HomeExchange member Carol shares her story of visiting Italy in February 2020. Carol stayed in a home exchange while in Florence and had an unforgettable experience. The trip was a lot about food, she admits, but also about hospitality and celebration.

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Carol, how did you find out about HomeExchange?

I signed up with HomeExchange in 2015 but didn't start really using the site until two years later. My first guest, Diane, was an expert! More importantly, she was an ideal guest and explained a lot to me. It was such a good experience that I started using the site more and more.

What was it that attracted you to this exchange opportunity?

We wanted to attend the evening Carnevale parade in Viareggio on Giovedi Grasso (Fat Thursday). So, we decided to combine it with a long weekend in Florence.

Tell us about your arrival.

Our host, Chiara, was very accommodating since we had a tight schedule and had to return to the train station to get a train for Viareggio. She was waiting for us. Chiara explained everything about the apartment. She was very kind to have the sofa bed all set up for us.

What did you see or do during your exchange?

As soon as we arrived in Florence, we left! We took the 1.5 hour train ride to Viareggio to attend the evening carnival parade. We stayed there about three hours and then caught a train back to Florence. Considering I arrived in Florence by train from Rome and my fiance arrived from Milan, we did a lot of train travel that day, but it was worth it! The Carnival floats are spectacular and the atmosphere is joyful and festive.

We have been to Florence many times, but oddly enough, never to Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers a splendid panorama of the city. The apartment was just at the foot of the hill up to the Piazzale. We went there our first morning to take in the whole city. Our last evening we strolled along the Arno River (which was practically outside the apartment door) viewing Ponte Vecchio as the sun started to set. Gorgeous.

What is your favorite memory from your exchange?

La bistecca alla fiorentina! The Florentine T-bone steak is unforgettable. This trip was a lot about the food.

What tips and tricks would you give to other HomeExchange guests?

Send out quite a few messages. Eventually, a place will be available.

How would you describe HomeExchange to your family and friends?

I always tell them it is a great way to travel!

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