Florentine Perfection

The quandary over where to spend your time in Italy is a good problem to have. We had allocated seven weeks but we had come up with a preliminary list of locations and sights that would take us several months to see. Whenever we feel overburdened by the sheer amount of things to do and see, we follow our traveler’s instincts and cut back on the itinerary and try to experience more by doing less. Fortunately, my wife has a knack for finding perfect short-term vacation apartments – years of finding great Lake Tahoe condos for family ski weekends have honed her skills. More recently her resume includes us a week in a spacious Athens apartment and three days in a perfectly-located Venice apartment, so when she told me that she’d found something interesting in Florence, she had my attention.

This is how we found our month-long Florence apartment rental located in the city center for a mere $59 dollars a night. While the price and the location sounded perfect, the apartment description sounded ideal, as well: Kitchen with dishwasher, washing machine, TV/DVD and wireless Internet connection. All these things have value; the time and expense needed for a family of four to eat three meals in restaurants, wash clothes in a Laundromat, go to a movie and visit an Internet café add up quickly.

Even though we booked late, we got the apartment and were thrilled upon arriving. The flat was in a converted monastery and was very large, light and airy, and had a view of the Brunelleschi’s Duomo from our west-facing windows. We now looked forward to a month in Florence in a perfect place. While I went around the corner to shop at the supermercato, our son enthusiastically went to work making the furniture arrangements more family friendly. He moved a futon near the window, centered the TV/DVD in front of the couch, set up the small table as an office/homework space for the laptops and organized his private nook. Our son loves things to be organized but more importantly, both he and our daughter love a little routine – no doubt a reaction to our moving about so much. His “nesting” behavior was a statement that he was going to have his “place” and no one was going to tell him to catch a train or a bus anywhere for the next month.

Everyone had their space and we were ready for our month-long assault on the capital of the Italian Renaissance. We had goals for our time in Florence. The kids would take Italian language class, we would visit most of the museums, sights and churches in the city and we would try to decide which of the many gelaterias in the city were best. We felt good about our decision to cut back on the Italian itinerary and focus our time in one place. When we thought things could not get any better, we learned the next day that it was European Culture Week and all the museums in Florence would be free for the next week. Now we had to decide how we’d see it all. That’s another good problem to have.

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