March 19, 2019
When I travel, I search for new and exciting places that my clients at Take Me Home Italy can enjoy. And, of course, I want to experience it all too. Last month I had an opportunity to appreciate the city of Florence in an entirely new way. I spent the weekend at Palazzo San Niccolo’ in the oldest neighborhood in Florence, the neighborhood from which the palazzo took its name. This intriguing, medieval palace offers over 20 apartments for rent, each unique. It is in the Oltrarno in a local neighborhood that I had yet to explore.
Beyond the apartments you have the use of the peaceful garden. Even in February it offered solace from the crowds.
Palazzo San Niccolo’ is a part of a group of higher end apartments in the Florence area. It all began with Palazzo Belfiore several years ago. All are now under the umbrella of www.yourplaceinflorence.com.
When I arrived, the place was full of participants in an event called Hand Made in Tuscany. Before perusing the tables, I was escorted to the Boboli apartment, my home for the next two nights.
I hadn’t expected the size and modernity of my home away from home. The stainless-steel kitchenette was very usable. Glass water bottles filled with both still and frizzante water awaited me and could be refilled any time in the lower level.
The modern bath overlooked another area of the palazzo.
Everywhere within the winding structure were views and the play of light and shadow. I could have just nested in the apartment. But the call of discovery was too loud to ignore.
As I walked down the staircase, I could see the honey seller. He even sold honey beer.
Across from the honey were exquisite baskets woven in Tuscany.
There was so much talent within the walls of Palazzo San Niccolo’ that there is no way I can show you them all. Here are some of my favorites.
Sipario is a Tuscan business that employs people who have personal challenges. While so often these people are marginalized, Sipario gives them the platform to use their artistic talent. I loved all of their colorful, usable creations and bought some to support them and for gifts.
The exquisite cut glass and colored glass work I found was enchanting. Luciano Bandinelli is a true artist.
Kreature Creazioni Artigianali featured books, cards and boxes for your treasures, all hand made for longevity.
Villatrentuno of Lucca showcases some amazing purses and leather goods. Had I not just purchased a daypack, I would have splurged on one of these gems. Their work displayed their attention to detail and their creativity. I loved every piece.
Next to them I found an incredible woman named Azrita, I believe. Her fine work with design on her pashminas fascinated me.
She didn’t even have a business card. They were blank. She handwrote her information for me. I want a pashmina she has made.
Di Antonella Caneli and her talent captivated my attention. I loved how she took old book pages and painted on them. These are not prints. They are hand painted. She is holding a book that she felt was her masterpiece. It was soft to the touch and filled with blank pages for you to fill. Her triangular leather creations were coin purses or treasure purses for women to use within their larger bags. They were so clever and functional.
When I finally left her table, I discovered a very whimsical display, one where I could definitely spend some euros.
I want to own several of those hats. I wish I had known her when I used to sing on stage. I loved them.
Across from the Mad Hatter I found Maria Calamai, artistic designer extraordinaire. Her creations were ethereal. She invited me to her studio—I wish I had been able to fit it into my weekend. I hope to return and see where she works and more of her jewelry, cards and whatever else she offers.
There were so many other artists and craftsmen, all local to Tuscany. I wish I could feature the other jewelers, seamstresses, leatherworkers, and the rest. The next time Palazzo San Niccolo’ offers this event, I would suggest you attend. Bring lots of Euros—and stay right on site as I did.
My first day in town was at an end. I cuddled up in my luxurious bed, watched some Italian Television on one of my two TVs and dreamed of colors and hats, lots of hats.
The following morning, I wandered around the San Niccolo’ neighborhood and met my friend Patti at Zoe’s for breakfast.
After Gluten and caffeine fortification we walked around the neighborhood.
The rowers were out—I loved to watch them pass under the bridge.
Even in February there are always people here but the Arno seems to calm us all. I can never get enough of it.
After more time by the river, we walked where the locals live and walk in San Niccolo’. CLET, the famous artist has a store across from my lodgings.
Elsewhere I found the Mona Lisa by Blub, another unique artist plus many personal touches to all the local businesses.
Why had I never walked this section of the Oltrarno before? I have been to Florence at least 20 times—I lived here for a month. I never walked these streets. Have you?
After saying ci sentiamo to Patti, I returned to Palazzo San Niccolo’ to meet Isabelle. We would tour both Palazzo Belfiore and Palazzo Del Moro today.
Our first stop was in the Santo Spirito area of the Otrarno to see the 14th Century Palazzo Belfiore.
Here you will find quite a few apartments, all different. The first floor apartment is handicap accessible—and absolutely stunning. I would stay there in a heartbeat.
The open floorplan and the original corbelled vaults offer a romantic overnight stay—or maybe for a week. It is all open and flexible.
Apartment number 6 was our next stop.
This plan was traditional, light and airy. Again, I could easily spend time here.
We saw some under renovation. There are more photos on the website. It is time to say goodbye to Palazzo Belfiore
and move onto Palazzo Del Moro on the Duomo side of the Arno.
Palazzo Del Moro is another ancient building just a few steps from the Arno River. Inside there are five identically structured apartments. Isabelle suggested we see the top floor apartment because of its unusual décor and the views. She showed me to the elevator and as the door closed I realized it was smaller than a phone booth and slower than walking. It was a bit claustrophobic. Isabelle said that it was mainly used to move luggage. It did save some steps. But if you are at all claustrophobie I would suggest you do NOT take that elevator.
However, it was worth a few moments of terror for me. When we entered the apartment, I felt I had found my aerie, my bird’s nest in the sky.
I loved the view. And I adored the furnishings. The open concept with stainless kitchen, glass tables, crazy poofs and a wild chair, well, I wanted to move in.
The other four apartments have the same bedding and kitchen but different interior designs. I am sure all would be quite pleasant for your time in Florence and less stairs.
Are you hooked yet? Would you like to book a room or apartment in one of these phenomenal Palazzi?
Go to www.yourplaceinflorence.com. Check for availability and more photos. For my readers, there is a special discount. When reserving a room, the website will ask for a promo code. Remember to enter the promo code MJR for a 5% discount! 5% discount can really add up.
I am quite certain that you will enjoy your experience in any of these excellent palaces.
How could you not love your time in Florence? It is a very special place that steals chunks of your heart and begs you to return again and again. You will walk and walk, eat and drink and love it all.
Speaking of walking, on my last night, after walking over 5 miles on my bad, torn ligament foot, I was too beat to watch the sunset on the Arno. I lay in my room and watched the evening’s spectacular colors change while I gazed out of my huge bedroom window. I knew I would return another time to see the river. And the colors were beautiful even here.
Remember your Promo Code of MJR.
Maybe we will meet in one of the palazzi one day.
Until then, a dopo.
(Please note that I have received consideration for this post. Yet, the opinions are strictly my own.)
Ciao for now!
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Ciao for Now!
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