If truth be told, blogging is something I do for myself as much as for fellow travellers who might be looking for hints, tips and information. Its a record of places I’ve been, a memory point, and I’d probably be writing whether I had hoards of readers or one as journalling is something I’ve done since I was little. Blogging is just a little more public! So this week, when I received a tweet to say I’d been nominated for the Liebster Award for new blogs I have to say I was a bit stunned!!
Huge thanks for the nomination go to Helen at www.therunawayclub.co.uk! Its the first official recognition of my blog since I started publishing last year and once the shock subsided it made me squeal….out loud!!!! Woohoo!!
So what is the Liebster Award? Well it is an internet-based award which allows established bloggers to nominate and highlight new and or small blogs they love, asking them a set of questions to get some insight into what they do and why. The aim is to raise awareness of all the great stuff out there and to connect up-and-coming members of the blogging community.
Each nominator sets the questions for their nominees and these are the ones Helen wanted to know the answers to so here we go…..andiamo!
1. What made you start blogging?
It was my friend’s suggestion actually. I was round at Andrea’s one evening chewing the fat over a bottle of vino as usual and she asked whether I’d ever thought of channeling my passion for anything and everything Italian into a blog. It was as if a lightbulb had come on! I went home and started making a list of things I could blog about. By the time I went to bed I had a list of over 30 topics just off the top of my head. Andrea had really hit on something and over the next few weeks I started looking into the idea properly, talking to a friend who blogs about graphic design and children’s book illustrators (Craig at Fishink) for some help with my ideas.
Finally my first blog, An honorary Italian, was published at 22:51 on Sunday 17th February 2013! My heart was in my mouth to see if anyone would actually read it and when I got my first views I thought I would burst with excitement!! I always get a huge buzz when people read and comment on my posts and am chuffed to bits that anyone finds my witterings of interest! But the thing that I will be forever thankful for is how Andrea sparked it all off, she really is a genius!!
2. What’s your favourite thing about being in a new place?
Hmmm, that depends on where I am but usually its finding out about the local history as I like to know all about why people founded a place and how the local traditions and festivals started. Nerdy as it sounds I often book a walking tour when I first arrive somewhere new to get my bearings and also to get a local’s view of the city. Its usually a great way to see a place and many cities offer free tours!
Finding out about the thousand year history of masks in Venice from traditional mask-maker Elisabetta, for example, was probably one of the most fascinating mornings I’ve had in Venice so far. Plus I got to have a go too which was an added bonus! (Behind the mask)
My second favourite thing is searching out the best local pasticeria for the creamcakes! Sicily wins hands down on the cake front with its canoli which were an absolute revelation although Siena’s almond ricciarelli are a very very close second!!! Mmmmmmm, cake!!!
3. Where’s next on your travel wish list and why?
The whole of Italy is on my wishlist!! My dream is to do a road trip from the north to the south in a soft top classic car but I’d like to do it with a friend to share the driving rather than solo so if anyone wants to volunteer (and has a Type I Jaguar E-type or 1958 Austin Healey or Alfa Romeo like these ones below) I’m taking applications now!!
In the meantime, Perugia is probably my next stop to meet up with a couple of Italian class friends!! I’m looking forward to seeing them and to us all talking Italian in Italy!!!
4.What’s been your biggest adventure so far?
I’d say this summer is maybe the biggest adventure so far.
After 22 years of working for the same company I’ve taken a break from the rat-race and my world is suddenly very different.
For the first time ever I’m not focused on work, office politics or what the boss wants. I can set my own schedule and try all manner of things whenever I like. So I’m living in Venice, a city I love, to experience life the Italian way, as authentically as I can. Whether its ordering cicchetti and a spritz at the local bar, mask making with Elisabetta or paddling in the acqua alta high tide waters in Piazza San Marco at midnight I’ve never done anything like this before and am giddy at the thought of the places I can explore, the things I’ll see and most importantly the new friends I’ll meet!
5. What’s your top tip for getting the most out of travelling?
That’s easy, talk to the locals!!
Deciding to take up Italian evening classes was probably one of the best decisions I ever made! I’ve made some great friends through weekly classes in the UK (both of very patient teachers and fellow Italophile students) and it has been invaluable on trips in Italy, even getting me a few dates! People here are so amazed that anyone has bothered to learn a language spoken in so few countries that they usually want to find out more (despite how much I mangle their beautiful language!!) and so begins a lovely conversation.
Without language lessons I’d never have met the fascinating search & rescue guy in Verona, or been able to follow the mouth-watering cookery lessons with Luisa at the Scuola di Dante Alighieri in Siena or understood the swear words used by the tiny sparrow of an 80 year old butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth granny at the Palio di Siena as she cursed the other competitors to hell and back!! Talking to the locals, whether with a phrasebook and mime or having learnt the language adds intensity to the colour of a trip and also pulls you into local life a little bit more. Its well worth the effort, trust me!
And so now its my turn and I have the honour of paying this huge compliment forward by nominating 5 more bloggers for the award. So in true award show fashion, the nominations for the Liebster award are –
The Venice Experience – I really like Karen’s writing style and am loving following her rowing exploits with the Venice Lionesses! I’ve followed her blogs for over a year and used them as the basis for some of my walks around Venice.
Shoestringin’ Europe – Michael has a really chatty style and packs so much into each day as he tours Europe. He takes some great photos too and the last I heard he’s in Paris!
Dog-Daisy Chains – Jackie is a self-confessed “obsessive embroiderer, classroom dodger and fervent flicker” amongst other things. Her blog is mainly about embroidery but her occasional travel blogs, particularly those on Venice recently, are fabulous and packed with the secret gems that most people miss!
Just Visit Siena – Magdalena provides a fantastic guide to Siena and all the wonderful traditions including the stunning Palio. Her blog is a must for anyone visiting Siena!
Help! I live with my Italian Mother-in-Law! – I’ve loved the posts on here for a while as they give an insight into Italian life from a Canadian ex-pats point of view. I often wonder whether the Mother-in-Law ever found out about the site….!!
And here are the questions I’d like the answers to –
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What’s the first thing you do in a new place?
3. Where’s next on your travel wishlist and why?
4. What’s been your biggest adventure so far?
5. What’s your top tip for getting the most out of travelling?
6. Luxury or budget?
7. What secret place would you recommend everyone must see and why?
8. What is the best piece of blogging advice that anyone has ever given you and who was it from?
Cactus Languages offer classes in many languages in the UK and around the world. Courses range from 1 week of intense lessons over 20 hours to weekly classes over 10 weeks.
Mask making at Peter Pan Masks, Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini, Santa Croce, 2118, 30135 Venezia
Tel : 041 716420
Email : email@example.com
Facebook : Peterpanmasks
Lesson costs €30 per person for approximately 1-1.5 hours, should be booked 24 hours in advance and you keep your mask! Plus Elisabetta goes into much more detail than I included in my blog so there’s loads more still to learn about the history and design.