Arrived at my hotel after a VERY cold night in the apartment in Reggello. It snowed during the night and after a day of rain, made it impossible for me to walk anywhere. With that restriction, it was best to relocate to Florence. The hotel gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor and is a nice, WARM relief. I have a first floor room away from the main street with walk-in shower. I am very happy to be here. I am close to the Duomo and Santa Maria Novella train station, so it will be easy for me to get around and to actually see some of my favorite sites.
This morning Gino and Antonella (hosts of the farm apartment I was staying at in Reggello), came to close out the account for my stay. I was surprised when I first arrived on Wednesday that they had me come with them outside to take readings from the gas and electric meters. Gino told me they would take another reading when I got ready to leave and I would be charged for the utilities. Another surprise (along with the stairs) to my reduced mobility accommodations! The room was 38Euros per night for seven nights. For the first three nights I was charged 80 Euros for utilities. At that price it would work out to about 60Euros per night. Still quite affordable.
Gino brought my bags downstairs and loaded them into the van. I telephoned Vito to arrange transportation to Florence (he is the English-speaking driver Antonella recommended) and we were set to meet him at the Bar in Incisa. I asked Antonella to first take me to the Tabaccheria to check on my UPS package. That worked perfectly. Daniele was excited to have a UPS customer at his store and said he could accommodate much larger packages. So, shipping inventory there would not be a problem. There was no charge for him to receive the package and hold it for me. We opened the box and I gave him the candy inside. That made him smile. All was good. So, that will work as a shipping and pickup point if we choose to set up an office south of Florence.
Vito was waiting when we got to the bar and he loaded my bags and after giving Antonella many thanks (and two-cheek air kisses), we were on the road. It took about 45 minutes to get to the hotel. When we arrived, there were police blocking entrance to the street a half a block from the hotel. Vito explained that he needed to drop me at the hotel and they let him pass. I asked him what that was all about and he explained that there had been a fire a couple of blocks away in which an immigrant from Somalia died. Now, there were about 50 immigrants protesting at the spot. He said that immigrants were a big problem in Florence.
The Wifi is free here and I am quite comfortable. The desk clerk speaks very good English and was very nice. She gave me the key to the room she had chosen for me and asked me to check it out to make sure it was acceptable. It was more than acceptable! There is free breakfast and a bar and bistro in the hotel. I am looking forward to a nice meal this afternoon and then I will explore the area (going in the opposite direction from the protestors). Tomorrow I will look at possible locations for setting up an office and also verify where the most convenient DHL, Federal Express, and UPS offices are located.
More to come!