I’ve resurfaced to tell you that I’ve made it. I’ve completed 60 days of my one-year Sabbatical- dropping work to help myself to a slice of the Vita Bella in Florence. In a tweet I’d say “weather intense, flat hunting tough, made some friends”. But instead of taking the easy way out I’ve decided to put my money where my big fat mouth is and let you know how I’m finding it. I’ve been hyping myself and others about this experience for a good few years and now that I’m here, I bet you want to know if I’m sold on the idea of living here or not? I’m still unsure. The bouts of homesickness are still frequent but what I can tell you is that from finding an apartment to making friends, dating, I’ve learnt a lot and gone through a raft of emotions. So for those curious to take a leaf out of my book, here are my initial observations of Florence 60 days and 60 nights on…
That’s right. Single. Not single and ready to mingle. Not single and searching. Single. Full stop. End of sentence. As marriages fail, work life becomes more demanding and socialising ever transient, being single is no longer a process but a way of life for many. For the best part of my 20s and 30s I was on a fruitless search for The One! Family and friends often questioned my status like it was a defect. They often tried to set me up, as if they were healing the sick. It got me down for a while. Then at the end of 2017 I thought, “what if I am meant to be single?”. Call it an epiphany – you may think a defeatist one at that – but it gave me so much clarity and freed myself from the assumption that we are all meant to be with someone- an assumption that was at the root of my disappointment and injustice.
Since then I have been retraining my perception of going solo and stopped seeking soul mates as if it was an automatic entitlement. Then I spotted an article about 1930s Vogue Editor Marjorie Hillis’s book “Live Alone and Like It: the Art of Solitary Refinement”. It has been repeatedly published because of its growing relevance in modern society. I related so much to her ideas and was glad to see that I already was on the right track to reclaiming singledom. Now that a new year dawns I’ve decided to continue that trend further in a bid to not sacrifice another day of my youth to lamenting at my lonesomeness nor letting others do so. So if you want to do the same, here is my (and Marjorie’s) guide.
Every Easter I earmark a trip to Florence, in fact I have been there 7 times. Friends ask why I give up a chunk of my annual leave to the same place year in year out. Why?? OK I admit it; I’m obsessed. But it’s criminal to shrink this wonderful city down to the obvious highlights. Without playing down the rich Renaissance art, food, and history, there’s so much more to unpack that has niente to do with following the tourist trail. Each time I come to Florence I go off piste and it’s showed me a vibrant way of life, an envious way of living. But after a day or two, I want to explore and what you may not realise is that being in Florence puts you in an ideal place to spend what little time you have to open out and experience Italy as a whole.
Hold up, she said what? Yep you read right. After all for a region that is called the playground of the rich, you can expect Amalfi Coast to be over priced, poncy and a bit pretentious. But let’s face it, when you’re on the doorstep to some of the biggest stars, Sofia Loren, Armani to name a few, it’s no surprise! Yet look passed the glamour, glitz, 5-star restaurants and cliff-top views, there’s a more down-to-earth beauty about the Amalfi Coast.
This I came to learn after a 5-day visit in July ( high season) to celebrate my dad’s 69th birthday. As my sisters and I were paying for everything, budget was relatively tight so we could not indulge in too much. But it meant we had to be more creative and as a result we got a more authentic insight into this gorgeous part of Italy and the not so obvious beauty of Amalfi.
So here they are, my 5 reasons not to go Amalfi teemed up with 5 reasons you really should: