IMG_0090I had decided that I

needed and wanted to go somewhere alone and somewhere far away to ring in (or lament;-) my half-century birthday. Seemed kind of strange to want that so much, but conventional and predictable I have never much been.

I thought about all the wonderful places that I had visited–any of which I would have loved to return to; Prague, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Lyon, Santorini and Crete, Rome, Venice and then some. Then there were the places that I had not been to, but wished to see; Thailand, New Zealand, Bali to name a few.

None of these were calling to me though. I wanted a safe haven. I wanted a neighborhood. I wanted a city that would embrace me and make me feel safe and in which I could just walk, and walk, and walk.

Florence came to mind. I had been there briefly on a trip to Tuscany about twelve years earlier. We had enjoyed a day trip to Florence. I remembered it as being very compact and intimate. We would walk down narrow streets and only see the shops and restaurants in our immediate line of vision. And then all of a sudden we would turn a corner and a beautiful church or the iconic Duomo would just be right there, so grand and magnificent that it seemed impossible to believe that we had not been able to view it for blocks and blocks.

Yes, Florence felt right. Florence it was going to be, and once again, there was no going back!