Before I knew it, another year had passed and it was time to again celebrate my birthday. Though I couldn’t have put it into words, looking back I know I was a bit depressed with everything going on. I had just finished what I tried to believe were the final edits of a novel, and was a little discouraged by how long the book was taking to complete. Even more, I was tired of watching the woman I knew and loved disappear. I’d been waiting on “the call” about my mom for at least three years while trying to cherish each moment with her, but more and more was unsure whether I should be praying for healing or grace.

Yes, I was in need of a reboot!

And what better place to restore my passion than one of the most energetic cities in the world? On a whim, I booked a trip for the following month. Much to the disappointment of my family, this one I booked solo.

My journey started out with a few hiccups—including a mad dash through Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport on a layover to another terminal that I swear was eight miles away, and a bag that unfortunately didn’t move as fast as me (arriving a full three days later). But as soon as I stepped into the private loft I rented on, I knew I was home.

After checking in, I strolled down to the corner excited to see a pizzeria (I’d soon learn they were on almost every corner), and happy to use my very limited Italian (from a full week of study) to order a slice of some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. After my afternoon snack, I walked on for several blocks with no map or destination in mind, then literally screamed as the small, cobblestone street opened into a town square with a cathedral like none other.

If I’d done my research, I would have known that Il Duomo di Firenze is the main church of Florence, completed way back in 1436. People come from near and far to see the handmade polychrome doors at the front and the intricate art on the cathedral’s domed ceiling. I could have stared at the church for hours. In fact, I tried to catch at least a glimpse of it every single day!

In my six days all over Italy, I ate everything in sight—from handmade pastas with cheese so fresh it made me drool, to fresh loaves of bread and truffle spread I picked up at an oversized outdoor market. And even more, I inhaled the passion that permeated the atmosphere.

It was in the art of Michelangelo and Donatello, and especially in the incredible David statue in the Uffizi Gallery everyone talks about. It was in the nearby horse races in Siena and the wonderfully imperfect Leaning Tower of Pisa (whose imperfect structure reminds me there are no mistakes). It was in the creamy gelato and every corner bookstore… and even in the opera singer I stumbled upon walking down the street on my last night.  People stood on the corner mesmerized, wiping tears from their eyes at the beauty of her voice as I shamelessly let my own fall.

I stood there taking it all in, and realized that at some point during my mom’s illness, I’d learned to turn off the emotion a bit in order to preserve my sanity. But there in Italy, I was reminded of the beauty of vulnerability and of boundless love. I wept for the earthly mother I was losing, and smiled at the peace I was gaining.

Yes, I had eaten my way back from the land of depression to a place not far from peace.

Imani is the author of the novel When I Was Broken and a book of inspirational thoughts, You Are Not Alone. An attorney by trade, she’s also a life coach and speaker dedicated to inspiring others to live each moment to the fullest. See more of Imani's writing at