We arrived in Florence yesterday. The street addresses in Florence are confusing. They use completely difference sets of numbers for commercial (red) and residential (black) businesses. Hotels, hostels, and B&Bs can be either. Needless to say, the map on my phone didn’t work that well (Florence needs a good map maker to sort this out for them) and we ended up walking the wrong way again.
We had reservations at a place called Barbara House, with a street number of 20. Black 20 looked promising (in terms of being some sort of accomodations), but didn’t have the right name (Soggiorno Livi and Burchi.) The door was locked in any event.
Number 18 was the local hostel. I couldn’t remember if Barbara House was a hostel with a private room, or something else, so we wandered down the alley (following a group of people with suitcases) towards the hostel. A gentleman stopped us and asked what we were looking for.
“Barbara House” I replied. At that point it was like we fell into a Carol Burnett skit – you know the one where Tim Conway plays a man that moves at a snail’s pace. Let me explain.
The man explained that Barbara House was indeed number 20 (black) around the corner. Then he yelled up to a window. I couldn’t understand what he said – but it was probably something like, “Hey Barbara there’s another set of lost Americans looking for your place. Could you make yourself a better sign! I’m sending them around – make sure you let them in.”
A woman’s voice answered. I assumed she was saying, “Sure – no problem.” But in retrospect I think she was saying, “Stop yelling, I’m taking a nap.”
We walked back to Number 20. Sure enough there is a tiny little sign that says Barbara House under the buzzer.
We buzzed. Nothing. We waited. A few minutes later we buzzed again. Nothing. A man came up to the door. He motioned at the buzzer. He pressed it again. Finally, we’re buzzed in. We opened the door to a set of stairs.
There is a voice calling something from upstairs, so we haul ourselves up the stairs, and stairs, and stairs.
Upstairs, we’re greeted by a woman who looked like she just woken up. She went into a long explanation about why it took her so long to buzz us in. I didn’t understand a word, but it was clear that it had something to do with her back hurting. She took a few steps, and then went into another long explanation about something, then told us to sit down and wait (I think).
We sat. And waited.
One ginger step at a time, she walked about 10 feet and picked up a few towels, walked back and put them on a dresser. Then she went into another long explanation.
One ginger step at a time, she walked about 10 feet and picked up a few brochures, walked back, and gave them to Ken.
One ginger step at a time, she walked about 10 feet and picked up two little bars of soap, walked back, and placed them on the towels.
One ginger step at a time, she walked into another room and picked up a set of keys, walked back, and placed them on the towels.
The man who had been behind us on the street popped his head in the door and asked her something. She yelled at him. He gave me an exasperated look and shrugged his shoulders, then disappeared a little bit behind the stairs. I think she said, “why are you bothering me when I’m so busy with these stupid Americans who woke me up in the middle of my nap and my back hurts.”
One ginger step at a time she walked into a room and began to yell at someone. There was a lot of back and forth.
She reappeared and called down the steps for the man. They had a long conversation – and from what I could determine, she offered him a room with a shared bathroom. Then she turned to us and went into another long explanation about her back hurting – and probably about how rude it was for the man to ask for a room without a reservation – or it could have been about the weather. I’m not sure – I didn’t understand a word.
She yelled up the stairs this time. A man answered. They had an argument.
The man appeared and yelled at her a little more. She yelled back. He finally shrugged his shoulders, picked up the keys, soap, and towels, and told us to follow him. I could barely suppress my laughter at this point, and Ken leaned over and whispered, “I think you’ve got yourself a blog.”
Now that we’re settled in we’re exploring Florence. We’ve already paid our visit to David and the Accademia (Michelangelo’s David – only had to wait in line 40 minutes without a reservation) the the Duomo (no line) and purchased tickets for the Uffizi museum for Tuesday. We browsed the stalls filled with leather jackets and purses in San Lorenzo market (Iranian sellers, south american leather, and Italian tailors according to Rick Steves.)
Uhoh – someone is yelling. I’ve got to run and see what it’s about – maybe someone else is trying to check in!