One of Florence’s traditional pensioni, and, in spite of new owners, still very much in the old style, the Annalena is located opposite the back entrance to the beautiful Boboli gardens. Many of the bedrooms look out on to a horticultural centre next door, the best give on to a long veranda. Luckily, none of them has windows on the busy Via Romana. The 14th century palazzo has an intriguing past involving, in its early days, the tragic Annalena (a young noblewoman) and, during the war, foreign refugees fleeing from Mussolini’s police.
Today, while no luxury hotel, the Annalena offers solid comforts not without a hint of style, and at reasonable prices. The huge public room (serving as reception, bar, sitting and breakfast rooms) is a bit dreary, but the bedrooms are lovely: spacious and full of light from tall windows which take full advantage of views of the garden below and the picturesque backs of neighbouring houses. Smart new fabrics and a lick of paint have done wonders for rooms that had been allowed to get a little shabby. Guests lucky enough to have a room with a terrace should order breakfast there: so much pleasanter than a rather cramped table in the airless ‘salon’.