where to stay in florence: palazzo belfiore

When planning our trip to Italy back in 2013, we found ourselves in the midst of a booking snafu that was potentially very expensive and a bit embarrassing for the likes of two ladies who fancy themselves seasoned travel vets. In the end, we learned some great information we could share with you all, so we consider it worth it.

We also mentioned in that post that we’re fans of renting apartments, not hotel rooms, when staying in Florence. Access to a kitchen keeps things more affordable and makes the city feel more like home.

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Well, considering that list of standards, we hit the jackpot on our last stay in 2014, when we moved into (and, at the end of the trip, begrudgingly left) Palazzo Belfiore. We want to say up front that this post is not sponsored by Palazzo Belfiore. Yes, we did stay there, and yes, we think the experience is exceptional, but no, they did not pay us to say that.

Original arches in the Francesco studio

Original arches in the Francesco studio

Palazzo Belfiore was first built as a family residence in the 14th century. Today, its sweeping rooms have been converted into holiday apartments, but much of the character of the original building remains in tact. This is best seen in two of the apartments, the Clarice and the Bianca Cappello, which feature in situ frescos that rival those people pay to see at the Palazzo Davanzati Museum. If you don’t stay in one of those two rooms, however, let us reassure you that the others are equally charming and historic. Our apartment, Lorenzo il Magnifico, featured a small terrace right off our kitchen. And yes, all seven apartments are named for famous Medici, which is enough to make these art history nerds swoon.

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Frescoes in the Clarice apartment

Another factor that’s important to us in choosing where to stay is location–and Palazzo Belfiore has a near perfect one. It’s on a quiet street just steps from perhaps our favorite piazza in the city, Piazza della Passera, in the Oltrarno. Yet it’s still just a 3-minute walk from the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, your highway to all of the amazing tourist attractions in Florence. So staying here, you get the sense of peace and exclusivity of being nestled in “real” Florence, while remaining just steps from everything you might want to see. (Some things you might even see right out your window–a few rooms have views of Santo Spirito and Palazzo Pitti!)

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The kitchen in the Caterina apartment

We know we’re painting a rosy picture, but we haven’t even begun to mention the best part of staying here–the people. Led by the welcoming trifecta of Francesca, Federico and Anne, Palazzo Belfiore feels like staying at a glamorous friend’s house. We arrived in our room to a hand-written note, fresh flowers, a bottle of wine and a bag of chocolates. These items aren’t a marketing ploy; they’re genuine gifts that reflect the immense hospitality of the team. The staff is equally welcoming to all guests–families, honeymooners, retirees–and the palazzo offers full accessibility, which is sometimes hard to come by in Florence’s historic buildings. The team speaks fluent English but is more than happy to help you practice your Italian.

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View of the street from the Caterina apartment

The motto at Palazzo Belfiore is “Live it local,” and it informs everything here. The event we helped host is just the start. The team also regularly partners with local artisans (who you can meet, as many work right down the street), supports local art projects (remember this one?) and is a positive, contributing member of the local community.  We’re not sure about you, but that’s a group we’re happy to stay with and support.

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The bedroom in Leone X

Ok. We know we’re all about free around here, but having a good travel base is something we’re willing to spend a reasonable amount of money on. Plus, we consider the rates at Palazzo Belfiore relatively a steal, given the amount of convenience, luxury and hospitality guests receive in return. As we said before, this is not a sponsored post. Our regular readers should know that when we like something, we have trouble keeping from gushing. We simply think Palazzo Belfiore is too great of a find to keep to ourselves.

If you’d like to see more of Palazzo Belfiore, check out our Live It Local event recap here!

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2 comments

  1. Wow this place sounds great. I will have to remember it for next time I’m in Firenze. I’ve stayed at the Hotel Silla several times and it seems like it is a few blocks away. The Oltrarno is my favourite area to stay in. Ciao, Cristina

    1. ciao cristina! oh hadn’t heard of the hotel silla! but agreed, this is definitely the neighborhood to stay in if you’re venturing into florence.

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