After splitting up from her partner at the age of 35, Cathy didn’t feel as if she would find love again. “I developed lymphedema around the same time, which made my leg balloon,” she says. “My relationship had failed and I could hardly move because of my condition. I didn’t feel like anyone would find me attractive. It felt like my life was over.” Over the next few years she focused on her health and wellbeing. “I became interested in different types of therapies and took a training course in lymph drainage massage,” she says. Although she dabbled in dating, she never met anyone suitable.
In April 2014, a friend introduced her to an Italian massage therapist called Maurizio. After training in Auroville, an experimental community in Tamil Nadu, south India, he had come to London to start his practice. “I’d fallen in love with England in the 70s when I first visited,” he says. “I came here to promote my work because I enjoyed the lifestyle so much.”
By then Cathy had undergone an operation on her leg, which had reduced the swelling and increased her confidence. She was still getting regular massage treatments for her condition. “After we were introduced, Maurizio gave me a wonderful massage using ayurveda oils,” she says. Although neither of them saw the interaction as romantic, it soon became clear they shared common interests. “We were very chatty and got on well,” she says. Maurizio found her to be energetic and welcoming. “Cathy was someone I wanted to see again and I felt like I could develop a friendship with her.” They began meeting up for breakfast regularly in Blackheath, south London close to where he lived. She soon invited him to join her on excursions outside the city. “We are both spiritual and I really enjoyed spending time with him,” says Cathy. “I began to wonder if there was something romantic between us because I couldn’t imagine life without him.”
In August that year, they stopped at a pizza restaurant after one of their day trips. “One of the waitresses told me how sweet Cathy was,” says Maurizio. “Something clicked and I started seeing her as more than a friend.” A few weeks later they opened up about their feelings and officially became a couple. “It was a long journey for both of us but everything fell into place,” she says. Before they met, Maurizio had been divorced for many years before they met and had, like Cathy, spent time building his life alone. “I was 48 and he was almost 50. I joke that I’ve met a lot of frogs but it took until I was 48 years old to meet the handsome prince.”
Maurizio moved into Cathy’s home in Welling, south-east London, in 2015 and helped to care for her parents. “I come from Italy which has a very family-focused culture and we got on well straight away.” His cooking was a particularly big hit. “Maurizio makes amazing real Italian food,” says Cathy. “Before they met him, my parents had only tried Italian ready meals.”
During the pandemic the couple went for regular walks together and now hope to move further into the countryside. “I have a passion for photography, so we’d go on trips together where I’d take pictures. One morning we went to Camber Sands to take sunrise pictures,” says Maurizio. “We both love being close to nature. We want a home where we can grow vegetables, have rescue animals and keep chickens.” In addition to his work as a massage therapist, Maurizio works as a London tour guide. “When we move, I want to start offering guided countryside tours,” he says. “There’s so many beautiful places in the UK.”
Cathy loves her partner’s peaceful nature and strong moral compass. “He’s very kind with a generous spirit and good values. He’s the sort of person I’d like to become more like. We’re soulmates.” Maurizio appreciates how Cathy interacts with others. “I’m reserved and don’t give away too much but she’s very open and has lots of friends. She’s such a sweet person and always so cheerful.”
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