by Melinda Gallo

What is it about Florence...

I loved Florence the minute I visited it a year before I planned on moving here. I knew that visiting a city and living in the same city would be different, but I was willing to risk it. I found the move to Florence more difficult than I had with other moves I'd made previously. I had arrived alone and was struggling to learn the language. I had no help, no friends, no job, no acquaintances, and no idea of what I was going to do next.

But, I was a girl in love. In love with Florence. Its beauty was so intoxicating and engaging that I walked the city streets in a state of bliss. But, there was one hitch: the locals were not impressed with my love of their city. Our mutual love of Florence didn't create any bonds between us. I was an outsider and reminded of it almost every day.

Things became easier when I made friendships with Italians, of which many were not Florentines themselves, who had also fallen in love with Florence as well and called it their home. Of course, having a Florentine boyfriend catapulted me into a new category. Suddenly, I was a part of Florence. I became a fiorentina di adozione (Florentine by adoption).

I lived two wonderful years in Florence and then had to abruptly go back to the US. During the five years that I was in California, I could feel Florence's continual pull. Come back, it would whisper to me. The longing I felt inside became so strong that I could do nothing else but come back.

Now that I am here, I feel that I am at home and my heart is at peace. Florence has opened my heart and has allowed me to keep it open. I am so fortunate to be living here and I thank my lucky stars every day. Florence has allowed me to live another life and to invent myself anew. And maybe that is what other people find attractive about Florence too. It's the calling they feel in their heart that they too will have the possibility to find themselves and open their hearts.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!