I’ve been to the area around Florence in northern Italy for one vacation, five years ago, and I knew that I’d have to return; there is so much more for me to do there. Now that this year we have decided to return, our next big decision is as to where to make our vacation rental.
Florence, or Firenzi as the locals know it, is a truly spectacular city, set in the middle of the lush Tuscan countryside. The city itself is full of Renaissance history and you are able to feel the presence of the Medicis, Leonardo, Michelangelo and even Machiavelli as you wander around the narrow streets. I vividly recall the famous Ponte Vecchio – the bridge lined with old shops. The tortuous climb to the very summit of the cathedral – El Duomo – with its breathtaking panoramic views. The queue for the Uffizi Museum and Art gallery to see the statue of David and a host of Da Vinci paintings – but this time I will book in advance on-line and save myself a few hours. The exquisite formality of the Boboli Gardens in the Pitti Palace where, for a while, you can escape the bustle of the crowded city.
But where shall I book for my vacation rental? I’ve narrowed the choice down to four types of accommodation.
There are over 300 hotels in Florence, ranging from the Hotel Duomo, with spectacular views of the cathedral from many of its rooms, to a Holiday Inn 10 minutes from the center. The Hotel Arizona is a possibility because, as well as being in the heart of things, it has fully soundproofed rooms – a real bonus in a city with such noisy narrow streets. There are hotels to suit all budgets and all tastes.
2. Bed and Breakfasts
Many old houses or villas have been restored and converted into bed and breakfast places, which manage to retain their historical fascination but add the contemporary touches you want from your vacation rental. I quite like the freedom a ‘B and B’ can give to explore the eating places of Florence – of which the city is justifiably proud – and the more intimate ambiance you tend to find compared to hotels.
3. Apartments and Villas
There are many holiday companies now offering Florentine apartments or villas in and around the city and these can be extremely enticing, allowing much more freedom of choice during your stay. There are even genuine palaces in the hills overlooking the city that you can rent out for your vacation.
4. Tuscan Farmhouse Vacations
I’ve left this until last but I think it’s the one we’ll choose again. Last time we came to Florence, we rented an apartment in a small farmhouse complex about 10 kilometers from the city and it was idyllic. A gorgeous setting, with home-cooked evening meals, washed down with local wine, whenever we wanted to lounge in the gardens or swim in the pool in the evening sun. We were close enough to Florence to be able to bus in – car parking can be a nightmare – but were able to enjoy some Tuscan tranquility as well.
We’re having our Florence vacation rental package in the spring or autumn this year, when it’s less crowded.
I just can’t wait.