We’ve traveled to Italy every other year since 2004, when we found the Torre Guelfa hotel. Located on the Via del Terme, only a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio where the jewelers have set up shop for hundreds of years, the Uffizi, and the Duomo-Baptistery piazza complex, it is what we consider our private discovery and Florence’s best secret. So far it’s our favorite hotel in all of Italy. The rates are reasonable and it would be worth it even if it were much more expensive,
The Torre Guelfa sits on the Via del Terme, right off the Via Por Santa Maria which leads straight into the heart of the city.
Like almost everywhere else in Italy the owners of the Torre Guelfa have found ingenious and attractive ways to fit elevators in amongst the winding stone staircases. All the rooms we stayed in were spacious and beautiful, and the view from the large windows, even those that look out on alleys, was always breathtaking. Some of the bed frames are antique and beautifully canopied.
The one roof-level room that has its own large terrace. The hotel has a large common area with overstuffed chairs, perfect for reading. The owners and staff are terrific. The location couldn’t be better. Within a few minutes you can be in the center of Renaissance Florence looking at Giotto’s “Campanile” (Bell Tower), or entering the Bargello Museum (Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and Giambologna all in the same place). Down the street is the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David. We suggest buying a “Friends of the Uffizi’ pass online, which lets you go to the front of the line. No waiting.
A short walk to the Church of Santa Maria Novella will take you past the corner where Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo had an argument about art. Across the Ponte Vecchio is a string of shops leading up to the Pitti Palace
Most of our time in Florence centers on the Piazza del Duomo, around which are restaurants, any of which you will find perfect. An oddity: for American style pizza, we found a place, easy to spot from the northwest side of the Baptistery, where the Via del Cerretani enters the piazza at the Borgo San Lorenzo.
During the late-Middle Ages the wealthy families raced to outdo each other in building the tallest tower. The city government stepped in and set a maximum limit, forcing many families to cut their towers down to meet safety guidelines. Torre Guelfa is the last one standing. On the roof is a two-tiered patio from which the full panorama of Florence can be enjoyed.
Torre Guelfa simply means Guelph Tower. The Guelphs were one of two rival political factions in pre-Renaissance Florence, the other being the Ghibellines. The Guelphs won the contest. This was only one of several spectacular family rivalries.
We will return to the Torre Guelfa in 2014.
John Edwards and Diana Hume George
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
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- Also Known As:
- Torre Guelfa Florence