March 12, 2011

My quirky Italian home

I realized I have lived in this apartment for over a year now and never wrote about it. I was so spoiled when I first moved to Florence, because I rented one of the most charming apartments close to the Arno River. But living here like a resident is very different than living like a tourist, I needed to "down grade" just a little bit. As you can imagine when I first moved I was still living off the Euro / Dollar exchange so it made no sense to stay in that nice of an apartment. Fortunately over time I adjusted to earning and living with only the Euro, so it was not a problem anymore, but generally housing in Florence is expensive. Especially for the standard that we are used to back in the United States.

My boss had an "attic" apartment that his family was renovating so I decided to take him up on the offer to move here in his families palazzo. Do not be distracted by the word "palazzo = palace" as I live in the old servants quarters "on top" of the palazzo.  This is my little (but big for Italian standards) 50 sq meters, or 540 square feet apartment sitting up on the the palace rooftop:

Santa Croce cathedral bell tower in the background
Abby attempting to escape to catch pigeons!

In has been a year of trial & error getting the apartment ready for potential clients after I decide to move into another apartment. We will rent this apartment through Apartments Florence after I move. Some of the challenges have been getting the kitchen & bathrooms in perfect working order. This is a common issue in Italy, something that we are not used to in America. Sometimes, there is no water. Sometimes, there is no hot water. Sometimes, there is no heat. I have been without heaters for the entire winter, but fortunately in one of the rooms there is an electric AC / heating unit that I use when it's chilly. Recently, we have gotten a new boiler for the hot water, so now I have hot water & water pressure in the bathroom! Yippee!! No more French baths. Still no hot water in the kitchen, but who cares right?

My gawdy colorful kitchen :)
It all functions now! That is all that matters!

For months the oven & the dishwasher did not work, but my landlord eventually did get them replaced and they work perfectly. The washing machine has always worked great, so points there! The funny  (and sometimes not so funny) thing about living in this apartment is the wiring is so old that you cannot run two electrical appliances at the same time or the power cuts out. For example, if I want to take a hot shower, I have to make sure that the : Hot water dial is turn to "On", then the :Dishwasher, Oven, Washing machine, AC unit and all lights are turned "Off"... Only one at a time. I can only use the hair dryer in one outlet in the whole apartment. So when I am in my kitchen, I cannot be washing clothes or running the dishwasher at the same time. I think the portiere lady downstairs is officially tired of me calling her to adjust my circuit breaker. Cest la vie.

Generally, the apartments come furnished. So its up to the owner to decide how they want it decorated. Usually its a combination of throw away antiques combined with poor selection of cheap Ikea furniture. In almost every apartment I have been in, there is old sofa & side chairs covered with blankets or window panels....Absolutely hysterical! My girlfriend said she thought my apartment was having and "identity crisis" so I am doing my best to buy some fun things to make it more "me".  However,  home decor is very expensive in Italy. Unfortunately, we do not have throngs of retail homes to shop at.  If I could ship anything from Atlanta to Florence, it would be my persian rugs, YES please. Grazie!

All in all, it has been a fun year of living here. I get itches to move into another apartment, because I see so many beautiful ones everyday through my job.  But I keep coming back to this one, not only for the great price, but it is considered big and the location in Santa Croce is really good. Step by step (piano piano, slowly slowly) it is coming together. Even if I do live with tacky blue & white Italian tiled bathrooms & hot pink floors!


Sara Louise said...

Your place looks great! I live in rural France and I too know all about water/ bathroom/ kitchen issues! It's certainly challenging but in away, I'm loving every second. But, I sure would love a bathtub instead of my phone booth sized shower!

Val said...

This made me so "home sick" to see you! :-) and :-(

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