We got it!

Terrace Garden - Florence Apartment

We have secured our first apartment in Italy!

50 square meters off via Laura just a block from Piazza Innocenti on a pedestrian street. It has all the features we were hoping for: terra cotta floors, dark beam ceilings, a garden/terrace area and room for company. We were looking for apartments in the historic district and this gem of a place is just a few blocks from the Duomo in Florence. One of the nicest features is that it is a ground floor apartment and all the areas that Kiara needs to access are on one floor, no stairs for her.

Our lease is 18 months and has an option to renew, so we’ll need to decide if we’re staying on a little longer in Florence or making the move to Venice which is stop number two for our Italian adventure.

Master Bedroom - Florence Apartment
Master Bedroom – Florence Apartment

This shot of the master bedroom shows the terra cotta floors (which will help keep the room cool in the summer) and part of the study loft above.

Study Loft - Florence Apartment
Study Loft – Florence Apartment

This is the study loft in the master bedroom which shows the dark, wood beam ceiling as well.

Living Room - Florence Apartment
Living Room – Florence Apartment

The living room, which is actually part of the great room which includes the living room, kitchen and dining room. The space is not very big, but is nicely appointed without being crowded so even the small space looks larger.

Guest Loft - Florence Apartment
Guest Loft – Florence Apartment

The guest loft has two single beds that can be made into a double bed for couples (this is a standard in Italy which allows for a lot of flexibility for hotels and vacation rentals).

Dining Room - Florence Apartment
Dining Room – Florence Apartment

The dining room has a nice view of the terrace garden, we are hopeful that the fountain actually works! This was the shot that sold us on this apartment, we could just picture ourselves having breakfast at this table every day.

Kitchen - Florence Apartment
Kitchen – Florence Apartment

The kitchen is all pretty normal as Italian basic kitchens go, except for that nice big oven. That is definitely an upgrade from the average Italian kitchen and one that we’ll appreciate all winter long.

Terrace Garden - Florence Apartment
Terrace Garden – Florence Apartment

The statue and greenery are a welcome sight, we never expected anything so beautiful or even a backyard at all, this was such a huge bonus for us.

But as far as apartments go, this one is actually very nice and quite spacious for it’s minimal square footage and it is so beautifully situated within the historic district that it will definitely be a great starting point for us.

Visa Requirements: Check!

Successful day for us.

Tracy arranged an 18 month lease for an apartment on Via Laura in the downtown historic district of Florence from Apartments Florence.  The apartment is about 1/3 of a mile north of the Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), and a block away from Basilica della Santissima Annunziata (Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation.)

Alan obtained travel insurance from World Nomads.

For a greater than 90 days visit, Italy required a full Schengen Visa.  Our requested visa is titled “Elective Residency” which requires proof of financial support, a place of residence, and medical insurance.  We now have two requirements out of three and statements requested and enroute from the Nevada Public Employment Retirement System (PERS) to demonstrate our financial independence with our pensions.  An Elective Residency visa does not allow our employment in Italy.  Which is fine with us since our goal is retirement not work.

Alan rubbing the snout of Il Porcellino, Florence.
Alan rubbing the snout of Il Porcellino (Italian “piglet”) the Florentine nickname for the bronze statue of a boar. Originally intended for the Boboli Garden, it is currently in the Mercato Nuovo in Florence. Visitors rub the boar’s snout to ensure a return trip to Florence, a tradition that has kept the snout in a state of polished sheen.

Letting Go: The Art of Minimizing

It has been big year for minimizing and downsizing our material world to prepare ourselves for retiring to Italy.

In July 2011, Tracy and I put our house up for sale.  After living in the same home for the last 12 years, it was a big commitment minimize our possessions to move into a one bedroom apartment in preparation for moving into what will probably be an even smaller living space in Florence.

We went through the contents of the house and donated, recycled, sold, and trashed, trashed, trashed. We disposed of everything that would not be going to Italy with us and we would not be using through 2012.  We delivered surplus household items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Committee to Aid Abused Women, Truckee Meadows Community College, Silver State Law Enforcement Museum, in-laws, children, friends, and Disposal Services.  The adult kids in town helped too with hauling things away.  Guess how quickly two college aged sons respond to the text message of, “Would you two want a bar for your apartment?”  I didn’t realize how much furniture sons Casey and Adam could fit in back of a Subaru hatchback.

Absolutely amazing the sheer volume of  material that can accumulate over the decades from two adults with eight children.  (Seriously, who still needs three bulletproof vests after being out of police work for a decade?) Even with trying to repurpose every item possible in the house, we filled one 14 cubic yard dumpster, two additional 6 cubic yard dumpters, and a 14 foot U-Haul truck with debris.  We mistakenly thought that the adult children had taken all their things with them when they moved out into the world.  No exactly true. Incredible how much is actually in what we thought was an “empty” house.

It’s incredibly liberating to free yourself from “stuff.”  Comedian George Carlin had a whole stage routine about “stuff” overtaking lives.  Tracy and my plan is to move to Italy with two large suitcases each.  We are passing keepsakes on to the adult children now and starting to live a minimalist life.

Moving from house to apartment was a huge step, next up is selling Tracy’s car over the summer and my car come November.  After years of used cars, minivans, station wagons, SUVs, Tracy and I love driving our two-seater convertibles, but they are not going to Italy with us so it’s time for the next major step in minimizing.

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