I have been antsy about our Florentine landing pad for months now. I researched apartments online before we ever left Seattle, and contacted agents and apartment owners while we were cycling across Europe this summer. I emailed friends who emailed friends about various neighborhoods in the city. We looked at which school and what soccer, so we might know what vicinity to aim for. But we really didn't have a clue. I had never been to the city, we had no way to know what soccer club they would be invited to play for, and we hadn't visited schools.
There was so much to consider, like a really personal storied math problem with too many unknown variables. Including---but not limited to---a mother with a nesting drive and homing instinct, a need to help her young settle in... lets just call it an added ball of stress, shall we?
As planned (love that word), we landed in temporary diggs (2 weeks) in Florence. Then we started to get to know the city and look at apartments. And although I really wanted a place arranged in advance, it worked out quite well to make our 'home' choice while on the premises. Here is why:
If you think of the main part of Florence as the face of a clock---with the Duomo at the center---our temporary apartment was at noon. This gave us a good sense of what it would be like to live in the north quadrant of the city (nice area but not our preference, and too far away from the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, city center). It also gave us time to find soccer clubs, the bike paths (our means of transportation around the city) and visit schools. And air conditioning became a desirable feature.
Incidentally, the two soccer clubs are located beyond the clock's face at 3:00 and 9:00; and the school we visited and love, is extended beyond 5:00.
But that isn't all; we had a list of requirements beyond location. Including a tight budget. We may have occasional guests and would love at least 2 extra places to sleep (like a pull-out couch) to accommodate them. With young teenage boys, and requisite piles of soccer gear, smelly socks and sweaty shirts, we placed '2 bathrooms' very near the top of our list. And a washing machine---for the same reason. Dishwasher nice, but not necessary. And we really started to love the idea of being in the center of the city (well within the face of the clock), so when guests DO come, we don't have to hike each time we want to tour the various sites in the city. Near the river, air conditioning, tall ceilings, wifi access, not too many floors up...
How is that for a laundry list of variables?
And we found it. But only because we were here scouring, stressing, negotiating---and beating the reams of students by mere days before they scooped up every remaining bed in the city.
To those of you visiting: there is a humble place to rest your heads. There is air conditioning, the price is right, there is a washer and a dishwasher and the table is in the kitchen (nice for people spending a lot of time cooking...). One bedroom is a loft (for the boys) and the master bedroom will double as an office, as it has a desk. There are TWO BATHROOMS, thank God, and they are very nice. It is only up one flight of stairs. It has internet access, and a TV---a requisite for soccer-watching types like ourselves. Sigh. Happy.
I would say the only downer is we have to pay extra to lock up our bikes (in a nearby garage) and it is on a tourist thoroughfare. Which means it will be busy during the day, but it also means we are well, resident tourists and in the heart of the city (and piles of fun for loaded water guns, since our windows are just above the masses...). Besides, where else would we want to be?