Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

Locals I Love – Diana Simon


Back again with another fun edition of ‘locals I love’ this time speaking to someone I really love to read on the blog-o-sphere (and twitter) who is on top of her game when it comes to sharing tips and news all about Italy (and especially Rome). Diana manages the social media for an Italian tour company, shares her experiences on her blogs (BrowsingItaly & BrowsingRome), teaches English and plays aunt to her nieces and nephew. A global nomad who has lived in three different continents, Diana has made Rome her home for the past 8 years. Let’s get to know her a little better.


Name: Diana Simon

Profession: Social Media Manager, Blogger, English Teacher

Favorite drink: Franciacorta rosé

How long have you lived in Rome and where are you from originally.

I’ve lived in Rome for 8 years, and I was born and raised in Brunei.

What brought you to Roma and why did you decide to stay?

Prior to Rome, we had lived abroad for 8 years before making the decision to move back. My husband has his family here and when a job opportunity came up, it was the logical decision.

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

I keep myself very busy in Rome between work, family, and my passions. I work as a social media manager for an Italian tour company, manage my own blogs, and teach. On top of that I “play” aunt to my nieces and nephew, and when possible, hit the tennis courts for a match or two.

I also love cooking but haven’t had the chance to experiment as much as I had in the past. As life in Rome can get hectic, during the weekends, if we don’t have family commitments or errands to run, I have a penchant for visiting places that are off- the-radar for most visitors. 


Sounds like many of us, you are an extreme multi-tasker ;-). What annoys you about Rome? Tell me the truth!

I could write a book on this, and I kid you not. Whether it be illegal parking (you have no idea how creative they can get!) or dog poop on sidewalks, which makes you feel like you are walking through a landmine, what it comes down to is the lack of respect or lack of community. People tend to only think about themselves and how it’s convenient for them and not how their actions or inactions would affect everyone else.

The dog poop can be bad here in Florence too, I just don’t get it.. Also I think it’s the sad trend of menefreghismo.. This leads to my next question: do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?

I often hear of visitors to Rome dreaming about living here. Visiting Rome and living in Rome are worlds apart and it certainly is not for everyone. I’ve had many friends who left due to the challenges and frustrations of living here.

It has worked for me thanks to family and friends. Even before we moved back, we would visit Rome three to four times a year and I already had a glimpse of life here. I’ve had incredible support from family and friends who made the transition easier. On top of that, I’m a global nomad and had lived in the US and Asia so this was another adventure. One important factor as to why it has also worked for me is to look at the positives, and to compare less.

Thank you for such an honest and great answer! What advice would you give a newbie?

Following up on the previous answer, Rome is Rome and if you keep comparing life in Rome to how things are in a different place, you will be miserable. Enjoy Rome for what it offers and there are pros and cons regardless of where you live. Sure there are days when the bureaucracy and inefficiencies drive you crazy, but there are also days when the sunset in Rome just moves you so deeply that you couldn’t imagine not living in Rome.


This picture means I am planning a weekend trip to Rome this year ;-). Three finds/places everyone should know about in Rome?

Local markets, Le Domus Romane in Palazzo Valentini, and Pincio Terrace. If I may add another one, it’s the Park of the Aqueducts on the outskirts.


All places I had NO idea about! What’s the weirdest thing you have seen/experienced in Italy?

I wouldn’t say it is weird but more fascinating. When we went to Matera (in the region of Basilicata), which itself is surreal, we visited Parco della Murgia Materana and met with shepherds. They gave us a glimpse of their daily routine and showed us how they made cheese like they once did. It was like we had stepped back in time and while their dwelling conditions wouldn’t have passed any health inspections, it was an unforgettable experience. 


Incredible to be sure, this is why we love Italy, right? What can you do in Rome and nowhere else?

Too many to name as there really is no place like Rome! (This is also my tagline for Rome). You have all the major attractions like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and then you have hearty Roman dishes like carbonara, amatriciana, and carciofi alla guidia to name a few. For some quiet time, go for a stroll on Appia Antica built-in 312 B.C, which extends all the way to Puglia, or take in the sunset from Pincio Terrace above Piazza del Popolo. 


How did you make friends and assimilate?

As mentioned, we were back very often and I was already close to my husband’s family and friends. I was also familiar with the culture, so assimilating was not an issue. When I started teaching, my students became friends and as for expat friends, I met most of them through social media.

That’s hows it becoming for me as well ;-). Favorite local food {or recipe} – we adore foodporn.

Bucatini all’amatriciana – just thinking of it makes me drool! 


If I could only eat my computer screen, this looks amazing! If you had to make up a tagline for Rome – what would it be? 😉 be creative!

There really is no place like Rome! It can be read positively or negatively – depends what color lens you have on that day 😉

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and tips with me, I really hope we can meet in person very soon as I would love to pick your brain on Rome. If you guys want to follow Diana, you can find her at her blog(s) BrowsingItaly & BrowsingRome, and on twitter.


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0 Responses

  1. Great interview, especially as the answers given were so honest! I’ve been in Milan for 9 months now and I still struggle with this ‘menefreghismo’ and lack of respect which I just didn’t expect from Italy especially as everybody I have met is absolutely wonderful and friendly and helpful.

    La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy

  2. Ciao Georgette, thank you for the chance to be part of this lovely series. I love the questions you asked as it gave me a chance to look back at 8 years of living here in Rome. So when are you coming over to visit? Do let me know and I would love to not only show you around but meet you in person!

    1. It was my pleasure Diana. I really enjoyed reading your interview and hearing your perspective. Plus now I have some great tips for Rome. I definitely want to head there this year for a weekend. What month do you recommend? How’s June?

  3. Really helpful, “…look at the positives and compare less.” Thanks as always for these great posts… 🙂

    1. diana is someone I really can relate too, I am lucky to connect with so many interesting people all over Italy {and the world}. Thanks for reading!

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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