If I’m totally transparent, I didn’t always hit it off with instagrammers. For the most part, people I’ve met through the digital arena have been kind, generous and uber interesting. Many have turned into long-lasting friendships that go far beyond the “like” and snap of a photo. But of course, there has also been the times when it just been frankly awkward. People snapping photos, barely saying hello, editing with furore and not talking, off in their own world as they avoid eye-contact with you. Some are obsessed with the igers culture in a way that is entirely unhealthy, I always stop and think we aren’t far from a Black Mirror-esque existence at this rate.
However those experiences I consider to be the minority and very well could be applied to anything in life, really. I think a general adage worth remembeing is “social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” (by author David Altsor).
Another thing to keep in mind is that not everyone on social media is “social” in person and honestly that’s ok. Hell, I consider myself antisocial during large swathes of the day but it can be surprising nonetheless. Laura, on the other hand, is a person who I might have met through social media trips in Italy, invited as storytellers of the digital arena, but Laura is a person who is unlike many I know.
This Fiorentina tells it “how it is” in a refreshingly sarcastic and playful way that I can appreciate, it was easy to talk to her and about real life, the messy sides and all. She’s honest about herself, what she does, and is a very talented photographer/storyteller who approaches life with a fearless gusto that you don’t often see in people. So without further ado, let’s get to know her a little better and if you meet her in person, tell her she owes me a negroni ;-).
Name: Laura Masi
Favorite drink: Negroni but coffee and wine as well.
Tell me a little bit about yourself Laura, where did you grow up?
Ciao, my name is Laura and I really love cats. I was born and raised in Florence. Scorpio with Libra rising. I can tell you that I am a girl with many, maybe too many, interests. I love reading, music, theatre, cinema… Travel and photography are my first loves, no doubt.
Born in Florence and totally in love with my hometown and my region, Tuscany. My second love is of course photography. I love travelling, discovering new places and living adventures. I think of the journey as a sort of therapy, a therapy by changing location, changing your mind, changing your look, all in the hopes of finding and restoring balance. Travelling is good for me, it allows me to learn about places, people, languages, to experience new adventures: it is an exercise for the brain which helps you get back in shape, which makes me feel alive.
Photography is my favorite form of communication, which has given me the satisfaction of collaborating with big brands: Canon and Samsung in 2016, Sony and OnePlus in 2017, in 2018 Panosonic and Sony with whom I still work and recently Huawei. Every day the world of Instagram gives me emotions, thanks to which I have been mentioned in several articles as one of the instagramers to follow.
This is why many people know me as Ruberry, my nickname on social networks which has now become a second name. Instagram is the platform with which I work the most, my profile embraces two main themes: travel and lifestyle. Thanks to these two themes, I have wonderful experiences, which I share with my fan base and there is no greater satisfaction than the people who write to me to tell me that they have lived adventures just like mine. I don’t like to call myself an influencer, I like to think I am a “storyteller” of the modern era, to push people to live their dreams, abandon their fears and live many experiences. At the end of 2016, the need to expand my mental boundaries led me to open a blog: Ruberry’s Jotter.
Realizing that talking only through photographs was not enough for me anymore, I decided to immerse myself in a new adventure. Stripping myself of my fears and opening my mind and heart through words.
In this space I collect my travel experiences, sharing places that are left in my heart, restaurants to try local cuisine all while absorbing the traditions of the places I visit. Not only that, here I also talk about photography and social media with a section dedicated precisely to these themes, aimed at those who are new to this world, for those curious about how it works and also want to test themselves.
I am Sony ambassador since 2018 and I work with Sony Alfa cameras. Instagram has always been my main communication channel, it is a great way to interact with followers from around the world. Here, storytelling and photography meet with one another to tell the experience and emotions of the journey.
Did you always plan to stay in Florence? What were your dreams as compared to when you were little to now?
Yes, no, maybe. I don’t know really. I am not the kind of person with long term plans, I like to live following my dreams, opportunity and destiny letting myself free to find and discover new ways.
When I was a child my dream was to be an astronaut, in a way was a dream correlated with my passion for travels. I studied Aerospace engineering at Pisa’s University, and I would have liked working for the Ferrari’s formula 1 team or at Nasa. I love dreaming big.
Instead this job chose me in a way. When was time to define myself in job life I was already working with Instagram as a content creator so I chose to follow the path. Thanks to this career I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and have the experience of living abroad. Who knows what the future will bring.
What are you up to here? Could be hobbies, work, passions or all of the above. And how did you get into it? Is it what you expected?
I am a content creator, a blogger, a travel photographer, a storyteller. For me, Instagram and my blog are a mix between work and passion.
As work I collaborate with tourism agencies, hotels, tour operators and brands related to the world of travel, lifestyle and photography. But I never forget my original goals: sharing information and beautiful spots of Florence and of course travels and general experiences in life.
I started using instagram in 2011/12 when I bought my first iPhone. it was the coolest app at the moment and I loved the idea of a digital photo diary. I stared to share my life, places in Florence I loved, and of course my cats, but only after 6 month my telephone died in a bathroom at the university and with “him”, thus my experience on instagram. I didn’t have the money for a second apple iPhone so I bought an android and at the time instagram wasn’t available on the android market.
Only after 3-4 years I had the possibility to be back on track. I was able to recover my account that didn’t had lot of followers, but I loved the name: “Ruberry”. Once I was back I noticed that Instagram was radically changed: more high quality photos, no more filters and frame. I deleted most of my photos and started studying the dynamics of the application. How hashtags works, time of publications, number of posts per day, things that now sounds so trivial. I did this things in my free time, as a hobby, improving my photo quality too. No more photos taken with the phone but with my reflex camera, studying photoshop and photo editing.
Then quite suddenly I stared receiving offer for travel within Italy, then in Europe, collaboration with brands until became a full time job.
It was at the end of 2016 that I decided to open a blog. Ruberry’s Jotter was born from the need to expand my mental boundaries. I realised speaking only through photographs was not enough for me, so I decided immerse myself in a new adventure. Attempting to undress me from my fears and open up my mind and my heart through words.
I didn’t expect to have a large community sending me direct messages, constantly writing their comments and sharing their innermost opinions/thoughts with me. I must admit, this connection is the best part of my work, the one I love the most
How is it working in this kind of career in Italy, do you find being in Florence an advantage or a disadvantage professionally?
Honestly at the beginning of my career I imagined the Florence was not the perfect city, all of the PR agencies are in Milan and the most of the events are in Milan. In the years I think Florence is the best for me because competition was never at the forefront of what I do and here I was able to create beautiful connections with colleagues and bar and hotel managers.
What have been your hardest struggles working as a freelancer/influencer in Italy?
It’s always difficult to explain my work to other people. Person have a hard time imagining the amount of work behind a single instagram post, the hours I need to be online, and the ones I stay offline to prepare the next publication. Sounds like “no work” for people who don’t focus on the internet language, but year after year there is more knowledge.
Doing it all yourself can be extremely tiring. I create and publish all the contents of my profile, I participate in all the events to which they invite me, I plan everything. This is reflected in your private life, especially in relationships with friends and stable affections. Sometimes you just doesn’t have time, or you fell judge because posting and filming everything you don’t enjoy your life you’re like a instagram slave.
Thank you for being so honest about that. Tell us about your camera and how you like to photograph?
My tech support is Sony. I started working with Sony about two years ago and I use a Sony alfa RII and and a Sony alpha RIII, but every time I have a project I contact Sony and together we choose the perfect camera and lens to use. Honestly working with Sony is one of the biggest rewards this work has given me.
Mostly, I am a travel photographer, the propose is to create a reportage and telling a story through photos. Seeking to capture all of the details, the architecture of a city, wonders of nature. I edit all my photos with Lightroom and photoshop trying to give my style a certain signature using color correction.
Any photography tips you’d like to offer our readers?
I have many photography tips. But we have to remember that it’s important to simply practice with our camera, to get to know the instrument as best we can. Explore where to catch the best vibes of the location you are visiting, even if you studied the location before departing. But I think finding the perfect light is the real struggle and the greatest goal of all photographers.
Spoiler alert: you must wake up very early ;-).
What are some of the top places you have traveled to for work/life and why did you love them?
Always the hard question for me. I think, I fall in love easily, and every place leaves in me something special. I like to think that all of these places have changed me, creating a different person every time. Always more self-confident, more curious, more open minded and aware of the world in which we live.
Argentina, Cuba, Japan, New York, Paris,, Jerusalem, Italian Dolomites, Budapest, London, Mexico.. shall I continue?
Italy has suffered greatly during the covid19 situation – how did you do during lockdown and how dramatically has life changed?
Covid was unexpected, and the world seemed to be unprepared for such a catastrophe and ensuing economic crisis. I think in 2020 the economy of a country is correlated to the economy of the entire world’s economic prowess. This is a first, Covid19, and for Italy it was a shock being the first Western country to be so hard hit. It’s worth bearing in mind that it is not easy to correlate the health of citizens with that of the economy. It feels as if politicians have to choose between their population being affected by Covid or dying of starvation.
Let’s also be completely honest, the economic situation in Italy wasn’t perfect even before covid arrived, but in a region where the tourism economy is fundamental, the situation is even harder. It is unthinkable to change how people work in the blink of an eye, you can’t transform hotels into industries overnight.
In my opinion, we will have economic repercussions for many months to come, but this is not the first economical crisis we’ve ever had to deal with. I just hope it will end soon, even if it will cost the country a lot of work and personal sacrifice.
I am very confined to my sector, travel bloggers can be a resource for the travel industry as a whole.
We have the power to make Italians fall in love again with Italy, showing the best destinations, and reminding people how lucky we are to live in a country as beautiful as ours. Let people feel safe in traveling, showing a new way to be a tourist, and helping people them organise their trips in a more authentic and sustainable way.
Italy has suffered greatly during the covid19 situation – how did you do during lockdown and how dramatically has life changed?
My life is totally changed. I was used to being on the road constantly. In fact, I had just returned from a two month travel in Argentina, was used to meeting friends for a coffee or a dinner “all’aperto” to shoot a lot of projects all around Italy. Suddenly I had a lot of free time, indoors. I rediscovered a lot of hobbies. I spent a lot of time reading, watching films and tv series. Also I found more time to study Spanish, to edit a lot of photos and to write 16 articles for the blog dedicated to Buenos Aires, and all the places in Argentina I visited. Honestly I worked a lot.
My secret was having a glass, or two, of the best Italian wines everyday at dinner. Because #whynot.
What are your plans now? I know you might not have concrete answers but how do you see yourself evolving after this crisis?
Ask me in two years! I still thinking I’m living in a movie, If someone told me we are on a galactic tv show I would believe it.
I fell like I’m living in a bubble, this crisis will lead me to an inner evolution, but it is happening now and I don’t know where it will take me.
“Ruberry evolves into…“
You aren’t alone in that feeling Laura. So I have to ask: What about Florence? It is often criticized for being very touristy and full of people pre-pandemic. What kind of “rinasce Firenze” would YOU like to see your city of birth?
As a Fiorentina (not the steak) I must admit that living Florence in the days post covid was beautiful even if eerily strange. It felt as if people here re-appropriated their own city, dwelling on the details, visiting museums and churches after so many years noting the beauties of Florence. At the same time, it is very sad to not be able to share all of this beauty with the world.
These last few years there has been an exponential increase in offers for tourists, reaching the physiological limit. Thus, in a way, losing the balance between the “tourist city” and the “city of the fiorentini”, because here, the citizen shares the same space as the guests visiting. And covid proved it traumatically. Many windows remain shuttered. Tourist apartments closed without any inclination of when they would reopen.
I truly hope Florence will be not forced to sell herself to the highest bidder, risking to lose her identity.
I hope in a more aware and sustainable tourism, creating alternative and innovative routes, showing less frequented areas of Florence and Tuscany.
I have no doubt that we all should be encouraging that from now on. So, Laura’s Florence. Can you humor me and share three places you adore in the city? And where you would go for a negroni?
One of my favorite church is Santa Croce, and the piazza is the first place where I come back after being away for a long time.
Santo Spirito for the Florentine’s vibes anche the market on Sunday morning.
Villa Bardini, especially during spring when the wisteria blooms.
For a Negroni cocktail, I love the coffee version at Ditta Artiginale, the classic at GIlli’s, the always surprising at Mad, and the exquisite white negroni at “il locale”.
To the person who has already seen the Uffizi, or David’s nether regions and walked across the Ponte Vecchio. Can you share three special places everyone should know about in Florence/Tuscany that you personally adore?
Cappella Brancacci e Cappelle Medicee are two of my favorites and not overtly famous attractions. The Oltrarno district is my favorite area to explore.
In Tuscany, I love Certaldo, San Galgano, San Gimignano, Terme di Saturnia, it is rather hard to choose.
Bonus track – Officina Profumo farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
What can you do in Florence and nowhere else?
Eat a panino al lampredotto washed down with a gottino of wine.
Admire Brunelleschi’s dome, the only cupola autoportante (self-supporting) in the world
Take a walk in the Vasari corridor (when it reopens, hopefully in 2021)
Boast that you are the only one who speaks real Italian “’Gnamo, un fare i’ bischero, vieni a Firenze!”
Complaining about the fireworks for San Giovanni
If you had to make up a tagline for Florence according to Laura, what would it be?
Come to Florence, we have the best negroni.