Rob and Kim Murgatroyd are in Florence for the long haul. Having visited the Tuscan city when she was 16, Kim quickly converted Rob as an Italy lover on their first overseas trip as a couple and now they are living their best life. Their company offers entrepreneur masterclasses, life coaching and has a Top 200 iTunes podcast.
“I came to Italy when I was 16 as a student ambassador for the United States,” explains Kim. “I took a picture of a sunset from the Ponte Vecchio; it was just the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen in my life. I’m from New Hampshire, so we don’t have that there. That picture has so many bulletin board holes in it because, from 16 through 40, it was always up on something—every cork board, every mirror. I always knew I wanted to come back here. Our first international trip together after we started dating was here in 2004. We’d come back the first chance we had. We did this thing called the ‘Dream Line’: what do you want to have, be and do. We were having a glass of wine in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was writing mine, Rob was writing his. When we were done, we compared them and his said, I want to live in Southern California, while mine said, I want to live in Italy. This is gonna be interesting, we thought.”
The solution they originally came up with was a six-month split in both countries. “Then we got our youngest child and well, you can’t really do that,” says Kim. “In 2018, Rob sold his chiropractic clinic, something he’d done for 25 years, and we planned to move to California. I spied an opportunity and said, Before we move to California and before Sofia’s really in school, let’s stay in Europe between Monaco and Florence. It made sense because we were doing the podcast and hosting events: one in June in Monaco and one in Florence in October.”
But the move was never intended to be permanent. California was still the endgame. “I hired Urbano Brini, of Florencetown, as a fixer for one of our entrepreneur events in Florence. Urbano told me about his friend, the lawyer Michele Capecchi. We met over in his office. I said how my great-grandmother was from Naples and wondered if I could ever get citizenship. Then I said, Wait a second! Before we came here, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and I saw this guy being interviewed about how second-generation Americans were moving to Italy. Michele goes, That was me. We became friends and then our time in Florence came to an end.”
“We’re having one foot in California, one foot in Italy, and meeting with Michele about how we could extend our visa,” Kim explains. “He told us, You have to go home, you’ve been here three months. We’re meeting with real estate agents here and real estate agents are FaceTiming us properties in California. We knew we had to go, but we wanted to stay. We toured the International School; I travelled a lot as a kid and it’s important to me that my child is brought up with a global mentality and has an appreciation for other cultures. Our thinking was that she could go to the school when she’d be in fifth grade. So, we left here in late October 2019 for California, and then the pandemic hit.”
“One day, in March 2021, in California, we were watching Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy because our Sundays have always been dedicated to Italy. We were drinking a mimosa, probably eating a pasta, and Stanley Tucci said one line—it was the Florence episode: When I was 11, my father took on a sabbatical; we did one year in Florence and it changed my life forever. We hit pause, looked at each other, and Rob said, Why aren’t we there? That was all I needed to hear. Our initial thought was that it would be a long process. I opened my laptop, looked up the International School, and the application was due in six days. We applied immediately. A month later, she got in.”
Then came the dreaded red tape and obtaining the visas, but the Murgatroyds got lucky. “We called Michele and said we wanted to come in August. He says, Ok, we should have started this a bit ago. But it was green lights all the way. We got an appointment at the Consulate. We pleaded our case and said how we wanted our daughter to grow up in a place rich in culture and history. My daughter begged to go back because she danced in the piazzas and ate gelato: she was alive there. In the end, the Consulate employee was on our team. Somehow she managed to get the visa done faster than expected.”
Fifteen months later, the Murgatroyds are settling into life in Florence, from buying entire new outfits (Rob: “My friend Gerardo told me to meet his designer daughter, Sibilla. Your dad says I need to talk to you about fashion. How did I do? She told me I looked like a Christmas tree and that I only needed two or three colored tops.”) to befriending their local greengrocer (Kim: “I made it my mission to win her over. If you compliment her figs, she warms up.”). Rob’s found a different voice as a writer. “I suddenly have access to all these descriptive words. Before I couldn’t care less, but now I’m toiling over things like is it yellow or is it canary?” “Before we made the decision to move, everything was scheduled in California,” says Kim. “Rob walked around twitching because he was always late and overstressed. One day, I said to him…” Rob interjects, “I like you better in Italy.”
When I ask Rob and Kim for an example of something that drives them crazy about Florence, they genuinely have to think about it. “Trying to get internet. Then there’s the post office; I spent 40 minutes before I knew I had to take a number. But I’m smart enough to see that if I complain and want things to change, then everything would change, and I don’t want that.”
Listen to Rob and Kim’s FriDate podcast and find out about their events and offerings at their website.