Where to stay when making the wine pilgrimage to Tuscany?
The dream of many wine lovers is to travel to Tuscany. The home of the great Chianti is located in this region of Italy. Most travelers will include a stay in Florence. Finding a good hotel may be the hardest part of the journey. Let me highlight a masterpiece I uncovered this year.
My husband warns me not to give out the name of this hotel. He says that once the word spreads we won't be able to get a room next year. I understand his hesitancy, but good things are meant to be shared.
The Hotel Caravaggio is a rare find in over priced Florence. It is attractive and in good repair, easy to find and get around the city by foot or public transportation, quiet, reasonably priced, with a friendly staff. It welcomes families, groups, or lone travelers.
When planning for our group trip I wanted someplace convenient to both the historical center, public buses, and easy for our hired bus to drop us off and pick us up. Amazingly, after months of Internet research I stumbled upon the Hotel Caravaggio.
It is owned by the Welcome Hotel group. This is an apt name for the owners. Leonardo greeted us warmly as we arrived, remembering all our names without referring to his list. Leonardo is the type of Florentine man that college age Americans come to Italy hoping to find. He is attractive, charming, friendly, and well traveled. Take time to have a drink in the small bar in the evening and you will enjoy interesting conversation on a wide variety of topics.
The Caravaggio is less than a year old. As such it shines with love and care. The rooms are comfortable. While not huge, they have many touches lacking in other hotels. All rooms are non-smoking (a sign of changes in Italy). Each room has a safe, free of charge and with an electronic combination that you set yourself. The bathrooms are generous, with large, fluffy towels hanging on a heated towel rack. There is also a blow dryer mounted on the wall. The area is quiet for downtown Florence. The hotel is located on Piazza della Independenza. Our room faced the street and we had no trouble sleeping.
Breakfast is a generous, cold buffet. There is ham and cheese, an assortment of breads, cereals, and teas. The classic morning coffee is available. The only tourists that we found disappointed were those wanting eggs and bacon.
You don't have to travel far for meals. The decent spaghetteria Giardino di Barbano is next door and serves pasta and pizza. It has an enclosed patio that sits behind the hotel. The menu is reasonable and the evening we were there, we were the only non-Italians. Being close the San Lorenzo and the train station, you have many other dining choices a short walk away.
There are other perks to staying at this lovely place. The lounge has Internet access available for a reasonable price. It was 1 Euro per 15 minutes, paid on the honor system. The Hotel Caravaggio has several connections to wine tasting classes in the area. We had made our own arrangements and did not participate in these classes.
If you stay in Florence you cannot go wrong with the Hotel Caravaggio. If you are driving to Florence and need a hotel with parking, take a look at the Caravaggio's sister hotel, Hotel Touring, in Scandicci. It is located just 5 km from the historic center of Florence and has its own parking lot.