One of the most stressful aspects of planning a long period of time abroad (besides the packing) is finding the perfect place to live. I am lucky enough that I was very familiar with Florence, so I knew exactly which area of town I wanted to live. Despite my numerous summers spent in Florence, this was the first time I was finding and securing a place on my own (the university always provided excellent apartments). Like many travel destinations, rent in Florence can be steep, so I had no idea what I could get for my budget. Florence is also full of student apartments, but these are typically large and shared by 4-6 students. I wanted a place of my own, so I had no one else to blame when the dissertation work doesn't get done.
I started looking through local housing agencies, but these apartments were unfurnished, and I didn't want to deal with buying/finding/moving furniture. I then turned to a couple student housing agencies, hoping they might have singles or "monolocali" for non-traditional students. They did, but as I expected, their prices were very high. At this point I started to stress, until my advisor mentioned Airbnb. So I began looking there. At first I was discouraged, because while there were great little apartments, the pricing was designed for people vacationing for a week or two. But I decided to email about a couple of places I liked to see if the renter would be willing to negotiate the price, since I would be there for so long. And as it turns out, they were! Several of the places I liked were willing to make a deal for an extended stay (it's a win, win).
I landed on this apartment because it was in the area I wanted and the reviews said it had excellent wifi, was on a quite street, and I loved the light in the photos. The best part about going through Airbnb is that I pay (in dollars) online through their system and all utilities are included. Of course I was nervous about renting a place sight-unseen, but I had a great feeling about this apartment... and I was right, I absolutely love it and it is perfect for me.
I love the little loft, it is just a mattress, but it's just enough for a visitor!
When it came to decorating my new place (I am a nester, I have to decorate some), I was very strategic with what I packed. Yes, I brought my duvet and my Kate Spade table cloth and placemats from home. In addition, I brought some of my favorite Preppy Printshop pillows (just the covers, I bought the inserts here). I selected these items because they folded flat and were relatively light weight. I knew that these pieces wouldn't take up much space or weight, yet would make a big different in the look and feel of the apartment. I also packed lots of command hooks and hangers, and it turns out that was one of my best ideas. With limited closet and storage space, I have hung these hooks everywhere! I also brought picture hanging strips and some prints from home -- again, lightweight and small but makes a big impact. I new I could easily pick up frames from Ikea or have a little fun with some washi tape. I didn't do much, but I think what I brought really transformed the place and made it feel like home!
What do you think of my Florentine apartment?