by Melinda Gallo

My first big interview

I couldn't sleep well last night as I was a little nervous about an interview that I was asked to do with a freelance journalist, Greg Cook, for UK's leading travel and overseas living magazine called A Place in the Sun. He told me that he'd be bringing his own photographer, Richard Parsons, and that made me even more nervous.

Living in Florence :: My first big interview

Greg wrote me an email last month and asked me if I was available to be interviewed. He had also lined up two other interviews: a woman in Tuscany and a man in Umbria who both left their native countries and chose Italy to live.

I woke up at 5.45AM, well before my alarm was supposed to go off, and decided I should go to the palestra (gym) to run off my nervous energy. When I was running, I realized that I should also go to the parruchiere (hair dresser's) to get a piega (wash/dry/style hair).

I asked a friend of mine to pick me up in his taxi, take me to their hotel, and then drive us up to Piazzale Michelangelo. I figured that'd be the best place to start the photo shoot as the city is so beautiful from up there.

I walked into the hotel where they were staying and we immediately recognized each other. Greg jumped up when he saw me and I saw all the camera gear in front of Richard. We packed up the taxi with all of their things, hopped in, and were whisked up to the piazzale. On the way, I pointed out a few of the monuments and museums to them. It's hard to get a sense of the city without being here a few days, so it was important to them that I help them out a little bit. And, I was ecstatic to show off my city.

We headed for the stairs that led down to the small bar and waited for some people to clear the area a little bit so that Richard could take pictures of me walking from the bottom of the stairs towards him. I felt odd with people all around watching me, but in the end I had to focus on walking up without tripping and smiling toward the camera. "Mel," Richard would say, "that was great!" The only people who call me "Mel" are the British and I find it rather sweet even though I generally don't like nicknames.

We trekked up to San Miniato so Richard could take some more pictures of Florence and then walked down the stairs to San Niccolò and got a drink at Il Rifrullo. We sat at an outside table on the side, had some drinks, and talked. Before we left, Richard took some more pictures of me, sitting at the table. The shopkeepers across the street kept staring at me as if I might be someone famous to have two guys directing me and taking pictures of me. I put one of the pictures that Richard took on my backstory page already as he gave them all to me before he left.

I then took them across the Arno to the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio to take some more pictures. I was initially nervous about going there since I know so many people, but luckily Richard didn't make me to go their bancarelle (stands).

It was already 1PM and we were hungry. We decided to walk through centro (downtown) to Olio e Convivium, which is near Santo Spirito, for lunch where I made reservations for us. I thought it would be a picturesque and, of course, delicious place to eat. We loved the food, and Richard took some more pictures of the restaurant as well.

Afterwards, we walked over Ponte Santa Trinità and hopped into a taxi to go back to my apartment. They wanted to take some pictures of the interior and exterior of my building, as well as me in my apartment.

While Richard was taking some interior shots, Greg sat me down and asked me a few questions. We had been talking all day, so he knew a lot about me already. He told me that it shows that I love Florence by how I talk about it. The most difficult question he asked me was "Why do you love Florence so much?" It took me a few moments before I could explain that my love of Florence is like my love for a man. I can't answer the question by just listing the city's qualities; it is much more than that. My love for the city comes mostly from the way I feel when I am here. And when I am outside of my city, I miss it and so dearly want to return.

I love many of Florence's qualities, but have also learned to accept its defects. And, I think that is the healthy way to love anything or anyone. I know that Florence is not perfect, there are a few things I don't like, but I accept them because I love the city and that is what one does for love.

I had an incredible time with Greg and Richard as they were really fantastic people to meet and to get to know. I was a bit sad when I called the taxi for them and had to walk them to the door. I realize that when I am fond of people, I really want them to stick around. But, hopefully they will come back to Florence with their significant others so I can show them around and so that we can have a few more good laughs together.

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