by Melinda Gallo

Exhausted and cold

After three and a half hours of looking at different apartments, talking with other agents, and trying to keep warm, I'm exhausted. I met up with my agente #2 today for an appointment at 2PM and didn't get home until almost 6PM. I had to leave the house right after lunch because our meeting point was near Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

I arrived across the street from the building where we were supposed to meet and a blonde woman was staring at me from inside the agenzia immobiliare (real estate agency). She was on the phone from behind the glass door as I stood across the street in the sun. I had walked the entire way in the shade and I needed to warm up. The temperatures are now in the 40's to 50's and I haven't pulled out my giubbotto (jacket) yet. I see other people walking around with sweaters and it makes me feel silly to already be wearing a sciarpa (scarf).

The woman opened the door and asked me if I was waiting for agente #2. After I said yes, she asked me to come inside to wait. I was grateful since I still hadn't warmed up. I had only said a few words to her when she said, "Ma tu parli bene l'italiano." (You speak Italian well.) I smiled at her and responded, "Grazie, ma sto qui da un pochino ora." (Thanks, but I've been here for a little while now.) I didn't want her to think I just arrived and somehow miraculously I spoke the language. "No, volevo dire che parli bene il fiorentino." (No, I meant you speak Florentine well.)

After my agente arrived, the blonde woman took me to see two apartments. They were nice, but were more suitable for stranieri (foreigners) who come for a short visit. They were both decorated nicely, but Dave and I are looking for a place to call home in which we can add furniture, change the pictures on the walls, and remove the personal items left by the proprietario (owner).

The agente #2 and I sat on the terrazza (terrace) of a bar and had a drink after the blonde woman left us in front of her agenzia. I decided to try an orzo (barley drink) because a friend of mine said that she stopped drinking coffee and only drinks orzo now. I wasn't sure how to order it, so I asked the woman if I could have some latte (milk) in mine. I didn't want to make a faux-pas, but I usually like all my hot drinks with latte in them. I put a little sugar in the orzo and sat down with my agente. I have to admit that I didn't like the orzo. I almost wished that I had put more sugar in it, but it didn't taste that great to me. Maybe it's an acquired taste like beer, which I still can't enjoy unless there's lemonade in it.

An hour later, the agente #2 took me to see another place. We met up with a young woman who was the agente for this apartment. This time, I was more surprised than ever when we walked in. There were a few operai (workmen) working on the apartment and splitting it in two. The young agente explained how the apartment was going to look as we walked over piles of wood and sacks of cement. She stood in front of me at one point with her arms in the shape of an "L" and said, "Qui ci sarÓ il bagno." (Here is where the bathroom will be). I couldn't visualize it because the ceiling and walls were completely torn up and the operai were banging things around in the other apartment.

We left the apartment and my agente #2 asked her if she had anything else to show me. "Non vuole un'appartamento dai stranieri. Anche se lei Ŕ una straniera, sta qui. Non vuole un'appartamento con l'arredamento tipicamente fiorentino." (She doesn't want an apartment for foreigners. Even if she is a foreigner, she lives here. She doesn't want an apartment with typical Florentine furnishings.)

We walked around a little bit and when we bumped into a man who happened to be an agente as well, she told him what I was looking for. I thought it was a little odd to just ask people on the street if they have any apartments for me, but you never know. She keeps telling me how bad she feels that she can't find me anything, but it's not really her fault. One, there aren't a lot of places that fit our requirements and two, the ones we do see aren't up to par with what we like.

The milanese (girl from Milan) that I saw the other day, took the apartment in Piazza della Signoria. We liked it at first and then decided not to take it. I was happy that she got it because she told me that she really loved it and her fidanzato (boyfriend) did not. I guess he changed his mind because the beautiful apartment that I visited with the milanese the other day was too expensive.

I saw my agente #2's apartment that she just bought a few months ago and I was quite impressed. It's only one bedroom, but it's rather cute. The windows give out onto my mercato (market) and she has a great view of the colline (hills) in Fiesole. If it had another bedroom, I would've taken it. But, at least I know that what I'm looking for exists...it just takes time.

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