20 April 2011

Sleeping and Sightseeing in Florence, Italy

Most of us get only two or three weeks' vacation a year, which makes travel to far distances a challenge of time and planning. And, of course, once we get to where we are going, there is much to see and experience. Especially in Europe because it is my home now.  The natural temptation is to take in as much as possible in as brief a time as possible, but who is a fan of whirlwind travel? Certainly not me.

My first trip to Italy was 30 days long. I began my Italian adventure in Verona and ended in Rome.  For any vacation, 30 days is not exactly a whirlwind trip, but staying only a night or two in a town does not allow you to get too familiar with a particular place. Sure, I saw the highlights, and I experienced several regions of the country, but I have learned through experience that if I do not spend at least one night in a place, I will quickly forget that town because it didn't have an opportunity to penetrate my soul. 

Now, before I venture out, I study a map and tour book and then place them in my purse or day pack in case they become necessary to refer to. Maybe I have a museum, castle, or cathedral destination in mind, but I allow my feet and my heart to lead my way, possibly wandering down this street or alley and not ending up at the originally intended destination until much later, if at all. Should a tour book indicate one day is all that is necessary in a town to see its highlights, I will choose to stay overnight and spend the next day in the town, which allows me to see the attractions and also have time to take it all in by sitting in a cafe, piazza, or park bench, meeting and speaking with the locals and absorbing the ambiance of that location. Creating and taking advantage of the opportunity to get to know the local people, to live and share in the life of the locals is my primary definition of traveler.  Each holiday, each experience adds to my rich reservoir of easily recalled travel memories.

The first three times I traveled to Italy, I stayed in B&Bs or small, family-owned and -run hotels. No chain hotels for this girl! Because I fell in love with and kept returning to Italy, I decided to rent apartments if my plan included a stay in a town longer than a few days.  Having an apartment offers the feeling that I live in a place for that moment in time. It also is a more economical way to travel. Each holiday, each experience, adds to my rich reservoir of easily recalled travel memories.  And never forget that longer stays lessens the frequency of the least desirable part of traveling: continually packing and unpacking and schlepping around a suitcase. 

A terrace
The holiday season is over.  Winter is complete. Spring is almost halfway over.  Summer will be here sooner almost than the blink of an eye.  Now is the time people plan for their vacations abroad for the prime summer travel season.  How about you?  Do you consider a visit to Florence, Italy? You could rely on guidebooks and the Internet.  They are excellent resources, but they all say the same thing. In Firenze (Florence), you must see the Duomo, the David, Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, eat Bistecca Fiorentina and gelato.  But if you prefer to see and experience the real Firenze, the locals' Firenze, then you must add some lesser known places.  Or so I believe.  See the artists at work in their studios, have an aperitivo on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, see some equally important artwork yet less well-known, experience a calcio (soccer) game, visit places off the beaten path. I am no travel expert, but my knowledge and experience of Firenze is of the type that can help you plan your itinerary, logistics, or practicalities. My travel experience and knowledge, especially of my adopted hometown, Firenze, is something I love to share.

For example, does the notion of staying in an apartment instead of a hotel appeal to you?  I can refer you to a friend of mine, from whom I have rented seven different apartments in Florence. He has many more from which to choose in Centro Storico (historical center).

A kitchen
Also available to rent is my beautiful apartment, steps from the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) in Oltrarno (other side of the Arno River) and still in the heart of town.  Some readers might think it odd that I rent space to travelers, but I love the opportunity to meet new people and help guide them with their itineraries. Contact me via email (link below) to discuss the particulars of sharing my apartment at a favorable rate.

Living area and stairs to the loft of my apartment

No matter your final travel plans, please be sure to contact me if your travel will bring you to Florence. It is always nice to have a new friend in the city.


  1. My friend and I stayed in Josslyn's beautiful apartment on our trip through Firenze. It was such a nice breath of fresh air to have Josslyn as our host and friend and have all the comforts of home available to us there. Thank you so much for everything you did for us Josslyn, you are one of the great memories that has imprinted my soul.

  2. Hi Josslyn! You are my hero and you're living my dream! Jay Fernandez recommended your blog and it's delightful. My boyfriend and I are taking a month in Italy this year and I'm so excited. Keep blogging and I'll keep reading.

    Terry Oxford
    San Francisco

  3. Katrina, Grazie for your kind words. The bonus is that I now am two friends richer as a result of your stay here.
    Terry, piacere! I hope I will hear from you when you are here. Thank you!