apartment has been designed to use the vertical space and the two bedrooms are located in constructed lofts on either side of the apartment. The entry is into a small living room with leather sectional couch and chair, a satellite TV and CD player. There’s a small library of books, including resources on Florence. Steps lead up from this room to a loft bedroom with a queen-sized bed. The ceiling of the bedroom is sloping but there is ample room to negotiate.
A wall separates the two sides of the apartment. Next to the living room is a big kitchen/dining room fully equipped with a stove, refrigerator, clothes washing machine, dishwasher, American-style coffee maker, and toaster. The small dining table seats four people. The bathroom is back behind the kitchen—very nice and clean with a decent shower. The second bedroom is above the kitchen/dining room and has two single beds and the possibility of a third cot. Although they are both loft rooms, the two bedrooms are extremely private from one another because of the wall that bisects most of the two sides of the apartment.
The apartment does have two air conditioning units, one for each side of the apartment. Two big windows look out over the busy street and also have a view of the top of the dome of the nearby cathedral. When the windows were shut and the air conditioning was running, the apartment was surprisingly quiet except for the regular pealing of church bells (which we are accustomed to and enjoy). The street is really very busy until fairly late at night, and it can be noisy if the windows are open.
Borgo San Lorenzo is a very active street filled with shops, eating places, and roaming street vendors. We had an excellent meal in the restaurant in the ground floor of the building: Giannino. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Florence and specializes in authentic Florentine cuisine. There is a small outdoor dining area (great for people watching) and you actually cut through the tables to get into the apartment building. Less than five minutes up the street is the San Lorenzo basilica and the bustling San Lorenzo street market. Five minutes in the other direction and you are at the Piazza San Giovanni, the beautiful duomo, the baptisry and the campanile. It’s really an ideal location. There are a couple of small grocery stores in the area to pick up necessities.
The apartment is just a couple of blocks from Judy Witts Francini’s (Diva on Slow Travel) cooking studio. We were fortunate to participate in one of Judy’s classes — my prize in the 2004 Slow Travel contest. This was a wonderful experience that I absolutely recommend, and you’re especially close if you stay in here at the San Lorenzo apartments.
We did walk between the main train station and the apartment when we arrived and when we departed. It’s not that far, it is challenging dragging your luggage on the very busy cobblestone pedestrian streets. Keep this in mind when packing!
I did follow up with Gianna while writing this review to ask what the minimum stay is for this apartment. Many apartments have a one week minimum, and vacation apartments that typically rent for less than a week often have a three day minimum. Gianna responded that she has no minimum! She is happy to have guests even if they stay just one or two days - or, she said, even a year.
We highly recommend this apartment and Gianna’s other apartments in this building. What more can you ask? A great location; clean, comfortable and spacious apartments; no minimum stay requirement; and a very economical price!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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