Subject: Re: Florence and surrounding towns
Hello Paolo,

I have stayed in the city center numerous times, and have also stayed on the outskirts a few times, most notably in Fiesole and also in Galluzo. There are good reasons for either option. It certainly is nice to be able to return to your lodging during the day, especially if you are a shopper like me, and accumulate packages. Also, if you eat in Firenze and like to drink wine and grappa etc., it is so much simpler just to walk back to your hotel and drop into bed. As far as staying outside of the city, it certainly is cooler and less polluted, although the Italians are finally beginning to realize the link between heavy traffic, lax auto emissions standards, and smog! Fiesole offers wonderful views, and easy access to the city. It is also a fascinating and picturesque small town. It is, however, fairly expensive, and in fact has one of the most costly, luxurious hotels in Italy. I have stayed in a wonderful place, but it has gotten expensive over the years as it is very well known, and I haven't been there in at least six or seven years. It is called Pensione Bencista, and it is very convenient to the bus which take you down the hill to the city center. I would highly recommend the Agriturismo that I have twice enjoyed in Galluzo, most recently I think, in 1999. Unfortunately, I am blanking on its name. I found it in the Karen Brown guide to B&B's, and of course, it is no longer listed. It was a peach farm, basically on the outskirts of the city, and the rooms were in what was probably the workers quarters when it was a bigger farm. The area was changing from farmland to suburbs in front of our eyes, so sadly, it may be gone by now. Still, we were served some of the most memorable meals that I have ever encountered. The accommodations were very simple but clean and with modern bathrooms, and the price, which included dinner, drinks, etc., was very agreeable. I'm sure that the newest Karen Brown guide will have similar suggestions. Good luck to you.

Jonathan Chimene New York