Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.
Guys, Happy New Year!
I’ve avoided posting any sort of inspirational “how I’m going to be better in 2018 and do a,b,c,d..” because I don’t want to set myself up for failure (low expectations ya’ll!).
I’m joking of course, but honestly if I fall prey to any mantra this year it will be something I show you and don’t tell you, because as you know life often gets into the way of “plans”.
However one thing I would love to know from you guys is what you want to see more of on the blog.
This could be videos, live videos, more features on hidden spots, foodie reviews, specific travel itineraries, more of Nico’s perspective (he’s willing!). I would really appreciate the feedback and it will greatly help me plan out the year and help me focus on what I should be working on.
As you probably already know, I’ve been in the USA for the past three weeks and I depart tomorrow for Italy. This means a return to normal life and I do very much miss our home and especially, our dog Ginger.
Since it is the first of the year, I can be really honest with you and say that I came on this trip a bit weary.
Not just because of world politics and strong partisan divisions (though that did play a part – I’ll be honest here) but after two years of being outside of America, I was a bit jaded on exactly what to expect when I got here.
I wondered..did everyone become apathetic to breaking news and solely concentrated on their own personal lives while binge-watching Netflix and Hulu all day with no care about the world around them? Would people make time for us when we were here? For those of you who live abroad, you get me on this one right?
That of course, was a mistake. I’ll own it.
Well, after three weeks, I can say that faith has been restored. Not only in the people we have in our life here (you guys know who you are), but also in the variety of personalities that I needed to remember exist in a country as huge as America. It’s not about “do you agree with me, then… ok we can be friends” but more about being kind, compassionate and willing to accept someone else’s life. A life that at times is very different than your own, and that’s ok.
Financially it is hard for us, but I do need to visit more often because when I have a closer connection with those I love here, I am truly happier; and it’s not that hard to maintain, it’s about making the effort (that goes both ways).
From an outsider looking in, it is very very easy to stereotype a population, especially in this day and age, but considering all of the life changes I’ve made, I really should know better. That’s me taking a bit of personal responsibility. Without blabbering on too much about this, essentially the trip was a GREAT success and I felt it worth kicking off a new year with a little self criticism.
On a side note, after a few weeks of vacation, I feel truly relaxed and stress-free which is something I haven’t felt in a really long time.
Notable experiences during the trip
- Nico and I tried “virtual reality” for the very first time which I totally recommend doing slightly tipsy, what a trip! As much as I wanted to hate it for obvious reasons – including giving people yet another reason to never leave their house, it was great fun.
- Despite years of thinking I have the craziest, possibly most dysfunctional family, I actually think we are more normal than I previously thought. Christmas is always a hilarious affair, including the bad karaoke, interesting meat choices at lunch, screaming at gift exchanges. I used to think we bonded more over shared awkward experiences from our past but actually after watching how my husband and our friends deal with our family, I realize I’ve been much too harsh for much too long. Lesson learned.
- Charred brussels sprouts salad is absolutely delicious. I will be incorporated this into my daily life. Thanks L.A. and my friend turned sister Kat Jones.
- The Tobin Hill in San Antonio, Texas is a delightful neighborhood with character that has a long and interesting history. It’s good to note that not everything here is a suburban, gated community. If you go – get breakfast tacos at El Milagrito Cafe, coffee at Summer Moon and Cafe Martinez (good call S.A. Veggie!) eat cajun delights at the Cookhouse and stay here (my cousin Vanessa and her husband are super hosts).
- Celebrating the successes of my friends from both L.A. and Texas made my heart happier and fuller than it could ever be. There is something supremely wonderful about knowing people 10+ years and still managing to laugh over things in the past and acknowledging how far as have all come.
- Spending time with our French friends in Texas is something I’ll never forget. I knew that the second they downed their third bottle of wine at Christmas Eve and full-belly laughed at my Uncle Theo’s naughty stories that we would be friends for life. Yasmine and Svebor, I love you both. Je voudrais vous envoyer de gros bisous
- Spin class on a Sunday morning sounds utterly “L.A.” and let’s be honest it really is, however I enjoyed it. Perhaps I need to find a center in Florence?
- Loved the fact that both in California and Texas we found a number of excellent, local coffee shops (Coffee Roaster in Sherman Oaks for example). It’s not just Starbucks, good to know.
- Driving 7 hours to the West Texas desert is completely worth the long drive if you appreciate sublime landscapes with clear skies and sunsets that never seem to end. The Marfa Lights were a trip to “see” especially because you can start conversations with other viewers who seem to really embrace any sort of paranormal activity conversation. I love Americans.
- Despite the fact that out car broke down seconds into the drive to West Texas, thanks to the kindness of local people in Austin, we were on our way in under an hour. I so appreciate that.
- Marfa, Texas was a really fun town to visit but also felt slightly bizarre. (I felt like there were a fair amount of people visiting for instagram photos only. It made me wonder how many visitors bothered to discover how it all came to be or knew of Donald Judd…) at the same time. More on that later but if you do go, say hi to Tatanka Guerrero at Al Campo wine bar who made us fall in love with the place due to his extreme kindness and generosity.
This is such an insightful post – and definitely got me thinking about the way I view Canada and my family/friends there given that I haven’t been back for a visit for quite a while now. I’ve also fallen into the trap of thinking that everyone there is living a life mostly oriented around news/netflix/pop culture in general!
As for what I want to see more of on your blog, I love any and all posts about hidden, off-the-beaten-path spots both in Florence and within a short-trip radius – I don’t make it up to Florence very often, but whenever I do, your blog is basically my guide!
Thank you Sara, I really loved your latest post too and honestly yours is one of my favorite blogs in Italy. I was hesitant to write this post but I figured that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I did and maybe we just need to share a little more and talk about it instead of having these sometimes unfounded stereotypes. Sure the Netflix, Hulu culture does exist, people order lots of stuff from Amazon and there are less interactions but most people are honest and open about trying to balance that with a normal social life.
I will definitely work on more of the hidden posts, that’s why I’ve been so insanely passionate about highlighting off the cuff neighborhoods or San Frediano small businesses. It’s so great to get everyone’s feedback because it greatly helps me plan everything out. Please come and visit more often, I’d love to see you!
Georgette, I think you should do videos. You could interview Nico [or vice versa] as you walk down the street, do a running commentary of what you see, go into shops – it’d be great to hear you nattering away in Italian, you could tell us later what it was all about, introduce us to Ginger’s doggie pals and any acquaintances you run across. You’re a good photographer, I’m sure you’d make a good videographer. You’re an attractive couple, I can see this going viral on YouTube.
Thank you Matt for your feedback. So the big reveal (not really that big) is that I am absolutely ready for videos and what has held me back is the fact that I feel like everything people watch now is so well developed, I don’t know if I have those capabilities. I do though think that video is such an important medium for people nowadays and I quite enjoy doing them so it’s basically the time to start (well let’s be real, I should have started like five year’s ago…).
More hidden spots. But then they wouldn’t be hidden any more!
This is very true but if people take the time to read about it and appreciate them, that’s cool too 🙂
Ciao cara Georgette, buon e sereno Anno Nuovo (e Befana per quando arrivi ogg 🙂 ) a te e a Nico! Ben tornati! As always your posts are spot on everything, insightful and informative and provocative at times, both for people outside of Italia, and inside such as us who live in Tuscany. Enjoyed hearing about and seeing Texas again, in areas that I had never visited. We do get lazy and/or busy at times, and do not explore all that is here, and in other regions of Italia, and even in Europe, so continue to do what you do so very well (and do add videos if you desire) and we will continue to enjoy “reading” you, being inspired, and sometimes seeing you in Firenze (such as Gilo’s…how wonderful is Mario!) and if you are ever in our direction, come and enjoy a glass of Chianti! XO
It was great to meet you in person last year Olga and I hope to see you again. Grazie davvero per il tuo commento, sei veramente una persona solare poi..
I will be continuing my quest of just sharing what we adore about Italy and hopefully offer more tips and tricks for those coming to visit. I really am happy to hear that writing isn’t dead after all. We definitely will head out your way this spring!
Happy new year! I’d love to see – yes to all the above and the videos don’t need to be live.
Happy New Year to you too Alicia!
Honestly I’ll read anything you write 🙂 But I love insight into your life experiences as an expat, your perspectives about Italian culture. I would also love to read Nico’s perspective and some travel iteneraries 😀
Thank YOU, that means the world. I’ll be honest, 2017 was tough for me because when I was writing articles I felt like not many people were reading the ones I spent 7+ hours working on but if I posted a picture of a Duomo, all was well again. I need to get out of my own head and realize that while not everyone takes the time to comment or share, they might be enjoying it just the same. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your suggestions as they are very very helpful.
Even if I don’t comment, I’m there reading it 🙂 I studied abroad in Florence but now live in North Carolina so its really fun to live vicariously through someone who stayed on in Italy and made it their home long-term (Because I know it is so hard to do so).
I’ll try to comment more though so you know the 7+ hours of work were well spent and appreciated!!! 🙂
Hi Georgette, what a great post, from the heart but also focused on your audience and their expectations. I read a great quote the other day…”We must let go of the life we have planned to accept the one that is waiting for us.” John Campbell. I admire your lifestyle and really feel that you have followed your heart and soul. What an accomplishment. Can’t wait to read more and maybe run into you in Florence walking your dog one day soon. xxoo
Hi Georgette! I, too, love your posts and don’t comment often enough – you are definitely not writing in a vacuum, and those seven hours are worth the effort , and much appreciated! I enjoy the FB live posts (the one from the Austin dance club was SO much fun!!); all the videos; views on Italian culture and life as an expat, as well as hidden gems and travel itineraries. And I would absolutely love to hear Nico’s take on things, especially as a European…perhaps differences btw. his native France and Italy? And you can never have enough photos of Ginger.
Keep on keepin’ on – I love it all. I’ll be in Italy (locale TBD) the entirety of Q4 this year – can’t wait!
You have inspired me to visit Italy every year. Just returned and planning next trip in October. Grazie mille
What fun! I’d love to see more hidden spots and itineraries. I can already tell that three years living here will pass way too quickly and I want to make the most of it!
Cara Georgette, I thought of you as this fun article on Marfa appeared in the digital edition of the International NY Times, and in case you did not see it, am sending you the link. Spero tutto bene, e a presto uno di questi giorni qui in Chianti, o a Firenze. Abbracci.
“When you escape your life at 45, as in a Thelma and Louise-level escape, you go on a road trip. The writer and her best friends of 25 years picked Marfa, the artist hub in the middle of the West Texas desert, as their destination. ”
Thank you for this Olga, a few people have sent this to me and I have enjoyed it immensely! Spero che tutto e bene con voi!
Long-time reader but first-time poster. My husband & I have been traveling to Italy for 28 years and are planning our 20th trip, so we are hard-core Italophiles and expect to retire in Italy–but not quite yet, as we presently have two kids in college. Accordingly, we would love to hear more about retirement life in Italy (we’re hoping to buy an apartment inside the walls in Lucca).
We also love reading anything about food/cooking/wine and hearing about new exhibits or recent art restorations. I particularly enjoy “Locals I Love” on your blog because it leads me down new paths of exploration. I think that videos would be a great addition to your blog.
P.S. We also know Rebecca Winke and have stayed twice at Brigolante.