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Locals I love – Kate Hash

This next ‘local I love’ happens to be a  fellow blogger/web consultant extraordinaire living with her husband and adorable baby girl {and my god-daughter!} in Florence. We met when she needed some help getting her dual citizenship to stay in Italy and needless to say a friendship was born. I have spent many a day with them having lunch/sipping wine/playing with baby. I have to admit they make living in Italy look easy when it really isn’t — all by just being awesome at LIFE. They just happen to be very self motivated, down to earth good people and may or may not have been on House Hunter’s International in the past ;-).

name: Kate Hash
nationality: American and Italian
profession: Web designer and developer
favorite drink: Cosmopolitan or prosecco (it’s a tough choice!)

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How long have you lived in Florence and where are you from originally?

I’ve lived in Florence now for over 2.5 years. It’s amazing how fast the time flies by! I’m originally from Levittown, a suburb outside of Philadelphia. I also lived in Washington, D.C. for almost 5 years and Louisville, KY for 3 years. I bounce around…a lot.

You and me both! What brought you to bella Firenze and why did you decide to stay?
I studied abroad here in 2005 and absolutely fell in love with Florence — something about it really just “clicked” for me. Rob (my now-husband) and I had been dating for a year and he came to visit me. He loved it as much as me and we decided that if we could ever find a way to live here at some point in the future we should do it.

The discovery that I qualified for Italian dual citizenship coincided with me having a breakdown over a job I didn’t really like AND an increase in my freelance business. It just seemed like a “now or never” type of situation so we made a plan to be in Italy in 12 months and somehow made it happen.

We came here with the knowledge that it might not be right for us. That the place we had in our heads from when we were 22 years old might not be the real deal. But, here we are two years after the big move and it fits us perfectly. When something makes you this happy you don’t mess with it!

I have always personally felt that those who came with the least amount of ‘expectations’  from Italy normally adjust the best.. What are you up to in Florence? Work, daily life, passions?
Judging by some of the emails I get most people think I eat gelato all day in piazzas listening to church bells ring, but in reality I mostly sit in front of my computer designing and developing websites — and that’s when I’m not entertaining Livia! Thankfully, I love my work and feel like I get to be creative and use my brain every day. I feel very lucky in that regard.

I’m really passionate about this city. We try everyday to get the family out on a walk around town to explore and see new things. Because really, in Florence you can discover something new every single day and I really love that. It echoes my work in that fashion: I’m always learning and growing.

Honestly, I also really love meeting people here which is funny because I didn’t used to be a people person! I love making new friends and also just meeting random vacationers that make conversation with us when we’re out and about. Rob has the friendliest face in the world — add that with the House Hunters thing AND the cute baby and we make lots of random friends on the street.

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It’s refreshing to me that you point out that you have a normal work life like anyone else, sometimes people forget that! Though I wouldn’t mind eating gelato every day! What annoys you about Florence? Tell me the truth!
I want you to know I’m really taking my time to think of something honest and good.

Rob and I look very American and there are times we’ve been overcharged when out to lunch because people think we’re on vacation and won’t care. It upsets me because even vacationers know when they’re being ripped off and I think it casts tourism in Florence in a bad light — because most restaurant owners and shopkeepers are honest and simply trying to get by in a tough economy. Thankfully it’s only happened 2-3 times to us and we make a stink about it to get the bill adjusted properly. It’s a stupid thing for business owners to do because after it happens we go out of our way to encourage people not to go to these places. There are far too many good options in the city.

Thanks for sharing that story, that has happened to me with a few scrupulous taxi drivers. Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?
Hell to the no it is not for everyone! Unless money is no object for you, Italy is actually a really tough place to make a life, particularly right now. It’s something that I think a lot of people don’t understand or can’t really process because they’ve watched Under the Tuscan Sun one too many times. Everyone I know here is a certified hustler — working multiple jobs, making connections, doing everything they can to carve out a life. Aside from the work-side of it, Italy operates in a very interesting way and if you can’t find the beauty in inefficiency you need to live somewhere else!

It works for me (and my family) because I know what’s most important to me and Florence ticks all of those boxes. It’s not the perfect place for everyone, but it’s definitely perfect for us at this point in our lives.

GREAT answers! What advice would you give a newbie?

Be patient. Be curious. Be friendly.

Most importantly, have your own experience. A lot of people will try to tell you that there is a right or wrong way to get adjusted or make a life here, but at the end of the day you need to trust your own intuition. Never try to live a version of the “expat life” that you’ve seen or read about somewhere else.

I think you might have invented a new t-shirt with those three suggestions ;-). Three finds/places everyone should know about in Florence?
Piazza della passera. Easily my favorite spot in the city. Great food, great people, great atmosphere (live music all the time in the summer) and my favorite gelato place. Just don’t say the name of the piazza too loud in mixed company 😉

Ristorante il Santo Graal in via romana. This is my favorite restaurant to take visitors that want great Tuscan food, but with a modern twist and in an amazing setting. The owners are wonderful people with a lot of passion.

The Uffizi on a random day in January. I have no shame in admitting I love the Uffizi, but it is a miserable place to be during tourist season. During the off-season we go in all the time and it’s a completely different experience. For as long as I live I’ll appreciate that I had such open access to brilliant art.

I love that two of those three places are in the Oltrarno area. What’s the weirdest thing you have seen/experienced in Italy?
New Year’s Eve when people are literally throwing firecrackers at each other. I feel like the mom from A Christmas Story…you’ll shoot your eye out! Seriously, it’s crazy!

I made a promise to myself long ago that I will never go into the center for NYE after experiencing it firsthand one year.. What can you do here and nowhere else?
Get treated like gold because you’ve reproduced! Seriously, Florentines love children. It warms my heart to walk around the city and have nonne make faces at Livia and kiss her fat little legs. Also, this is the only place I’ve ever lived where it is socially acceptable to walk up to a mother with a young baby and inquire about her latte while making a squeezing gesture — often in very proximity to my body.

Funny stuff aside, Florence really lets you live among history and add your own personal narrative to the greater history of the city. We’re all just a little blip on the city’s radar, but at least we’re on it!

Hahaha, got milk? How did you make friends and assimilate?
Made friends with a few people (including you!) that had been here for a while and made even more friends through them! Also, I joined a few groups. I’ve met a couple of friends through my blog, which is really fun. Having a baby here really helped me/us assimilate — I know that sounds funny, but it’s really true.

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Having a baby in Italy pretty much makes you a local celebrity! Favorite food {or recipe}.
Florentines roast potatoes like nowhere else in the world. It’s the simplest food done in such a simple way, but I get them nearly every time we go out and they never disappoint. I also really love a good Tuscan antipasto plate. I’m a simple girl Georgette…it doesn’t take much to make me happy!

A girl after my own heart — it’s all about simplicity. yum! If you had to make up a tagline for the city – what would it be? 😉 be creative!
Come with an open mind and honest heart and Florence will get into your soul.

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Thanks Kate for an awesome interview, it’s absolutely amazing to see how far you and your family have come since arriving in Florence and I am very grateful to be a part of it! 🙂

Connect with Kate!

Blog {La Vita e Bella}, twitter, business website, FB page

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0 Comment

  1. Bev
    30.05.2013 at 13:14

    Aaawwww, wonderful article! Kate & Rob’s blog was one of the first I found when we started exploring our own dream of living in Italy. Their blog has been so informative. In particular, Kate offers a how-to booklet for obtaining Italian dual citizenship which has been an excellent guide for us. Actually, it is the best guide I’ve found anyway.

    Learning that you guys are all besties just somehow makes the universe seem that much more right! Just too cool.

    1. ggnitaly84
      30.05.2013 at 13:36

      Thanks for enjoying it. Kate and I casually met when she hired me to help her navigate the dual citizenship process. I was as proud as she was when she finally got it!

  2. Bev
    30.05.2013 at 13:23

    Reblogged this on Escaping Our Comfort Zone and commented:
    Must read post by one of my favorite Americans living in Italy, Georgette, about one of my other favorite Americans living in Italy, Kate! As a side note, Kate has a FANTASTIC how-to booklet for obtaining dual citizenship. I have been using her guide and it is worth it’s weight in gold! You can purchase your own copy for a nominal fee from her blog. The blogging would is an amazing place filled with amazing people.

  3. davecenker
    30.05.2013 at 14:33

    I absolutely love your tagline … “Come with an open mind and honest heart and Florence will get into your soul.” This is a very thoughtful and honest account of your transition to another country. Although the perceived life of living in a beautiful European countryside is romanticized in modern media, you can certainly tell that you are living the life that is right for you and your family.

    Although you live life like every other “normal” person (i.e. – no daily gelatos, piazzas, church bells, yada yada :-)), having that environment available to you outside your front door could make the work you do so much more productive and meaningful by allowing you to tap into your creative side and elevate your energy levels. Everyone needs to find their perfect place and it seems like you have certainly done so … congratulations … and thanks for the inspiration 😉

    1. ggnitaly84
      30.05.2013 at 18:36

      Kate is so very right about having that constant inspiration. Part of what makes living in Italy so special is just opening your doors to rich world history and pretty daily views. Mix that with a little local chaos and honestly, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

  4. Krista
    30.05.2013 at 16:51

    Great interview! I agree that Florence isn’t an easy place to live. Italians get a bad rap for not working hard but all the Italians and long-term expats I know are working their butts off with multiple jobs. Kate is right, you have to hustle, but its worth it!
    And its true about all the baby attention. My cousin came to visit with her new baby and we couldn’t go two steps without someone stopping us to pinch her legs! I was surprised at how understanding and accommodating the restaurants were – night and day from the US

    1. ggnitaly84
      30.05.2013 at 18:33

      Thanks Krista! We are all self-made hustlers and its something I am quick to remind people when they talk the dream talk about moving to Italy. If you are willing to accept that sort of lifestyle than awesome! Babies are celebrities in Italy where as in the USA I think they are seen as more of as nuisance in public places which is kinda.. sad.

  5. Serena
    31.05.2013 at 15:11

    A kiss to both of you girls! 😉

    1. ggnitaly84
      31.05.2013 at 16:02

      and to YOU!

  6. kat
    31.05.2013 at 17:25

    Nice interview! I stumbled upon Piazza della Passera this last time I was in Florence on Notte Bianca, and it was indeed one of the most fun and charming little corners of the city – live music, lots of people, cute restaurants and apero bars 🙂 It felt like what the “real” Florence must be like, without all the tourists 🙂