You know how there are some places you visit and it instantly feels like home? Like a piece of you belongs there and its somewhere you feel like you’ve been coming to for years? Florence, Italy. From the minute I stepped off the train and walked through the magical streets I felt this sense of belonging. The cobble stone streets lined with mini markets and the colored houses, tourists and locals walking as one I felt like safe. Like this was the place where nothing bad could ever happen and that there would always be a place for me here. No matter where life takes me, I could always come here and I would undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms to the local charm and gracious people that wander the streets daily.
Florence was always a place I had wanted to travel to but not really at the top of my list of places to visit. Especially in Italy where there are so many places to visit. But throughout my ultimate 3 week tour of Europe where I planned to visit both Venice and Rome, Florence just happened to land right in the middle of my journey. So I figured instead of taking a 5 hour train ride why not stop over in Florence to break up the trip. I am SO glad that I did! I guess that’s the beauty of traveling on your own and without a plan. You can make adjustments as you see fit and go with the flow of things, which is kind of the motto of my life also. So it kind of worked out perfectly. Randomly stubmling upon one of the most magical cities I have ever been to just so that I wouldn’t be stuck on a train for 6 hours. Proof that the universe truly works in mysterious ways. I fell in love with Florence the minute I got there. I even extended my stay there from two nights to three just so that I would have more time there. I just wanted to soak in the atmosphere and take in all the natural beauty of its culture and history. My favorite part was just walking around and seeing all the local landmarks. The great thing about Florence is that is quite small compared to other Italian cities so you really can see everything it has to offer in one day. The people are friendly and there is a good mix of tourists and locals to balance it out that you don’t ever really feel as though you are in a tourist – trapped city like you would in other places.
Florence and all its beauty presented itself to me at the exact moment I really needed it. Prior to my arrival in Florence, I had gone through a pretty rough few days with someone that I loved and I never really realized how much Florence helped me to heal from that heartbreak until recently. Heartbreak is tough. But I think disappoint is even worse. We all experience heartbreak in various ways but being let down by someone you trust and care about is something that I really struggle with, far more than heartbreak. Knowing that someone has gone back on their word to you and has once again left you standing alone is I think what causes us as humans to be untrusting and causes us to put up walls. Arriving in Florence was my first venture on my own, I didn’t have friends or travel companions to distract me and there was no where for me to hide from the pain. I sat at an outdoor restaurant with an Aperol spritz observing the people walking through the markets feeling beyond grateful for where life had taken me but also sad at the fact that someone was supposed to be sitting next to me taking in this beautiful moment. I am firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I am forever grateful to have had that moment to myself. But it was still heartbreaking knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be alone and that someone else’s inability to love and keep a promise to me is what brought me to that point in time. It’s interesting how life knocks us around and pushes us to our breaking points; forcing us to deal with the hand that’s been dealt to us and the emotions that follow. But who we become as a result of the push and pull of life is the greatest gift we could ever receive.
Florence saved me. It allowed me to cope and heal in ways I didn’t even know I needed. It made me tougher, braver and provided more clarity on the things I wanted and deserved. The quiet moments people watching, strolling through the cultured streets and taking in views of the city are the things that allowed me to move forward. Even though I was hurting, I also knew that the pain and disappointment I was feeling would pass and there was a light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in a very long time I was walking towards that light instead of running away from it. I become one with my emotions and felt all the things that you are supposed to feel when you get heartbroken. I found a piece of myself that was missing. I found peace. Florence holds a special place in my heart and I hope to go back there one day. Things are changing all around me but I truly believe that the magic and culture of Florence is something that can’t be altered. Like a fine wine, it only gets better with age.