I waved goodbye to a year filled with sadness, angst and heartbreak. I was ready for a fresh start in a new country.
When I left for Italy, I truly believed I was leaving everything from the past year behind.
After getting knocked down countless times, I was ready to stand up... then I forgot the Italians enjoy Valentine's Day just as much as Americans do.
Many restaurants have begun to putting up their Valentine's Day menus, reservations are being made.
Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates line the local supermarket window and every store features a Valentine's Day special.
I thought I would be bitter about seeing all of the red paper hearts around the city, but lately, I've been smiling. Traveling has a funny way of making everything feel good, even just for a little while.
Every day is a new adventure of friendship, good food and even better company.
Why fall in love with someone when you can fall in love with everything that surrounds you? That's what I am starting to do.
Instead of harping on my loneliness, I'll be head-over-heels in love with my plate of spinach ravioli and tiramisu. I'm talking freshly made Margherita pizza in the shape of a heart for lunch each day. If there's anything I've learned, it's that pizza is always there for you no matter what.
Did you know that it's completely acceptable in Italy to eat gelato twice in one day? The Italians love a late-afternoon snack and then another one after dinner.There's an endless supply of the sweet cream in the city of Florence.
After you feast on some gelato, have your eyes feast on the views. Florence is an unbelievably beautiful city.
To get to class each day, one must cross the famous Ponte Vecchio. The views from the 16th century bridge are delectable, rain or shine. I walk through the streets as if I'm Emma Stone waltzing through "La La Land."
I can feel the romance surround me in each street, as though it has its own love story. The narrow streets and town squares are hugging me close to the curb in a way man never could. I love the colors of each building and how they contrast the cobblestone streets.
I thought I would be nervous to live in a new city filled with a language I've never spoken, but it's very enjoyable.
I love walking into the local cafe to listen to the romantic Italian language float around me. It's every bit of sexy, soft and smug.
The confidence that exudes from each word is enticing. I find myself losing my train of thought in my favorite cafe when I hear the locals talk. It makes me want to jump right in and drown in that confidence.
After my relationship ended last year, I luckily found myself surrounded by the most amazing people I've ever met. I purposely put myself out there in social settings with friends in order to forget the heartbreak. My friends held me together when I felt like I was about to drown in sadness.
I've learned friendship will always be there for me, even when a relationship falls apart. So, now, I will lean on my new friends as we waltz our way through a new country.
We began to plan weekend trips to new cities like Paris, Prague and Amsterdam. We lose ourselves in laughter and free bottles of wine at our favorite restaurant.
I'm finding love in new friendships, white wine and good food in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I never thought I could find true happiness by going out of my comfort zone, and yet I have.
I may not be celebrating Valentine's Day with the one I love, but thankfully, I've got a whole city of love to celebrate with.