Recently, I decided to rent out my “living room” as a bedroom. I never use the damn room, so it sits there, empty, lonely and dark. In the winter it was too cold and if anyone who reads my blog has ever been to Italy, you know the utilities here are ASTRONOMICAL! So, I locked it up and froze in my bedroom instead… It’s unfair really when you see your gas bill is 300.00 for 3 month’s and the taxes are another 200.00. Completely criminal. For reason the Italians don’t seem to care or at least they don’t DO anything about it. Maybe I shouldn’t say they don’t care, but if this happened in my country, there would be a coup for sure! You should hear my peeps complain about the $3.00 a gallon gas! It’s €2 a LITER here!
Anyhow, I rented out my living room as a bedroom through a site called AirBnB.com. I had checked it out once before for places to stay temporarily as I was traveling around but never used it. It seemed fairly safe for a woman living alone, as they have a few ways to ‘check’ people out. You also get ‘reviewed’ by your fellow guests and the renters of the space. I haven’t seen a bad review yet and I usually get couples who stay here. So far, it’s been fun!
The last two people who stayed here were actually the first two that contacted me once I put up my post for the room. Two 21-year-old girls from Seattle, Washington (besties) who recently graduated from college and decided that before they had to ‘grow up’ and get real jobs they wanted to travel Europe. They showed up at my door with nothing more than small (tiny) backpacks and tinier purses, tanks and shorts, sandals and two enormous smiles! First, I couldn’t believe that for 5 weeks they were traveling the EU with so little. Second, I couldn’t believe how happy they were! I actually envied them! Once I got them all settled in, we sat and talked about where they had been and what they had been up to. They had traveled from Dublin, Ireland down into various cities in Italy, ended up at my place and from here they are headed back to Dublin via Manchester, England.
I guess it’s the maternal instinct in me, but I needed to cook for these girls! It’s not something I would normally do, but they were so kind and polite I felt it was my duty to make sure they were well fed. I guess being a mother myself, if my son were doing the same thing, I would hope that someone would take him in and take care of him once in a while. I took them to the Mercato Centrale where we picked out bunches of fresh veggies, cheese and chicken and made some awesome dinners together. I also finally got the courage to try my hand at crepes… I’ve never made a crepe in my life, this was always my mother’s thing. I warned the girls that they were going to be my guinea pigs and they didn’t seem to care. I guess when you are traveling on a budget, any food is good food! The coolest thing for me, was that after I cooked, they would clean! I really lucked out with these two. The girls were funny and I got some good laughs from them. On occasion they would finish each other’s sentences and one would decide over the other about what they were going to do for the day and the other one just capitulated. I told them they reminded me of an old married couple… They actually agreed! I guess that is what happens when you have been besties for so long and you are traveling the world together. They even confessed that they hadn’t had one argument during the entire trip. (This is how I gauge whether or not a relationship is a good one, or not…) Not too common for two women spending 5 weeks stuck to each others hip!
We also went on some excursions together. I took them to my favorite watering hole, Viktoria Lounge Bar and introduced them to my two favorite twin bartenders, Paolo and Marco. We walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo and the Chiesa San Miniato and found ourselves lost at one point, walking home on some back streets into Florence. Which, I might add, they were completely happy to do and even instigated some of it! I showed them where to get the best gelato and how to go to an aperitivo for cheap eats. It was really a treat for me, as much as it was for them!
Before I rented my room out I had a lot of trepidation. I hadn’t lived with another person in years and as you well know, when you live alone you get set in your ways. But AirBnB has been a blessing in so many ways. I have been able to open my home to people who need a little direction and a safe place to lay their head that isn’t going to cost them a fortune, as a hotel would. I have found that I really enjoy the company and the little things that I thought would bother me, cleaning up after someone else, weird hair, in the sink, toothpaste on the mirror, etc… isn’t so bad after all. I also realized something about myself, I really like showing people around my adopted city! This little adventure made me realize so many good things that were lacking in my life here and I actually enjoy the company. It’s also nice in the fact that when you need a little ‘me’ time, you just block out a few days or space the guests far enough apart that you have those moments.
I’m going to miss my “Girls from Seattle,” but I am looking forward to meeting all the new people who have signed up for the weeks ahead!