I’m always traveling. For the past ten years or something I’ve been constantly on the move, either visiting different states in the US or cruising around Europe. I’ve traveled on a college budget (think poor as F%&, sleeping in the airport), and I’ve done the luxury travel thing, too. Nice hotels are fantastic and you feel special and fancy but I always feel a little unsettled, like I’m in between something, a high-end hobo. In recent years I’ve stayed almost exclusively at apartments because I feel at home which is super important because I have OCD, I’m kind of crazy, aaaand I work remotely. Feeling good about where I am is crazy important to me because if I’m uneasy I can become homicidal or depressed or just weird. Thankfully since I travel a lot I’ve finally started to pin-point my fav stops for feeling comfortable without spending a billion dollars. I can “rough it,” I did it for years, but now that I’m older and…old, I’m basically just old, I need a bit more comfort up in my life but I would rather shop than spend a fortune on a room. While I’m still working out the wrinkles in a few of the cities I visit often, I feel like I’ve found a perfect solution for Florence for friends and my family. I just stayed in an apartment so epically badass that I had to write about it because everyone needs to stay at this place and I knew that all of you who love Italy (especially Florence) will be all about it. Seriously, even if you already live in Florence just go stay here because it is goddamn magical. So magical that I actually turned into a knight AND a unicorn.
If you’re planning a trip to Florence with family, friends, your kids, your partner, dog, whatever, definitely check this apartment out. Why? For starters it’s a historically amazing place. In 1394 three of the apartments made a townhome that was lived in by people affiliated with the Medici family and the bottom apartment used to be their “farmers” market (since the streets were too dangerous to venture onto). Also, the Clarice apartment, for example, sleeps six, has a huge living room, two bathrooms and has frescos from the 14th century (think, around the time of Leonardo Da Vinci, he probably totally boinked one of the guys that lived there because he had really good taste when it came to rooms and boinking…I imagine). The rooms are well-equipped with a kitchen, insanely comfy mattresses, adequate closet space, and decorated old school. Every second you’re in the apartment your brain is like, “HOLY SHIT I’M IN ITALY IN THE OLDEN DAYS!” Except there is modern plumbing, and a bidet, and no plague. It’s the best of all the worlds! All of the apartments are different and have cute names: Bianca Cappello, Lorenzo Il Magnifico, Clarice (my personal fave), Cosimo il Vecchio, Leone X, Caterina, and Francesca. They all fit a various number of people (the apartments, not the women…pervs) and I honestly cannot think of a better place for a bride and groom to stay the night after their wedding, on their honeymoon, or for a badass family vacation (Caterina has an upstairs loft, and 3 bedrooms… fits 6 super comfortably) or you can go with friends and split the apartment expenses to make it crazy cheap. I can’t see myself staying anywhere else or putting my family anywhere else in Florence. Oh! And my room had a sword in it! A SWORD! F was not excited that I had access to a sword or that I kept yelling, “I am a knight! Obey!” at him.
Probably the best thing about the apartments though are the details that the management puts into the place. Federico Bonechi and his sister Francesca are from Florence, they know everyone, and they are amazing. I don’t like very many people enough to gush over them but seriously, they were so damn nice and helpful and I met so many great Florentines just by standing outside with Federico for five minutes and having a coffee with him nearby. Federico didn’t even smack me when I showed up late to the apartment to check-in (because I was having brunch with blogger babes Georgette from Girl in Florence, Gina from The Florence Diaries, and realized too late that a text I sent never sent).
Amenities That Made Me Insanely Happy:
- Access for disabled people in the Francesco De Medici apartment (doesn’t sound like much but in Florence this is HUGE because most apartments are not wheelchair accessible).
- Blowdryer AND hair straightener in every apartment (uhm, why the hell do other apartments not have a straightener? I needed this because F exploded mine at his parent’s house because he used it to “test,” a converter, NOT because he was trying to style his chest hair…this time).
- Shampoo, sewing kit, body wash.
- First Aid Kit in case you injure yourself with the random swords in the rooms.
- Really plush, awesome towels.
- Shower cap (can’t be bothered to wash my hair every day).
- Vanity Kit
- Sewing kit (so you can make yourself outfits).
- 3 AC units (in the Clarice apartment where I stayed). Doesn’t sound impressive? It should, because I stayed in another apartment prior to this one with NO air conditioning in July when it was 100 degrees outside. I actually considered suicide multiple times per day.
- Fresh in season fruit, and a nice bottle of Banfi, Tuscan wine (which I immediately guzzled like a rabid housewife) that they set out as a welcome gift for all guests. Seriously, how cute is that?
- A special tea blend called Palazzo Belfiore made by a local tea house and it is freaking delicious. I like tea but I don’t love it. This blend I loved enough to bottle and carry around with me all day. They must put fairy crack in it.
Services Upon Request (I will be taking advantage next time):
- Housekeeping (40 bucks per day)
- Dryer Service (clothes are returned folded)
- Grocery Shopper (15 dollars)
- Personal Shopper
- Beauty service in your apartment
- Breakfast in your apartment
- Private driver and/or private tour booking
- Italian language and cooking courses (in your apartment or in groups).
- Private cook in your apartment
- Luggage storage
Palazzo Belfiore is located on the Oltrarno in Florence, or as I like to call it, legit Florence. If you cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge and cruise over towards Santa Spirito you’ll find yourself in the same ‘hood as Palazzo Belfiore and here is where you’ll find tons of artisan shops, amazing restaurants, art, antiques, Made In Italy clothing, shoes, and general badassery. It’s my favorite area in Florence next to Campo Di Marte (Again, I’m oldish and Campo is chill). Belfiore is located between the main four points of the Ponte Vecchio, Santa Trinita, Santa Spirito, and is right next to Palazzo Pitti. It’s also right next to Piazza Della Passera, one of the few streets in Florence that was not rebuilt after WWII so it’s exactly as it was centuries ago.
If you’re interested in booking an apartment email Francesca or Federico for pricing or bookings (you’ll get a better deal if you book directly instead of on a third-party site because they give discounts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Artisans Near Palazzo Belfiore:
Silvia Nesti: www.silvianesti.com she works with silver
Rentato Olivastri: www.olivastrirestauri.it he is a theacher in the Scuola del Restauro
Enrico Giannini : Master of the paper
Luigi Mecocci: Master of restauro
LIVE IT LOCAL: Such a great video, short, sweet, and full of places to go and things to try along with local artisans, cafes, restaurants, and even cake shops.
Recommended Restaurants In Florence:
Classic Mid-range Tuscan Food (within € 40 per person):
Toscanella – Via Toscanella 32r – Tel. +39 055 285488
Magazzino – Piazza della Passera 2/3 – Tel. +39 055 215969
4 Leoni – Piazza della Passera 5 – Tel. +39 055 218562
Il Santo Bevitore – Via Santo Spirito, 64/66 – Tel. +39 055 211264
La Casalinga – Via dei Michelozzi, 9r – Tel. +39 055 218624
Lungarno 23 – Lungarno Torrigiani 23 – Tel. +39 055 2345957
Classic mid-high Tuscan food (€ 40 and up per person):
Buca dell’Orafo – Volta dei Girolami 28 – Tel. +39 055 213619
Coco Lezzone – Via del Parioncino, 26r – Tel. +39 055 287178
Mamma Gina – Borgo San Jacopo, 37 – Te. +39 055 2396009
Classic top Tuscan food (€ 50 up per person):
Cammillo – (Casual)
Buca Lapi – (smart casual – only open for dinner)
Borgo San Jacopo 57r – Tel +39 055 212427
Via del Trebbio 1r – Tel. +39 055 213768 (top end of Via dè Tornabuoni)
5 & Cinque – piazza della Passera, 1- Tel. +39 055 2741583
Brac – Santa Croce Area – Via dei Vagellai 18/R – tel +39 055 0944877
Le Vespe Cafè – Santa Croce Area – Via Ghibellina, 76 – Tel +39 055 3880062
Il Vegetariano – Piazza San Marco Area – Via delle Ruote 30r – Tel. +39 055 475030