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Apartment Reviews: Florence, Orvieto, Rome and Venice

Apartment Reviews: Florence, Orvieto, Rome and Venice

Old Feb 9th, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Apartment Reviews: Florence, Orvieto, Rome and Venice

Not long back from Europe and thought I would provide some feedback on some apartments we stayed in. I will review apartments in Budapest and Berlin separately and also hotels in Sorrento and Naples.

In FLORENCE we stayed in Casa Caterina (http://www.casacaterina.it/oriuolo/apartment.html) – we stayed for 15 nights and would definitely stay there again! Highly recommended! For this leg of our journey there were 3 of us (myself and my two teenage daughters), but the apartment would have been perfect for 4 of us. It was located on the second floor – no lift, but that was fine with us.
The apartment is located just behind the Duomo in the heart of Florence and was central to everything. We walked absolutely everywhere in Florence from here, including to the station on our last day (an easy 10 minute walk with our suitcases). The apartment is exactly as shown in the photographs – spacious, modern, bright, impeccably clean and tastefully furnished. A dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, oven, microwave, full size fridge with freezer compartment – it was everything we needed for an extended stay. The only thing that would have been nice would have been a kettle – but those seemed to be quite rare everywhere we travelled in Italy. (No problem really – we used a saucepan to boil water for our tea or hot chocolate). Also included was a computer with internet access which was fabulous for keeping in touch with home.
A reasonable sized Standa supermarket with good trading hours was a couple of blocks from the apartment. We found its prices fair and an adequate range of groceries.
This was probably the nicest apartment we stayed in over a 7 week trip. The only negative was that the apartment is located very close to a hospital so sirens at night are common. Over 2 weeks we got used to them and this would not deter us from staying here again. Everything was included in the price, including heating.
Catarina and Fillipo were great to deal with by email, and fantastic in dealing with the airlines and taking delivery of my lost suitcase when it finally found its way to Florence.

In ORVIETO we stayed in Casa Flavia (http://www.casa-flavia.it/) for 5 nights. Roberta’s husband collected us from the train station upon arrival in Orvieto and drove us up to the apartment, giving us a quick historical overview of the town.
The apartment is located on the first floor (no lift) just off the main Corso and was incredibly quiet – not a sound to be heard at night. Orvieto is a small town so we could walk everywhere from here. The bedroom was huge and light and airy – probably the best room in the apartment – and contained a king sized bed and a single bed. It had a lovely large terrace leading off it which would be fantastic in summer. (It was below zero when we were there so we did not use it). The living / dining room was smallish without any natural light. The kitchen was compact but more than adequate (and included a kettle). The bathroom was small, with the shower almost cupboard like. The washing machine was located in a “cupboard” on the terrace – really too cold when we were there to bother with it as it was essentially out of doors. Generally the apartment was clean, and compared to others we looked at on the internet, seemed to be good value for money. Everything was included in the price, including heating.
Recommend for a short stay, but the living areas and washing machine arrangement would not have been ideal for longer stays. Having said that, this may not be so much of an issue in summer when the terrace would double up for a relaxation / meals area.

By the time we got to ROME there were four of us – Hubby and I as well as our two teenage daughters. When looking for accommodation for 4 we found many places offered a sofa bed in the living room for two and only one bedroom, which we wanted to avoid. A week sharing a sofa bed can be a long time for sisters! We also thought that accommodation in Rome is generally quite expensive. We finally settled on “Terry’s House” (http://www.vrbo.com/20263#).
Many people recommended the area around Piazza Navona or Campo di Fiori, but we honestly did not see the huge attraction of these areas – perhaps it may be different in summer. The apartment was located close to Circo Massimo, sort of tucked behind the Roman Forum in a very quiet little side street. Absolutely no noise and a nice little alimentari downstairs for basic supplies. We walked a lot from here, but there were also buses nearby (on the road a block away from the apartment or at Piazza Venezia, not too far away). As we arrived on Christmas Eve and my husband on Christmas Day, we were very happy to use the transfer service offered from the station and airport by Giovanni and his friend Enzo. It made arriving in Rome very easy, even though our train was late arriving!!
The apartment was in a well maintained but very old building (dating back to the time of Michelangelo) on the second floor. There was no lift and the steep stairs had 500+ years of wear and tear – perhaps not suitable for older travellers. It had 3 large bedrooms, two of which were extremely light and airy. The living room had one settee and a dining table with 4 chairs – this did not match the 6 beds in the apartment. The kitchen was very small and the bathroom led off the kitchen. The bathroom was compact.
My only complaint about the apartment was that the bathroom had a decided bad odour about it. The owner suggested that we leave the bathroom window wide open – which we did 24/7 for the duration of our stay - even a large can of air freshener did not really help. I concluded it was a case of antiquated plumbing in Rome.

We spent 3 days in VENICE and stayed at Casa Veronica (www.athomeinvenice.com) . The apartment had been recommended to us by friends and it was one of the best we stayed in during our 7 weeks in Europe. It was well located to the ferry and not far from the Rialto Bridge. It was on the second floor (no lift). The apartment was modern, impeccably clean and tastefully furnished. The master bedroom had a king sized bed, the second bedroom had a very large single bed (perhaps a small double), and there was a comfortable sofa bed in the lounge. We walked widely in Venice from the apartment, but the San Stae ferry stop was close by.
Dealing with Veronica over the internet was very easy, and she met us at the ferry stop upon our arrival to show us to the apartment. She was a wealth of information about all manner of things – sightseeing, restaurants, markets, islands, internet cafe etc. There was a lot of travel literature available in the apartment as well. Veronica very kindly let us arrive early and check out late – obviously that is dependent on what other bookings she has.
When we arrived there were biscuits, fresh fruit and water provided for us to settle in – a nice touch. Everything was included in the price. We would not hesitate to stay at Casa Veronica again and highly recommend it!
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 02:33 AM
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Great reviews, thanks. What sort of average did you spend per night in Italy?
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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Hi WillTravel - never really thought about it that way. I just did the maths and it was Eu 115 per night - a pretty good rate for 4 of us I think (34 nights in Italy).
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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That is a good rate for Italy, particularly as you stayed in nice places.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 03:19 PM
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Oops - I just realised a couple of my links don't seem to work - sorry! For FLORENCE try www.casacaterina.it and for ORVIETO try www.casa-flavia.it
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:22 AM
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PR--- thanks for posting. To be honest, the bad odor in the bathroom is a No-No for me.... if I am going to pay to stay somewhere I better not be smelling crap while doing it. Just my threshold, not saying a aord about anybody else's.....

Also, the place in Florence does not list any prices....?
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 11:47 AM
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Viajero,
I know what you mean about the bathroom odour. That would be the only reason I did not say "Recommended" or "Would stay again". A shame really as otherwise a nice apartment!

Florence - we paid Eu 100 per night. We were there 15 nights, in winter, so this may have meant a better rate for us than normal - not sure.
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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Here is where we are staying in Florence next month, at Residenza il Carmine. This is our 3rd stay since March 2007:

<http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30384297&id=1126123095>

<http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30384297&id=1126123095>

<http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30384297&id=1126123095>

It is on the Oltrarno, quite close to the river and just off the via Maggio. Very close to the Carmine church -- between the Carmine and Santo Spirito in fact.

One master bedroom plus sofa bed(s) in the living room. 1.5 baths. Colossally high beamed or brick ceilings. Two French doors to the garden with a magnolia right outside the bedroom window.

Ground floor -- a plus for us. Immaculate. Daily cleaning. Great kitchen. There's even a luggage/ ironing room!

Good restaurants all around. Small supermarket 2 minutes' walk. We have actually walked, with rolling luggage, from the SMN station.

We are there for 4 nights. Off season, we are getting an amazing rate: 75 E per night.

Can you believe it?????
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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There seems to be sthg wrong with these links - I click and they just lead to my Profile page on FB.

Well, try www.residenzailcarmine.com and click on Apartments, then click on Ap't Domus -- that will get you into the Ap't Domus photo gallery.
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 04:26 PM
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We also stayed at that apartment in Florence and it was our favourite in a 5 week trip to Italy. If anything I thought it was even better than the net shows.Very handy position and tastefully furnished. The owners were lovely and very helpful. Glad you enjoyed it too.I recommend it every chance I get!
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 05:35 PM
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The Oltrarno and esp. the Borgo S. Frediano is a wonderful spot. I cannot imagine why more people do not stay there. So peaceful after the throngs on the other side....

The Residenza il Carmine is just off the via S.ta Monaca, where I lived for some months in ...errr... 1973-74. So I am a long-ago convert to that neighbourhood.

BTW: The nearby P.za Santo Spirito and its Brunelleschi church are my image of Italian architectural perfection, even with the daytime street market and the layabouts.
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 06:59 PM
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Thanks Peteralan, I think it was one of your posts that pointed me to Casa Caterina originally! Thanks for the great tip!!
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Old Feb 13th, 2010, 08:26 PM
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Oh great! Good to get some positive feedback.
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Old Feb 13th, 2010, 09:39 PM
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Tedgale, loved the look of the apartments - we would be looking at one of the smaller ones. Are they all as nice as they look? The garden aspect is a big plus for us.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 01:35 AM
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tedgale-- your link address are pictures in your Facebook page; logically they will take you to your Facebook profile.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Maudie: The smaller ones are in a purpose-built one-storey block along one side of the garden. The garden is very quiet and not hemmed in at all: at the end of the garden is a high wall that separates this property from another large open expanse -- a religious property or possibly a school.

It is a very convenient location, an easy walk to the bridges over the Arno. Santo Spirito, 5 mins walk away, is reportedly "party central" at night -- but this neighbourhood is silent.

There is a good, relatively cheap Internet point a few minutes away, just E. of the via Maggio, on the way to Santo Spirito. (Internet points are much more expensive outside Rome, I find)

viajero2: I thought the link would give others access only to the specific photo or perhaps the entire album, IE would not give access to my profile page. Odd. Guess I cannot post albums or photos here if I want to limit access to my profile.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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I have not been inside the other apartments but the exteriors look well maintained, as is the garden. There are seats and even a table or two in the garden.

The property itself is pretty anonymous from the street and the public hallways, as in so many places in Italy, are dim and dreary. The garden is entirely another affair.

The street (via d' Ardiglione) is really little more than a lane. There is a very smart and expensive restaurant, Osteria dell' Ardiglione -- pratically next door to the Residenza.

Sorry, I made a mistake about the Internet point: I should have said it is just E. of the via DEI SERRAGLI, (the major N-S street to which little via d'Ardiglione runs parallel).

(There is another, closer but more expensive one right at the top of via d'Ardiglione, where it meets via S.ta Monaca in a T-junction)
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 03:40 PM
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tedgale, thanks so much for your detailed answer. Seems easy enough to get to by walking from the train station too. We don't require anything fancy just clean and quiet, it looks perfect for us. Really appreciate your help.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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Hi, Thanks for the report on the apartments. I was looking at the Rome apartment (VRBO #20263) for July. I'm a little worried about the bathroom odor and the size. Was the shower a reasonable size? Aside from that was the apartment clean and a good fit for a family of 6 who will only be there for 3 days?
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 08:03 PM
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Hi M179
I cannot add much more re the bathroom odour!? The bathroom was very small - directly off the kitchen - so we tended to use the kitchen as a dressing room. My husband (the biggest of the 4 of us), grumbled about the shower, but the girls and I thought it was okay - plenty of hot water for a good shower.

I don't think I would be wanting to cook any substantial meal for 6 poeple in the kitchen - quite small, but for breakfast and lunch it was fine. (Some reasonably priced restaurants over the river nearby for dinner). The dining table only had 4 chairs around the table - not ideal for 6. But, I guess finding accommodation for 6 would not be easy. The apartment was definately very clean - no problems on that front whatsoever!! Good luck!
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