a reflection upon return

While we wish this was a post saying we dropped everything, realized our folly on the plane ride back, and are en route to our adopted homeland permanently…

American Girl in Florence, Ruth Orkin, 1951

{ a drive on the lungarno has always been a hoot } American Girl in Florence, Ruth Orkin, 1951

There’s no international mystery here. We’re firmly rooted in reality this week. We’re catching up on missed work and dealing with day-to-day drudgery. While it would be easy to spiral into an unwarranted pity-party of Italy withdrawals, we’re writing this post with a big dose of perspective. We have jobs, families, and clean living spaces to come home to. We just took an incredible trip to some of our favorite places. We have friends on both sides of the Atlantic. In short, we are two of the luckiest gals on the planet – and there’s not a hint of exaggeration in that statement.

American Girl in Florence, Ruth Orkin, 1951

{ life’s existential directions }

In this vein, we think it’s important to note that all of these same realities exist in Italy as well. While we write a blog on the fun, free things to do in Florence, the hard fact is it’s an expensive city to live in. And when the country’s unemployment rate hovers at 12%, it’s even harder to find a job. If you’re an expat, the odds of finding permanent employment are slim. We were especially reminded of this last fact during our visit; many of our friends work upwards of three part-time jobs just for the chance to remain in the city. But the best part about their hustle? Each pal is incredibly grateful for the opportunities they do have; they embrace the good and accept the frustrating; and they all want to be in Italy, so they make it work. As our beautiful friend Kellin told us, “If you want to be here, just get here. You have to work for it. And you have the convince the universe you’re serious.”

American Girl in Florence, Ruth Orkin, 1951

{ sometimes being an expat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, even in the loveliest of places }

Some wonderful ladies do a great job of showcasing the reality of expat-living in Italy. Some of our favorites (in addition to Kellin) are Michelle of Maple Leaf Mamma and Georgette of Girl in Florence. Both aren’t afraid to vent a bit about the tough times that come along with uprooting your life to a foreign country – and that’s precisely why we love them. We hope you give them a look, and once the instant envy subsides, you give them a chance to paint a beautiful, honest portrait of living abroad.

American Girl in Florence, Ruth Orkin, 1951

{ want to feel at home fast? start adopting local customs. a regular caffè habit is a good place to start. }

As for us, we’re not the first American girls to fall in love with Florence. Ruth Orkin’s famous photos from 1951 are proof enough that our heartache is a tale as old as time. But these challenges – the distance, the expenses, the jobs, the drudgery – are all the more reason to celebrate the amazing things Florence gives to us freely! Whether you have a day, a week or a lifetime there, the city finds ways to warm your soul that make all the difficulties getting (and staying) there worth it.

So starting next week, expect photos, walks, and wish lists inspired by our trip! We’re so happy to have you with us sharing in our love, no matter where you are.

Hannah & Meg

*All photos from the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive from her series American Girl in Florence, 1951.


  1. What a lovely post! And not just because you mention me! I’m sorry to have missed you ladies while you were in town but happy to hear your visit went so well. And I’m really looking forward to reading all the new fun things you have in store for us readers 🙂

    1. yes michelle, we were so sad we missed you at school! wedding events kept us busy (and they were so worth it) so our meet-up window was slim. next time we owe you a caffe!

  2. Carol conrad · · Reply

    So glad you were back so you can lead us all to Florence by sharing your blog. Fantastic photos.

  3. Reblogged this on Emmydora and commented:
    Fab read about returning from abroad.

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