Written by Anne Reincke, Travel Writer

Living on the wild side (just a little bit anyway), I decided to book a hotel, sight unseen, when we extended our vacation for a night in Florence.

Located on the Via de Tornabuoni, the hotel Tornabuoni Beacci is only one block up from the river Arne, only a couple blocks from the Ponte Vecchio, and just a ten minute or so walk to the Duomo. The hotel is a delightfully eclectic (20th century meets the 15th century . . . just read the different reviews on expedia.com), and infinitely affordable hotel (E$85 per room in November and I booked with the hotel via www.booking.com/hoteltornabuonibeacci))/residential accommodation that is part of two converted 15th century townhomes.

What really makes it a winner in my book, though, is that it currently shares an address with Tiffany and Burberry on the ground floor. Bulgari, Gucci . . . the list goes on and on . . . are close neighbors. Up and down the Via Tournabuoni, without doubt one of the most elegant streets in Florence, you can spend all sorts of quality time staring into the beautiful shop windows of some of the most exclusive merchants in the world . . . and it doesn’t cost you a cent!

Bars, cafes and trattorias can all be found close by. There’s a very friendly bar, the name of which escapes me, on the right side corner at the end of “the street of window shopping Nirvana” where it intersects with the Via de’ Cerrelani. This is where a very good light afternoon snack or full lunch can be found for just a few Euros. On the advice of the desk clerk at the hotel, we dined that evening at La Antiche Carrozze (www.leantichecarrozze.it), a friendly trattoria ensconced in a warm and rustic ambience, and conveniently located only a couple minutes walk from the hotel.

As with many other Italian hotels, a continental breakfast is included in the price of the room. The menus for these breakfasts vary with each hotel, but their offerings are usually more than adequate to start the day and get you through until noon. The Hotel Tournabuoni Beacci is no exception, and the service is, as we’ve come to expect in Italy, friendly and courteous.