is home to many expats: those who have longed to live here, those who have
found love and moved here, and those who have come to Florence and felt immediately at home here.
Many people arrive here at a point in their lives when they seek to redefine
themselves: whether they were not completely happy, were searching for
something new, or were looking for love, it seems that those who come to Florence are reborn. Florence will always be
the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ for the art world, but it also welcomes people
of all walks of life who are seeking to follow their hearts.
Born in Japan, Atsuko Kato decided to move to Italy after taking a family vacation to Europe in 1992. During that trip, she visited Venice and Milan, but not Florence. Yet within
three years, she was studying hotel management at a school in Florence.
Atsuko studied American literature at university in Japan, her plan was to work as a
hotel receptionist. After telling her boss in Tokyo that she would like to one day teach
hospitality, he placed her in a training job almost immediately, even though
she had hoped to continue working in reception for a few more years before
While working in Tokyo, Atsuko made a few steps toward her dream of living
in Italy: she studied
Italian in her free time and applied to the Istituto Internazionale di Scienze
Turistiche in Florence to earn a hotel
management diploma, which would give her the necessary credentials to work in Italy.
After the first few days at
school, Atsuko was disappointed that she didn’t understand more of what was
being said in her classes. She considered dropping out and attending an Italian
language school instead, but then she came up with the idea of bringing a tape
recorder to school to record the lectures. Every evening, after she returned
from school, she listened to her recordings and jotted down notes. Within six
months, her Italian improved greatly and she was able to understand her classes
Upon graduating two years later,
she found a job as the hotel receptionist at a family-owned four-star hotel in Florence. After a year,
she was approached by the Excelsior Hotel, where she had done her first tirocinio (internship) a few years earlier. Hired to work in reception, she remained for
eight years. In 2007, Atsuko was approached by Villa La Vedetta to become the
events manager as well as the front office manager.
Last year, she was hired to be
the guest relations manager at J.K.
a luxury boutique hotel in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. This charming hotel with
only 20 rooms treats its guests as if they were family. Atsuko offers the
guests assistance and guidance for enjoying their stays in Florence. Her specialty is shopping: she is
able to point guests in the right direction, whatever they might be looking
Now, after living in Florence for 15 years,
Atsuko considers herself not only at home here but also a part of the city.
Having let the city influence her, she now notices that she has taken on many
Italian traits, like being more flexible and living in the moment. She also
recognizes that her appreciation of her Japanese culture has increased as well.
Her time in Florence
has not only allowed her to make her dream a reality, but it has also helped
her blossom into a vibrant and confident woman.