We sat with our backs pressed up against the cool stone of San Miniato, the city laid out in front of us in all her splendour. The orange roofs, the glistening Arno and the magnificent Duomo standing tall above it all. It goes without saying: it was breathtaking.
It was my favourite spot in the city. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Florence life, sitting above it all offered a sense of clarity I struggled to find elsewhere. There were no tourists wielding crumpled maps, no men selling selfie sticks and no women covered in white paint demanding petty change.
It was calm. It was peaceful. It was the perfect place to say goodbye.
And this goodbye? It was the hardest one I’ve ever had to say. Because Florence captured me in a way I never expected. Its magic found a way into my heart and drew me in with its culture, its beauty and its incomparable lifestyle. Here I found a family. Here I found a new me.
This adventure left me with memories that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. The moment I first turned the corner and was faced with the Duomo in all its glory. The art exhibitions in Palazzo Strozzi. The overwhelming labyrinth of the greatest art in the world at the Uffizi. The many Gusta Pizzas. The bottles and bottles and bottles of prosecco. The 2 euro vino at our local store. The moment of serenity as I placed my hands on the ancient stone in the many churches and cathedrals I explored across the country. The parties at Via Romana. The feasts we enjoyed on a regular basis at our favourite restaurants. The toffee beer. The taste of a sharp Spritz on a boiling summer’s day. Rome! Verona! Bologna! Lucca! And the list goes on! The hours spent with David. The evenings spent on the sofa with a large glass of red and the most beautiful of friends. 40 degree heat lazing on a movie star beach. Dinner club. Hikes through the mountains before a naked dip in a waterfall. The messy nights. The messy days. Breakfast at the local bar nursing a killer hangover. Falling asleep on my balcony in the summer sun. The bedroom facing out onto Boboli Gardens. The plum tree that was never built for survival. Lying on the floor in Palazzo Vecchio during Notte Bianca, staring up at the golden ceiling and feeling part of another world. Having mine and my friend’s photo projected onto a building… a Renaissance portrait, of course. Witnessing Scoppio del Carro from my girl’s apartment, sipping on Bellinis at 9 in the morning. Karaoke with my soul sister, and the ever growing list of songs we planned to sing. The nights spent in Santo Spirito. Celebrating July 4th on a child’s log ride. The sunsets. The sunrises. The dear friends and family who were able to come and experience my new world with me. The incredible people who transformed my life for the better.
I could go on. And on. And on.
Because there will never be enough words to fully capture my life in Florence.
There will never be enough time to explain why it was the best thing I have ever done.
Florence will always be a home to me. It will always be within me, sprinkling its enchantment over everything I do.
I left Florence not because I had fallen out of love. I left because I was still totally, head over heels in love with it.
I can look back over my time with only happy memories. And I will keep on returning, year after year, to the place that my soul finally found its match.
And now, as I sit in my new home in Sydney, I’m preparing myself for a new adventure. Something totally different. Something fresh. Something damn exciting.
I have no idea where this journey will take me. For the first time in my life, my plans are at 0.
So come on Australia. Let’s do this.