Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4874: Owner, Santo Spirito Vacation Rental (#286268)
2bed/2bath apartment in Santo Spirito, Florence
October-November 2010, 1 month
The apartment was located on Via della Chiesa, in the Santo Spirito neighborhood. It is only about a block from the Piazza Santo Spirito, with its markets, shops, tabachi, restaurants, etc., but far enough away that you don't hear any noise from the street or piazza. We found the location ideal because we could walk to any place in Florence within minutes, but the bedrooms faced into an interior sort of courtyard, so the bedrooms were very quiet. (Disclaimer: we were there in October and November, so we had the bedroom windows closed. But, the view from the windows was other apartment backs and roofs, so there shouldn't be much road noise at any time of year.)
There were two bakeries, a fruit and vegetable market, a poultry shop, and a couple of small markets within two blocks. There was a full mercato about four or five blocks down the street and several shops that sold cheeses and salamis in the immediate environs. There were various outdoor stalls in the daily piazza markets. There are innumerable restaurants, bars, gelaterias within minutes of the front door.
The apartment was on the third floor (fourth floor American) of an old building. (The original Gucci workshop is located around the corner on Via della Caldaie.) The apartment was always peaceful and quiet. You enter into a room that is the living room/dining area and kitchen. Beyond the kitchen/dining area is a hallway. The main bathroom opens off the hallway. Within the hallway is a desk (perfect for a laptop to be set up) and an antique wall-mounted coat rack. Further down the hall are two bedrooms. There is another bath en suite with the back bedroom. There are only two apartments per floor and the building is five floors in total.
There is no outside area. We walked in the Boboli Gardens and sat in the Piazza Santo Spirto when we wanted to be outdoors.
The furnishings were in good shape overall. The dining table seated four and was adequate for our needs. The living room did not have enough comfortable seats for four adults, although we made do. There was sofa, a big ottoman, and a hard, odd-shaped wooden chair. When I booked the apartment I talked to the American owner (she lives in New York City) and discussed the lack of enough seating. She agreed to acquire another comfortable stuffed chair to add to the grouping in the living room before our October rental. When we arrived, the "key holder" told us the chair would be delivered two days later. The chair never materialized. Both the key holder and the owner were apologetic, explaining the delays in upholstering and delivering the chair. While it would have been nice, we made do: two on the sofa, one on the ottoman (against the wall with a couple of pillows), and one on the hard wooden chair.
The beds were comfortable. We wished there had been more pillows and that they had been in better condition. A couple felt "well used." There were plenty of extra sheets, towels, etc. There were bedside reading lamps on both sides of both beds and the bedrooms were fairly large. There were nice windows in both rooms and plenty of hanging and drawer space. There were chairs in each bedroom.
The main bathroom had been newly redone. It had a great tiled shower/tub, toilet, bidet, sink, cabinet with mirror and storage, and washing machine. (There was drying rack that we set up in the hallway.) The second bathroom had a toilet, sink, mirror with lights and storage, and a shower. But, the shower would have wet down most of the room if used due to the layout and size, so we all showered in the main bath.
The kitchen had been recently redone also. The cabinets were nice and the counter-tops were marble. There was four burner gas cook top and an electric oven. (A plus because many Florence rentals don't have ovens.) We had a good toaster and an Italian coffee pot. There were adequate pots and pans to prepare a meal, but you had to search through the pile to find things and "make do" with pot lids. In short, the usual in a rental. There was an adequate refrigerator/freezer. We cooked a few evening meals and had all of our breakfasts in the kitchen/dining room.
Problems or Bonuses
We were surprised that the second bathroom was not suitable for showering, but the layout ended up working okay. We had three or four adults in the apartment all month (a rotating cast in the second bedroom), but it worked just fine to share the shower, but keep our toiletries, etc. in the bathroom that was attached to our bedroom. However, I think it would be more honest to think of this apartment as a bath and a half.
The manager was quite nice and very helpful. She responded promptly to phone calls or emails. There is a cell phone. Great for local and incoming calls. You are only charged for the minutes you use and can recharge it at the tabachi in the piazza. There is a 3G hookup for computer usage. Again, you are charged by usage. It was okay, but not great. You cannot turn on the heat until a certain date, set by the city (I can't recall the exact date). We got a bit cool before "the date." Not, badly cold, but enough to want your sweater on. That wasn't for very long though.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the owner. This made it easy because I could call her in New York. She did require that payment be made in euros to her account in Florence, which, of course adds a layer of extra trouble and expense. But, when she refunded the balance of the security deposit, she sent a U.S. check. We paid €1500, plus utilities and cleaning for a monthly rental, which I thought was a terrific value. The utilities and final cleaning only added €173 to the total. (We paid for interim sheet changes and quick cleans a couple of times at a rate of €10 per hour, which was paid directly to the house cleaner.) The apartment currently rents for €900 per week or €1800 per month.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again, but would want to make sure that the elusive chair had been delivered and that more/better pillows had been added. Or, I would bring a pillow of my own. (I think I am getting old ... the pillow issue didn't make an impression on me 15 years ago. So, this is probably very picky.) I loved being able to "live" in Florence, if only for a month. It was delight. I even loved the flights of stairs. Between walking all over Florence and climbing the stairs several times a day, I didn't gain any weight even though I ate and drank everything I desired.
Things to do in this area
We loved the entire city of Florence. Our favorite restaurants included Osteria di Giovanni, le barrique, il Santo Bevitore, Trattoria 4 Leoni, Pepo, Cipolla Rossa, and Trattoria I Raddi. We had gelato numerous times at Grom and a few times at Volume (in the Piazza Santo Spirito). Volume also has sweet and savory crepes/galettes and coffee. A very happening place in the late afternoon and evening with the younger set. Gusta Pizza is nearby and offers a good pizza for those times when you don't want to go to a restaurant or cook.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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