by Caitlin Ritchie
Some say Paris is the city of romance, but I beg to differ. I found true love in Florence, Italy. I had just arrived in Italy for my junior year abroad. I would be spending an entire school year in the city of art and love and was very excited to immerse myself in a new language and culture. Little did I know where that would lead me.
One of my passions is singing, and I wanted to maintain that a part of my life while abroad. My university was holding auditions for its choir, which I saw as a great opportunity to meet some natives my age.
I arrived at the audition hall with six other American girls that I had convinced to join me, but being new to the school, we were not certain if we had the correct building. Our nerves got the best of us, and we became frightened as we stood in the tiny, dark street somewhat late at night. We knocked on the door to a building where we’d seen the light on, and someone finally let us in.
That someone soon became an important part of my life in Florence. My first impression of him was that he was tall, but what really caught my attention was his long, black, curly hair and dark eyes. I awkwardly asked him if I was in the right place, and he assured me that I was, but that the auditions didn’t start for another half hour. He told us we could hang out with him and wait. He kept to himself mostly, typing on his laptop, but he was very nice and wished us luck during our audition.
We made small talk when I finished auditioning, and later I found out that I was the only one in my group of friends to be accepted to the choir. I had to return a couple of weeks later to begin rehearsal, and since I was the only foreigner there, I was extremely intimidated and felt out of place. Everyone was hanging around after rehearsal while I was waiting for my ride home, when I spotted the handsome guy who’d kindly opened the door for my friends and me a few weeks prior.
He was talking to his friends and munching on a bag of chips. I nervously approached him, and he smoothly held out his bag of chips to share with me. We finally had our first real conversation, and I found out that his name was Giuliano and that he was from Rome. Eventually my ride home interrupted us and said, “Well, I’ve got to get Candy home now. She isn’t hanging around here just for your beauty.” I thought to myself, “Speak for yourself.” We parted ways in the traditional Italian way- by giving each other one kiss on each cheek.
For the next couple of weeks we just talked casually after rehearsal. Then it came time for our big concert at the Palazzo Vecchio. The palace is a beautiful Renaissance residence of the Medici family. Now it is the seat of the regional government. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and all the important politicians including the president go there to give speeches and do business. We meet up after the concert, and he asked me what I was doing the rest of the day. When I told him I was about to get some lunch, he offered to go with me. Of course, I said he was welcome to join me.
We spent the next few hours walking around the historic center of Florence, and he bought me lunch. The best part was when we stood on the Ponte Vecchio for a bit and enjoyed the view of the river. Then we took a photo of ourselves together with the beautiful Florentine landscape in the background. He walked me to my class and we said “ciao.”
A couple of weeks later I went to his graduation ceremony and got to meet his entire family from Rome. It was a lovely time, but unfortunately our courtship would soon be interrupted by the holiday break. I spent a month travelling with my family, but returned to Florence in January. Around Christmas he wrote me a sweet email wishing me well.
The next time I saw him was at rehearsal, and he had brought me a gift. It was a homemade box with candy in it from his parents as a thank you for attending his graduation ceremony. Then he invited my friend and me out for drinks that weekend. At the end of the evening, he walked us back to our house and we sat outside and talked on the porch for a little while. My friend excused herself and left us alone on the porch. He moved closer to sit by my side. I was wearing a blue dress and he said that I looked very beautiful in it. I thanked him and then he leaned over and kissed me. Then he asked me out on a proper date without my roommate. We were together for the rest of the semester and have continued our relationship even now that we live on separate continents.
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