Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4802: Residenza il Carmine, Apartment
apartments in the Oltrarno, Florence
September, 2011, 14 days
The Residenza is conveniently located in Oltrarno, west of Santo Spirito, near Santa Maria del Carmine, and just a couple of blocks south of the Arno. The street on which it is located is too narrow for much traffic and, thus, quiet, and the area around it has far fewer tourists than much of Florence. Like much of Florence, one can tell nothing of the apartment from the outside -- just a door in a wall, but once inside, one finds a quiet courtyard accessible from all of the apartments. Don't even think of driving here unless you have nerves of steel since it takes a very skilled (and probably Italian) driver to negotiate the sharp turn into the very narrow Via Ardiglione.
There is a quick-shop market just around the corner and several other shops within a few blocks. For a quick snack or light dinner, we liked the enoteca Vivanda, also just around the corner. For breakfast, we ate in and made our own coffee, since it is just about impossible to get a cup that satisfies our American tastes in Florence. Thankfully, the apartment came equipped with a French press pot!
The building was built in the 1600s as a palazzo for the bishop who presided over the nearby Santa Maria church. There are now six apartments and the residence of the family that owns and manages the building. We had the one bedroom Domus apartment and our traveling companion had the Mirra studio. Both exceeded our expectations.
The Mirra has a small but workable kitchen with eating area; a living room; a semi-enclosed sleeping area that can be screened off from the living area; and a clean and modern bath.
The Domus is huge! A full-size kitchen lacking only an oven; a dining room for at least six; a small sitting area with a writing desk and love seat; two living rooms, one with a sofa and chairs and one with a daybed; a bedroom with doors to the courtyard; modern bath and powder room.
Though there were other guests, we were never disturbed by noise, and often we had the courtyard to ourselves.
The private courtyard was attractively planted and had tables and chairs so one could eat or relax outside.
The furniture was all in good shape, and both apartments had room to comfortably relax.
The beds were comfortable and the linens very nice. We especially appreciated the extra wool blankets -- when the weather turned cool for a couple of nights we were still able to sleep with the windows open. Though the Domus apartment has one bedroom, it could easily accommodate five people on the hide-a-bed and the daybed. There were pillows and blankets for both in the apartment.
The bathrooms in both apartments were modern and hair dryers were provided. I especially liked the luxurious linen bath sheets, though my husband, at first, was not happy about them. However, by the end of our first week, he was a convert and is now looking for a place to buy the linen towels in the U.S.
Having a half-bath en suite with the bedroom would be a real plus if several people shared the apartment.
The kitchens was equipped well enough for our purposes, and one could prepare a full meal there if you wanted to. There is no oven, but there is a microwave. The only thing lacking was a tea kettle, but we improvised with a sauce pan. Everything was spiffy clean.
Problems or Bonuses
The only surprise was that the apartments were as good or even better than the many favorable reviews on Slow Travel said they would be. It is no wonder that this is a favorite Slow Travel members.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Caterina, who handled our reservations and greeted us on arrival, is a real gem. She speaks English fluently and was always responsive and helpful. She lives on the premises with her parents who are also charming and who, though not as fluent as Caterina, speak English well enough to help with any need you might have.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Without a doubt we would stay here again, and we have already recommended il Carmine to others.
Things to do in this area
Be sure to have at least one meal at the Cavola Nero just two doors away from il Carmine. We'ld also recommend 23 Sant' Agostino at, you guessed it, Sant' Agostino 23.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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