"It's just like a little fairy tale city," Sheryl Henderson says with a sparkle in her eye, and a warmth that permeates throughout her voice.
"It's just like something out of a dream."
The grand canal, the buildings, and the beauty of the city is what draws Ms Henderson to this iconic and historic city.
She's also a fan of Florence - It's architecture, cathedrals, gardens, sculptures, and artwork.
Ms Henderson's new book Italian introductions is an ode and love letter of sorts to the time she's spent in Italy.
But she hasn't always been an author.
Ms Henderson used to be a medical scientist, screening for malignancies in a Melbourne laboratory.
She thinks of her time in the lab fondly.
She completed her Masters in Medical Science at Charles Stuart University - being one of two to graduate from a class of 15.
She humbly says the program was "pretty tough," - quite the understatement.
The former scientist is now retired, living on a farm at Muckleford near Castlemaine with her husband and their small flock of Marino sheep.
"We just love it," she said,
"It's just a wonderful place to be."
It's easy to see why with the mention of fresh air, their own water, and organic, home grown fruit and vegetables.
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Ms Henderson is a simple woman - she likes reading the classics and loves her sheep.
"They're just such gentle creatures," she says of them.
It's at her secluded farm oasis, where her beloved sheep reside, that Ms Henderson wrote her debut non-fiction travel book.
Her inspiration is her travels throughout Italy and her childhood friend Rita.
Ms Henderson recalls meeting Rita the first day of high school and being joined at hip since.
"We never had a single day when we fought or argued over anything we discussed," she said.
"We took the same classes. We were constantly in each other's pockets and did everything together."
Ms Henderson's old teachers even said the pair were "as thick as thieves."
"The friendship was quite strong. And she was wonderful," she said.
The author generously credits Rita with encouraging her to continue her studies.
"I think she kept me on the academic road, whereas I think I would've branched off into more technical studies without her input.
Ms Henderson's friend talked about Italy with her and showed her photos - you can see where her infatuation with Italian culture began.
Ms Henderson and her friend did separate for many years and it was during this time that she visited Italy with her husband Rod.
Their first trip was in the spring of May 2018. The weather was ripe - not too hot, not too cold.
"It was superb spring weather," Ms Henderson said.
The couple visited Rome, Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre, Lake Maggiore, Naples, Venice, Assisi, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Isle of Capri, and Pompeii, with a brief jaunt in Switzerland.
Ms Henderson paints a pretty Italian picture.
"The mosaics, and the gold, and the statues... and a beautiful facade," she said.
Her husband's favourite places were Lake Como and Cinque Terre - where he "fell in love."'
The couple enjoyed the history and savoured the food.
The author speaks to her love of the romance language - Italian.
She even took language courses to try learn Italian.
"It just sounds so wonderful and I love Italian music. I just love listening to songs," she said.
"They're so happy, and they're full of life, and vitality and you know, just the joy of living."
Ms Henderson has a zest for life that is contagious.
The author kept a travel diary during her travels and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, writing and sketching became her solace.
"I felt like I was revisiting Italy. I really did," she said.
"I wanted to share what you can experience in Italy with others.
"Virtually taking the reader on the trip with us. That's what I wanted to achieve."
And that's how Italian introductions was born.
Ms Henderson said the book even revised her friendship with Rita - "It brought, you know, us together again after all these decades."
The author and her husband would like to visit Italy again in the future, when possible.
"It's addictive," Mr Henderson said.
For more information or to purchase Italian introductions, visit this website.
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