I read a quote by Gertrude Stein that said something to the effect that an artist has two countries. One which is his home and the second where he feels most himself. I think about this often, especially this time of year when I remember the traveling I did in my twenties. The memories haunt me now. My heart always expands most when I think of Florence Italy. My first trip was with my best friend when we turned 20 (when we were fearless and cute) We scoured the entire romantic city on foot. Rode on the backs of Vespa's to the Boboli Gardens at night for the best gelato I've ever encountered. Partied in a villa just across the Arno with a view overlooking the infamous red tiled roofs of the city. We were so young and unappreciative of the opportunities our boldness and innocence afforded us. The hottie that owned the villa where we were dinner guests had money (I didn't recognize it then). His family owned a perfumerie and I remember him opening these vintage apothecary drawers to let me sample scented oils from around the world. Before we left his home he gave me the name and number to a Roman design firm who was close friends of the family. He set up an interview for me. What did I do.....chickened out. And here I am today to reminisce and write about it.
For 9 years I revisited Florence in summer and winter when I was a children's clothing designer to attend the Pitti Bimbo. Dang if I didn't feel like I was returning home each time. Do you know what was waiting for us when we just walked down the street from our hotel to get a cab? A life size pastel painting of Botticelli's masterpiece "Birth of Venus" on the street! and, the artist was in the process of another richly colored painting (yet I don't recall what is was)
So, yes, Florence just welcomes the painter, romantic and foodie in me. I've loved and daydreamed about living in so many places as I travelled with my ex and daughter. I've even looked for jobs and real estate for the fun of it. But, in reference to Ms. Stein's commentary above, Florence is the place for me.
Where would you feel most like you?