Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 439: Owner, Appartamento San Nicolao
3bed/3bath apartment in Lucca, Tuscany North
October 11-18, 2002, 1 week
The apartment is in Via San Nicolao within the walls of Lucca, about equidistant from the Porta Santa Maria and Porta Elisa. The Street is between Vias Guinigi and del Fosso (see the great street map on www.luccavirtuale.it) and is a residential street with a school just across from the apartment entrance. Only residents parking in the street, but there was noise from some traffic, as the streets parallel are more restricted to access. Like most of Lucca, sounds echo off the stone buildings and streets, so it isn't exactly silent, and the apartment is on the first floor (2nd American), so you can hear neighborhood noise, but if this is a problem, you would need to choose something up much higher with lots more stairs.
Everything is convenient and close by for coffee, specialty food shops, restaurants etc. The only "supermarket" inside the walls is Sidis, in the Piazza del Carmine, and it is cramped but fairly complete, with nice small sized versions of products geared for urban life. Not far outside the Porta Santa Maria is an Esselunga supermarket, which is large, but then you may need a car for transporting, which I don't recommend for Lucca's center.
The building is of course old, and incorporates some of the stones from the original walls of Lucca, not the dramatic landmark walls of the town. It was substantial and well-maintained. There were apartments on each floor, all of the others occupied by long-term tenants, so far as I know, but there was no noise from other apartments or tenants. In the entrance hall to the building, there were bicycles belonging to tenants.
No garden or outside sitting area.
The sitting room had several sofas, and the dining area off the kitchen had a nice-sized table and 6 chairs. In addition, the kitchen had a breakfast table with four chairs. The wooden furniture in all rooms looked antique and well designed. Everything was very clean and the rooms quite spacious for an apartment. Fabrics were dark; without the lights on, even during the day the apartment was a little dark.
My bed was comfortable, and there were plenty of blankets and hangers in the large armoires. All of the bedrooms were spacious, and felt clean. Two very nice spacious bathrooms and a rather minimal third bathroom off the dining area with a lilliputian tub.
The kitchen was really nice, functional, simple, spacious. We had a dinner for 7 people and found all the cooking equipment needed, although the pots/pans were old. I didn't use the oven. There were a toaster, microwave, dishwasher. There were enough matching plates, bowls, flatware, and glasses for 6, and miscellaneous extras.
Problems or Bonuses
The owners, Linda and Roberto Andreini, were delightful people. They don't live in the apartment, but renters can have their home & cell numbers, and they are prompt in returning calls or coming by. Because of a scheduling hitch, my intended co-renter wasn't there, but a woman friend (Lucchese) moved in for the week as a mini-vacation from her apartment 100 meters away, which was very nice, and another friend studying in Siena came for a night, and the owners brought extra linens and keys for the occasion.
Although the apartment is somewhat dark, they have installed good ceiling lighting which can be turned on and off from either side of each room which brightens things up nicely and is very convenient for the midnight forays into the kitchen, a small thing, perhaps, but you would feel its absence if they hadn't done it. The only downside was the noise from motos, but this is very typical of Lucca.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Linda speaks very good English, and Roberto is taking lessons and is so accomodating that communication is not a problem even for a non-Italian speaker. Their financial arrangements were easily accomplished by Western Union wire, but they didn't take credit cards. All e-mail correspondence was clear and straightforward. Linda met us at the door to the apartment, on time and with a welcoming attitude, and showed us all of the appliances. I think that the online descriptions were accurate; there is a floor plan on the website.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
This apartment is excellent value for the rental cost. To find an apartment in the centro storico with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, an ample kitchen and very nice owners at such a price is unusual. There are no views, nor is there a terrace, and a first-time renter in Lucca might want a bit more hand-holding from an agent, but this was my third rental in Lucca, and I was very satisfied.
Things to do in this area
In my opinion, Lucca is more a place to be than a place to see, although many may disagree with the second part. It is a wealthy town, but the Lucchesi don't flaunt their prosperity. It is very safe, even at night alone, to walk in the historic center, according to my Lucca friends, and this has been my experience. Young people complain that there is no nightlife. There are wonderful shops to buy fresh pasta and sauces by the etto, produce, bread, etc. Try the old central market with shops surrounding accessed from Via Mordini or Piazza del Carmine. The passagiata is really a good one, and of course walking on the walls around the town. Too many good things to do to summarize here; just try it, you'll love it.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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