Three years, over 50 interviews later, I am still as excited than ever to showcase even more stories and thoughts from those who chose to move abroad, or just stay in Italy. I learn so much from each and every single person I meet, it’s regenerating to read their outlook and get a window into another person’s life. This January, I am more motivated than ever on the blog. This one (wo)man show is a huge effort in my life but one that I enjoy so much. This week, I want to introduce a fabulous girl that I met recently, a fellow blogger who is so much more up-to-date with fashion than myself. Sasha is originally from China and lived in Hong Kong with her husband before coming to his native Florence with their child. She is as sweet as she is fabulous, her instagram account is a must follow if you want to see a creative side of Florence. Enjoy the first #LocalILove interview of 2016, and check out previous stories here.
your name: Sasha Wang
profession: full-time mom, part-time blogger, photography for passion
favorite drink: hot water with lemon
Where in Tuscany are you living and where are you from originally. Tell us how Florence became your home.
I was born in Shenyang, a city in the north-east China. I lived in Hong Kong for 8 years before moving to Florence.
I met my husband, a Tuscan Italian, in Hong Kong. We used to visit Florence for holiday, and we both like the city a lot. Last year we decided to move and start a new life here. “Amore” is the reason I am here now.\
Tell me more about your blog and the apartment in Florence!
We have a small apartment in Borgo San Frediano. The first time my husband and I lived there was the New Year’s Eve 2012. We were visiting Florence as tourists back then, but the experience brought me the idea of starting a blog writing about my life/trips in Italy. That’s why I named the blog Stai Al Borgo, because Borgo is where the inspiration came from.
“Stai Al Borgo” is about my expat life in Italy. It is interesting to live as an expat, because you are a tourist and resident at the same time. I blog about interesting places I visited as a tourist, also tips for daily life. For example my latest post is about my favorite items for home-cooking from supermarkets.
Now we’ve put that apartment in S. Frediano to rent. I use the blog as a channel to promote the apartment and the lifestyle as a resident.
And you have some great recipes on there I see! What are you up to in Tuscany? Work, daily life, passions?
I am working on something related to Chinese tourists here. I’ve registered a website in China, and started my Chinese blog there. I hope to attract those Chinese, who travel independently in Tuscany, and show them different sides of the place, rather than the well-known tourist attractions. Hopefully I can get things started in 2016. (fingers crossed)
In my spare time, besides taking care of my baby, I like taking photos. I am not a professional photographer, but I do enjoy the process of framing a picture, adjusting the shutter/ aperture, editing, and posting on my blog or instagram. It is a fun thing to do!
Have you experienced culture shock from living in Florence? How does it differ from your culture?
Coffee here is too short. Here coffee by default is an espresso, even the “lungo” version is just in a small coffee cup. As a Chinese we don’t really have a culture of drinking coffee, but I used to have coffee from Starbucks while living in Hong Kong. Now I really miss those days that I could walk around the city with my coffee in a tall paper cup.
What’s even more shocking? My Italian husband misses the Starbucks too!
You might just have started a coffee war but I feel ya on long coffee (it’s my guilty pleasure).What do you think of the current creative scene in Florence?
Everybody can be content creator in Florence. There are many communities actively promote the city to public through blog tours, photowalks, instameet, etc. It is also full of events, allowing everybody to participate. It is a place encouraging people to create.
You are very right! I want to organize another photowalk very soon :). What annoys you about Italy? Feel free to be as open as you want.
The bureaucracy. It drove me crazy to process my visa for staying here. Been to the Questura is, so far, the worst experience I’ve had in Florence.
(My husband always makes fun of me for complaining the bureaucracy in Italy. According to him, as a Chinese, I should have been used to it. LOL)
I think anyone who has been to the questura would agree. In fact, I’ll be there shortly. Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you this time around?
No, I don’t think so. Not even for all the Italians. Italy is not a country that you can just quit your job and move to. The Dolce Vita may fade out after few weeks, and to build up a new life here is challenging, starting from getting the visa from Questura. 🙂
Because my husband is an Italian, it makes our settle-down here easier. We’ve got some friends here even when we were living in Hong Kong, and we have his side of family here, so it was already a second home for us before. Beside, Florence is a touristic city, which means I can survive in the city center by speaking English. So far I am in the honeymoon period with the city.
But during the first two months living here, there were many times I asked myself: are you sure you can have a life here? It is a question I still ask myself from time to time. The answer is: who knows? We will see!
What advice would you give a newbie looking to move to Italy?
Learn some basic Italian in advance. And BE PATIENT!
BRAVA! Three boutiques / creative spaces everyone should know about in Florence?
Il Mercato Centrale. I like both the fresh market at the ground floor, and the food court upstairs. It is a place for both locals and tourists. Everybody finds something in Il Mercato Centrale.
i visionari, a boutique selling glasses with special designs. I got one pair of sunglasses there, and I receive compliment every time wearing them. It becomes such a statement piece of the outfit, plus a good conversation starter! Check out this shop if you are looking for a pair of unusual glasses.
And Piazza della Passera, a perfect place to hang out with friends. It is a big living room in the city center!
Now we know where those awesome shades come from! DO you have resources for young moms in Florence? Favorite places etc?
This is also a question I’d like to ask to other moms. Thanks for asking for me! Any mom reading this is welcome to give me a few suggestions!
I recently discovered an App called “BabyOut Firenze”. It suggests you places to go for the entire family, such as entertainment places, events, restaurants, even pharmacy, pediatric hospitals, etc. It is good to know what are the baby-friendly places around.
I also love to watch Family Food Tube, where many parents sharing their baby food recipes. It is a good channel to get new ideas for cooking.
OH, and Andersen Cafe! It is such a baby-friendly place, and I like the family vibe there. Thank YOU Georgette for introducing there to me!
I foresee many girl dates in the future. What’s the weirdest thing you have seen/experienced in Italy?
Cavallo (horse meat) in canned baby food.
No comment on that one. What can you do here and nowhere else?
Living in a Medieval city and an international one at the same time. And of course having the best fiorentina steak!
If you had to do it again (start a new life abroad) would you and why?
Absolutely yes! It is challenging, but at the same time it makes me a stronger person. We always say “you have to know what you want”. For me the best way to discover and know myself better is to challenge myself, experience different cultures, see new things… so that I could know what is the best for me.
If you had to make up a tagline for Florence according to Sasha, what would it be?
A big middle age borgo/ town in the modern era.