I have so much fun blogging. I genuinely like crafting stories, taking pictures and sharing my love for Italy on this site.
But the truth is, sometimes blogging can be super lonely.
I work hard to write entertaining, comprehensive blog posts for my readers. I haven’t missed a Monday publishing date in more than two years and I’m proud of the little Italophile world I’ve created here. Yet when I finally hit publish each week I don’t always know who it goes out to, what eyes see it or who, in the end, cares.
That’s why it’s so exciting to be a part of a blogging community that reads and shares my work, and why it’s so exciting to be nominated for a Liebster Award! The Liebster award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers, in order for everyone to get to know everyone. It’s self-serving and strangely satisfying at the same time. I’ve been nominated by fellow Milan expat Lana at Travel Savvy Gal. A true world-traveler, I met Lana at TBEX this year and have followed her non-stop travels since. Her blog is filled with practical tips about travel, great trip planning and the motivation you need to read – last year she read 75 books!
Thank you Travel Savvy Gal, and thank you readers!
Check out my Liebster responses and my nominees below:
- What travel destination do you love so much you keep returning again and again?
Though I now live in Italy, I still consider it a travel destination that I return to again and again. Now, however, it’s a bit more close-to-home and a bit less of a tourist’s trip. I live near to Milan and visit the city regularly, yet I still tend to see the city with the wide-eyed wonder of a first time visitor. Each time I find something new. The same goes for my weekend hikes in the Alps. But perhaps the Italian destination that I truly return to again and again is Tuscany. We visit the region at least once a year, revisiting favorite haunts such as Florence and Siena, and adding in new hilltop towns each time. Someday I’ll have seen every town in the region!
- Tell the story of the best hospitality you’ve gotten from a stranger.Italy is a prime location to find travel hospitality. In all my travels in Italy I generally find the people to be warm, funny and ready to welcome you in – especially if you admire the food or attempt to speak in Italian! It’s not unusual when hiking in the Alps to be invited in for a coffee when passing someone’s cabin, and the patience of the Florentine’s for the tourists that swarm their city is awe-inspiring. The hospitality that affects me the most is that from Italians who have welcomed me into their country with open arms, but the hospitality that saved me was the trash truck driver who picked Marco and I up in the middle of a mountain on Elba Island to help us find the right path to our hidden beach.
- What was the turning point from being like any regular traveler to being a blogger?Blogging hasn’t changed my travel, but it has changed my perspective. Now I seek specific stories; I record the history and culture of a place with much more attention; I want specific pictures, information and news. Being a blogger means that I’m always trying to understand the best way to explain a location to my readers. Whether that’s my relationship to the place or simply the atmosphere of the place itself. Traveling awakens your senses, and my blogging helps solidify them.
- What destination would you never go back to? Why not?I wouldn’t ever readily avoid a destination 100%, but there are places that I don’t feel merit the effort for another visit. There are so many faces and places I’d like to see that returning to some places just doesn’t feel worth my time. That said, I’m incessantly curious and revisiting a place is one of the best ways to see the changes over time, both in yourself and the town. For example, I wasn’t minimally impressed by Pistoia, in Tuscany, when I stopped for a lunchtime visit. It didn’t seem to offer much to the average visitor. Nothing bad, but nothing of note either, and yet websites wax poetic about the “historic” Tuscan city. I have no plans to revisit, but if I do I’d try to look at it with new eyes, to see if there’s something I missed. Sometimes it’s worth it to reevaluate your trip.
- Must-have travel accessory? These days an iPhone seems to be the most all-around useful travel accessory. Having maps, apps, and a camera all in one hand-held device has revolutionized travel, and yet it wouldn’t be my top travel pick. Actually, I find not being able to use my phone abroad to be a lesson in mindfulness, a blessing. My true must-have travel accessory is, and always has been, a book. Any transport, no matter how long or terrible, is made better with a good book. Any delay or discomfort can be put to the side when we escape through words. After a long day of exploring a city, I tend to fall back into my sleeping bag or hostel bunk or plush five-star bed with a book open, eking out as many pages as I can before my eyes give away.
- What do you love most about being a travel blogger?
As a writer what I love most is storytelling. As a blogger I love the act of creating, the coming together of all the elements that make for a good blog post. Though I’m sure I fall short more often than not, I’m constantly thinking about how to mix a compelling story with great photos, how to format the post, organize the words and create a pleasing visual and mental article.
- Most under-rated country you’ve visited? I haven’t been everywhere in Italy yet, but there are some places so overlooked that it breaks my heart. My favorite gems tend to be the day-trip places. Like Mantova or Padova, two of my absolute favorite northern Italian cities, each with its own atmosphere, history and people that are completely charming. They’re also just the right size for life. Small enough to feel the community, but big enough to enjoy the benefits of a city. That said, the most underrated area in Italy I’ve visited is is by far Le Marche. If Umbria is Tuscany’s ignored sister, Le Marche is the step-sister locked in the closet. The region has food just as comforting as Umbria, beaches just as beautiful as Lazio and people as kind as any you’ll meet. It’s the true countryside, and a true gem in the Bel Paese.
- Share your favorite photo-taking tip.
I have to confess: I’m not so great at taking pictures. Photography is something new for me. As a journalism student I foolishly shunned the medium, focusing instead on words. Though my technical skills leave much to be desired, I still have fun trying to find the best composition for each shot. I’ve truly taken to heart the advice to look high, get low, move closer – anything you need to do to get the best composition.
- Weirdest hashtag you’ve ever used?
I have a severe aversion to people who use too many hashtags, so my hashtag use is specific and limited. I haven’t used very many strange hashtags! Two of the most common ones I use that are slightly out of the norm (aka not, #travel #love #Italy) are #littlethings and #getoutside. Each is exactly the philosophy that I try to create here on this blog each week. To #getoutside: outside of our comfort zone, our country, our language, our culture and also simply our houses! To explore what there is around us and when we do, to take pleasure in the #littlethings in life. To notice them, admire them, study them and rejoice in them. These are the two things that make me happiest and I can’t help but share them with others!
Follow me on Instagram here.
- What’s the biggest success of your blogging career so far? (other than the Liebster Award, of course)My biggest success is simply the personal success of staying accountable to myself. I set out to write a post each Monday and I’ve done that without fail for more than 3 years now. Some of the posts weren’t very good. Some were sloppy or pointless or sad, and yet through moves abroad, marriages, deaths, job transitions and now pregnancy, I’ve still managed to post each and every Monday. And that’s something.
Here are my fellow blogger nominees for the Liebster Award:
Questa Dolce Vita – Jasmine is a Canadian expat living in Bergamo, Italy, near to me! Her latest post begins: “My journey to living in Italy starts out as all good stories do- with an Italian boy in tight white pants.” Can’t we all relate?
Travelling Italy with Lyn – Lyn is an Australian who somehow makes it over to Italy more than anyone I know who doesn’t already live here! Her love for the country shines through each post.
Love From Italy – Though our blog names are far too similar to promote (kidding), this blog written by a Scottish girl living in Italy is beautifully designed and well-written. I particularly like her food posts.
Italophilia – by Ishita, an Indian who fell in love with Italy. Ishita is a fun and prolific blogger who seems to already have a ton of followers – likely from her welcoming attitude and posts! Check out her view on Italy.
Travel Mind – Written by Debora, an Italian studying psychology but interested in everything, this blog has posts in English and Italian!
Anthony Hennen – Anthony writes about travel throughout Eastern Europe, an area far too often overlooked. Besides the incredible writing, I admire Anthony’s fearlessness in travel and enjoy getting a glimpse into a region I know little about.
Very Hungry Explorer – I love Millie’s informative, comprehensive posts on travel throughout the world. Her husband and her share a tacit agreement to stay in one place for up to three years, maximum, so her posts are sure to change as you follow.
Barcelona Blonde – Jessica is a Barcelona expert, but her travel knowledge goes way beyond Barcelona. I love following the expat life – both the battles and triumphs – in Spain and comparing it to my story here in Italy.
The truth is, many of these bloggers aren’t beginners per se, but they are blogs I genuinely enjoy and I’m sure you will too!
To those nominated, here are the rules to participate:
- Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their site on your blog.
- Display the award on your blog.
- Answer their 10 questions about yourself.
- Nominate 5-10 other bloggers for the award and inform them via social media.
- Create your own set of 10 questions for your nominees.
And here are the questions I’m asking them:
- What’s the one thing you can’t leave on a trip without?
- Which post on your blog are you most proud of? Why?
- Briefly describe your start into blogging. What are your tactics to increase followers?
- What’s your favorite and least favorite part about blogging?
- What’s the biggest travel mistake or mishap you’ve ever had?
- How do you decide on your next travel destination?
- What (or who) inspires you the most?
- What are three books on your reading list for 2017?
- You are given everything you need to fulfill your absolute dream trip – what is it?
- What is one goal for your blog for 2017?