Today on my second day of apartment hunting, my agente (real estate agent) took me around to visit three apartments in a different area from where I originally requested. I had never thought of living near the Ponte Vecchio before: I felt it would be a little too touristy for us to live in. Sometimes I almost don't notice the tourists in Piazza Santa Croce because I've become so adept at walking around them.
The first apartment was off of via Porta Santa Maria, which is the street that leads to the Ponte Vecchio from Piazza Repubblica. There was a large terrace that gave off onto the street, so it'd be ideal for checking out the tourists a few stories below. It was fairly nice, but no great view and no real area for us to set up our computers to work. The agente told me that the proprietario (landlord) didn't want to do any updating to the apartment, so she took it upon herself to go to Ikea and buy a few things to spruce it up. She did a great job, but it wasn't exactly what we were looking for.
The second apartment was on the Oltrarno side, which is the other side of the Arno river, in Borgo San Jacopo and the view from the window is the one shown in the picture. What is there not to like? The building was rebuilt after World War II when many of the buildings around the Ponte Vecchio were bombed.
The agente said that she wasn't sure if the apartment was on the third or fourth floor, so we took the elevator up to the fourth floor to try the key in the door. When it didn't work, we walked down one floor and tried it again.
After she turned the key and opened the door, we heard a man from inside the apartment say something. We looked at each other and backed out of the apartment and into the hallway. We were surprised to find out that someone was in the apartment. The agente asked the man if it was the right apartment for rent and after a few misunderstandings, everything was cleared up. It was the right apartment, so he let us tour the rest of the apartment while he straightened up his room.
The Oltrarno side of Florence is quite charming. It is very different from our area near Santa Croce. I liked the street because it doesn't get much traffic, but it was a little noisy. I had considered the area around Santo Spirito a long time ago and was talked out of it by Simone. He works on that side and told me that there are no supermercati (supermarkets) or mercato (markets) nearby. There are, of course, small alimentari (grocery shops) and places to buy fruits and vegetables, but generally the prices are slightly higher.
After I saw the view from the apartment window, I could easily imagine myself living in the apartment, waking up each day to look out at the Ponte Vecchio and down the Arno river. When the agente told me how much the proprietaria was asking, I sobered up pretty quickly as I realized how much more rent we'd have to pay each month. I told myself that maybe it wouldn't be so great living along the Arno because of the mosquitoes. I also thought about the cars across the river and the ones under the bedroom windows driving by. I tried not to look out the window again as I had to remind myself of how expensive the apartment was.
We walked over to the interior design shop that the proprietaria owns so the agente could show me what kind of furnishings that the proprietaria would be able to put in the apartment for the new tenants (me, I was still hoping). I knew the store because I've walked past it many times on my way across the Santa Trinità bridge. I have always noticed the lovely items displayed in the window.
The proprietaria was an attractive Italian woman. She was quite vivacious and friendly, which the agente later told me meant that she's probably not fiorentina (Florentine). I liked the proprietaria the second I shook her hand. A few times while we were joking about the man in the apartment, she held onto my arm and leaned toward me as she laughed. I found her enchanting and thought it would be great to know her better, but I had to keep reminding myself that the price of the apartment was well beyond what we wanted to pay.
We walked across the Santa Trinità bridge and hopped in a taxi to go to the San Niccolò area. I am considering living in this area because it is much quieter than where we live now, and I could still walk to my mercato once in awhile. The agente said she had never been to the apartment, but said that because the area is so nice, it can't be all that bad.
We met with another agente that she works with who also brought along a colleague of hers. The three agents and I walked into the building and up the three flights of stairs to get to the apartment to meet the proprietario.
I walked into the apartment behind my agente and, after seeing the last spectacular apartment, I was rather disappointed. Part of the ceiling had water damage, the bathroom was not in good shape, and the kitchen was old and dingy. The proprietario spoke to me in English even though I was speaking to my agente in Italian. His mind was set on speaking English, so I let him.
He asked me what I thought of the place after telling me that everyone loves it, and I swallowed hard. I didn't want to lie to him, so I tried to talk about how great the garden was outside in the back and then asked him a question about the apartment so he'd talk some more. After he said goodbye to me, he told me that he hoped to hear from me.
When we got outside, my agente told me that the rent was quite low, but still I wouldn't want to rent it as it wasn't what we were looking for. She thought that maybe the style of the apartment was a little Bohemian, and I told her that I just wasn't interested in it.
I walked back across the Arno and decided that I'd like to show Dave the apartment with the spectacular view. When I got home, I showed him the pictures I took of the apartment and then emailed my agente to ask her to set up another appointment for him to see it. Maybe money can buy us (apartment) happiness.
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