I had to trust that those travel gods would continue to smile upon me as I began my search to find the right apartment in Florence. Of course, I felt as though I needed them more than ever since I would be on my own both in locating this apartment when I arrived and in successfully coordinating the “money for keys ” exchange thing.
I went to a trusted source which is a local company here in Austin called HomeAway. It seemed to be a pretty cool company, and I had actually met the CEO at one of those many networking events that I was attending at the time.
I searched properties in Florence and was served up more options than I had expected. The next decision that I needed to make was location. I knew how touristy Florence can be, and I knew that I did not wish to stay in a location surrounded by herds of people spending one day in Florence being led by tour guides holding up closed umbrellas, or perhaps even worse, plastic flowers (sorry, Under The Tuscan Sun-I still love you as a movie).
Through my research, I discovered a neighborhood called the Oltrarno. It translates into “the other side of the Arno”–and I knew that the side opposite the Oltrarno was where the heavy tourist area was.
I researched more on the internet and found quotes such as this…
“A walk through the Oltrarno (literally “the other side of the Arno”) takes in two very different aspects of Florence: the splendor of the Medici, manifest in the riches of the mammoth Palazzo Pitti and the gracious Giardino di Boboli; and the charm of the Oltrarno, a slightly gentrified but still fiercely proud working-class neighborhood with artisans’ and antiques shops.”
This sounded like my kind of Florence ‘hood! I began my inquiries.
I was amazed at how fast the owners of the apartments responded and all seemed available for my dates. It helped that I was traveling off-season, which I prefer to do. It was not as though I was going to Florence to hang out on a beach. I was going to spend time in cathedrals and museums (and restaurants, of course!), so weather was not really a factor. In addition, I was going there to celebrate my birthday in November, which happens to fall off-season.
The apartment that I decided upon was not the cheapest of those I made inquiries on, although it was quite reasonable. However, when I found out that the owner’s name was also Laura, I began to lean her way.
This was a part of Laura’s property description–
“This 50 m² – 540 sq ft – apartment, is part of an old palace of 15.th century.
It was totally renovated and refurbished in February 2008, preserving the ancient wooden ceiling and the original ‘terra cotta’ floor.”
My gracious florentine Laura offered me a deal since I would be spending my 50th birthday there.
I had decided!