Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4144: Owner, La Terrazza
1bed/1bath apartment in Lucca, Tuscany North
May 23-31, 2009, 8 days
There are probably many vacation rentals named "La Terrazza" in Italy, and I know of at least two in Lucca. So to avoid confusion, we are talking about the one in the Via San Croce, very near the Piazza Santa Maria Forisportam; the owner's name is Emma Claudia. We are a family of four: my wife and I, my seven-year-old daughter and my 20 month-old son.
There is at least one quite negative review of this place on this website, with a date of 2004. Although I do not maintain that the content of this earlier review is false -- it has been several years now since it was written -- I can vouch that most or even all of the problems encountered by this couple were not encountered by us. The apartment when we arrived was very clean, smelling principally of the jasmine which grows copiously on the terrace. We were there during the late spring, and it was actually quite hot, so there were no problems with feeling chilly. But in any event we did not lack for linens of any kind, and more were on offer if we had required them. The bathroom is an unusual arrangement, as the shower is not separated (except by a pair of curtains) from the sink and toilet; one has to use a squeegee when one is finished. But this was not troublesome for us. Emma Claudia does speak English -- not fluently, exactly, but it is much better than our Italian, and she always had a dictionary on hand. In general we were able to communicate adequately. She was born in Lucca and has lived there all or most of her life -- she was a wonderful resource to have in this regard, and she made herself very accessible to us throughout our stay.
The real strength of the apartment is its terrace (hence the name). It is spacious, safe for children, protected from the sun, covered in flowering plants, and it affords a close-up view of the ancient Chiesa di Santa Maria Forisportam as well as a more distant view of the busy Via San Croce. It is both well within sight and sound of the bustle of the city and a private, secluded space. When we were at home, it is safe to say that we spent most of our time there. To find an apartment with a terrace or other private outside space within the historic center of Lucca is something of a rarity, and usually one must pay dearly for it. We found Emma Claudia's place to be a good value in this regard.
The kitchen was also nice, consisting of a quality gas range and sink, with a microwave, toaster and American coffee machine, and plenty of utensils, pots and pans, plates and cups. There was also a washing machine. There was a table for eating inside, but the weather cooperated at mealtimes while we were there, and we ate all of our meals on the terrace.
The apartment consists essentially of two large rooms, a bathroom and the terrace. One of the rooms is the dining room/kitchen, which also has a sofa bed. The other room is the bedroom, which has a king-size bed along with plenty of closets and a television. Emma Claudia also provided us with a crib for my son. (There was also an extra single bed which she had brought in but we didn't use. The sofa bed was just okay for sleeping, the king-size was quite comfortable, and the crib must have been comfortable since our toddler slept quite well in it.) Both rooms open onto the terrace.
In general, the place is well-decorated. There is carpet in the bedroom, vinyl tile in the dining room/kitchen, and ceramic tile in the bathroom.
The apartment is on the second floor (the first floor according to European reckoning) in a building with several apartments. There was a large entryway for the building where we were able to keep our stroller. The building itself is very old, and was at one time owned by Emma Claudia's grandfather. Some parts of the common areas are currently in a state of unfinished renovation, but this was not inconvenient. The apartments in the building range from smaller units such as ours to spacious, handsome ones, which we could see from the terrace.
There are two old bicycles available for the tenants. We rented bikes for the days we wanted to go riding on the public promenade atop the city walls (there is a rental place just around the corner from the apartment), but these two old bikes proved useful for running errands around town here and there.
There is no Internet in the apartment. When I needed to get online, I rode the bike down the Via San Croce to the tourist office at the Piazza Verdi, which has cheap wireless access.
Emma Claudia herself was, as alluded to earlier, very helpful in suggesting restaurants, things to see in the city and surroundings, identifying good markets, cafes and gelaterias and providing other useful information. She even showed us personally around town one afternoon, which was nice. When my daughter became ill on our departure day and we needed to stay another night on short notice, she obliged us, charging slightly less than the regular rate.
So, what else to say? It lived up to our expectations. We enjoyed our stay in Lucca very much, and that was, in no small part, due to our perfectly pleasant accommodations.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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