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Mamma Mia, That’s a Big Church!

Mamma Mia, That’s a Big Church!

When the taxi driver dropped me off at my new apartment, and I saw it was adjacent the Duomo, I was relieved. My sense of direction is questionable at best, so I knew this location was a stroke of good luck and perfect for me! The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as Il Duomo, was my next door neighbor. Imposing and majestic, the cathedral sprawls over the enormous piazza and is the heart of the city of Florence. The terracotta dome can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, and between its size, and the accompanying bells from the Campanile, I never became lost. Well, almost never. Of course, I knew that I would be alone on this adventure. This thought stayed with me as I wandered through the narrow streets and explored along the Arno River. Unlike the “Cheers” bar, no one in Florence knew my name, and certainly no one would miss me at the end of the day if I didn’t return to my apartment. But Florence is an extremely safe city. Aside from pickpockets, the crime rate is low, and violent crime is very rare. I never felt uncomfortable, day or night, walking in my new city. I skittled around my new neighbor, the Duomo, many times a day, just as Michaelangelo had as a child. I could never resist looking upward at this most famous landmark, now serving as my beacon. It seemed surreal to call this home. Whose life was this? Oh yeah, mine! I had given myself the month of October to explore. The anxiety I had experienced over the Atlantic Ocean had abated immediately upon arriving. Jet lagged and sleep deprived, perhaps, but I felt deliriously happy to be in Italy! Initially armed with five words in Italian, (bango, grazie, buongiorno, caffé and vino), I confidently put off language class until November. I had wondered just how good my own company would be. Would the fact that I know entire soliloquies from ‘Camelot’ and ‘Carousel’ be enough to keep me entertained, or would they eventually drive me mad? Striking up conversations with others was pretty much out of the question, as my limited Italian was, well, limiting. Any long conversations were those I had with myself. Each morning I learned a few new phrases (thank you Google Translator), and would step out of my door with a map in hand and a route in mind. Living on Via...

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The Decision

The Decision

As seen on The Huffington Post. June 2012 I needed some coffee….in a big way. It was 6:15 a.m., and I was waiting outside my hotel in Rome for a taxi that would take me to the airport. A two-week dream vacation was over, and I was heading back home to Salt Lake City. Two doors down was a coffee shop, not yet open, but the door was unlocked, and I asked if I could come in. As I waited for my coffee, I breathed in the brewing espresso and the baking pastries. I listened to the lilt of Italian coming from the back kitchen. And then, I started to cry. Not a pretty, watery-eyed, few tears sort of cry, but a full-throttle-sob. And in that moment, I made a decision. A life-changing, momentous decision. I would come back to Italy, and soon, but not on another vacation. I would come back to live in Italy, and whatever hold it had on me could fully run its course. It had taunted me twice in the past two years, with its olive tree vistas, wineries, rolling green hills and sumptuous art and food. I’d felt something here I hadn’t felt in a very long time, JOY! And I wanted to feel more of it. Now, let’s agree on something here. There’s no logical reason for a middle-aged woman, of Danish ancestry, born and raised in Utah, to think she belongs in Italy. There is no logical reason for a woman to sell her home, turn over her business, leave her students, lifelong friends and family to start a new life, alone. All I can say is that the heart knows what the heart wants. And this heart wanted some joy, before it was too late. This trip had begun two weeks before as a cruise out of Italy, through Greece and Turkey, then back to Rome. It was supposed to have been a wildly romantic birthday celebration for my partner and me. He and I had been on a trip to Italy in 2011, and we called it our favorite place on earth. But as the trip neared, our weekly arguments had reached their grand finale, ultimately leaving me with two tickets for a cruise (that I had paid for), and one broken heart. I knew how Delta felt about my need to change plans (not to mention my broken...

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