Florence, Italy 1969
I was 11 in 1969, when my family lived in Florence for a half year. Pensione Ducale, was my family's home for a few days, before we found an apartment.
The only image I have that shows the hotel, is in an old postcard, showing an Easter celebration. It's one of the buildings, to the left of the exploding cart!
Memories of Pensione Ducale
Reading my old diary, I was reminded of my initial reaction to Italy and our hotel. My words describe our family of 6, traveling in two taxis to the hotel, with all our luggage... finding the elevator that looked like a cage... traveling upwards in search of our hotel host.
I remember doing a lot of moping, in our hotel. It was January and I was always cold. The building was old and there was no pool, like Howard Johnson's. I was jet-lagged and grumpy. Mom said it was "culture shock" when I complained. The room I shared with my 3 siblings, had ridiculously high ceilings and it was drafty and dim!
I wasn't used to city noise. I could hear pigeons cooing, non-stop honking, hissing buses...
At meal times in the dining room, I felt like Gretel, being fattened up for some evil purpose. The very sweet hotel hostess, kept bringing course after course. I was okay with pasta and bread, but I had no appetite for the antipasti and salad and veal with vegetables. I couldn't make her understand that all I wanted was some spaghetti. Oh what I wouldn't do for all those courses now!
The sounds were never blocked, even though we had massive, wooden shutters.
I complained about the bathroom down the hall. Not only did we share it with strangers, but it had a funny chain that had to be pulled for flushing... and what was with that other funny toilet? I had never seen a bidet.
After the first day, things got brighter. I began entertaining myself with ballet performances in front of the wardrobe mirror... until my siblings teased. I started to love the window. We opened the panes and let in the chilly air, with all the sights and sounds and smells.
I also spent some time eavesdropping through the wall. I couldn't understand much Italian, but I loved the dramatic hollering of the young woman, who must have been on the phone. There were lots of Mama Mias and that made me laugh!
Back to The Pensione
I may have grumbled about the Pensione, during those first few days in Italy. But, I had nothing but praise a few months later, when we returned to our guest room on Easter morning.
The gracious hotel hostess invited our family, to enjoy the most spectacular view of the annual festivities. Once again we looked down from those grand windows. This time we were entertained by the crowds, music, flags and finally, the dramatic explosion of the Easter cart!
45 Years Ago
It's been many years since I sat in that dark hotel, trying to adjust to Italy.
I returned to Florence in 2003 with Don and our two teenagers. I had hoped to stay in the old Pensione, but we couldn't figure out where it was.
I've added a photo from the internet, after learning that the Pensione is now a B&B!
Thank you to Ken, who shared his memory in the comment below. I hope to return one day to Florence and stay at the old Pensione... now called, Palazzo Ruspoli!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!