blackpool, United Kingdom
January 18, 2004
On the other hand, if the idea of staying in a historic 15th-century palazzo with a magnificently preserved breakfast room and an equally splendid and large drawing room/lounge, both of which overlook the River Arno, sounds appealing, and if you don't like paying a small fortune for somewhere to rest your head, then the Bretagna could be just what you're looking for.
Close to Ponte Santa Trinita and only five minutes' walk from the Ponte Vecchio, this two-star pensione with 18 rooms has a chequered history and for 10 years was home to Louis Napoleon.
An aura of faded gentility pervades the reception and public areas. The distinctly unmodernised bedrooms all have colour television and telephones, the beds are comfortable and the furnishings best described as functional. Rooms and corridors are festooned with paintings, prints, and ceramics of varying vintage and quality.
My single had no bathroom - that was just down the corridor, small but adequate and never a queue.
But the reason so many guests return to the Bretagna is to savour the historic ambience of having breakfast in a chandeliered room with a gloriously painted ceiling, inlaid wooden floors and a view across the river to Oltrarno. Breakfast is adequate for a two-star hotel - fruit juices, yoghurts, sweet and savoury croissants, steaming jugs of coffee and hot chocolate.
The drawing room, with its exquisite decor and where you will want to linger, has a small library, and for the photographer, an open balcony from which there is a panoramic view along the Arno.
The young owners both speak English and are friendly and welcoming.
For this you will pay around Euro68 for a single and Euro115 for a double. Triples are also available for Euro139. Unfortunately, only one room overlooks the river and you'll need to book very early to secure it.
From journal Living and Learning in the Cradle of the Renaissance