We got the chance to sit down and have a nice chat with this brilliant Rome-based American Travel Writer, BBC Localite, Instagram pioneer and journalist. You may know her from publications such as Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Telegraph. After many years in Rome, where she lives with her husband archaeologist Darius Arya, we enjoyed hearing her unique perspective on life in Italy, and the many projects she keeps herself busy with. Her recent projects include #GirlIsTheNewTime, a women-only collaborative instameet at La Galleria Nazionale during Rome’s 2017 Museum Week, and a visit showcasing the Quirinale, the gorgeous residence and Office of the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella.
First of all, men wearing red pants. Another pet peeve is people mistaking a positive and helpful attitude for being a pushover. And finally, Nutella. I don’t believe in it. You know when you get a cornetto al cioccolato and then you take a bite only to discover it is Nutella? Absolutely not.
I love old signage: storefronts that still have cut metal, neon or hand-painted signs from decades ago. I could walk and just look for great signage for hours. Another favorite thing is mustard. Most people misunderstand mustard, relegating to it as simply “spicy” whereas there is a whole range of mustards that differ based on how they are made, ingredients, and how spicy-ness they are. I think mustard is umami. I really have a passion for mustard.
And last but not least, sleep. Besides loving a full night’s sleep, I do believe it is very important to take it seriously and give quality sleep its proper due. I am a firm believer in the Circadian rhythm – sleep cycles of four and a quarter hours – and I’m most happy to sleep full eight-and-a-half hours. But if I get my first four hours I still feel I can be fine, because I know I’ve had the first full cycle.
I get inspiration in a lot of different ways. Some days, it comes from a 15-year-old in our house, other days, it’s Serena Williams. I don’t really have a top five because I am constantly discovering and rediscovering incredible people. Who do I look to? These days I am looking at Brainpicker, Kirsten Alana, Racked, Lindsay Tramuta, Solange Knowles and Kirby Jenner.
I saw the “Nosedive” episode a few days ago and I think it really underscores this
insatiable need to quantify being liked and how it can become an obsession. Yep, social media is my field, but the desire for social acceptance via likes isn’t part of my modus operandi. I recognize the difference between quantity and quality, but that is not necessarily for everyone. Some moments are not meant to be shared on social media, and live human interaction does not need to generate “likes” every time.
I was recently asked to share pictures and tags in a situation that had a personal meaning and was really not appropriate. This made me think about the current need to share everything and some people’s difficulty in understanding the meaning of a private moment.
I don’t put myself in the spotlight by only sharing what I want people to see. Sometimes friends and family have asked if I would share pictures of us out socializing on my platforms. I gently let them know that I don’t always like to do that, I try to keep my personal life private.
With that in mind, I’d suggest reading two books: The Circle by Dave Eggers and Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. Both are novels about a near future where social media and social relevance get mixed up with corporate and commercial value.
That depends on what the needs are, and a lot of sources can be clichè. For Italians living in the US, I would suggest connecting with the Italian Embassy in the US, which should provide various resources, networking and otherwise. And it could be fun to get involved in the Italian-American community. For Americans living in Italy, again, it depends on what your needs are. There are professional networking organizing, cultural clubs and more, and all detailed listed on the US Embassy site.
My dream, which I plan to actually make happen in 2018, is to go to Costa Rica with our girls and learn to surf together. It’s an elaborate dream, not just learning to surf per se. Why Costa Rica? I have a friend who lives there, but also the girls are interested in charity work and there is a program in Costa Rica for helping people build houses. Plus there is a women-only surf school there, and I dream of the three of us doing this together. I’ll probably be awful at it, but we’ll see. Mostly the dream is about creating strong young women and knowing that I will be contributing to creating at least a few.