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Locals I Love – Valentina Dainelli

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This week we are back with yet another local I love [I know a lot of people right? ;-)] and this time we are picking the brain of  ‘TooMuchTuscanys’ Valentina Dainelli. I met Valentina during several blog tours, heck we even shared a room together. It would be hard to meet a nicer, kinder, more open-minded person than Valentina. When I know we will be at the same event or tour, I am one happy texana Toscana ;-). Plus she’s clearly a hard worker – balancing working full-time, blogging, copy-writing, and being a great mom. How she does it? I have no idea but let’s get to know this awesome Italiana..

Name: Valentina Dainelli

Nationality: 100% Tuscan
Profession: copywriter, Italian research specialist
Favorite drink: Loving coca cola

Are you from Florence originally, If so where exactly – and is your whole family from there as well?

As said in my line of presentation I’m 100% Tuscan. My great-great grandnonno (grandfather) (from the 19th century) was from Chianti area, as well as my great-great-grandnonna (grandmother). Then at the beginning of 20th century my great-grandnonni moved the family to the area surrounding Florence where my father was born. Actually I was not born in Florence, but on the mountains of Pistoia because my 7-month-pregnant mom was on holiday and I was in a hurry ;-). 

A true Toscana D.O.C. ;-). So, what makes you stay in Florence?

I lived in several places including New York, London and Bologna, but Tuscany remains one of my favorite places. At the moment I live in Barberino di Mugello, a nice town in the green Mugello valley, north of Florence. Bilancino lake is within a 15 minutes walk and the famous Barberino shopping outlets are only 5 minutes away by car Not bad :D

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What are you up to in Florence? Work, daily life, passions?

I really miss living in Florence, but I also love the slow, high-quality family life I have in Mugello. By train it’s a 35-minutes trip to visit the busy city center, so really not that bad as I initially thought. I retired to Mugello because of family matters and at the beginning I was really scared, but then I appreciated this lifestyle.
What I like about my life in Mugello is being immersed in great landscape (I love the view from my window), the mall within 5 minutes driving and daily life in small town.
On the other hand what I miss about Florence are definitively the views, the events and evening-night life, as well as shopping :P

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Well, I’m here anytime you want to visit! Plus the Mugello valley is amazing! What annoys you about Florence? Tell me the truth! 

Are you ready? I’m pretty fussy and there are lots of things I don’t like about Florence- Let’s start with the basics: I’d like Florence to be clean and tidy, to show its nicest face to both visitors and Florentines, to be less crowded, to be up-to-date, to go back to its glorious past by taking its best and leaving what’s left.

Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?

 No, I don’t think so. You should be aware of the risks that means being in touch with Italians all day. Sometimes we don’t take life and commitments too seriously. The bakery can be closed for fishing, waiting at post offices can take forever, taxes cut off your salary every month, but then you take a walk in the countryside and everything negative disappears. This is life in Italy.

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I think that’s a fair assessment. What advice would you give a newbie?

KEEP CALM AND LOVE FLORENCE! I lived abroad for a couple of years, but as you see I’m back. The attraction that Florence and Tuscany have on people is too strong to stay away for a long time. What you have to do if you want to live in Florence, Tuscany or Italy in general is like plugging your nose to take medicine: you don’t like it right away, but tomorrow you’ll feel better and always better :) I think this example hopefully gives somewhat of the idea I am trying to convey. 

That’s a great description and exactly how I felt the year I was back in the states, like something was ‘missing’ and I realized it was Florence itself.. Three finds/places everyone should know about in Florence?

My must 3 for Florence are: the hidden and small garden below San Miniato al Monte Church, (best view over Florence), the daily market in Sant’Ambrogio and a walk inside the Boboli Gardens.

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Great choices, all of my favorites as well! What’s the weirdest thing you have seen/experienced in Florence?

The weirdest thing I experience in Italy is Naples. Every time I go there I get surprised both by its stunning beauty and its weird/funny people. Once I was in front of Ercolano Archaeological Area and a policeman stopped a motorbike with 3 people (yes, 3 people all together on one motorbike!) Everyone without a helmet. I thought the policeman was giving them a fine, but nope. He stopped them and asked to 2 of them to get off until a police car with sirens passed by. Then he let the 3 get back on the motorbikes and leave O_o No comments, please.

hahahah that is so naples, I not only saw three people on a moped there but also a DOG once. What can you do here and nowhere else?

Experience and taste the true dolce vita. Whatever I can say, wherever I can be, let’s be honest, life is not dolce elsewhere in the world. Italians really know what a relaxed, happy life is. Maybe it’s because of the great beauty of Italy, maybe because the Famiglia, maybe because it’s the good food – but Italy is Italy and that’s really about it :). 

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What can you suggest to a new person on how to make friends with a local like you?

Making friends is not easy. I think it’s easier living outside the city center in small towns and villages where you see the same faces everyday and you can join them for a coffee or chat at the post office without getting glared at.

That’s a great point! Small towns allow for more daily honest interactions.. Favorite food {or recipe} – give me a little foodporn!

My favorite recipe… well this is hard since I love so many things. Probably my favorite food ever are the  famous carnival dish – frittelle. I would die for a good frittella! Here you can find my recipe :)

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I too would die for a good fritelle! Make friends with Valentina Dainelli and discover what a real Tuscan D.O.C knows about Tuscany!

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  1. Cindy

    Nice post! Valentina, your recipe sounds awesome. It’s just like making rice pudding and then, FRYING it-wow!
    I love hearing about how to make friends with Italians, but doubt I may ever get to go back to Italy, or a small town for that matter.
    I will live vicariously through my friend Georgette and the Italian friends I already have;).


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