Last Stop: Lazy in Rainy Florence

Gates of Paradise
After a long day of sightseeing in Rome, we stopped at the bar/Internet point at our campsite to book a hotel for the next two nights in Florence. Our only criterion? That the room would not be located at a campsite. We booked the cheapest room we could find in the Santa Croce area and didn't bother looking at the photos.

Because we got robbed the day we left for Florence and spent two hours getting a police report drawn up, we got a late start on our drive north. We didn't get into Florence until after 8 PM, and since we didn't bother reading anything about our hotel, we had no idea that the reception desk closes at 8 unless guests call ahead of time to announce their tardiness. A young woman was locking up the office just as I walked into the building.

"Are you sure you are booked here? I am sorry, but we did not receive any new bookings today. Do you have a voucher?"

"No. I have no voucher. We booked online," I calmly replied with a slight hint of desperation.

"Look, I am going to miss my bus, so just take this key to the Boccaccio suite and we'll sort it out in the morning."

Suite? As soon as I opened the door, I became convinced that "sorting things out" in the morning would involve moving us to a different room. Surely this two bedroom, two bath suite with kitchenette, terrace, and large living areas was not meant for us. We did pay only $80/night, so there must have been some mistake. At any rate, we settled in a bit before going downstairs to the ground floor restaurant/bar for some pizza and vodka. (We got robbed that day, remember?) Fun place, great vibe, stylish, with yummy food.

The next day it was raining heavily, so we decided to have a super lazy morning. I went to the local Sant'Ambrogio market (similar to the covered portion of the more popular San Lorenzo market) to pick up some fresh veggies, cheese, salami, and eggs to prepare our next few meals. We had lunch in our suite, sorted things out with the reception (they found our booking after all, and there was no mistake -- the suite was ours), and happily returned to Boccaccio to get ready to brave the elements.

First stop was the Leather School at Santa Croce with lots of beautiful eye candy. From there we popped into the cathedral to check out Machiavelli's tomb as well as Galileo's and Michelangelo's.

One of the things that we missed out on in Rome was the Etruscan collection at the Vatican because it was closed. Since Isaiah is really fascinated with Etruscan history, I suggested we go visit the National Archeological Museum of Florence, as our guidebook indicated that we'd find Egyptian and Etruscan collections. Well, let's just say there was a lot of Egyptian stuff and not much Etruscan. And the entrance price was reduced due to renovations. Considering the displays looked like they were from the 1970s, I'd say their renovations were well overdue. Oh yeah, and the one important Etruscan work they are known for having, the Chimaera, was on loan at the Getty in Los Angeles. Missed that memo at the museum entrance!

We spent the rest of the evening wandering around in the rain and scoping out shop windows with the hope of doing some shopping damage the next day, which was the January 6 holiday known as La Befana. Although this trip of ours was budget all the way, we found that we had been so good cooking our own meals and staying at campsites for the most part that there was room for us to splurge a bit at the end.

Despite the La Befana holiday, shops were indeed open, and the rain had finally let up, making us in less of a hurry to get back home, so we popped into a leather shoe shop and bought Isaiah a handsome pair of brogued wingtip lace-up ankle boots. At another shop, I got a pair of silver leather Superga sneakers. We also stopped at the San Lorenzo market and bought Isaiah a hat. Of course we didn't go crazy with the shopping, but we did find some nice things to take back with us as a little reward for being such Budget-travel troopers for 3 weeks...

Our final meal in Florence was at a pizzeria near our hotel that I would highly recommend:
Il Pizzaiuolo
Via de' Macci, 113/r
closed Sunday

Now, I also recommend our accommodations, but do remember this place is not actually a hotel. Staff and service is very limited, as this is a self-catered type of accommodation. The building is called Palazzo dei Ciompi and is part of the MSN Suites network. Although I have read negative reviews about this place describing some terrible rooms, those descriptions didn't sound anything like our accommodations. We loved everything about our experience: great location (5 minute walk from Duomo), spacious rooms, high ceilings, and the stocked kitchenette. OK, there was no spatula and the shower needed some time to warm up, but other than that we didn't have any problems. If you'd like to have apartment-style accommodations and you like the look of this room, book the Boccaccio suite.

Morning coffee in the dining/living room
San Lorenzo market
Pralines sampler from Vestri

Well, after that, it was back home to Switzerland. Thanks for reading about our trip and being so patient with me as I took my sweet time getting all these posts up. Stay tuned for a write-up of the campsites at which we stayed and a Sicilian food post.


  1. Well I like the sound of a $80/night suite, and within minutes to a attraction -- that is unheard of! Great find.

    Sorry to hear about the car burglary. Thank goodness the car insurance took care of things. But I wouldn't like my world to be shaken up like that by someone so rude and greedy. Pfft!

    I dig your kind of reward shopping as well! :)

  2. Wow that was a great price for your suite. I still have to go back and read your post on Rome, that's is too bad about the burglary but glad you both are safe.
    Sounds like you bought great items, My hubby was negotiating the price on a leather jacket, it was half off at 250 euros then the lady said 200 ok, hubby said no 150 max, no,no the lady said, finally they both agreed but Hubby wanted a black jacket and the one he was looking at was brown! So we walked out emptyhanded.

  3. Juanita - Yeah, we liked the sound of it too. Unfortunately, I think we'll only see a price like that during the off-season...

    Elisa - Way to bargain, even though you didn't end up buying it. I am such a chicken when it comes to bargaining with salespeople!


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