FRUGAL TRAVELER; Stendhal's Florence, With E-Mail and Pucci
May 20, 2001 - By DAISANN McLANE
... Staggering with my bag, I darted through the traffic of the Via C. Cavour, found the address across the street, and went up a floor to the Europa in its small, creaky elevator.
At the desk, a gentle grandfatherly man, who introduced himself as Mr. Gassim, a Somalian who had bought the hotel with his family in the 1970's, had already been informed of my plight by another hotel desk clerk.
''You must be tired,'' he said. ''Don't worry about filling out the registration, I'll take your passport later after you rest. We have a nice room for you.''
Taking my bag with a smile, he led me down the hall, and opened a door to a small room that was spotless, furnished simply with a twin bed, desk and wardrobe. I peeked in the bathroom -- teeny, but also clean, with a bidet, sink, and shower stall -- and felt relieved. This was just fine.
But there was more. Stepping over to the window, Mr. Gassim pulled open the shutters with a flourish, to reveal a postcard-perfect view of a lovely courtyard, and in the background, the Duomo.
''Your room with a view,'' he said merrily. ''Enjoy your rest.''
This is too easy, I thought, the next morning at breakfast as Mr. Gassim -- now in a white jacket, bustling about the Europa's lovely breakfast room with its faded frescoed ceiling -- taught me how to use the hotel's cappuccino machine, which, at the push of a button, hissed and sputtered and spat out a perfect latte on demand. I had the same thought as I bypassed a two-hour line and breezed ahead of the crowds into the Uffizi Gallery later that morning. ...
... Where to Stay
My $82 room at the Hotel Europa, Via C. Cavour 14, (39-055) 239-6715, fax (39-055) 210-361, www.webhoteleuropa.com, was small but clean, with a closet-sized private bath (shower, no tub). The twin bed and other furnishings were Ikea-basic but the casement windows were triple-glazed. The rate included a breakfast of yogurt, cereal, bread, cheese and cappuccino. ...