MTV’s long running reality show starts every episode with these words, “This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The Real World…”
Well, when I thought about my friends (and their friends) and I traveling to Italy, it reminded me of “The Real World.” I had spent last Thanksgiving in Vietnam and I thought why not go to Europe for Thanksgiving this year? Having friends who love to travel and not so attached to having a turkey meal on Thanksgiving, helped grow our group to 6 quickly. And with this larger group, we thought it would be best to rent an apartment in Florence and in Rome, so that’s what we did. And because of our work and other travel schedules, we were meeting our “roommates” in Florence to start our trip together there. Paula and I had spent a few days in London on the way to Italy and on our last day in London, we met up with Rita and the three of us flew to Florence together. There, in front of our rented apartment, we joined the other three in our party, Andy, Anna, and Brandon to start our own little “Real World” where we shared our living spaces, meals, and even shampoo for the next week.
Excited to get started but tired from our journey, we walked up three flights of marble stairs to our gorgeous apartment. We dropped our bags by the front door and walked/skipped around the entire place poking our heads in each room. We checked out the bathrooms, went out to the balcony to imagine having a glass of wine, and looked at each other nervously to see who should take which room. It was just like “The Real World” but the comparisons really stopped there since we had no drama of any kind to be of interest to anyone. We loved our apartment for its high ceilings with wooden beams, for the great big balconies, tall and wide windows that looked out to a small piazza, and for its location- a few blocks north from ponte vecchio and a few blocks south of the duomo.
Our apartment in Rome, on the other hand, came with a few “situations” that caused us some drama. First, we couldn’t get any wi-fi connection. When the entire cast of this real world Italy can’t connect freely to the internet (most of the crew had their i-phones, i-touches, blackberries, laptops, each with multiple devices), a level of frustration inched up a bit. Add to that a shortage of hot water (we couldn’t tell whether it shut off at midnight or after 3 people have showered consecutively), not enough light (a few more lamps/light fixtures would have been great), and lumpy pillows… well. Without collectively deciding not to talk about it, we didn’t really talk about it. We hadn’t come to Rome to spend time indoors after all.
Considering how many people we had to coordinate and travel with, I think our little version of “The Real World” turned out quite well. There were no shouting matches, fights, or temper tantrums on this trip. There were some discussions on scheduling and not everyone liked to get up early in the morning or slept so quietly. But because of there were six of us, we got to try so many more variety of Italian dishes at every meal (so very important to me) and did things that as a solo traveler I would have ever done. I certainly have the photos and memories to show for it!
Our apartment rental in Florence came from House in Florence