Florence, Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the period when the focus of art shifted from praising God to a celebration of the human experience.  The city is filled with ancient buildings and statues, artisanal shops and markets, all contrasted with high fashion flagship stores and street artists creating magic from chalk. When I think of a romantic city, even Paris pales in comparison.

I fell in love with wine on the cobblestone streets of Florence.  As a study abroad student, it was finally legal for me to drink wine. And drink wine, I did.  I saved as much money as possible on groceries so that I could afford better bottles. I frequented the school-owned restaurant for “free” dinners with my meal plan (thanks, Dad!), and gladly split a bottle or two with my roommates.  We discovered appertivo, the Italian tradition of sipping a glass of prosecco with some bruschetta before dinner. We made the mistake of visiting appertivo before our evening classes once or twice, and then giggled our way through a human ethics lecture. We went to tastings for our marketing class, to better understand our Italian customers.  We run up hundreds of stairs with a bottle of Chianti and a loaf of bread, eager to watch the sunset from Piazza Michelangelo.  We took vespa tours of vineyards and noted production techniques.  We spent Thanksgiving in a foreign airport with a bottle, making the best of our layover. Most importantly, we learned to respect wine, the way Italians do.  

To most, Italy sparks images of delectable pizzas, overflowing bowls of pasta, and dreamy gelato.  I enjoyed all of those foods in excess, but when I think of my four months in Italy, the moments accompanied by wine were my favorite. I made some of the most cherished memories of my life over a good bottle with good company in Florence, Italy. 

To me, discovering wine is a love story, no matter where it takes place. Where did your love affair with wine get its start? Where will it take you next? Let us know in the comments!