I’ve just had an email from my cousin in Florence. Doreen was born in Melbourne like me, but her father took her and her two siblings back to Sicily after their mother, my aunt, died tragically young when we were all children. Doreen stayed in Catania and got married at just nineteen. She’s only a few years older than me but she’s already the nonna of two grandchildren.
A few years ago she had the chance to come back to Australia to live. Sicily, they knew, wasn’t the place to raise children through those formative adolescent years and they came to live in Melbourne for six months to see how they might like it. I’ve never heard Doreen say a bad word about anyone in my life. Like her mother, she is sweet to a fault. But underneath she knows what she wants. And she didn’t want a second chance in Melbourne. On the face of it, coming back to Australia made sense but I absolutely understand why she didn’t buy it. We’re cousins after all.
Doreen and her family live in Florence now. They have a small hotel. A single star pensione on the star-studded boulevard of Via Tournabuoni. But you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect place to lay your head in Firenze. I love going to visit her. Florence is my favourite of the big Italian art cities and having family there, the kind you really want to spend time with, makes it all the more wonderful. Hearing from her today reminded me how lucky I am. I’m going to make it last all day. Grazie Doreen.
Hotel Scoti, Via de’ Tornabuoni, 7 FIRENZE 50123 tel. 055 29 21 28 www. hotelscoti.com