Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2049: Residenza Il Carmine, Domus Apartment
apartments in the Oltrarno, Florence
April 2006, 5 nights
This group of apartments is located in the Oltrarno area of Florence, an approximately five-minute walk to lovely Piazza San Spirito (which we came to call "our piazza") and a two-minute walk to Piazza del Carmine. It is located on a narrow little street not very far from Ponte alla Carraia (which we came to call "our bridge").
My father admitted a couple of days after arrival that he was a bit skeptical when he walked of the street to our apartment on the first day, but that he had quickly came to love our quiet little street.
Being in the Oltrarno area there were many amenities nearby. We had a large choice of restaurants and cafes within a 5-10 minute walk. There was a little grocery store less than a one minute walk away. There were at least two internet cafes very nearby; one on the way to Piazza San Spirito and one on the way to the "our bridge". Also near the bridge was a tasty gelato shop!
Walking across the river into central Florence took from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on which bridge you chose to cross. The Ponte Vecchio was a 10 minute walk away.
The large, old building was built in the 1700's. Entrance was through a common foyer. Our particular apartment, Domus, used to be the owner's home. They moved to a different part of the building (what appears to be a newer extension built out back) and now rent it out to guests. The apartment is very roomy and large. The apartment is roughly split into two halves. The first half, with beautiful tiled floors and a very high beamed ceiling contains a small sitting area with a couch; the kitchen; a large dining/eating area and a full bathroom with a large shower stall. There are terrace doors from the kitchen to the garden. The second part of the apartment had beautiful wooden floors and a brick arched ceiling. It consisted of a living room (sofa bed; two comfortable chairs; TV), a slightly separate area with large bookshelves and a day bed (not private); a roomy bedroom (queensize bed) with an ensuite bathroom (no shower) and terrace doors to the garden.
The apartment was very quiet and comfortable and the kitchen and bathrooms were up to date and lovely. While the bedroom and kitchen areas received plenty of natural light, the main living room and day bed "room" did not. Lights had to be on when using this area.
There is a garden area out back, accessed directly from this ground floor apartment, which is shared with the owners and the other tenants. The bell tower of the Chiesa del Carmine overlooked the garden. It was a pleasant respite from busy Florence to sit at one of the little tables out there and have an afternoon snack or pre-dinner glass of wine. On the grounds of the church behind the garden, they must have a daycare. On weekdays during the day, there was a fair amount of noise from "happy kids playing", and it wasn't just for short periods of time. The noise was not noticeable inside the apartment.
The owners would keep their Myna bird out in the garden area and he would talk back to you if you said Ciao or imitate your whistle. He would sing "ol Solo Mio." Kind of cute. I enjoyed him.
All in all, the garden was a lovely extra feature not commonly found in Florence rental apartments.
The apartment and furnishings were all in very good shape. The place is obviously well cared for and very clean. Daily cleaning service was included in the rental price (another rare feature for a rental apartment). Four people would not feel crowded in this apartment. There were six chairs for the table.
The beds were comfortable (although we did not check the pullout sofa). The main bedroom is lovely with a beautiful wooden headboard and matching wardrobe and bureau. A chandelier added an extra touch.
The bathrooms very clean and up to date. Our only complaint was that the towels were not terry cloth, but rather a flat linen. My father said that he couldn't get hot water from the sink in the ensuite bathroom so he showered and shaved in the main bathroom, where there was plenty of hot water in the main bathroom.
We didn't cook any meals while were there. We used the stove top to make coffee and that was about it. The kitchen contained a stove top and an under-the-counter fridge. There was no oven or microwave. There appeared to be a reasonable supply of dishes, pots and pans. I suspect they didn't have gourmet kitchen knives. My general impression is that the kitchen is adequate for cooking fairly simple meals.
Problems or Bonuses
I would say that all of our surprises were positive! The apartment was larger and lovelier than we had expected. The garden was a wonderful bonus. There were many amenities nearby. We felt safe, comfortable and restful in the apartment at all times.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We dealt directly with the owners. Emilio answered all of my email queries promptly and politely. His lovely wife, Miriam, greeted us upon arrival. She was the only person we dealt with until check out time (when her daughter filled in). Both Miriam and her daughter were very pleasant and helpful. Extremely nice landlords!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Highly recommended! I would definitely stay here again. The biggest negative (which is also a positive, depending on which way you look at it) was that it was a bit removed from the major sights of central Florence. Definitely a plus for me, since it was away from the tourist hordes, but a little bit tiring for my 77 year old father who would get a bit tired from walking.
Things to do in this area
Everything is accessible. Our favourite morning cafe was Cafe Ricchi, on Piazza San Spirito, where we would sit down (there's a small room tucked in near the back, off to the side) to our due cappucini and due pasta dolci for 3.90 euro. (They also have an outside terrace which is used during the day.)
Our favourite "fall back" simple restaurant was Borgo Antico, also on P. San Spirito.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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