Making my way through piazza Sant’Ambrogio to meet Dr. Erol Agi at Studio Dottori Bindi, a gleaming dental practice just steps from the square, I realized that I was approaching rather timidly. I reminded myself that I was meeting him for an interview, not a dental exam. As a recovering sweet tooth and former ‘braceface’ who grew up grossly afraid of my orthodontist, I was pleased to find that Dr. Agi’s easygoing, lighthearted and professional manner immediately put me at ease. I quickly discovered that his long history of interacting with people from all over the world might have something to do with that.
Dr. Riccardo Bindi and Dr. Erol Agi at the studio
A born-and-bred New Yorker, Dr. Agi specializes in orthodontics. Unlike many of his fellow expats, Dr. Agi didn’t undergo a dramatic career overhaul, renouncing corporate life for a Florentine flâneur routine. Instead, he continued working in the profession that allowed him to travel extensively in the first place—not for vacation, but vocation.
Dr. Agi’s experience as a United States military dentist has an almost cinematic backstory. With his schooling at New York University’s College of Dentistry and residency at Flushing Hospital behind him, he had been operating his own private clinic for close to six years. Despite his stability and success, he was starting to feel restless, coming down with ‘should-I-stay-or-should-I-go’ syndrome. One pivotal morning when he was alone in the office, a man stopped in, ostensibly to make an appointment. Just as Dr. Agi was beginning to notice the man’s odd behavior, an accomplice appeared and both men accosted Dr. Agi at gunpoint. ‘That same day, I knew it was time to get out and go somewhere new,’ he said.
Rattled by the experience and ready to make a dramatic change in his life, Dr. Agi gave into the military’s pull, invigorated by the thought of exploring the world and serving others. Though he would eventually go on to specialize in orthodontics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the mentorship of Dr. William Proffitt, early on he was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. That was when Tuscany first appeared on his radar.
As he retraced his long and winding path to Tuscany, Dr. Agi explained that making the move was a natural step that he never overthought: ‘Doors just opened, as they do in life when you go from one place to another, and eventually I walked through a door that brought me here.’
That door appeared while the Carl Vinson was docked in Singapore, through a chance meeting with a local researcher raised in Pisa. Embarking on a lengthy long-distance relationship, the two eventually tied the knot in San Diego, as Dr. Agi was stationed in California’s Camp Pendleton at the time. The road continued to North Carolina and on to Naples. It was an opportunity at the Bindi dental studio, however, that ultimately brought the pair to Tuscany.
Dr. Agi feels perfectly at home at the practice, which was established nearly 20 years ago and uses the same state-of-the-art equipment he was accustomed to in the States. Dr. Agi particularly appreciates being part of a team that prioritizes working with patients to find individual solutions—a marked difference from the purely diagnostic, doctor’s-orders culture that still prevails in much of Tuscany. The practice has three other dentists, two of whom are the Bindi brothers, whose name the clinic bears. Though Dr. Agi’s is the only non-Italian face, the practice has long maintained an international presence in various publications and at conferences, which was one of the aspects of the group that appealed to him in the first place. Currently, the clientele is largely Italian, which has helped Dr. Agi tremendously with cultural integration.
Now going on his fifth year in Tuscany and feeling ever more at ease, Dr. Agi hopes to remain here indefinitely, though he admits he’s learned that ‘life’s only constant is change.’ But what distinguishes Tuscany from the many other places he’s called home can be summed up in one word: abundance. ‘There’s such an abundance of beauty, culture, nature, food, art, kindness—all the things that make life fun to live,’ he added. Not a bad reason to stick around.
Favorite restaurant or place for bistecca fiorentina?
Restaurant Buca Lapi for great steaks and a wonderful atmosphere
One place in Tuscany that makes you happy or inspires you?
The beach at Marina di Castagneto Carducci
The biggest difference between Italians and Americans?
The way we communicate. Italians use hand gestures much more than we do.
Favorite day trip in Tuscany?
Walking or bicycling on the fortified walls surrounding Lucca
Favorite Tuscan person, past or present?
Pet peeve or something you will never get used to living here?
The much smaller personal space.
STUDIO ODONTOIATRICO SPECIALISTICO DOTT.RI BINDI
Via Giosué Carducci, 16 – Firenze.
Tel. +39 055 2638544