I always get a little nervous when making sight-unseen hotel reservations, even in the States. My companion and I have had our share of bummers. There was the creepy place in upstate New York, where a drunk man banged on our door, demanding that his “whoring” wife open the door. (My barking dog scared him off.) And there was the backwater Connecticut dive where I slept on top of the covers in my clothes, after fishing a condom wrapper out of my dog’s mouth.
So I was particularly wary when making accommodations internationally. I’m happy with a place that’s clean, convenient and reasonably secure. I’d rather spend money on things to do and see rather than places to sleep. But after some reading and research, I took a shot at a place called Hotel Europa in Florence. It is well-situated for the sights I want to see in the city, and the price was reasonable. But remembering our other disasters, I was a little concerned when our cab pulled up in front of a nondescript door, set in a building that undoubtedly dates back several centuries. The creaky elevator, with room for only one person with a big bag, was like something out an old spy movie. If not for the bags, both my companion and I could have plodded up to the 3rd floor check-in faster on foot. As our host accompanied us to our room, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much.
But when he swung the door open, I was in for a nice surprise. The room is huge, the furnishings charming. The ceilings are at least 12 feet high, the 12-inch thick plaster walls keep the place cool in the afternoon sun, and superbly quiet at night. When I pulled the tall shutters back on the wide casement window, the view below was a tiny courtyard with a patio and a pretty little tree with ripening oranges. There’s even a spacious sitting room down the hall, complete with a mural on the ceiling.
Part of a great trip is feeling good with where you stay. This time we found a great place, full of character. Too bad my little dog isn’t along to enjoy it too.