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Monday, 03 May 2010

Living in Rome, Florence and Paris on a Fixed Income - Page 4

Written by Russ Firlik
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We were fortunate, especially with the current economic and housing crisis, to have sold our small apartment in New Hampshire for a bit of a profit. Since we had recently retired after over thirty years as educators, we now had the time, the incentive and the self-determination to follow our long-loved passion of slow traveling. In other words: we are senior citizens who will spend our junior year abroad. For the first time in our 45 years of marriage we were homeless, jobless, and after giving our 2003 Honda Hybrid to our daughter, also carless. What were we to do? Follow our passion!

We knew that to visit the many Tuscan villages and explore the sculpture, architecture and paintings in these towns we had to rent a small economical vehicle. We chose a small Fiat. This expense, plus the expensive of petrol, was mitigated somewhat by the lower rent we paid for the apartment that was 17 kilometers from Florence. Italy’s utilities, especially in the Tuscan hills are expensive since they have to import most of their energy from outside the country. We planned for that expense, which our lovely landlady indicated was based upon “individual usage” and, understandably, very difficult to project. Nonetheless, everyday we used the small Fiat to visit 32 Tuscan villages and towns, and Living in Rome, Florence and Paris on a Fixed Income, Europe on a Fixed Income, year abroad Rome, Florence, and Paris, seniors on a junior year abroad, Russ Firlikused public transport- in this case the nearest train-station was a 10 minute car ride from our apartment to the Bagno on Ripoli station to go to Florence at a very reasonable cost.

The total expenses for our two months in Florence/Tuscany were $173.00 per day-per couple. Since the car and gas averaged $27 per day, our expenses would have been less, but one cannot travel to most Tuscan villages and towns without a vehicle. We stayed within budget, as this per day cost was just a tad below our allotted and fixed monthly budget. Moreover, this per day cost included all expenses incurred: rental car for two months, petrol, living expenses (food, tea, caffe, but rarely eating out), rent and utilities, museum and gallery passes, train passes, books, airport transfers, exchange fees. We did not purchase anything for ourselves in Rome or Tuscany but brought home memories instead.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” M. Proust

After we‘d studied, read, saw, and felt the visual arts of Rome, the beginning of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, and now “le climax final” of our year abroad: Paris, the art mecca

“Add three letters to Paris and you get: Paradise.“

Once again location was our focus, as we knew that Paris would be relatively expensive, and at the time the Euro was strong against the dollar at almost 1.50. Searching the many online leasing services, we found a small apartment- within our accommodations budget- in the Marais, in arrondissement #4. This allowed us to walk to the Musee de Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and Musee de Orangerie, as well as a dozen or so other visual arts arenas. The very efficient metro and bus systems were rather inexpensive. Since you pay between $14 and 19 for two museum tickets, we purchased at a bargain price a yearly museum pass that covered the Musee de Louvre and other related museums. This pass allowed us after the first seven visits, we had unlimited entrances to the Louvre and the other related museums. We also purchased monthly pubic transport passes (buses and metro) at half the cost per month.

(Page 4 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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