Spring in Europe

We've been in Europe for the Spring - so let's begin with our charming apartment in Florence.

This apartment is unique. You enter from a large wooden door in a tiny street on the west side of Ufizzi Gallery - so close you can walk just around the corner to the gallery entrance! The street itself has history, albeit confronting, and houses the Georgofili Academy and the Olive Tree planted after the bombing in 1993. You go up the stairs (not too arduous) and open the door to enter a two-storey space (bedroom and ensuite upstairs and sitting room and kitchen downstairs. Perfect for a couple. However, you are not renting here for spaciousness but for proximity and ambience - the small space is part of the atmosphere, part of Europe actually with its multitude of tiny apartments tucked in extravagant corners; here you will want to be quiet and ponder Florence and the beautiful bridges spanning the Arno just steps away. We walked across the Ponte Vecchio most days; shopped in the mercato market just seconds from the other side of the famous bridge (the bridge itself is a busy, busy, busy, shopping mall over one of the most compelling rivers in the world). We walked through the streets of Florence, narrow and bustling with precious little corners, galleries, speciality shops, wine bars, cafes and restuarants to 'duck' into at all hours (well except during siesta). Back to the apartment (an absolute relief sometimes to leave the crowds and go home and make a cup of tea or coffee and cook a simple meal) - the walls filled with paintings, photos and sketches, many of the Madonna - lending a comfortable, home-like, feminine air - enhanced by the wooden beam ceiling, cotto and parquet flooring. Books about Italian art and architecture, books about the Uffizi, we sat on the couch at night planning our days; the best thing about this apartment was that I felt I was in Florence (and, of course we were). The church bells echoe from several directions through the long windows that look down into a tiny courtyard behind the building. The soft lighting at night made us want to stay in, but so many nights we ventured out for food (mainly to Toto's on Borgo Santi Apostoli) and to wander in Signoria Square where often at night, well past midnight, a lone violin player seranades the lingering tourists.

We found this charming apartment at www.sabbatical homes.com under 'Uffizi Flat at Gallery'. Delightful owner who we would love to spend more time with, but we only saw her twice, once when we arrived and once when we left.

Ristorante Toto at - http://www.ristorantetoto.it/