Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 857: Residenza Il Carmine, Apartment
apartments in the Oltrarno, Florence
May 2004, Three weeks
Il Carmine is in the Oltr'arno, right near Santa Maria del Carmine church (Brancacci Chapel). I was travelling on my own and stayed in the Mirra apartment, one of the three newer garden apartments of the six Il Carmine apartments. The location is terrific, on a very quiet street and yet very close to great neighborhood shopping. The Residenza is the entire ground floor (piano terra) of an old palazzo. The palazzo itself is historical, and right next to the building where Filippo Lippi was born. The garden is lovely, and my apartment facing the garden was extremely quiet. I often sat in the garden, put my feet up, and read.
The Via d'Ardiglione is right off both Via Santa Monica and Via de Serragli. Both of these streets are loaded with food stores of all kinds. As for restaurants --- Cavolo Nero is literally two doors down, and Tratoria Il Raddi (never got there) is around the corner. My problem was not having enought time to eat in the restaurants that were within a three-block radius. Or buy food in all the great stores nearby.
All the furniture in the apartment was in very good shape. The apartment is cleaned every day, and was amazingly clean. In the sitting area there is a nice small sofa (where I often fell asleep), a table in front of it, a low four-door dresser with the TV on top.
The eat-in kitchen has a large marble-topped table with three chairs. The kitchenette consists of sink, four-burner gas range and under-counter refrigerator, all new and nicely constructed. The cabinets were nice, and held dishes, very nice pots, and silverware, all one could need. There was no oven, just the gas range. I did often use the kitchen, and ate dinner in at least a half-dozen times. Mostly this was just eating prepared foods already bought. Sometimes I had snacks of cheese and oil, fruit, etc. The kitchen had a huge window, overlooking the garden, which made it very pleasant. Also the kitchen has pretty canisters, decorations, etc.
The apartment is very high-ceilinged, and a wall about 6-7 feet high separates the kitchen area from the sleeping area. There was a very nice bed, a king formed from two twins, and a very comfortable mattress. This area also had a nice large armoire, with a draw beneath; also a safe in the armoire. The lighting was very good, handy switches on either side for bedside lamps. Another high window is in the outside wall of the sleeping area, but no view there.
The bathroom is small but also modern --- a nice sink, toilet, bidet and one-piece shower. Water pressure was fine. Towels are provided, and changed every other day.
One of the great things about the Residenza Il Carmine is the management. Best I can figure out, the property belongs to the family of Miriam the owner, who lives there with her husband and daughter, Caterina. Miriam's mother also lives there and putters around the garden. Miriam is the main contact and is very helpful and delightful. This place is extremely well run.
The problem with Il Carmine is finding time to do all the things in the area. There are the San Spirito and Il Carmine churches within blocks. The Teatro Comunale, across the Ponte Vespucci, is within easy walking distance. There are at least two dozen restaurants within a four-block radius that one would love to eat in. This is not counting bars, caffes, pizzichiere, etc. Many places are open late.
The Oltr'arno is not out-of-the-way, as some might think, because the city is very small. And the difference in atmosphere between the crowded center, full of large groups of tourists, and the peaceful Oltr'arno "neighborhood", is like night and day. I was in Florence taking Italian class, and walked to the Bargello area every morning. Mostly, I had dinner in the Oltr'arno or at "home" in my apartment. But often this was where people wanted to meet for dinner.
The apartment cost as much as a very cheap hotel room, and there is no comparison. I would stay there again (and plan to). And I would recommend it highly to anyone. The only restriction is that I would not recommend it to someone who cannot easily walk more than a few blocks.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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