Caterina Bellandi — The Taxi Fairy
“The thing I most want people to know about me is that I want to be hope for these kids. Nothing more, nothing less: just hope.”
— Caterina Bellandi
Caterina Bellandi’s words are nearly as colorful as her coat. For the past 15 years, this exuberant Florentine taxi driver has turned off the meter to give joy rides around Florence to child cancer patients, or simply accompany them for a hospital visit.
The air of Mary Poppins with a bit of Patch Adams mixed in, Caterina drives a car that looks like it’s straight out of an amusement park, delighting kids and giving them a little ray of hope on every trip.
Tourists and other customers are amazed and often don’t understand what they’re traveling in, and sometimes prefer to not get into the cab — Auntie Caterina says they’re afraid of all the positive energy!
“My partner, Stefano, always told me that driving a taxi was the best job in the world because you can let people into your life and go on a little journey with them,” says Bellandi. “I teased him about it, but I was wrong: Each client opens up a whole new world to you.”
Caterina’s life took a tragic turn in 2001 when her husband died of lung cancer. He left her his taxi license and his car, the “Milano 25,” asking her to continue his business. She didn’t think twice, leaving her sales job, and soon after caravaning across the city.
The Taxi Fairy
Milano25 is a ‘regular’ taxi, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the city of Florence. In addition to offering free rides to and from Meyer for children and their families, Caterina is available for weddings and other special events. On November 15, 2008, Caterina was awarded Florence’s prestigious Scudi di Benemerenza in recognition of her work with and for sick children. To learn more check out her WebSite.
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