Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1875: FlorenceBy.com, Signoria Apartments - Mela Apartment
1bed/1bath apartment in the center, Florence
Nov - Dec 2005, 18 Days
A great location in the center of Florence on Via Condotta, one block from Piazza della Signoria. We loved being so close to everything. It was surprising how being a just few doors down a side street from Via del Calzaiuoli gave us a break from the worst of the crowds and the noise.
Everything we needed was in easy walking distance. On Via Condotta there are several caffes (including the excellent Caffe Italiano, which was right next door), restaurants, wine bars, and all sorts of shops. Within a few blocks were a great little wine shop on Via dei Cimatori (selling very good vino di tavola from the barrel) and several grocery shops on Via de Cerchi as well as many other restaurants and other shops.
The Mela apartment is one of seven rental apartments of various sizes in an older building. I believe the owner also has an apartment in the building and the office is in the cellar. The building was in fairly good repair. We were on the 1st (European) floor, up a fairly steep flight of stairs. There was one other apartment on the 1st floor. There was an elevator from the 1st floor to the higher floors.
The apartment has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a living/dining room with a kitchen on the side. Aside from some construction noise (described more later) it was very quiet, other than some occasional noise from the stairwell and the elevator. We were on the back side of the building, so there was no street noise. One downside was that there was not a lot of light. Windows in the living/dining room and bedroom opened onto an interior courtyard and did not let in a lot of light.
There was no garden or outdoor area.
The furnishings were basic (Ikea-type) furniture, but everything was generally in good repair. The apartment and furnishings were very clean.
The one negative was the futon/sofa bed in the living room which was very uncomfortable as a sofa (we never tried it as a bed). Because the living/dining room was fairly small, it was the only place to sit other than the dining table which had four chairs. There was a small TV in this room, but we never even plugged it in, so I have no idea what channels were available.
The bedroom was nice and had a very comfortable queen-sized bed. Instead of the duvet you often find in Europe, the bed had ďAmerican-styleĒ tucked-in sheets and a heavy bedspread, which we greatly prefer for colder nights. There was also a large wardrobe and a desk with chair.
The bathroom was large and had a great shower with plenty of hot water and very good water pressure. Towels were large and absorbent, something you donít always find in Italy! A weekly change of linens was included in the rental price.
The kitchen occupied one side of the living/dining room. We had a refrigerator, freezer, 4-burner stove, dishwasher, and microwave. There was no oven. There was a fairly good selection of pots, pans, and utensils and an espresso pot. I cooked several full meals and found it comfortable to cook in.
My one complaint, aside from the lack of an oven, is that there was no ďstarter kitĒ of basic amenities, other than a couple rolls of TP. It would have been very nice to have a small assortment of basic stuff, like olive oil, sugar, coffee, and some simple seasonings. There were plenty of shops nearby, but itís nice not to have to buy large containers of sugar, oil, salt, or pepper when all I need is a shake or two.
Problems or Bonuses
The high speed Internet connection was included in the rental price and was much faster and more reliable than the connection I have at home in Naples. I didnít want to leave it!
The only real problem was a construction project in the courtyard. The entire courtyard, onto which all of our windows opened, was in scaffolding. This further cut down on light into apartment and discouraged us (both aesthetically and from a security standpoint) from opening the windows. There was also a lot of noise from the workers, often at very early hours of the morning. Hopefully this is a temporary situation, but would be worth asking about.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency was very easy to deal with (entirely on-line). There was some confusion about the initially deposit (30%) which was not charged to my credit card as the web site and agency emails had described. This didnít seem to pose a problem for the owner, and we didnít actually put down an advance at all, paying the entire amount in cash on arrival.
The on-site representative was very friendly and helpful on arrival and spoke excellent English. Unfortunately, that was just about the last we saw of her as she was never in the office during the posted hours and didnít return phone calls to resolve a couple of minor maintenance issues. This turned out to be a known personnel issue and in fact she was dismissed during our stay. In her absence, the owner was extremely helpful and friendly (though she didnít speak much English), even coming in on a Sunday morning to check us out.
The price was 675 Euros per week plus utilities and final cleaning, which I thought was very reasonable for the location and time of year (Nov/Dec). After reading other experiences on Slow Travel, I was concerned about the utilities, but we were only charged 35 Euros for 18 days which I though was very reasonable (and it was cold, so we were definitely using the heat!).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Absolutely. It was a very nice apartment in a fantastic location. We would definitely stay there again if we had the opportunity. If youíre looking for fancy furnishings or antiques or nice views, this probably isnít the place for you, but it was a very comfortable apartment and met our needs completely.
Things to do in this area
Via Condotta is one block from Piazza della Signoria, only a couple of minutes from the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi, 5 minutes from the Duomo and the Bargello, and no more than a 10-15 minute walk to virtually all of the sights of central Florence. In 18 days we used taxis to get to and from the train station with our luggage, but otherwise went everywhere on foot.
Since itís so central, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of good restaurants within walking distance, including most of those reviewed on the Slow Travel site. Among our favorites were Pepo and Sergio Gozzi near San Lorenzo, Osteria deíBenci near Santa Croce, and La Casalinga in Oltrarno. In the immediate neighborhood, a couple of favorites were Le Mossacce on Via del Proconsolo and Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori just off the Piazza della Signoria.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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