It seems wrong and slightly disingenuous to write a review of the same place again, but I must!
This was my second time at the Annalena and really, it felt like my Firenze home! From the moment I arrived and was welcomed by Hector (as I call him, being English, but infact his name is Heitor or Ettore) with a warm "Welcome Home" to the time I left just five nights later when I had a feeling I really was leaving a residence, rather than a hotel or pensione the Annalena had found a special place in my heart.
Aside from its formidable and exotic history (worth checking online!) it has a great location (20 euro in a taxi from the airport and located opposite the amazing Boboli gardens - a sort of uber Hampton Court crossed with Hyde Park(!) extravaganza, it is also a place with oodles of atmosphere. This is worth mentioning in a place like Florence where lets face it, there is so much overbearing tourism, such expensive impersonal restaurants that one cant avoid feeling ripped off - but staying at the Annalena grounds you, it makes the experience of tourism, human and real.
Because it is Oltrananro, which means this side of the Arno river it is not so shouty and touristy and the entire area is full of charming little ateliers and markets and shops selling everything lovely and there is a different market in Santa Spirito piazza every day worth checking out (Wednesdays is great for comfortable shoes--which you need in Florence!! -- I got a pair for 30 euros, and they would have cost three times that if I had crossed the Ponte Veccio, which by the way is only five minutes walk from the pensione). It is fairly 'bohemian' area more like Shoredith than Camden though, ie stylish rather than vulgar. (Am not sure anywhere in Italy, could even BE vulgar..but you get the point!)
The Annalena has beautiful authentic comfortable and luxurious rooms, (I can't bear it when hotels have 'pretend' retro tat in the room bought from Ikea) each with its own personality and if you are lucky, a terrace :)) (A tip: Ask Antonio for advice about which room will suit you!) And they just feel SO very Italian, very Florentine and because the staff have been there for a long time (Guiliana has been there for longer than the present owner and she taught HIM how to make a great cappuccino as he himself confided to me), you have the same feeling of cosiness and continuity that you feel when you visit an old and dear relatives house.
The other thing I really like about this pensione is that you have a feeling you are somewhere special and at the same time it is kind of 'your place'. For instance it is intimate enough to wish everyone Buon Giorno at brekfast, and have a glass of Chianti and a chat with whoever is at reception, once you have arrived back after a hard days sightseeing or shopping, and at the same time it is a grand villa complete with imposing statues of Italian writers and gorgeous fresocos on thew all. That juxtaposition and mix just feels like a bonus for a holiday that you have long looked forward to.
Staying at the Annalena made me feel I was getting great value out of my ENTIRE day and that is one of the best things I can say for any holiday. Nowhere else I'd stay in Florence! I even know which room I love best...but I'm not telling;) I'll be there again soon and I dont want it to be occupied!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- All the rooms are very quiet, very elegant and suggestive, but even if the style reminds to the old Florence, there are all the necessary comforts like a private bathroom, tv, phone, minibar, haidryer and air conditioning. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Annalena Hotel Florence