The Italian Job: up the stairs… and up…

We packed, cleaned up and cleared out of the first apartment. The two taxis I had booked yesterday were spot on punctual, one being a minivan and the other a station wagon. So it was no problem to load all the luggage. The drivers didn’t mind, since they charge EUR 1 per piece, so they made a killing with us today! Off we went to the new apartment, a smaller one that will eventually accommodate only my daughter and me next week, but in a location that is to die for.

The new habitat is at the heart of the old city of Florence, a stone’s throw away from the Basilica of Santa Croce (Holy Cross) and five minutes away on foot from the Uffizi gallery. But I am jumping ahead of the story. I discovered that whilst taxi drivers here are happy to load your luggage, they will not help you up into the building, but instead will unload your things unceremoniously onto the sidewalk and speed away. So there we were with our huge pile of luggage on the tiniest of pavements and literally leaning onto the cars, cold and rattled, and the person who was supposed to let us in was not there yet. This is the oldest part of Florence, so the roads are as narrow as they were in the 14th century and the buildings are mostly original facades.

The cleaning lady arrived first, grumpiest woman I have ever met here, but dressed as if she were a model, with the styled blonde hair and perfect figure to go with it too. I would never have guessed she was the cleaning woman dressed in her fitted jeans, waist high leather jacket, and high heeled leather boots! Then Signor Giuseppe the landlord arrived, calling out my name from the other corner of the street and greeting me with both hands, cigarette and smiles. He took one look at our pile and exclaimed the one sentence I have been waiting to hear all along “Mamma Mia!” We quickly fell into an animated conversation discussing contracts, utilities and Florence in a hilarious mixture of Italian and English. Any language purist would have had a coronary on the spot listening to us.

Then the horror of horrors began. The apartment turned out to be on the fifth floor and no elevator. Gulp. Signor Giuseppe gamely helped us carry the luggage but it took the four of us two trips to get everything up. Believe me when I say that I really feel my age and my back this evening.

Clock Tower of the Plazzo Vecchio (Uffizi Gallery) ©MTHerzog

Once we got up, the three of us fell completely in love with the little apartment. It’s a tiny one-bedroom unit but oh what a view! It’s fully equipped and I have yet to familiarize myself with everything, but the bathroom tiny. As my daughter said, you can sit on the toilet and take a shower as well.

The flat wasn’t ready yet so we were asked to vacate the premises for two hours until the cleaning lady was done and by that time the property manager would come around to officially check us in. In the meantime, Signor Giuseppe lead us to what is considered one of Florence’s best gelaterias, which is a few steps away from our building, Bar Vivoli, or the full name Gelateria Fiorentina Artegianali Vivoli. This quaint old place was established in 1929 and still has that old world charm. After that we took a walk to the Piazza Santa Croce where I got lost in my own world with the camera. My two teenagers were happy to sit in the sun and watch all the dogs passing by.

When it was finally time to move back to the apartment, Signora Elena met up with us. When you rent an apartment in Florence, holiday or long-term, the price you pay upon booking does not include the city tax or the utilities. Then you have to pay a deposit for any damages, which is refundable at the end of your stay. So she warned us about electricity, water and heating consumption because we will have to settle the bill when we check out. It’s a pretty good argument for staying out the whole day! Gulp.

Typical of me, I re-arranged the furniture the moment we locked the door and officially had the place to ourselves. The feng shui is better now and I don’t feel as though I’m living in a broom closet. Oh but what a view from the kitchen at sunset! I photographed the famous clock tower at sunset, blue hour and again at night.

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