Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 725: FlorenceBy.com, Palazzo Mannaioni Residence
Apartments near Santo Spirito, Florence
October 2003, 1 week
In Oltrarno near Piazza Santo Spirito and Piazza Carmine; it's on a one-way street that cuts down on the traffic and makes it quieter. Our apartment was on the fifth floor (there's an elevator that goes to the fourth); flats are named for flowers, and ours was Columbine. We had a view of rooftops and just a small piece of Santo Spirito, whose bells we enjoyed hearing ring. If you leaned out a bit, you could see way up into the hills or down into part of a garden across the way. We faced the street but as high up as we were the noise wasn't too noticeable, and it's a fairly quiet street anyway.
We love this area of Florence and chose Palazzo Mannaioni because of its location and reasonable price, upon Maureen's recommendation (thanks!).
You could walk to anything you needed or wanted to see. Our grocery buying was limited to some fruit, coffee, water, wine, and snacks, so we just went into the tiny shops in the Santo Spirito area. We used the laundromat/internet point a few blocks away on Borgo San Frediano once. It was the cheapest laundromat I've ever seen in Italy--only about 3 euros a load to wash, 6 for a double dryer, but skip the internet machines; the keyboards are all messed up. Restaurants are aplenty and close, as are coffee bars. There's a bancomat 2 blocks away on the right looking at the river just before you cross Ponte S. Trinita.
It's an old palazzo, but the apartments are modern. I'm not sure how many apartments they have--a good many, I think, and it seemed like there were some long-term residents about, but we only saw people if we went into the little lobby sometimes.
No garden or outside area.
It was a studio apartment, pretty basic, but fairly comfortable. There was the matrimoniale bed with the expected crack, a wall unit surrounding the wall it was placed against that had room for putting your clothes and suitcases, a futon-like sofa that I imagine could have slept another person, a small table and four chairs, a TV stand with a TV, and a kitchen nook. It was clean, except that whatever floor wax they had used on the off-white tile floor had left some sort of slightly sticky residue, so I was glad I brought my slippers. I think the studio felt more spacious than it was because the ceilings were high and with interesting arched detail, so it didn't feel like a box.
Midway through the week someone came and cleaned, changed the linens and towels, and left an interestingly sort of bizarre bunch of toiletries for us that including folding toothbrushes and 2 pairs of paper slippers (maybe they knew about the floor wax?).
The last two days we were there it got chilly, so we were given the remote control for our wall heater. I couldn't figure out how to work it, but my husband monkeyed around with it and got it to work. There was AC in our flat but we didn't need it. I don't think all the rooms have it.
The telephone in the room needed to be replaced. Some of the numbers stuck sometimes, making dialing the umpteen digits required with an international phone card an exercise in extreme frustration.
The bed was pretty standard, but the bathroom was much better than most. It was spacious, had a great shower with wonderful water pressure and plenty of hot water, a bidet, and a ventilation fan. The one reading lamp was broken, making reading in bed impossible. We pointed this out on the day we arrived but it was never fixed.
Tiny kitchen nook, with a 2-burner electric hotplate, a dorm-size frig, a small sink. We used it mainly for making coffee. There was no dish soap or sponge, which was consternating, but we were given a dish towel. There were a few pots and pans and dishes, adequate for very simple meals, but you couldn't cook full meals. We cooked pasta twice with a simple fresh tomato and basil sauce -- that's about as much as you could do there. The frig was enclosed in a cabinet with no ventilation, so it built up enough heat nearly to cancel out the refrigeration.
Problems or Bonuses
The receptionist when we arrived, named Chiara, was very sweet, polite, and helpful. She marked all kinds of things on the good little maps they hand out for us: laundry, bancomat, coffee bars, etc. She made a dinner reservation for us when I couldn't get our phone to work. She even laughed at my husband's bad jokes.
I loved the three big double windows in the room. I wanted to keep them open all the time, but alas, when I did this, we nearly got eaten to death by mosquitoes.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency sent me confirmation, but I also contacted Palazzo Mannaioni directly for confirmation, which arrived promptly in e-mail. I was able to use my American Express card for the whole cost (half down with reservation, the rest on arrival). this is the same agency that books for the Carmine, which was our first choice based on ST reviews, but was not available. The on-site person Chiara was very nice and spoke English well, and also would patiently help us stumble along in Italian.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I'd stay here again, although I'd like to try the Carmine next time, and I'd recommend it. As Maureen's review says, it's not luxurious, but you can't beat the location, and the price is right.
Things to do in this area
Art to die for. I finally made it to see the Masaccio frescoes in S. Carmine, and they were just breathtaking. The walk up to San Miniato is sublime, as is the church, inside and out, and its views, and its monks chanting vespers. My favorite close-by restaurant in Oltrarno is Casalinga, easy on the pocketbook, friendly service, good home cooking style food. I'm also fond of Cinghiale Bianco (where I ate the name of the place). Shops: in Oltrarno, the Sunday market in Santo Spirito, where I loaded up on candied ginger to fuel all our long walks, Madova for gloves (this time my husband bought driving gloves--now all we need is a Ferarri to match), il Torchio for handmade paper and little books to give as gifts, pretty shawls at the San Lorenzo market. We also walked, shopped, and ate in the San Frediano area, which I fell in love with and want to go back to explore more. We found a wonderful working blacksmith in Via della Chiesa.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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