Florence: One artist's move to Italy

Aug 18th, 2008, 02:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Oh the support! Thanks e1.

Violin, I'm going to post my email address, drop me a line, not freaky at all, would be great to know someone who knows the ins and outs of this city.

So Anyhoo getting here.

Most know I had applied for dual citizenship, my mom is Hungarian.I came in with my US passport as my Hungarian papers were not due to arrive til around October. Well 6
days after I arrived and a very frustrating day I picked up my messages from my US cell number and it was the Hungarian consulate saying my passport and citizenship papers were ready for pick up. So I am officially dual which will make life easier.Now getting them since I'm here is a bit of a problem, but will work out.

Bear, the giganticat was a whole other story. Originally was to leave for BCN end of June so took him for his physical and Eurochip. It has to be a specific model compatable with the scanners here. For the chip, physical, Rabies and other shot boosters, plus to fill out the paperwork my vet charged me 780$. That's NY for ya.That didn't include a few month of his Tapozol scrip. Bear has an overactive Thyroid. Used to be 23 lb. That's another 60$ p month. Then things got pushed back and I found out he had to be reexamined within 10 days of flying and new paperwork now for Italy add another 250$. Not done yet. I had my housekeeper , who also doubled as Bears nanny for the 6 years I was in NY area take him for a week so I could visit my brother and his family before I left, so down to S Florida I went. It was in Miami that it took 2 trips to the Aphis dept. of the USDA to get the proper stamps so that the Italians would let him in.

Fast forward to Aug. 5 night before we leave, my friend Robin picks me up at Newark we swing by and get Bear from Nellie who was sadder to see him go than me and stayed at Robin's place in the Bronx that night where my stuff that I was taking had been for a week.

Aug 6 Day of travel. All I'll say is I flew on a buddy pass, got in trouble for getting into details before so will leave it at that. I bought the Sherpa doggy travel bag for Bear. He is afterall an 18 lb Maine Coone so he needed a sturdy bag. We were really late arriving at airport and Robin who was flying with went to park while I checked in. Let me say that JFK is a nightmare! Complete disarray!

I took 4 huge suitcases, all overweight. Robin checked two in as hers so I didn't have to pay for extra luggage, only overweight charges.It is very hard condensing one's belongings into 6 suitcases , 2 which will come later.I'm a girl I like shoes and accessories! She only traveled with a carry on since she was leaving in a week and coming back end of Aug. I left 2 other bags with her in the Bronx that she'll bring with on different trips. Works out well. She went through security first, she was in uniform I waited about 45 minutes and when I finally got up there to my horror they asked me to remove Bear from his carrier. Oh No!

Background on Bear, a large cat with a bigger attitude problem who's file at the vet has a large Yellow Caution sticker on it(True). The week before I brought him to be groomed at the Vet and the groomer called and said he could not finish, the cat had attacked him, he will not charge me. Well, when I picked him up he had a huge bald spot on his shoulder. Needless to say I was not happy and neither was he. He had never been out of his apt. for 6 years and in a week to a crappy groomer, 2 strange apartmentments, one with a barking dog on the other side of the door and now at an airport ready to go to another country. He's my cat, I love him, but there was no way in hell I was taking him out of that carrier. I feared for myself.

Robin was watching from beyond the screener at security and sent a TSA agent over. She had told the woman that Bear was a bit wild. The agent came over and asked if he was, I said sometimes. She said can you take him out. I said no, but you can, if you want to try. She did not, they wanded him instead, and felt arounbd the outside of the carrier. I said she could just put her hand in to feel around the inside to which she said " I'm not putting my hand in there". I'll tell you, Bear was a hit at the airport, he's so big people are expecting him to be a dog and when they realize he's a cat, it's funny.

We flew Biz class, I kept Bear in his carrier but on my seat when reclined with one door open so he could see me. I did not sleep. We arrived at Pisa around 11:30 am. Got our bags, quick thru customs and guess what? THEY NEVER CHECKED BEAR"S PAPERS! Never even asked! Never said is that an animal, he did not get his Euro pet passport ( a real thing) and I was pissed I had spent almost a grand to get this cat ready to go.

It was extremely hot, poor Bear was panting like crazy as we waited for the Bus from Pisa Airport to Florence SMN station. The bus took 1 hr 10 minutes cost 8 E, 12 rt FYI and when we got there I hit the ATM because we had to pay cash for our apartment we took for the month.

I chose an apartment on line for the month of August so when we got here we could find someplace long term. I didn't want to be locked into someplace if it wasn't all it said it would be. Good Call on my part. The apartment was in the Oltro Arno are on a beautiful street the taxi could not find called Vicollo DEl Canneto, Viccolo meaning so tiny the car can't get on it and you have to drag all your crap up a hill.

So the guy I was dealing with, who I will give props to for being attentive via email ( oh those Italian men) sent a young Canadian girl to meet us, good move on his part because if it were him, the scene would not have been pretty.

A dirty, dingy, no a/c, tv, phone or internet ( which is fine I can get back to the basics) but he said it had all those things. Oh no, this would not do. It felt like a sauna, 2 floors of must, I had let Bear out he ran under the sink and came out with a huge dustball attached to his tail. Robin was leaving in a week and I in no way was staying at that place alone. It was creepy. So I basically tried to bluff Lorenzo so he would get us in a better place and he called my bluff. Well , never one to back down, even when I am about to be homeless, I said Fine, we are not taking it. I had made no deposit, the Canadian girl left, me and Robin dragged all our/my stuff up the street and basically set up camp under a stone archway at the base of some stairs at the end of Vicola Del Canneto with no where to go.I pulled out the laptop hit "These are the Days" by the 10,000 maniacs and We just looked at each and laughed, hysterically. TBC.....
laartista is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 05:12 PM
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Congratulations on the successful paperwork and the move. I'll be waiting to hear all the details as they develop, including a view of your new jewelry.
ellenem is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 05:52 PM
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i love your story. keep posting.

yipper is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 09:33 PM
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"These are days, you'll remember"... No kidding!!!!

Wow, can't wait to hear where you finally found an apartment. Glad Bear did well on the plane. I always thought that if I ever moved to Europe, I'd have to bring my Golden, Gracie with me. Too bad they didn't check his papers after you spent all that money.

Looking forward to your next installment!

gracie04 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 10:09 PM
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I'm enjoying your story, and admiring your decision to continue a different line of artistry.

We have a 20-pound Maine Coone named Lynx; he bites us (somewhat gently) when he's mad, and when he's in a good mood, just to keepus in line, I guess. But they are beautiful cats, aren't they?
Lexma90 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Thanks for the nice words you guys. Lex, Yeah I think it's a Coone thing the biting, I don't mind the little ones it's the ones when he doesn't let go that suck.

So I have parked myself at a cafe with a cappuccino and a slice for this installment.

So there we sit, each on a luggage trying to shade Bear. Poor cat hadn't eaten since we left Ny on instructions from the Vet. I open the large blue wheeled duffle bag to get him some treats. I packed food for a few weeks and a disposable litter box for when we first arrived. a gasp! The litter box cracked and exploded and all the litter was now in my shoes and on my linens, it sucked but no time for that I had to just zip it back up and ignore the situation for now, we were homeless.

Robin starts going thru the emails on her Blackberry that I had sent her. I had put out a lot of feelers before leaving NY so we had people to contact.We decided to take a hotel for 2 nights to give us time to find an apartment which would not be easy with everyone on vacation. I leave Robin and Bear at the covered stairs and head down the hill to find a Taxi. The street brings me right to a taxi stand right of Ponte Vecchio if facing Duemo. There was one taxi. I tell her in my very basic Italian at best that my friend and bags are up the hill. Can she take me there to get them and then to an inexpensive nearby hotel with air conditioning. We had been traveling about 17 hrs, it was hooter than Bangkok and I needed an airconditioned room not to mention Bear needed one too.

So in I hop and up the hill we go to where the entrance to the staors were. I tell her to stop, e get out and that taxi driver starts laughing at the sight of Robin and Bear and all that luggage. I tell her we will bring it up the stairs just to wait. I am convinced that is what led to my neck acting up again. By a iracle we get everything into the taxi and she takes us to the most delightful Pesion on the Oltro arno side of the river not far from our stairway. I will not give the name because we had an incident involving Bear and they were so nice there. Battery is running low will finish after I recharge. For ViolinCellista in Firenze my email or anyone else [email protected].
laartista is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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Very funny posts.... Although you really must post a photo of your giganticat. If it is okay with the cat, that is May be I didn't read carefully enough but did you say if this is a longer-term stay or couple/few weeks?
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:57 AM
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F A B U L O U S ! ! !

What a terrific storyteller........thought about writing a book?

Bailey is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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laartista, I wondered where you have been, Wishing you the best of times and may your creativity bloom in all it's glory as we follow your adventure.
cigalechanta is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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LOL, so crazy I only get 2 hrs a time if I'm not plugged in. BTW the mosquitos here are worse than Bangkok, seriously I have pizza legs and arms, Off and Repel are worth Sh-- to these Florentine mOsquitos.

Comfy about a year, so longer term

Thanks Baily and Cig nice to see you.

Ok so this pensione that the taxi driver took us to was really lovely, had a great outdoor area overlooking the Arno our room was huge with a big bedroom area and another smaller one ( did I mention Robin is allergic to Bear) So she takes the small room me and bear the large and it was huge, nice big bathroom free wifi and breakfast and especially a/c all for the bargain basement price of 100E a night. SOLD! So here's the thing we smuggled Bear in. I know , sooooo not ethical, but we were desperate and couldn't take the chance of them saying no. Plus, the Italian taxi driver woman suggested we don't say anything, so we didn't. But we did door- block that bellguy Mossimo from crossing the threshold to room # 51. And that cat who hadn't meowed once in 17 hours held fast, not a peep.

We are all in, I finally let Bear out and under the bed he goes. Next was to get a litter box, I would not open that suitcase again for 2 days til we got to where we are staying now. A few doors down was a 7-11 type mini mart. We got some wine and eats and a bag of litter and a turkey basting pan except it was more the size for a few cornish hens. Ok so you have to buy the bags for like .04 cents or something, but one bag does not hold a 10 lb. bag of litter without splitting, another bag and another, plus we had to arrange it that in no way could they tell when we walked passed reception that I had a roaster pan and litter in my bag. How weird would that look. A ham sandwhich placed very carefully on top and my wares were in full incognito.

We get back to the room , gone maybe :45 min and he is gone. Bear appears to be gone. We ripped that room apart and could not find him anywhere. I start crying where is Bear, where is he, even Robin who does not like cats but has become somewhat fond of Bear when he doesn't make her sneeze had a look of worry. For 15 minutes, we looked and looked and must have looked under that bed 58 times, no sign of him. OMG, Mossimo found us out and confiscated my cat!!!! Robin said you think? I do ,I really do where else would he be. And then, the slightest movement from the big bed area. I run over drop to my stomach and look again. There is nothing, and then I see it, the bulge in the box spring, a bulge that could only be made by a 18 lb cat who some how crawled in. He's here, he's here, as I push him to prod him to come out but NO that cat would not move.

Robin says OMG I can't freakin ( well she was more colorful, cleaning it up for Fodors) believe him. The space to which he crawled in was so small I couldn't get my full arm in, I could not figure out how he got in there. Well, we had to get him out. I mean cat is stuck. Somewhat of a moral dilemna in the way of damaging someone elses property. This is what we do.

Backtrack: When I packed I dumped one of my kitchen junk drawers in a bag and threw it in my luggage. You all have one , that drawer that has a bit of everything to the point that you can go Let's Make a Deal and Win. well good thing I did, because in that bag was scissors and purple electrical tape. We turned the bed over and like highly skilled plastic surgeons CUT ( yes, I said cut)OPEN the bottom of the box spring. A very neat and precise L in order to get Bear out. We sealed it up with that purple electrical tape. Now I feel horribly guilty about this because every person working there from the owner to the breakfast lady and the reception people were calling their friends to find us an apartment and we go and desicrate their property. In my defense we did a really good job and who looks under the box spring anyway. I mean what was I do? So that's why no names mentioned.Oh but there's more
laartista is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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Now I'm thinkin' movie...yes a movie...this is way too visual for just a book deal. . . .
Hmmmm now, let's think of the cast....who would you like to play YOU?

Bailey is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 02:36 PM
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Great post. Bookmarking.
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 02:49 PM
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You should teach the locals the new stylish hip word "staycation"
FainaAgain is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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OMG, that sounds like something my cat would do! He's also a biter. Can't wait for more!
SusanP is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 03:29 PM
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Have not seen your earlier posts, but this is a fascinating report! Am enjoying it a lot.

Do you have a web site where I can see some of your work?

nukesafe is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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I think he sounds like a gentleman and well behaved cat considering what he'd been thru recently -lol!
suze is online now  
Aug 19th, 2008, 03:42 PM
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I'm another fan of your travel adventures and you positive attitude.

You are living one of my dreams so I am eager to see how this tale unfolds!

mebe is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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This is a really funny report I am equally curious to read what you see etc as time goes on (I spent 48 hours in Florence but more than a decade ago... envious of your new home).
Aug 19th, 2008, 04:42 PM
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I don't know I missed your earlier posts, but I am TOTALLY loving your report!

If I could type and applaud at the same time I would do so because you are one of the brave few who actually gave it all up and WENT FOR IT!!

Can't wait to hear more and will follow your adventures on your blog.
MelJ is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 04:49 PM
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I just heard about your post via Slow Travel. What a hoot! The very best of luck in your endeavours and adventures!

YvonneT is offline  

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