We are big proponents of renting an apartment when we travel. Sure, when only staying in a city for a few nights, it’s often easier to just check into a hotel. But, when we are staying a bit longer, we prefer to rent an apartment. It gives us more space and makes us feel a little better about getting to know a city. Because we haven’t been to Florence, Italy, in about a decade, we knew we would be reorienting ourselves in the city. It was the perfect place to test out how to rent an apartment in Florence, which is a great option for a long weekend in Italy.
But, before booking any holiday rental, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Here’s are our tips.
Ensure The Apartment Has The Right Amenities
Obviously, for us, being digital nomads means WIFI comes first! After that, we look for apartments that meet our needs, including a washing machine, and a full kitchen. We also like having a bedroom that is separate from the living room. This means we can separate our work lives a little more from our personal space. When staying in a hotel, we are often working from bed. That can be fun, but at times I want more space.
When traveling on a holiday, people often have differing needs. Something to consider when renting an apartment in Florence is accessibility. We were on the top floor of our building, and needed to carry our luggage up the stairs. Most old buildings in an old city like Florence don’t have elevators. If you carry large bags, or are traveling with someone of limited mobility, it’s best to request information about accessibility ahead of time.
The good thing is that most apartment rentals offer loads of information on what is included in the apartment – often way more than a hotel listing!
Shop At The Local Market
As mentioned, we tend to look for apartments that have full kitchens. First off, Eric must have his coffee first thing in the morning. In fact, we recently bought our own stove top Moka Express, solely for apartment rentals in Europe.
Having that kitchen not only cuts down on costs because you aren’t forced to eat all of your meals out, but it also gives you the opportunity to live a little more like a local. In Florence, this meant popping out to the local Mercato Centrale, to buy fruit and fresh pastas, to cook up in our apartment. It meant picking up a few hundred grams of Prosciutto di Parma and some cheese and a bottle of wine. In this case, it meant that each night I was able to snack on some Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic glaze that I carried with me from Emilia Romagna, a gift from our friend Helena over at Yummy Italy.
Sure, you can eat out for all of your meals when traveling. It’s certainly part of the experience. But, there is something that is a little special about cooking your own meals in an apartment overseas.
Choose The Right Location
This is often the hardest thing about choosing an apartment overseas. For an apartment in Florence, it is necessary to walk the fine line of being centrally located, but not too centrally located. In this case, our apartment in Florence was only a ten minute walk from the train station. That meant it was super easy to get to the apartment, without having to deal with a taxi driver.
And, we were centrally located to all the major attractions. Our apartment in Florence was set overlooking the Basilica di San Lorenzo, home to the Medici Chapel. We were only five minutes from the Duomo, about ten minutes from the Uffizi, and just as much from the Ponte Vecchio. We were in the heart of Florence! For us, this was a little too central, though, as we dealt with a lot of noise at night from school kids in the square outside of the Basilica. My preference when renting an apartment is to choose one that is a short walk from main attractions, but perhaps in a more local, and therefore quiet, neighborhood.
Make The Most of An Apartment in Florence
We always tend to make the most of an apartment rental. In Florence, we checked in for a full week, which meant we had the time to actually unpack the bags! We did laundry. We got some work done. We watched the sunset over Florence from our window.
Most days, I took long walks around the city, crossing the Arno River to explore the far corners of the city. I stopped for gelato on the way back to the apartment. And, I was happy to sleep in a little bit, not feeling like I had to get up at a particular time to catch the hotel breakfast. I really felt like we made the most of the apartment, settled in, and felt a lot more like a local than if we had stayed at a hotel for the full week.
Check this post for more Things to Do in Florence
Pick The Right Apartment Rental Company
We tend to use Airbnb everywhere. Most of the reason is that we know that pretty much every where you can find an Airbnb. But, there are times, and places, where you want something a little more unique, or a company that is a little more specialized in the local market.
For our apartment in Florence, we worked with a company called Interhome. Interhome specializes in boutique luxury apartments around Italy. It differs from Airbnb in that they manage the apartment rentals themselves. This means the apartments are often of a higher caliber, and satisfy their strict requirements for quality.
Our apartment in Florence was beautiful. It was artistically decorated in a beautifully restored old building on a main square. Certainly centrally located. But, even more, it made me feel, even for a week, that I was living like a chic, artsy Fiorentina. Although I would have preferred a more quiet location than the square we were on, I was impressed with the professionalism of Interhome. They have other apartments in Florence that I would also recommend, perhaps in some more local neighborhoods.
Where To Eat While Staying At An Apartment In Florence
Even though our apartment was in a little more touristy of a neighborhood than I would prefer, there were still some local experiences to be had. First off, the Mercato Centrale is the perfect place not only to pick up some fresh foods to cook in the apartment, but also to eat in Florence. On the top floor are a series of restaurants, almost like a modern Italian food court. It makes the perfect stop for lunch.
Another great lunch option is Trattoria Gozzi, which was just downstairs from the apartment. In a very touristy neighborhood, Gozzi seemed a lot more local. That means good food, at even better prices, with most dishes costing less than €8. Last, just off the square, and facing the Basilica, was a great little pizza place, Fermento Food and Beer, which offered craft beers and friendly service!
Pin It – How To Find An Apartment in Florence!
Interhome hosted us in our apartment in Florence, but all opinions are my own. Overall, I thought the apartment was simply lovely. I just wish I could have transported it a block or two away from the square outside of the Basilica. As much as I would not necessarily recommend THIS apartment for someone who likes to sleep as much as I do (which is a lot), I would definitely recommend trying Interhome for one of their other apartments in Florence, or elsewhere in Italy. The Apartment San Lorenzo runs around €900 a week.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.