Italy, here we come, at last!

Traveling is one of my husband, Tom, and my favorite things to do. We have been trying to take a trip to Italy for more than six years but it never seemed to

Venice alley at sunset

Venice alley at sunset

work out. Finally, we have our airplane tickets, places to stay reserved and we’re ready to go.

I have been a painter and a writer for more than 25 years, and I can’t think of a better place for an artist/writer to visit. Unfortunately, I have had severe fibromyalgia (fibro) for more than 25 years, too. In case you’re not familiar with this disease, here’s the Mayo Clinic’s definition:

“Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

In my experience, people with fibromyalgia seem to have the same group of symptoms and medical issues, it’s just a matter of degree. My FM is very bad and severely affects what I can do and how long I can function each day. By 3 p.m., I’m just about done for the day. By then my “fibro fog” has set in and I am having trouble carrying on a conversation, understanding what people are saying, and staying awake. For others, FM is more of an annoyance that doesn’t keep them from doing what they want to do.

In the past, I was able to keep my fibro symptoms under control with medication and a bunch of therapies like massage, walking, avoiding caffeine, getting plenty of sleep, etc. But I’ve notice an increase in my symptoms over the past two years and I’ve developed bursitis in both hips. I just didn’t know if, or how much, the disease was going to affect me, but we decided to just go for it.

 

Finding a place to stay

Several times when we’ve traveled, instead of looking for a hotel, we’ve rented apartments and homes and have always felt like we got more for our money than if we stayed in a hotel. There are several websites that match travelers with people who would like to rent their home or apartment. We have used vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals By Owners) many times and I can recommend them. We found a very nice house to rent from vrbo.com for the four months we lived in Mexico.

For some reason, we had a very difficult time finding a place to stay in Florence. We knew where we wanted to be – close to the Duomo, but most of the places were outside our budget. Then we found a place, wire transferred the deposit and agreed to the terms and thought we were all set. A week later, I received an email from them saying they had new tenants for that apartment but they had another apartment we could rent. I wrote back and said something like, “I don’t understand. You’ve received our deposit. I thought everything was fine.” Her response was, “I explained the situation and you didn’t accept our other arrangement so we will be refunding your deposit.” Huh? None of it made any sense, especially when you throw in the fact that we wanted to rent the apartment for more days than the other people.

Somewhere online I found a website called ItalyPerfect.com. They are based in California. I sent an email to the woman and explained our situation. She had three options in the area we wanted. We looked through all of them, including the photos, chose one and gave her our deposit. In a way, working with ItalyPerfect was a better experience that VacationRentalByOwner. They have a smaller inventory, but the customer service we received was amazing. They emailed us many, many pages of helpful information on Florence and on Italy in general. They have several other sites, for example LondonPerfect and ParisPerfect. I highly recommend them.

More on Italy next time!

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