In 1991, when Trine West was just 18, she left her hometown of Horsens, Denmark, to travel around Europe for a year. Her plan was to visit cities in the neighboring countries and get a taste of what the world has to offer. Her first destination was Florence, where she quickly found a place to live and a job, and began learning Italian. Within a short amount of time, she felt so at home in Florence that she decided not to continue her journey through Europe.
Although the city was new to Trine, with its different language and culture, it felt familiar because of its small-town atmosphere with an international flair. Not only did Florence bring her many work opportunities, but it also led her to love. Trine met and later married a British man, John, who was also living in Florence at the time.
At one point, Trine wasn’t certain if she wanted to settle in Florence, so she and her husband moved to Denmark to try living there. Although life was fine for both of them there, they nonetheless wondered if they could create a life for themselves in Florence. When they returned to Florence for a two-week vacation less than a year later, they promised each other that if a good opportunity arose, they would seize it. Within only a few days of being back in Florence, they were offered a partnership in the Lochness Lounge (www.lochnessfirenze.com) on via dei Benci near Santa Croce as well as another bar downtown, Stonehenge.
At the time, Lochness Lounge was a private club, and as such it did not have to follow the rules that regulate other bars and restaurants, such as a 3am closing. The only downfall was that it was not open to the public: a person had to become a member to enter the lounge. Within a couple of years, they bought out their partner and continued to manage Lochness Lounge themselves; the partner took over Stonehenge. Just two years ago, they changed the bar’s license so it could open their doors to the public to take advantage of the foot traffic on via dei Benci.
The Lochness Lounge has now become an upscale and exciting locale where students, locals and expats can enjoy alternative music. Trine shares her love of music by having different DJs each night and by occasionally inviting musicians to provide live music. She also organizes theme nights and hosts theatrical shows presented by Performance International (www.performance-international.net). With recent changes in the laws, Trine is now looking forward to the lounge’s new outside area so her clients can enjoy their drinks alfresco.
Besides managing Lochness with her husband and being a mother of two children, Trine keeps herself busy with many other ventures. For six years, they managed another bar where live musicians played, Loonees, and from 2006 to 2009, she ran a children’s clothing shop specializing in Danish fashions.
During the last mayoral elections, Trine was nominated to be a member of the Florence town council. Being one of the founders and an active member of VivaCity (www.viva-city.it), an association representing bars and restaurants in Florence, she was the perfect candidate. Even though she was not elected, the experience has inspired her to stay involved with what happens in Florence.
For Trine, ‘her town’ is much more international now than when she first arrived; she says that Florence has become even more of a melting pot with an increasing mix of nationalities. She observes that the Florentines themselves have become more open-minded and accepting of foreigners over the last 20 years. Florence has provided Trine with many wonderful opportunities and has motivated her not just to enjoy it, but also to help make it a better place to live and work for herself and others.