“There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...”

John Lennon

I was walking to work just the other day and in the 20+ years that I’ve known this city it was the first time I had noticed a plaque on the floor in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

It says:

“every step I have taken

in my life

has led me here now” 

It is an installation by Italian artist Alberto Garutti.

I have often looked at my life in Italy in this way so many times, so you can imagine that finding this cemented into the ground in Florence one morning was surprising and also somewhat affirming.

My rapport with Florence began unknowingly around 1992 in California of all places. I had met with an astrologer who would answer the question of where in the world was best for me to live. After plotting birthplace, time and other information which I no longer remember, a map was produced with indications of my best locations for a good life. The only place I clearly remembered was Pago Pago – a pacific island which didn’t really attract me.

Jump forward to the year 2000. I was staying in a guest house in North Yorkshire and there was a poster in our room which fascinated me – an old image of a walled city called Firenze.

Bear with me here – this all builds up to a point…

Now to 2001 – we arrived in Florence for a weekend break (by chance actually – having changed destination at the last minute due to military action in the Gulf). In walking around the wonderful city of Florence and having already lived in the UK, USA and India by this time in my life I was immediately struck by an overwhelming feeling of being at home here in Florence, I was in fact standing in Piazza della Signoria, in front of the wonderful fountain of Neptune. I said out loud “one day I’ll live here”.

Now jump to 2008 – after many many visits to Florence in the preceding years, making friends and carving out a life for ourselves here we took the plunge and decided to move. We found an apartment, quit our jobs and started selling and packing our things for the new life. 

Now…..this is where it finally gets interesting ……(thanks for bearing with me)

While packing our house into so, so many boxes to move them to Florence (we are now in 2009 by the way) I came across a small box of things which I had kept from my time in California – inside I found the astrologer’s map. I have mentioned before that Pago Pago always stuck out as the option but I was amazed and relieved to see that on the right hand side of the page, circled in blue biro pen was the name “Firenze”. I, at the time of the reading in 1992, had no idea what or where Firenze was and so you can imagine my surprise and relief at finding and seeing this.

Although life has not been all “chianti under Tuscan sun” I have to say that I have been living a wonderful Italian life. I have mastered the language, changed the rhythm of my life to that which is here, I use my hands when I speak Italian more than I was aware, I have argued more than I ever have in my life here in Italy (the latin passion has got me!!!). All in all I live like an Italian. I am so proud of being British and I love my home country it’s just that Florence suits me – 

It was written in the stars you could say!!!


It is clearly written in the floor in Piazza Santa Maria Novella

“every step I have taken

in my life

has led me here now”