Istanbul is a city of magic. Once you open yourself to the city I call my home, you become part of that magic. It is a jeweled treasure hidden away in plain sight -where surprising discoveries can be found around any corner- located between two worlds. Goldenimage-6240078-10731106 east meets west. From the spiritual poetry of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia and the sumptuous earthly delights of honey-soaked baklava and milk puddings, İstanbul and the Istanbulites have endless gifts to share.
In Istanbul, the inner sultanaimage-6240078-10731106 is indulged. Cross the gate of Çırağan Palace Hotel and you are immediately transported to the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. History and modernity exist side-by-side at the Esma Sultan Yalısı in the village of Ortaköy. Both are located on the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway that divides the part of İstanbul located on the European continent from one located on the Asian continent, so mooring a yacht is easy.
And İstanbul is very much a city to be seen from the waterimage-6240078-10731106, upon which one can floatimage-6240078-10731106, lingering over the great views indefinitely. Motor down to the seaside village of Yeniköy at dusk. As the sun goes down the windows of houses reflect the golden light - creating a glittering-jewel effect for the onlooker. It is one of my most favoriteimage-6240078-10731106 times of day and everyone -İstabulite, tourist, expat- is always enthralled by this little trick - or gift - of lightimage-6240078-10731106.
After, stop at Kaşıbeyaz Restaurant, one of the only places not to serve seafood on the Bosphorus and dive into their specialty Sadrazam Kebabi, a hearty meat dish of peppers, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses, then dance the night away under the stars at Reina, a celebrity-packed nightclub.
If one prefers the land to the sea, visit the historic covered-mall known as the Çiçek Pasajı or the open-air Nevizade Street  which are off the main thoroughfare İstiklal Street in borough of Beyoğlu. Eat small plates of cold food -usually fish or vegetable based- known as meze with the national beverage of anise-flavored rakı which is mixed with water and becomes pearly white- drink it like a local with water, but be careful, it’s 50% alcohol.  Aural digestives are traditional songs ranging from plaintive love songs known as arabesque  to the livelier strains of Balkan-inspired music that will simultaneously break and heal your heart with their timeless beauty.
I came here for ten days to visit friendsimage-6240078-10731106 during my Eat, Pray, Love journey -though mine was more Eat, Pray, Huh. I gave myself a "grant" of three months to work on my first book. I hadn't even landed in Istanbul and I was already in love with this cityc8108xjnbhf07351189021842217. After a year, I decided İstanbul was home, came back to New York City, gave away all my possessions.

hereimage-6240078-10731106 I am. 

-Alba Brunetti
Alba Brunetti was born in Italy, grew up in New York City and now calls İstanbul home. She has written for AOL, Hürriyet Daily News  and on her own personal blog, The Bluest İ . She is currently working on a memoir entitled The Quince Tree.
October 2012