These past few years, I have been lucky enough to meet some really awesome Italians. While in the past, I would often complain about not having enough local friends and hung more with a foreign crowd, I started to make more effort, and sought friendships more in line with personal interests. I should have done this long before. This means having a bit more writer friends, those who blog, or do something creative. Of course this means that we have something predisposed to have in common, we ‘get’ one another and also, they inspire me. Valentina is one of those people. A sweet girl who encompasses what I love about this country, she’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet and a whip-smart writer making it happen in Florence. Naturally she needed to become one of my #LocalsILove.
Her instagram account is one of my personal favorites locally, she has a series called #Valinasdesk where she comes up with all sorts of creative ways to showcase her everyday thoughts using various props.
Name: Valentina Veneziano or Valina on Instagram (@val_ina)
Profession: Blogger, Web Content Editor, almost journalist
Favorite drink: Caffelatte
Valentina where are you from originally? Can you tell us a little bit about your hometown?
I was born and raised in Sinalunga, a town in the province of Siena. It is a small and pretty village full of little houses and amazing panoramic views. In Sinalunga you can have a quiet walk in the country, drink good wine and eat the famous “pici al sugo” (homemade pasta with ragù) but, like every small town, everybody knows about you.
What brought you to Florence, and have you ever wanted to live outside of Italy?
I moved to Florence when I was nineteen. I was really excited and scared at the same time to start at the University of Florence. I was completely in love with English literature (actually I’m) and all I wanted to do was study the Dickens-Woolf-Brontë-Wilde-Austen works.
At the beginning I wanted to become a University researcher. Then the University itself, the people, rules and the crisis in Italy have changed my mind about that path for me in work.
Yes, I would like to live in England every other day but in last two years I was surprised by Florence so I put the luggage under my bed and I decided to stay.
I can understand your change of heart Valentina, What are you up to in Florence? Work, passions life.
I work for a local newspaper and I’m a freelance web writer. I love writing. Writing is all that I want to do cause it makes me feel happy and satisfied.
Two years ago I created Valinapostit, a lifestyle blog about Instagram, interior decoration and blogging. It’s a project in which I believe a lot and it’s becoming a real job. Have a blog is an incredible adventure but it’s not easy as everyone thinks.
I love travelling and I love discovering new places and people. I’m in love with colorful details and TV series. I fall in love with Instagram. I truly think that my life is getting better now that I’m making creative and funny pics. God bless Instagram!
You know that I am a personal fan of yours! How would you rate your experience being a writer in Italy, do you find being a freelancer difficult? What are challenges you face?
It’s a war, and I am not kidding.
It’s difficult and frustrating. You are underpaid and underestimated.
For some people, especially in Italy, writing is not a real job, it’s a kind of hobby.
The old generation of journalists were well paid but for the new ones like me, it’s a nightmare. You have to be patient but above all you have to work for different companies and magazines if you want to earn something to have a fairly decent life. Often they take advantage of this situation because they think “everyone can write” so, for example, if you ask to be paid 40 euros, they can find someone else who will accept 20 euros or maybe even 10 per article.
The trick is to become indispensable and truly special and remember to love what you do.
You really said it well. I think as writers, we need to be the ones who demand to be paid, and paid a normal wage. I can talk for hours about this! What or who inspires you?
Some instagramers and their beautiful or particular pics.
My travels and the stories of people, above all the stories of people who left normal life and embarked on new adventures. Colors and street details in Firenze. Onviously also books and movies. Most of all, people who worked incredibly hard to succeed.
Favorite cities or countries to visit? And why?
England in particular London because everything seems possible and more functional in this city. The county of Yorkshire for the beauty of the moors. Dorset for the dreamy cottages, the British accent, the Jurassic Coast, the small villages and for scones with clotted cream (so yummy!). God bless the Queen!
Andalusia for the wild lands, vivid colors, Spanish and the famous “tinto de verano” and jamón ibérico (a type of cured ham produced in Spain).
The Florida Keys cause everything seems to be so blue and boundless.
Marrakech because there’s something magical in the air.
I’m heading to Marrakesh for the first time in May, I need to pick your brain! What do you think Italy is like for young people?
Italy is an amazing country. We have art, food, history, sense of humor, different landscapes, tradition and everything about fashion is here (we have Valentino and Prada, how incredible are they?).
Italy is a place for young and old people. Italy is a place to live, to dream. Unfortunately the lack of work has created too many problems. Young people have to roll up their sleeves if they want to stay in Italy.
Agreed. Is there anything that annoys you about Florence as a local? Tell me the truth!
People always complain about weather, tourists and the political situation, non stop. Sometimes I think that we don’t really appreciate what we have. We need to talk less and do more.
Also the lack of green spaces for walking, jogging, studying, working or having lunch.
I told a friend the other day that complaining seems to be am art form locally. What do you think people get wrong (misunderstand) about Italians? What should people know before they come to Italy?
We are more than pizza, Dolce Vita and Renaissance (for example in Florence there are many interesting and beautiful Galleries of Contemporary Art and don’t forget the street art! ^_^).
We are smart but not always swindlers, we love resting and relaxing but we also work hard. We love traditions and our mums but we can be completely independent.
They should know that Italian is not an easy language to learn but it’s fascinating, the public buses are always late and bureaucracy is going to kill them ;).
“Bureaucracy is going to kill them ;),” Yep, I’m currently going through my latest permesso renewal as I write this. Three boutiques/museums/restaurants everyone should know about in Florence?
Gallo Bianco (via Antonio Scialoja 4r, close to piazza Beccaria). It’s a Chinese “rosticceria”. It’s small and always crowded but food is delicious! Try the fried chicken with lemon sauce and all kind of dumplings.
CCC Strozzina (piazza Strozzi, the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina is a part of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi) for the exhibition’s originality that always makes me think.
Semel (Piazza Ghiberti 44) for the famous Semel, an historical Florentine small “panino”. Try it and then take a walk in the colorful Sant’Ambrogio daily market.
If I could add a number four, Angela Caputi will be my choice because It’s a color paradise. Every woman should have an Angela Caputi brooch!
Wonderful tips! What can you do here and nowhere else?
You can take a walk admiring people’s happiness and amazement towards the beauty of every piece of art and palace details they see.
If you had to make up a tagline for the city of Florence according to Valentina? what would it be?
“There’s always a story to tell in the streets of Florence. It’s just around the corner, so grab your phone and take a picture!”