Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4232: Sleeping in Florence, San Lorenzo Apartments (Alberti)
2bed/1bath apartment near San Lorenzo, Florence
July 2009, One week
The apartment was off a bustling pedestrian-only street less than a block from the Duomo. The apartment was on the top floor of an old apartment building that probably had 10 units in it. The location was central to everything in Florence. The area was very busy with tourists, cafes and street vendors but I liked it. Because it was a tourist area there were always police patrolling the area and it seemed very safe.
There were cafes and restaurants all along the street. To get to the door of the apartment you had to walk through the outdoor tables of a very good restaurant (Giovanni's) where we ate twice. They also offer a discounts for residents of the apartment. There was a small Despar grocery store about one block away. Three blocks away is the Mercato Centrale, a large collection of farmers markets, butchers, fish mongers, pasta makers, etc.
The building was old but it was very well maintained. Our apartment was at the top of the building facing away from the street and it was very quiet. There is no elevator so you had to climb 72 stairs to get to the apartment. We were all in good shape so we didn't mind the climb, though it was a little work to get the luggage up the stairs the first day. Being up at the top of the stairs, the only sound we could hear were the bells of the Duomo when the windows were closed. When we descended the stairs to head out the noise from the street was progressively louder. I can imagine that apartments on the lower floors would get some street noise. I was happy to trade the walk up the stairs for the quiet of the apartment. The apartment was laid out end-to end. It had one large bedroom at one end of the apartment, a galley kitchen between that bedroom and the medium-sized living room and there was a large loft bedroom above the living room. The bathroom was near the entryway at the other end.
No outside area for this apartment.
The furniture was in good shape and comfortable. The apartment was clean. There were four chairs which were just enough for us. The table in the living room was a little small for four people to have a meal but we made it work.
The master bedroom was extremely nice and the bed was comfortable. It was large and had views over the rooftops and of the dome of the Church of San Lorenzo. The other bedroom was good sized and was comfortable for our two teenagers. There was one large bathroom. It had a large shower but no tub. My wife was pleased to find a hair dryer. Both bedrooms had very effective air conditioners that kept the whole apartment cool even when it was very hot outdoors. We kept the windows closed to help with the heat and also to keep out the mosquitoes common to Florence.
The kitchen was long and narrow with limited counter space (by American standards) for preparing meals. However, with some space management I was able to prepare three good dinners there with produce/meat/seafood we bought at the Mercato Centrale. We also fixed breakfasts there and on many days we bought panini at the Mercato Centrale and had lunch in the apartment. The kitchen also had a dishwasher, a clothes washer, a coffee maker, microwave and toaster.
Problems or Bonuses
Between the reviews in SlowTravel and the apartment web site, I had a good idea what the apartment would be like and was not surprised by what I found. The other Florence apartments I had looked at on-line were more expensive for comparable accommodations and had been worried that there would be a "catch" to this apartment. However, other than the 72 stairs, (which I had known about) I couldn't see any problems with this apartment.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I dealt with the owner by email and she was very prompt and business-like. When we got to the apartment we were met by Gabriella who lives in the building. Gabriella was very helpful and spoke English quite well. The apartment was €950 for the week (in July) and an additional €5 per day for Internet if you want it. Given the location, I thought this was an extremely good value.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again and I would recommend it to others. It was large, clean, centrally located and reasonably priced. The only qualification would have to be that someone renting here would have to be able handle the stairs. So I would probably not recommend the apartment to my parents in their late 70s.
Things to do in this area
The apartment is centrally located and a short walk to all of the major churches, historical sites and museums. We enjoyed walking through the Oltrarno on the other side of the river and looking at shops that are not tourist oriented. My kids favorite gelato place was there in the Piazza Nazurio. We also walked up to the Piazza Michelangelo one afternoon and were fortunate enough to catch part of a Latin mass (complete with chanting monks) at the Church of San Miniato al Monte. I think they do this most days at 5:30 pm. We also enjoyed food shopping at the Mercato Centrale about three blocks from the apartment. The food available there was great and we prepared several dinners from what we bought there. It is open Mon-Sat until 2:00pm. We took a day trip to Siena on the SITA bus you can get near the train station. We also took a train to Pisa (which I thought was a tourist trap and not worth the effort) and from there we went to Lucca. We really enjoyed Lucca which was relatively quiet and still retains much of its Medieval character.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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