Friday, June 10, 2011

Where to Stay in Florence?

Our experience with accommodations in Florence has been limited. For years we stayed at Tony’s Locanda on Via Faenza, but those days ended when the family sold it and it became “gentrified” (i.e. doubled in price). As with most cities, the cheaper hotels can be found near the train station and I suspect Via Faenza is still riddled with 3rd floor walkups at reasonable prices, but one star hotels are not going to work for us.

One year we had the bright idea to rent a large apartment that slept 8 and invite friends and family to join us. Even for free, our friends left early to avoid sofabeds, so we nixed that idea in the future. Still it was a lovely apartment and it was great fun to be able to shop the markets in both Florence and Bologna to make dinner for our guests. I failed to photograph the master bedroom and a single bedroom, but did manage a photo of 3rd bedroom with its "wet bath", the old fashioned type of Italian bath that allowed the shower to spray the entire room and drain into the middle of the floor. My cousin and her husband were great sports about accepting that room and allowing other guests to trapse through in the middle of the night to use the toilet. It makes for an amusing travel story, though not very amusing at the time.

Our next rental experience was superior and worked out well. A colleague at work told us about a one bedroom apartment that he and his wife were very pleased with and offered me a link to the property. I contacted the owner, Rossella Ristore, and we have since become personal friends. Even when her apartment is not available we get together for lunch. Next year it will be available during our required dates and we are looking forward to renting it again.

On the one occasion when her apartment was not available, I made a reservation on for Il Cestello, a small hotel in the Oltrarno area of Florence and were it not for an allergy to mold, I could have enjoyed my stay there. It had been booked on a nonrefundable basis for the low rate of 118 euros per night. The bathroom shower had mold in the grout between the tiles, therefore I had to make a complaint and asked for bleach. The young man at the desk wanted to accommodate me, but could find none. I bought some for myself and scrubbed down the shower, but it did not remove the mold (although I did not get my allergy so it could have killed it). In the morning the manager offered to give us an alternate room, even one he could rent for a higher price, but every room he showed me had the same problem. When we explained that I couldn’t afford to get sick and were leaving early, he kindly offered to give me a free room on another occasion, but if the mold were a continuing problem, which it appeared to be, that would not work either. He tried, but keeping healthy on vacation was worth losing one night’s lodging. Still for anyone not allergic to “muffa” and who can tolerate it aesthetically, it was a good value.

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