Love in Florence: a romantic guest post for Valentine’s Day

[Photo Credits: joluka http://ow.ly/hFYbg]
[Photo Credits: joluka http://ow.ly/hFYbg]
This love story was written by Zeke Changuris, a great fan of Tuscany that have recently travelled in Italy and felt in love with Florence and this is why he decided to write this story:  
Our love for Florence has had me writing short stories for my wife describing our imaginary lives living in Tuscany for more than three years. The detailed stories include stories about our careers, an array of characters as our friends, our small stone farm house, our cat Storm and a flock of chicken living in a nearby barn that mock her from outside the glass patio door. It is a dream that we hope one day can come true. I want to thank you for the opportunity to write something for your site.  I love Italy so much.  I love Florence like no other place in the world.  I felt at home there the moment we stepped into the city.  I can't wait to be back there.  I continue to write these stories, with the every growing cast of characters, to mentally take us back there and remind us there is a better way to live." Thank you, Zeke Changuris
The cool air found its way through the gaps between the frame and the convertible top as we drove north on the S222 from our little farm house near Castellina in Chianti to Firenze.
[Photo Credits: Fernando Stankuns http://ow.ly/hFYwr]
[Photo Credits: Fernando Stankuns http://ow.ly/hFYwr]
The highway traffic moved smooth; even at 100 kilometers an hour the scenery still takes my breath away. The city traffic was surprisingly good all the way to the Garage Inferno where we left our car. We had our one overnight bag for the two of us rolling behind us as we walked down the familiar Via delgi Strozzi toward the Piazza della Repubblica. The narrow hallway near the base of the arch leads us to the small elevator that takes us to the hotel lobby.  The mosaic tile floors of the Pendini Hotel welcome us as we check into our room, 210, the only room we have ever stayed in while in Florence. The unchanged room and its simple spacious design flood our minds with the wonderful memories of our visits to the city and leave us smiling. We leave our bag next to the wardrobe and leave the room and head to back into the streets of the city.
[Photo Credits: Prof. Mortel http://ow.ly/hFYPe]
[Photo Credits: Prof. Mortel http://ow.ly/hFYPe]
The same streets of the same city that made us feel like we had come home from the first time we set foot on them. We walk across the Piazza towards the Rinascente department store and turn right on Via Calimala toward the Piazza della Signoria, where on our first visit we watched an Easter Procession journey through the square.  A story of rebirth, I’ve always found it appropriate for the city of rebirth. We turn off the square into the Piazzale degli Uffizi and I scoop Amanda up in my arms and spin around in the middle of the Piazzale a recreation of a picture of us on our honeymoon. Amanda was in her wedding dress and me in my suit posing for a photographer I’d hired. The photos are still my screen saver today. We cross the Arno on the Ponte alle Grazie and turn left on the Lungarno Torrgiani. As we walk we are paralleled by two men rowing in a shell against the current. The long steep climb up the Viale Giuseppe Poggi to Piazzale Michelangelo hasn’t gotten any easier in the last few years but we are still determined to take each step up the hill.  We stand in the northwest corner of the piazzale overlooking the city with the Duomo rising like a mountain behind us and ask a tourist to take our picture with my camera.  It will be our third picture standing in that spot.  The first one from our first date, the second one in our wedding clothes on our honeymoon and this one with her in a simple dress black dress with a 50s flare and I in my tweed jacket. The stroll across the Arno back into city leads us to the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore and its immense sacred space where we light a candle and give thanks to the city that gave us, us. We remember how our life as “us” started, as two friends who came to the city and found ourselves reborn with a bond of love that neither of us could have ever imagined. The sun begins to set and I check my watch; it is almost time for our dinner seating at Antinori.
Rodrigo Soldon http://ow.ly/hFZlc
Rodrigo Soldon http://ow.ly/hFZlc
The menu of authentic Tuscan dishes fills us until we nearly burst with boar’s meat, pasta and wine. The blended Santa Christina wine has become one of our favorite over the years for its fruitiness and low acidity. We wonder how on earth we managed to drink two bottles a night on our first trip, and now one bottle could put us both under the table this time around. Amanda leads me down the street and we twist and turn down vias, stradas, and piazzas until we come to the bright neon lit entrance of Festival de Gelato.  She reminds me that there is always room for gelato.  We get our orders and sit in a brightly colored booth sharing bites of each other’s dish.  I have a wonderfully creamy stracciatella and she has a strawberry swirl. She smiles and laughs, there’s just something about gelato that makes her giddy and that makes me happy. The gelato is washed down by some coffee at a café Le Giubbe Rosse on the Piazza della Repubblica.  I find coffee time is one of the greatest things Florence has taught me.  The time to take a moment to watch the world has been a great gift and another reason I’m thankful to Firenze.  We sit and watch the children play soccer in the square and listen to the music of the carousel echo across the piazza. The coffee gone and the crowd in the square thinning she gives me a look, a look she reserves just for me. Her brown eyes twinkle with mischief and she holds out her hand, leading me across the piazza back to the hotel and back to our room for the end to another wonderful day in our favorite city. A note to the reader: Amanda and I did truly fall in love on our first date and that date was a trip to Italy.  We declared our love in Florence.  We have only stayed at the Pendini in room 210. We did spend our honeymoon there as well and have a photographer take our pictures in our wedding clothes. [geo_mashup_map]