Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1888: Florence Vacations, Ponte Vecchio I
1bed/1bath apartment, Oltr'arno, Florence
December 2005, 5 nights
We rented two apartments in this same building from this agency. I have submitted a separate review for Ponte Vecchio II.
This apartment is just steps from the Ponte Vecchio in Oltr'arno. To reach the apartment, cross the bridge from the centro storico and make the first left onto Via dei Bardi. The building is #39, on the right hand side of the street, facing the river. Along Via dei Bardi there are businesses at street level and apartments above. There is an indoor parking garage a couple of doors east at the corner of Via dei Bardi and Costo del Pozzo. There is a taxi stand just steps from the front door in Piazza di Santa Maria Soprarno.
There are a couple of bars for coffee within steps of the building, as well as restaurants and a wine bar. There is a green grocer a few doors to the west with basic grocery needs as well as fruit and produce. The nearest decent size mercato that I found was a bit of a walk away on Via Sant'Agostino.
The building does not appear to be historical, nor is it new. It is well maintained, with a full time doorman. There is a small elevator and stairs from the lobby. Most floors of this building have four apartments, a few of which house commercial ventures (Moda Shoes, for one).
The apartment is air-conditioned. There are no screens on the windows.
This apartment is located on the 4th floor in the front of the building, facing the street. It has been recently remodeled and is furnished with just the basics. It is clearly a rental-only apartment (no personal items, owner's closet, etc.).
There is an entry foyer with a coat rack and a closet containing cleaning equipment, ironing board & iron, and a fuse box. There is no coat closet.
The bathroom is just past the entry door, to the left off the foyer. As you enter the living room from the foyer, the galley kitchen is to the left.
The living room has windows that open onto Via Dei Bardi. It is furnished with a love seat that opens into a single bed, a dining table with four chairs, IKEA wall cabinets that contain dishes and a color TV, and a small free standing cabinet in the corner.
The bedroom opens off the living room and has one large bed (two singles made up as one bed), a reading chair and a small writing table as well as an armoire. There is a small balcony with a view of the Arno.
There was no outside sitting area.
The furnishings are a mixture of new IKEA pieces and some older furniture. The table and chairs and bedroom furniture are older, but in good shape.
We found the bed comfortable and the room adequate, but not large.
The bathroom is a somewhat cramped space and might be uncomfortable for a larger person because you must walk all the way into the small room before you can close the door. Everything from the walls to the floor to the fixtures is brand new and sparkling clean. There is a small stall shower but no bath, a toilet and a bidet. The sink is deep and wide, ideal for washing out small clothing items.
The kitchen tile, flooring, cabinets and appliances are all new. There is a four burner gas stove with a lighted overhead exhaust fan, electric oven, sink, dishwasher, clothes washer and full (Italian) size refrigerator and freezer. The kitchen is narrow and has no windows, it is difficult for more than one person to work in there at the same time.
There is one full set of pots and two skillets, a set of knives in a block and cutlery for four people, and a corkscrew - just the basics. One set of dishes with dinner and salad plates, soup bowls, a serving bowl and platter is kept in cabinets in the living room, near the table.
I did cook full meals here and, while it wasn't an ideal set up, it was fine for our needs.
Problems or Bonuses
This is a fairly busy street and as the apartment windows face the street it is a bit noisy. There is a wine bar across the street and it got a bit loud around closing time. However, between midnight and six in the morning it was very quiet.
There is a taxi stand just steps away from the front door in Piazza di Santa Maria Soprarno.
I probably would have found the lighting adequate under typical circumstances. However, as it was a cold, wet week in winter when we stayed here, I bought a jigsaw puzzle for the kids to work on at night. Because of this, I noticed that there is only one light in the living room, a wall sconce, which does not put out much light. It was barely enough for reading, but not enough to distinguish the color variations in the puzzle.
The bulb in the only light in the bathroom died on our last day in the apartment and there were no replacement bulbs on site. (I have found this to be true for rentals in general, replacement bulbs are rarely there.)
We had a major plumbing problem on the day before we left when the drain pipe under sink came apart while the clothes washer was draining. I turned off the washer and mopped up the water but decided to wait until checkout the next day to inform the rental agent (it was New Years Eve and unlikely that anything could be done about it immediately). It wasn't an issue for us as we were also renting the apartment next door and simply moved our cooking and washing to that apartment.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We found this apartment to be exactly as advertised. Lorenzo Duranti at Florence Vacations was very easy to work with. He speaks English very well and follows up quickly. We were able to pay entirely via credit card (30% deposit upon booking, balance when we arrived).
We paid €650,00 for two apartments (Ponte Vecchio I & II) for five nights, or €65 per night per apartment, in December 2005. All utilities (water, gas and electricity) were included. This price also included airport pickup on arrival. We were met as we came out of customs by a driver who spoke a little English. He brought a brand new van right up to the door of the airport and loaded our luggage, then drove us directly to the aparment where Lorenzo, the rental agent, met us, completed the paperwork and showed us around the apartment.
Florence Vacations offered return service to the airport for €75, which we declined. Instead, when Lorenzo came to check us out I asked him to call a cab for us. He did, and by the time we got our luggage downstairs a few minutes later the cab was just pulling up to the front door. The cab fare to the airport for four people with luggage was €23.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again, especially for a short visit the location cannot be beat. For a longer visit, the noise of being right in the midst of things might convince me to look for something a bit less central.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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