Loading...

Follow Surviving in Italy on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
Or

Valid



One of the most frequently asked questions I get on this blog is, “how do I blend in on my trip to Italy?” Traveling somewhere with a reputation for fashion can be a little intimidating for a lot of people. Although I have to say, you should really dress however you want because who cares what people think of you? But, if blending in is important to you, or you just really love Italian fashion, I can help you out.

It’s true that there’s a culture of beauty in Italy. The pros, everyone looks dapper as hell all the time. The cons, some could argue, is that it can create an air of, uhm, superficiality. But if you’re a creative person (like me) and aesthetics are kind of your thing, Italy is heaven for the eyes. Something that I really like about Italy is that fashion is equally important among the sexes in the boot. Unlike the US, where men can wear sacks and actually look homeless while the women are expected to look great all the time. Double standard, guys? The cultural standard in Italy is that both men and women should look their best at all times because why the hell not? Love it or hate it, that’s how it is for the most part. However, that isn’t to say that everyone complies. Plenty of Italians don’t care about fashion at all. Like everywhere, people are different.

Similar to the US, fashion changes drastically from city to city. In Milan, you’ll find more high-fashion, and a lot of people dressed more globally, taking fashion tips from New York, LA, Hong Kong, all over. In Florence, you’ll find that neutrals are a big thing and there’s a sort of bohemian chic feel for women. In Naples, you’ll find a mix of high-fashion, slim cut Italian suits, gorgeous dresses, and also a fair share of bedazzled pants and occasionally adult women wearing Disney character t-shirts. Further south? It starts to resemble L.A. a little bit because it’s on the beach.

The best way to stay up-to-date on Italian style year round is to follow Italian fashion Instagram accounts. And so, voila!

Dress Like a Local: Italian Instagram Accounts to Follow Right Now @emanuelebuono-Just getting started but he’s adorable. @nastilove-a well-known blogger with a fiery look. @Erika_boldrin– Super eclectic style I can appreciate. @giuliatordini– Model and artistic director, she’s polished and high-fashion. @eleonoracarisi-She travels quite a bit and documents her trips through fashion. @lucarubinacci-Based in Naples, his suits are famous and so much fun. @linoieluzziofficial-Amazing street style for the mature man. Keep it classy. @giannifontana-I’m obsessed with how cool his style is. @mararomrraro-Classic and kind of sexy like an Italian Bond. @filippofiora-A young, sassy man who travels. My kind of guy. @Nicolettareggio-Timeless. Any age can wear her looks and look classy af.

Did I miss anyone you love? Put it in the comments below so I can check them out.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hanging with locals when traveling will always make a more unique and usually more fun experience. Why? Honestly, because they can make your experience more authentic, especially if you’re traveling to a foreign country. When you show up somewhere, it’s hard to find the best things to do. Apps can be helpful, like Yelp, but let’s be honest: All of the people leaving the reviews are travelers, too. And usually (not always, but usually), their five-star review about “the incredible majestic experience of El Caliente Fun World,” is based on the fact that they were just excited to be somewhere new but they didn’t have anything to really compare their experience because it’s not their home and how could they possibly know. I can’t tell you how many tourists come to Italy with a list of things they “must,” do according to their cousin, Barb, from Florida. And the list is a bunch of weirdly touristy things that couldn’t possibly be further from where the locals eat, drink or socialize. Seriously, someone once told me that their friend told them to “eat dinner at BLANKETY BLANK in the Duomo Piazza in Florence!” and I kind of threw up in my mouth a little. Because in that Piazza, there is only ONE restaurant that makes good food, only one place the locals eat, and everywhere else serves actual trash food that is reheated from frozen bags they excavate from their freezer. But, how would you possibly know that if you don’t live there?

On my very first trip to Florence, my friend and I met a group of Italian guys at a local concert. We found the concert by asking a Florentine store employee what she was doing that night. The result? A whacky group of guys who were able to show us a side of Florence that we’d never have found otherwise. In fact, when I moved to Italy for school two years later, the stuff the students were doing was totally different from the stuff my Italian friends did. It’s so easy to fall into tourist traps in cities that thrive on tourism.

So, how do you make local friends and see the authentic side of any given place to get the best experience possible? Well, mostly by chatting with strangers with reckless abandon. But also, remember that people can be rapists and murderers even in pretty places like Paris or Rome (even though it does happen much less in most European countries) so have fun, open up, talk to people, but like don’t follow them alone down a dark alley at 3 a.m. Use your best judgment and the buddy system when possible. Traveling alone? Stay in well-populated areas and carry Mace (no, I’m not joking).

Go to Local Bars

A really great way to meet people is by going to local bars or finding a local concert. And I’m not talking about the dance clubs that some sketchy dude handed you a flyer for the second her heard you speak English. That place will suck, I promise you. Instead, ask a barista or a shop assistant to point you towards their favorite bar. Make sure that you emphasize that you want to go where they go, not where they think you’ll want to go. Local pubs are always a fantastic way to meet random people. I have a close English friend who I met in a pub in London ten years ago. We’re still friends, we still talk, and he still makes fun of Americans for wearing stretchy waist pants.

Get Lost

When you’ve dreamed of going somewhere like Rome or Florence, it can be really easy to get obsessed with site-seeing. And you’re thinking, yeah, of course, I have to see this, and that, and all the things I’ve read about in history books! And I agree, you should see some of that stuff for sure. But part of the beauty of travel is to actually meet the people who made all of that cool architecture, food, and art possible. What would Florence be without Florentines? And Rome without Romans? You get the idea. Leave time to wander, give yourself a half day to aimlessly walk around, have a long coffee break, go to a bar, and talk to people. Talk to your barista, your bartender, or the shop assistant. Chat with the people sitting next to you in that cute cafe in Budapest. Go ahead, they’re not going to bite (unless they’re a vampire. Possibly check mirror reflection if they seem unnaturally pale and magical to you).

Language Meetups

You can meet some pretty fun people abroad by going to a Meetup, like this one in Padova, Italy called Tea and Talkers. You show up, chat, make new friends and have tea apparently. Glorious.

Eat at a Local’s House

While you can’t just show up to someone’s house and demand they feed you while vacationing abroad, you can do the next best thing–sign up for a dinner on EatWith. Humans basically invite you over to eat in their home for a fair price. The humans are vetted (think Lyft) and you get to meet some locals, eat some delicious food, and get the details on what locals do in the city you’re visiting.

Blogs

Reading blogs, like this one, is an excellent way to explore a city through the eyes of a local person. Sure, there are a few blogs out there that care more about curating a pretty Instagram (this isn’t a dis, I love these blogs, too, but for different reasons) than helping you to have an authentic experience but it’s easy to tell the difference between a person just passing through and writing blips about their trip and a person who knows the place decently well and has spent a good amount of time there.

Instagram and Facebook

There is a shitload (actual scientific measurement) of amazing Travel Instagram accounts out there. Some are enormous and others are not. Honestly, the smaller accounts are more useful for you as a traveler. Follow them, share their stuff, make friends and chat a little. In no time, you can spark up a friendship and they might be willing to meet up with you when you’re in their city. I’ve met some pretty great people through my FB page and would def hang out with them if given the chance. Now, if you write someone and they don’t reply back in a timely manner, don’t get mad. I try to reply back to every email I receive and sometimes it takes me MONTHS to get back to people. Not because I’m an asshole but because I get a lot of emails and just honestly can’t get to people fast enough.

Tinder

I have expat friends who love Tinder for meeting potential partners and friends alike. And one of my fave people in the world met ALL of his Italian friends on Grindr (so, so many friends). Again, be safe, but sometimes these dating apps can be a really fun way to meet people. It’s especially fun if you’re traveling with a friend and you guys can do a double date. Safety in numbers! But also, have a great time! Traveling alone? Again, just meet in a very public place ideally during the day like for lunch. And, avoid being alone with that person until you know them better.

And there you go! How do you meet locals abroad? Share your stories, tips, and tricks in the comments below.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Last year, Cocoa Laney, a photographer working towards her MFA in Florence, Italy, took a trip that took a turn for the worst: Her boyfriend broke up with her in airport security, she nearly died in Cinque Terre, Italy, she found herself nude in a cave in Croatia surrounded by gawking tourists and after being robbed, found herself broke and stranded in a Holiday Inn in Greece.

 

Tune in to my latest podcast episode, Bad Travel: Dumped, Naked, and Broke with Cocoa Laney, to hear Cocoa’s honest, and hilarious account of a dream trip gone horribly wrong.
About Cocoa Laney
Cocoa Laney is a photographer and second-year MFA candidate at Studio Arts College International in Florence. You can see her work at cocoalaney.com and follow her on Instagram at @cocoalaney.
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

There are a lot of people out there who dream of a trip that they believe is unattainable. “One day I’ll visit Italy before I die,” or “My dream is to visit the country my family is from.” Traveling can be costly and it’s time-consuming but with a few tricks and tips, absolutely everyone can make it happen. You just need to plan a little. You’re thinking, “yeah, but I don’t have the money and can barely pay my bills.” Trust me, as a person who has been broker than broke before and still managed to travel to Europe when I could barely pay my rent, there are ways to make it happen.

Make a Real Plan: Believe that you’re going to do it and make a solid plan and make it in advance. Plan out everything you want to do with the exception of marking the exact dates. “In 2019, I will go to Italy for seven days.” Write it all down, make a “to-do” list of what you’ll need and plan to take a week for off for it. Create a Pinterest board of things you want to see on your trip and the cities you want to stay in. Print out pictures and put it somewhere you can see it with post-its that say things like, “you’re fucking going.” The more you plan it, the more likely you are to actually do it.

Be Flexible with Dates: Timing is everything if you want to find cheap tickets. The most costly way to travel is to decide where you want to go and which month you need to do it and search out tickets for that time frame. Example: I’d like to go to Italy in July in 2018. If you do it this way, you’re going to pay out of your ass for tickets. The best way to travel is to have an idea of where you want to go and be flexible with your travel dates. That way, you can monitor tickets and look for extreme dips in prices. The other day I found RT tickets to Europe from SLC for $400 dollars. You heard that right. Save up money, and start monitoring tickets. There are a number of apps and websites that make doing this very easy (I’m writing a blog post about it now that will be up in a week or so). When you find a shockingly cheap ticket, buy it. In order to do this, it’s important to leave a week of vacation time open on the year you want to travel. And you’ve got to really be disciplined about not dipping into your saved trip money.

Look into Rewards Cards: If you don’t have any already, get a rewards card or two if you can qualify. I’ve written about this before but my two favorite cards are the Delta American Express and the Chase Sapphire Card. Why? You get a buttload of sign-on points for both cards. The AE covers airfare while the Sapphire covers hotels and Airbnb (as of recently you can buy Airbnb gift cards with your points). The trick to credit card points is to use the card for monthly things you already have in your budget, like grocery shopping, and pay off the card immediately. That way, you’re getting the points and paying zero interest to the credit card company. DOUBLE WIN. If you don’t have the credit for a rewards card, no worries. It won’t stop you from taking that dream trip.

Save Smart: Go over your monthly budget and see if there are any expenses you can cut like eating out with friends or those weird dog sweaters you keep buying Fido. Open a savings account at a separate bank and put whatever you can afford into that account every month. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t put a lot in right way. Every little bit adds up so if you can only save ten bucks per month at first, that’s okay. Keep your eyes peeled for side work or other opportunities to make a little extra cash here and there. Write random things for Textbroker.com or sell some of your old clothes to a second-hand shop. Finally part with those glass trinkets that grandma gave you but just isn’t your jam.

Be Open-Minded (it can save you money): Don’t be afraid to travel in a way you never have before. Open yourself up to nontraditional lodging like a hostel or couch surfing or save your points for an Airbnb. Ask friends to come with you and split the cost of a hotel room or apartment. Sometimes, people think they can only travel under perfect circumstances and that’s just not true. You don’t need to stay in a nice hotel to have a good time. I once stayed in a hostel in Ireland with 12 other women (in bunk beds in one room) and while the entire thing sounded absolutely miserable before I arrived, it ended up being one of the highlights of my trip. I also know a couple who are in their fifties, a husband and wife, who travel the world together and only stay in hostels. It’s how they afford to do cool shit all the time.

Ask for Travel Instead of Shoes for Holidays: Ask for travel-related things for your birthday and Christmas. Ask for Airbnb gift cards, luggage, or use UpGift to raise funds for your amazing trip. Upgift lets friends and family gift services instead of material items, which I love because experiences are so much better than stuff (and also produce less waste). Hooray for the internet!

Change Jobs: If travel is really important to you but you just can’t swing it financially, get a job that provides travel perks. Airlines, travel agencies, hotels, all have travel perks that can put you that much closer to your travel goals.

Whatever your travel goal is, you can make it happen with a little tenacity, some creativity, and a killer rewards card.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Surviving in Italy by M.e. Evans - 1M ago

There’s something about getting out into the world that changes you. It’s hard to hold onto bigotry or ego when you’re experiencing new people and finding yourself just a small speck in the world. I feel like with every trip I learn something new about myself, I grow or shrink, depending on the experience, but in the end, I’m always changed and that change is eventually good. Travel has, without a doubt, made me a better version of myself a thousand times over. And I think this is one of the reasons I love it so much: It’s accidental progress. Travel has forced me to evolve even if I didn’t mean to in a number of ways.

Travel has helped me to understand that I can’t control everything all the time and I just need to learn to be okay with it. I can’t control the weather and my flights might be late. I can’t control that one drunk pilot who just hasn’t shown up to fly the plane, and I can’t control the baby next to me that will not stop launching it’s dinosaur binky onto my laptop every five goddamn minutes. It’s a constant lesson in letting go and reframing the way that I think about things. I could lose my shit entirely, but that’s just miserable for everyone. Or, I can read a book, watch some people, take some notes, and just let things fall into place as they will eventually. The plane will eventually take off, the pilot might sober up, and the baby will fall asleep (possibly after the parents drug it with baby Benadryl). In the same vein, I’ve learned to be vulnerable. I might not know a language or the customs, I might look stupid or make mistakes, but it’s okay. In the end, the adventure is worth the moments I don’t have control over my life.

Being among people of other cultures has enriched my life in so many ways I can’t possibly even name them all. A Spanish friend taught me how to Flamenco dance in my kitchen in Florence during the summer one year, we have a Thai bidet in our bathroom in Salt Lake City, my husband and I celebrate Yalda, Noruz, Befana, and the change in seasons from the Persian and Roman influences in our families. I learned about Nutella on the floor of a tiny apartment in Paris with a French girl and her neighbors who also taught me about community. I’ve learned about what it means to be family in Italy (and how to create boundaries without resentment), how to savor food in the south of France, how to embrace my body on a nude beach in Spain. On every trip I’ve ever taken, I’ve left a piece of myself behind and replaced it with an idea or a lesson or an experience I’ve learned along the way.

I don’t know anything and every place in the world is both terrible and wonderful at the same time. As an American, I was raised with the idea that my country is the absolute best in all the universe. It’s practically pounded into us as children and while there are a million things I love about my homeland, my travels have taught me that every place in the world has its strengths and weaknesses. There’s no such thing as a perfect country (not yet) and you can find beauty everywhere. The more you see in the world, the less sure I am of anything, and the less I feel like I know about the universe.

War is unacceptable. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dive into politics here but for me this is true. The more you travel, the more people you meet in other places, you see that everyone is the same even if we are different. We all love our families, we all love our children, we mourn, we celebrate, and we’re all concerned with health, happiness, bettering our lives, and cherishing our family pets. If you’ve ever talked politics with people in other countries, they’re just as trapped in a system as we are. If our leaders decided to go to war, there’s nothing we could do about it and very few of us are responsible for their decisions. When you step out of your bubble and see that other people are just like you, the idea of war, of fighting, of the dead and the wounded, the widows, the fallen innocent, hurts and horrifies in a way that it didn’t when people were across the globe just nameless and faceless.

I feel like travel has made me more bold, open, and definitely more cultured. I’m also possibly more interesting at dinner parties with stories like, “that one time I drunkenly talked my way onto a French Cruise ship at 3 a.m.” Travel has helped me to become a better version of myself and I wouldn’t trade the experiences travel has given me or life lessons it’s taught me for anything.

So here’s to those with wanderlust, to wearing your adventure panties, to taking the dive into the unknown towards growth.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Surviving in Italy by M.e. Evans - 1M ago

There’s something about getting out into the world that changes you. It’s hard to hold onto bigotry or ego when you’re experiencing new people and finding yourself just a small speck in the world. I feel like with every trip I learn something new about myself, I grow or shrink, depending on the experience, but in the end, I’m always changed and that change is eventually good. Travel has, without a doubt, made me a better version of myself a thousand times over. And I think this is one of the reasons I love it so much: It’s accidental progress. Travel has forced me to evolve even if I didn’t mean to in a number of ways.

Travel has helped me to understand that I can’t control everything all the time and I just need to learn to be okay with it. I can’t control the weather and my flights might be late. I can’t control that one drunk pilot who just hasn’t shown up to fly the plane, and I can’t control the baby next to me that will not stop launching it’s dinosaur binky onto my laptop every five goddamn minutes. It’s a constant lesson in letting go and reframing the way that I think about things. I could lose my shit entirely, but that’s just miserable for everyone. Or, I can read a book, watch some people, take some notes, and just let things fall into place as they will eventually. The plane will eventually take off, the pilot might sober up, and the baby will fall asleep (possibly after the parents drug it with baby Benadryl). In the same vein, I’ve learned to be vulnerable. I might not know a language or the customs, I might look stupid or make mistakes, but it’s okay. In the end, the adventure is worth the moments without constant control over my life.

Being among people of other cultures has enriched my life in so many ways I can’t possibly even name them all. A Spanish friend taught me how to Flamenco dance in my kitchen in Florence during the summer one year, we have a Thai bidet in our bathroom in Salt Lake City, my husband and I celebrate Yalda, Noruz, Befana, and the change in seasons from the Persian and Roman influences in our families. I learned about Nutella on the floor of a tiny apartment in Paris with a French girl and her neighbors who also taught me about community. I’ve learned about what it means to be family in Italy (and how to create boundaries without resentment), how to savor food in the south of France, how to embrace my body on a nude beach in Spain. On every trip I’ve ever taken, I’ve left a piece of myself behind and replaced it with an idea or a lesson or an experience I’ve learned along the way.

I don’t know anything and every place in the world is both terrible and wonderful at the same time. As an American, I was raised with the idea that my country is the absolute best in all the universe. It’s practically pounded into us as children and while there are a million things I love about my homeland, my travels have taught me that every place in the world has its strengths and weaknesses. There’s no such thing as a perfect country (not yet) and you can find beauty everywhere. The more you see in the world, the less sure I am of anything, and the less I feel like I know about the universe.

War is unacceptable. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dive into politics here but for me this is true. The more you travel, the more people you meet in other places, you see that everyone is the same even if we are different. We all love our families, we all love our children, we mourn, we celebrate, and we’re all concerned with health, happiness, bettering our lives, and cherishing our family pets. If you’ve ever talked politics with people in other countries, they’re just as trapped in a system as we are. If our leaders decided to go to war, there’s nothing we could do about it and very few of us are responsible for their decisions. When you step out of your bubble and see that other people are just like you, the idea of war, of fighting, of the dead and the wounded, the widows, the fallen innocent, hurts and horrifies in a way that it didn’t when people were across the globe just nameless and faceless.

I feel like travel has made me more bold, open, and definitely more cultured. I’m also possibly more interesting at dinner parties with stories like, “that one time I drunkenly talked my way onto a French Cruise ship at 3 a.m.” Travel has helped me to become a better version of myself and I wouldn’t trade the experiences travel has given me or life lessons it’s taught me for anything.

So here’s to those with wanderlust, to wearing your adventure panties, to taking the dive into the unknown towards growth.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! Thank you, a million times, for supporting me here, for commenting, sharing my stories and yours, showing up, and being a part of this journey with me. YOU ARE THE BEST AND I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH!

2017 was an incredible year in a lot of ways. I had some personal setbacks, recovered from a nervous breakdown, and all of that fun stuff. But, all of that panic, fear, depression, and tears triggered a lot of introspection, inspired me to get help, and now I’d say I’m the healthiest and possibly the happiest I’ve ever been. I learned a lot about myself and grew a lot as a human being. I learned how to communicate better and because of this, I will not kill my husband by way of fork anytime soon.

I have no idea what I’m doing here but there was vodka. Happy New Year!

I traveled, so much, had a wonderful time and will be eternally thankful for the experiences I had on my journeys. I went to New York, Las Vegas, Italy, Hawaii, Salem, and Boston, just to name a few. I checked a number of things off of my bucket list, bought a wand in a wand shop in Salem, meditated on the beach in Hawaii, and thanked the universe for blessing me with the ability to see so much of the world and meet so many interesting people.

You guys know me. I basically travel to stalk humans in the world. I love watching people.

This is kind of how I ended up launching my travel podcast, Bad Travel. I love stories, I love to travel, I’m completely fascinated by people. Put that all together with my whacko sense of humor and you get a podcast about shitty travel experiences. No, it’s not Eat, Pray, Love. It’s better. It’s a great way to laugh with others, to relate to less than ideal circumstances, and to learn above all what NOT to do when jet-setting.

But 2017 is over. It’s come to an end and with that brings a new year, new goals, new hopes, new dreams, and new travel experiences. And, hopefully, a newer improved M.E.

My Travel Bucket List For 2018
  • Croatia: I’ve been all over Europe and have somehow still not been to Croatia. This must change.
  • Iceland: How have I never stepped foot on the land that created Bjork?
  • Maui: I can’t get enough of Hawaii. It’s like a magical paradise of calm beauty that reminds us of what the world could be like if we stopped mucking it up.
  • Dana Point, CA: Ladies trip mutha fuckas! I can’t wait to enjoy some sun and the CA cool with some of the greatest women in my life. Ladies I met in my weird journey in Italy during graduate school.
  • Road Trip Through the Southern United States: You guys, I’ve NEVER been to the south. And I’m dying to visit New Orleans, South Carolina, Atlanta, the works! There’s so much to see and so little time. It has to be a road trip.
  • Milan: I’ve never spent much time in the north of Italy but I’d like to (possibly) live in Milan in the future so, naturally, I need to stalk it out. Who wants to hang with me in Milano? Do some shopping? Take photos of humans? Wine? Things?
  • Argentina: I want to take tango lessons in Argentina. It’s a thing I must do and I can’t explain why. I WILL DO IT.
  • New York: Always on my list
  • Florence & Rome: Also, always on my list because of FAMILY and well we spend a ton of time in Italy.

What about you guys? Where do you want to go, see, do? Tell me in the comments below! I want to know everything about your travel dreams for 2018! They can be as realistic or fanciful as you want. Dream big, yall (I’m practicing for my road trip).

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Ever since college, I just kind of assumed that if I ever got married (which I never really believed that I would) that my husband would be foreign. I mostly thought he’d be British or Irish or from some other stoic culture where you can only tell their alive if you hold a mirror under their nose to track their breath. But, life doesn’t work out how you plan and I ended up with the opposite of stoic: Italian. My husband is fairly composed and even quiet most of the time but other times he’s not just passionate, he’s dramatic. If he gets injured, like stubs his toe, it sounds as if someone is being clubbed to death in the other room because of all the screaming. He talks with his hands flailing all over and makes weird Italian jokes that are like strange dad jokes and believes that any slight against us is a planned and calculated attack. For example, the neighbor who recently shoveled the sidewalk but stopped at our house. I was like, “well, he doesn’t know us at all,” and F was like, “oh, no! He’s trying to tell us something. He wants us to know something!” And I’m like, shoveling is now code? For what? That he doesn’t want to spend all day shoveling the sidewalk of the entire neighborhood? Then F stared out the window for a long time mumbling like a crazy person to himself about how that neighbor has a vendetta against us but he doesn’t understand why.

But along with all of his quirks, I get a husband who is family-obsessed, who believes that marriage is a lifelong commitment, and should we have children, will devote every action of his life to them. I also have a best friend who is pretty damn good at making pizza and spiced wine so it’s a pretty big win. However, it’s not always easy.

You’d think that as a kid of a foreign dad, I wouldn’t have been so shocked by just how much culture influences our way of being in the world. But, I’m slow on the uptake, so I’ve spent the last 7 years figuring it out. Culture shapes humor, expectations, reactions, manners, roles, I mean everything. I think that as a kid, I just saw my dad as a dad and assumed that everything that he did was specific to him as an individual. His constant rambling about Cyrus the Great and wanting to read us poetry while we watched Star Wars, for example, just seemed like a weird dad quirk. That is until I grew up and realized that storytelling is a huge part of Persian culture and there are holidays where people literally just sit around to read Persian poetry and talk about myths and philosophy. Since I met F in my late twenties and I lived in Italy, I could see right away the significant cultural differences and ever since we’ve both been sort of navigating these differences together to the best of our abilities. Sometimes poorly, sometimes better than poorly.

I would say the biggest challenge for us is my American individualism and “I don’t care what you think of me,” attitude, and F’s small town in southern Italy’s obsession with Bella Figura coupled with an intense fear of gossip. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but as a creative person, I really can’t be too concerned with appeasing others all the time, but for F, there’s nothing more important than what other people think of you. If we go to a party and I do something idiotic (which I almost always do) I can laugh it off and go, “weeee, I’m an idiot! You all know that about me.” But for F, I’ve just committed social suicide in some way. What will everyone say after we leave and how will this haunt us? It’s as if my tripping over a rug (for example) has brought shame on ten generations of our good name.

But there are smaller things that are a challenge, like the way we greet people or say goodbye. If you’ve spent any time in Italy, you know that a goodbye takes a while. You generally kiss everyone and chat with each person before leaving. In the US where I come from, a gracious “goodbye” to the host and a quick wave of “see ya later friends,” is completely fine. We’ve had huge fights before over this because F will be like, “OMG, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY MANNERS!” and I’m like, “DUDE, PEOPLE DO NOT WANT YOU TO STAND AT THEIR DOORWAY FOR THIRTY MINUTES TO SAY GOODBYE DURING THEIR CHILD’S BDAY PARTY!” The struggle is real.

Other things we’ve argued about to date:

  • How honest to be about personal things when meeting new people.
  • Why my purse must match my shoes at all times, lest the world end.
  • Why we should only buy gifts for people matching to the exact dollar amount that they’ve spent on us. Especially for wedding gifts.
  • The many ways in which some random neighbor is out to get us in some very specific way.
  • All things related to child-rearing and the level of independence of a child.

In addition to being culturally different, we’re also total opposites in every single way. I only like weird movies and dark comedies (or if I’m PMSing, Rom-Coms). He only like deranged movies where everyone dies in the end. Manchester By The Sea is like his favorite movie that he wants to watch over and over again for reasons I’ll never understand. I like indie music and punk rock. He likes pop and Italian oldies. He dresses like a peacock and I eternally look like a little storm cloud in all black (which I think is CLASSY, FRANCESCO).

Being married is hard enough, being opposites is complicated (though balancing) but being from very different cultures adds even that much more complexity. We argue a lot, we’ve been to couples therapy (which helps a ton) and we spend a freakish amount of time working on ourselves and communication. Especially communication. But in the end, we’ve both grown so much. In some ways, all of the challenges have helped us both to be stronger individuals and more solid as a couple. Nothing sparks growth like someone asking you, “but why don’t you want to kiss all of your friends goodbye after a night of having so much fun together?”

Touche, my love, touche.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you’re gonna have a holiday get together (and you should) then you don’t want to miss a chance to sip (or chug) some delicious Vin Brule. If you’ve been to Florence in the winter, there’s a chance you stumbled across the Christmas market in Santa Croce and sampled some delicious, warm, and cozy spiced wine. In December, I swing by the market as much as humanly possible and drink my weight in this stuff because it tastes amazing but also because it makes me feel like I’m being rocked in the womb again. It’s my favorite holiday drink, followed closely by spiked eggnog. Spiced wine is honestly the only reason I have a holiday party. The best part? It’s easy af.

My nails are dirty because I’ve been sketching and painting a lot lately. Also, DON’T JUDGE ME. Pictured here is my really long vampire hand, holding star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.

All you need to make spiced wine or Vin Brule:

Lemon Zest of one lemon

Orange Zest of two oranges

1 T Cloves

4 Star Anise

2 Cinnamon sticks

3 Liters of Red Wine

2 T Raw sugar

Put the wine in a metal pot. Add the zest and spices. Put it on medium heat and once it starts warming up and steaming a little turn it down to low and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. The important part is to NOT LET IT BOIL because then you’ll remove the alcohol and that’s no fun for anyone.

Look at me, Martha fucking Stewart, everyone!

Happy Holidays!!!

Questions or comments about my recipe? Put them in the comments below.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello everyone! I’ve been shakin’ things up lately with a design update, a new store, and now, a fancy new podcast called Bad Travel, available on Soundcloud (and soon on iTunes). Bad Travel explores wanderlust in a new light, the exceptional, hilarious, terrible or life-changing travel stories that shape us or at least make us look back and go, what the shit happened?

For my first episode, my friend Cynthia came on the show to talk about a disaster trip we took back in 2008. We missed flights, slept in airports, cried, argued, and at one point someone handed Cynthia a mug of vodka and licked her face. It was hilariously terrible.

Tune into this episode, Bad Travel: A Horrible/Wonderful Month in Europe, to find out what happens when two semi-strangers and travel novices take off together for a month in Europe where they fall on their asses, get lost and run out of money in Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Dublin, Derry, and London.

Have an incredible, bizarre, or terrible travel story that you’d like to share? Shoot me an email. Write “Podcast” in the subject line and be sure to summarize your story in a paragraph or two.

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview