We three ladies went by train from Venice to Florence during the second week in Italy followed by a taxi ride to our Apartment Carolina, Via De Guicciardini 22, 50125 Firenze, Italia, phone +39 39 3981 2058. A representative from the management company, www. apartmentsflorence.it; phone 001-646-808-0765 or +39 055 2479309 greeted us when we arrived to let us into our gorgeous apartment with the high ceilings, crown molding and hardwood flooring.
The agent representing www.apartmentsflorence.it was very professional as he guided us through the apartment. As per our contract, we were required to present a credit card for a hold of $600 in the event of any damage to the apartment which was never charged. At the end of our stay, we put 25 euros on our credit cards per person for utility usage. On our last day, when our host met us to inspect the apartment, to collect all payments owed (Cost was less than $58.00 per night, per person) and to call a taxi to escort us to the train station, the cleaning crew was already hard at work.
Our Apartment Carolina was beyond perfect for a several night stay. It was spotless and more than matched the advertisement on their website. It was a huge apartment with 3 bedrooms and three bathrooms, a long hallway, a huge laundry room, a spacious living room and dining room, and a well appointed kitchen. From the windows, we had views of Florence which were stunning.
The location couldn’t have been better. From the apartment door, with a turn to the north, it was three blocks from the main bridge, Ponte Vecchio and then to the nearby Ufizzi Gallery. Within a few yards, southwest from our apartment, you could see the nearby, Pitti Palace, the Boboli gardens, the Bardini Gardens and the Forte Belvedere structure.
In both directions from our lodgings, and on the Ponte Vecchio there were a multitude of leather, jewelry, high fashion, gelato and souvenir shops. As we headed north from our apartment, for a couple blocks and then turned right (west), there is a small supermarket where tourists can purchase bottles of water and snacks.
When you cross north over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge from Via Guicciardini, the street name changes to Via Por Santa Maria. From here, the first left/ west turn onto Lungarno Archibusieri/ Lungarno delle Grazie, takes you within a short distance to the Uffizi Gallery. Then if you continued west on this street, you eventually reach Piazza dei Cavalleggeri and the Santa Croce area.
If you persist in walking north over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge when it becomes Via Por Santa Maria and then Via Calimala, you will end up at a major square, Piazza della Republica. Then if you walked north from here, you would find the Piazza del Duomo. These same streets eventually turn into Via Calzaiuoli.
However, if you make a right turn (west) from Via Por Santa Maria onto Via Vacchereccia, you would be standing at another very popular square, Piazza della Signoria.
Across the street from our apartment is the 15th century, Hotel La Scaletta,Via Guicciardini 13, Florence, FI, 50125, Italy which has a great terrace restaurant . I did check the rates and if the reader books a deluxe double room through Hotels.com at 888-950-506, the rate is $198 per night. The hotel phone is +39 055 283028888. This is a lovely family owned, well managed hotel with the negative of small bathrooms because of laws prohibiting alterations to this 15th century building.
For the near by luxurious 5 star hotel, there is the Hotel Lungarno at Bargo S Jacopo 14; 50125 Firenze, Italy; phone: +39 055 27261. There is a lovely terrace restaurant with a view of the Arno River associated with this hotel, which we three ladies decided to try. This was one of our more expensive dining choices; however, everything recommended by our waiter was delicious. It is here that we first ordered a popular local drink called the Spritz, which quickly became a favorite of ours.
We began our mornings by stopping at the Coffee Bar, Pastericceria Maioli which is right across the street, to order the cream filled croissants and cappuccinos which we would take back to our place.
During our first day in Florence, we decided to visit Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti). The Pitti Palace dominates the Santo Spirito Section of Florence and is separated from the other “Oltrarno” quarter of San Niccolò.
The palace was the Medici grand duke’s residence in the mid-16th century and the family continued to reside there until the last of the Medici’s died in 1737. After this time period, Florence’s royalty lived here until about 1919, when it became a museum. The rooms and collections were preserved and presented to the city for the public’s pleasure, by its ruling families.
According to Pauline Frommer’s guide book on Italy, “a visit to the palace, in particular the Palatina Gallery, is a glance into the life of Florentine royalty. The rooms are still decorated with much of the original furniture and decorations, including frescoes, sculptures and all the original works of art–from Botticelli to Raphael to Titian to Caravaggio.”
“The Boboli gardens of the palace are a worthwhile visit too, offering lovely views across Florence and the surrounding countryside. Be sure to take advantage of the fact that palace admission allows entry into the beautiful Bardini Gardens, nearby, as well.”
We did walk through the Boboli Gardens which are so extensive, that one can get lost through the maze of high bushes and trees. From here, we climbed several steps to reach the terrace area of Forte Belvedere to be rewarded by a view of the entire city’s panorama. Fortunately, after this steep climb there was a bar with lounge chairs, so that we could rest and refresh ourselves with a drink and gelato.
Before we explored the Palazzo Pitti, we took time out to eat lunch at Ristorante Caffe Pitti at Piazza Pitti 9, 50125 which was just one more great place to eat near our apartment.
The VisitFlorence.com website has some comments regarding their 72 hour Firenze card for 72 euros which are as follows:
“Keep in mind that museums have improved their services for Firenze Card holders, for example, by adding priority lines at the busiest museums: you’ll find priority entrance at the Uffizi, the Accademia, at the Baptistery, Giotto’s bell tower, the Cupola (dome), Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. If you’re visiting in the summer or have limited time, it is without a doubt a benefit to skip any lines at the main museums in Florence regardless of the cost.”
The purchaser also has access to all public transportation including to Piazzale Michelangelo and to the Medici Villas of Petraia and Castello outside of the historical center of Florence.
“WI-Fi access: With the price hike in June 2013, the major new service to visitors who purchase the card is free Wi-Fi access across the city. It provides unlimited access during the 72 hours that the card is active – all visitors (and residents) can access the free Wi-Fi the city provides regardless but it is limited to an 1 hour a day. With the card, you have unlimited access – a big plus!”