Moving on Up

Some of you may know of my incessant list making. My multiple New Year’s Resolution posts might have given you some idea (like this one…or this one…or…this one.)

I like lists to help clear my mind. To give my constant stream of thoughts some order. My lists are to do lists, ideas, book titles but in whatever form they’re all basically one simple thing: goals. 

In this year’s goal of growing my freelancing business, I had a specific task to remake this blog. As I write more and more about Italy for other clients and publications, I didn’t want to forget about From Italy, With Love. Though it’s just a small project, it’s something I do purely for personal joy – because I like it! – and I don’t have any plans on giving that up just yet. 

So after school finished for summer I finally got to work teaching myself about URLs, hosting sites, and exporting existing WordPress sites. I researched prices and styles, fonts and designs, and though all of this might be a piece of cake for many, for me it was all wildly new and difficult enough! 

With that said, I’m happy to say that From Italy, With Love has officially moved. It now has it’s very own new and improved location at

For those who have followed me, I hope you’ll continue on to the new site, where I plan on continuing my regular Monday posts, along with some fun extras! Be sure to follow the new url so that new posts continue to show up in your RSS feeds or emails and comment, like or contact me with any thoughts on the change!

Mostly a travel blog, my goal has always been to support the curiosity, drive and motivation to learn new things that travel brings. I can only hope I continue the momentum, and that you follow me for the ride! 

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Italians in London

Marco and I were walking briskly through Hyde Park in London, arms linked and heads ducked against the wind, when a middle-aged man stopped us with a warm, “buongiorno!”. 

He heard us talking in Italian and was thrilled by the beautiful city he was visiting. Though new to the city, his outstretched arms and smile indicated that he was happy with the change. The Italian women at his side said she had lived in London for 30 years and loved it.


Later, huddled in the entrance of a small café, Marco and I were discussing what we wanted to order, or if we wanted to at all. “Scusate,” said a barista who needed to pass us to restock the refrigerator.

We passed enormous school groups taking goofy pictures in front of Buckingham Palace, screaming “cheeeeeeeese” in their best English accents accompanied with loads of Italian curse words.

We passed pizzeria after pizzeria, café after café, Italian waiters and baristas and bus drivers and even businessmen. Though I was looking forward to London as a short break from our daily lives in Italy, it seemed we heard Italian more than any other language, including English!

Look! An Italian in London!

Look! An Italian in London!

Actually, it’s possible. According to an October 2014 article in The Telegraph, Britain is now the number one choice for Italians looking to emigrate, surpassing once-preferred Germany.

There are officially 220,000 Italians living in London, but the true figure is likely closer to 500,000 – about the same size of some of the biggest Italian cities. At least 13,000 moved to London last year alone.

The Italian brain drain is no secret, especially among millennials. With an unemployment rate of more about 42 percent for Italians aged 15 – 24 years old, it makes sense that “more than a third of those who left Italy were aged between 18 and 34” according to a report titled ‘Italians in the World 2014’.

I see it every day. I see it in my English lessons as my Italian students practice the language discussing their desire to leave. I see it with friends who are hitting the wall of disillusionment when they realize even they can barely keep up the status quo in a floundering state. Perhaps I see it most notably in Italians’ open surprise when they discover that I chose to live here. Not because they don’t see their own country as beautiful, but because they see all too well the bureaucratic, economic and political problems that are stagnating it.

So Italians are leaving, and they love London. They see London as an example of how a society should run. It’s a cosmopolitan city with a government that works. Most importantly, it has jobs. Plus, compared to the stereotypes of the harsh, cold Germans, the “snobbishness” of the English is easily manageable.

Whatever the case, Italians are taking over London, and they’re doing it well. 


The frenetic pace of London doesn’t match a typical Italian city, but the nightlife and employment opportunities must make up for it!


Marco and I climbed to the top of the double-decker bus to “drive it,” sitting in the first row on the right hand side. There we began gossiping and cracking jokes in Italian when Marco suddenly nudged me. “Shh, the girl next to us is Italian,” he whispered. I glanced at her. She hadn’t even opened her mouth, but I supposed she did have that aspect. I wondered just how surrounded by Italians we could possible be. 

The girl rummaged through her bag searching for her ringing phone. When she found it, she answered with a triumphant, “Ciao mamma!” 

I guess I had my answer. 



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On Living Your Own Life

The other day I bought knives. Knives.



What’s worse is that I used supermarket points to buy them. We asked around, gathered points from our sister-in-law and our housekeeper. Our part-time housekeeper. Our very very occasional housekeeper (ok okay, my in-laws housekeeper) who was willing to give us some of her points. She didn’t need them.

We got enough points, went to the supermarket, and filled our cart with a set of discounted knives. Discounted knives that still cost 56 euro. Like any good middle-class person, I packed the knives up, paid the money, and tried to immediately forget about the absurd amount for a set of knives. What’s done is done. Ya gotta pay to live in the middle class.

I bought knives for my house. Those good cooking knives. The kind that have a strong, sturdy wooden block to store them. The kind that are so sharp that it’s scary just to look at them and if you had kids you’d keep them far far away from little fingers. They’re the kind that, since you don’t have kids, you can hold in menacing poses like a samurai or Zorro.

They’re sharp. They’re beautiful and on Amazon they’re listed as over 200 euro for the set. Though expensive for us, we got a good deal.

As you can see, I think these knives are important enough to talk about. I thought it was a big enough deal to tell my mom about it and even my sister. ‘What did you do today?’ ‘I went to the kids’ baseball game, but it was rained out after four innings,’ she replied, ‘You?’ I bought knives. She discussed her new high-class managerial position and her son’s baseball improvements, I discussed knives.

See, the knives were a revelation for me. It’s not about accumulating possessions or being able to afford a set of 56 euro knives, the revelation was that they were enough of a priority to actually go out and get them. 

I no longer live like I did in college, or the immediate post-college lifestyle that is advertised in online magazines: “20 reasons why you should go crazy in your 20s!” 

The knife revelation was this: I’m 24 years old and I’m not going crazy. I feel like I’m building something.

With my move to Italy, my relationship, my marriage, my job and my house, I am building something. It’s important to me. I never judge those who are still aren’t ready to build something, yet I regularly see online articles disparaging those who are.

“20 Reasons To Be Single in Your 20s.” “The 20 Reasons Millennials Shouldn’t Give a Damn.” The idea is that when you’re in your 20s you should be selfish. You should be free! I’m a millennial. I have a house. I’m married. And not only do I feel free, I feel like for the first time in my life I’m able to create the exact type of life I want. One dictated by me, not by my parents, by education, by society. I believe that’s called freedom. 

I never thought I’d be at this point so young. A house, marriage, those things just weren’t important to me. Traveling was important. Writing was important. My girlfriends were important. I didn’t want anything to stand in the way of my dreams, but love sometimes comes when you don’t plan it – or maybe it always comes when we don’t plan it. I know that real love doesn’t stand in the way of your dreams, but it can definitely change the stakes!

I think it’s great when my friends are single. They can focus on themselves and focus on their career. I think it’s great if my friends don’t want to commit to a house. Then they’re free enough to pick up and move cities with no problem. I don’t mind if they don’t have the money to do something because they’re working on their side hustle, their personal projects or simply not working. Yet my lifestyle is constantly criticized by peers and publications serving my same demographic – or what I thought was my same demographic. 

The Internet abounds with articles expounding a “go-get ’em even if you have to step on others” mentality for millennials looking for success. Splayed across Facebook are statuses asking the Internet gods to shoot them if they see another Facebook friend who is pregnant, if they have to be witness to another engagement ring picture. Complaining that all their friends are getting married. Since when were people so judgmental about other people’s visions of success? Whatever happened to caring about others?

I liked to travel and I still do. I liked to have sex and I still do. I liked to try new things and I still do. Like most millennials I’m working at a job that wasn’t in my original career plans, but I’m working hard at it the same. It’s a lot of work to build something and each step is important – including continuing your passion of cooking with a damn fine set of knives. 

So feel free to rage in an ecstatic state of youth until 5 a.m, just don’t mind me when I’m in bed by 11:30! 

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Snapshots of London

Snapshots of London, England: Just a tiny bit of time for a whole-lot-of-city. 

Highlights include: 

1. Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square is an enormous public square at the intersection of three streets. With the Nelson column rising up from the middle, guarded by four massive lion statues, a fountain and numerous commemorative statues, it’s an impressive square to say the least. That said, the real gem of the Square is the National Gallery, a massive (free) museum with art from the 13th to the 20th century. I was impressed with the cleanliness, gallery layout and especially with the collection of art! Even with only a short time in London, the National Gallery is worth every minute. 

2. Buckingham Palace
We were early for the birth of the Prince and Princess’ new baby girl, but no one can forget the view of Buckingham Palace and its square packed with people for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. Today the Palace is an art gallery and tourist attraction, but more importantly a home and symbol of the British monarchy.

3. Westminster Palace
Also known as the Parliament, Westminster Palace is the massive building perhaps most known by tourists as the home of Big Ben, which actually refers to the bell and not the entire bell tower, though popular usage has slightly changed that over time.

4. London Eye
Perhaps the epitome of tourist attraction, the London Eye is your one-stop shop of London skyline. You can think of it like the hop-on hop-off tourist busses, only you can’t get off until it’s over and you only see things from far away…in a giant bubble…for thirty minutes. It also costs £29,95 for a general ticket, but it does add a unique touch to the London skyline! 

5. Convent Garden
Not a garden at all, Convent Garden is a partially covered market area with restaurants and mostly food-good stores. A bit high class but very beautiful, you can often catch live performers in its lower courtyard. Unfortunately we only heard the sounds of an older comedian’s raunchy jokes hitting the cobblestones.

6. Chinatown
Though historically there have been a few different Chinatowns locations throughout London, current day Chinatown is still a very strong presence in the city. With bilingual English/Chinese street signs, it has an enormous choice in eateries as well as markets selling traditional Chinese ingredients and products, as well as massage parlors, acupuncturists and a variety of other stores. 

7. Hyde Park and Green Park
One of the most populated cities in the world, London saves itself with all of its gorgeous English parks. A city without a park is like a house without windows. It’s necessary for our health and sanity. Plus, it’s pretty! It’s easy to pass away a day strolling through the enormous Hyde Park, but even smaller Green Park near to Buckingham Palace or any of the other parks dotting the cosmopolitan city offer a green respite from the hectic city.

8. Notting Hill and Portobello Road
Though I’ve never seen the movie, the neighborhood definitely had a familiar face. In any case it certainly was beautiful! Dotted with large white houses, villas and luxury apartments (or what seemed like luxury) a visit to Notting Hill provided a welcome chance to rest our feet during the bus ride there, and a glimpse at the pastel colored houses of Portobello Road and its quirky Saturday morning market. 

9. Pubs!
Whether you drink or not, you can’t leave London without visiting a pub – and you’ll have plenty to choose from! The city is filled with traditional style wood pubs, many supplemented with flower pots, brick walls or even stain glassed windows.

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A Love Letter to My Home

It’s gray where I live. In the autumn and winter it’s usually misting, if not pouring down rain, resembling London more than the fertile hills of Brianza. 

It’s not necessarily beautiful. I drive parkway past large gray warehouse-style buildings. The gray paint even darker from years of soot, fumes from the cars passing, the weather. In the spring, when the temperature might warm abruptly, I can feel the particles in the air. I feel them on my contact lenses. I imagine them in my lungs, like I’m breathing in who knows what that flies in from Milan and the many factories that surround me in Italy’s industrial region. I imagine them coating my hair like a light layer of snow does, just nestling on the outer strands.

2013-02-23 22.39.23

Each step you take it seems like you’re in another city. In America it would all be mashed into one city but here each neighborhood holds onto its identity so fiercely that the lines still stand. The cities sit so crowded that they’re basically one on top of the other, the buildings and shops and parks bleeding across the lines. The city centers are pretty, but the scenery is sad: Trash on the ground and too many cars. Sovico, where I live, is tiny. Neighbors aren’t necessarily close. There are few sidewalks. 

I don’t know a lot of expats who would chose to move to a place like this when they decide to make the all-encompassing move to another country. I can’t imagine many who eschew the beautiful golden hue that rises with the sun in Tuscany, warming the hills up as the day goes on; the overwhelming greenness of Umbria; the blue misted mare in Venice; the excitement of an Italian city and all it has to offer, to live in a provincial town on the outskirts of industrial Milan.

But I did.

I did, because I’m not here for the city. I’m here for Marco. I’m here because this is the home of my husband, where he grew up, where he was raised, where his family still lives in a beautiful house in tiny Sovico. There’s no trash on our street. There’s no trash in our garden. Only tiny white margaritas that cover the lawn.

On the more difficult expat days, the only picture I’m able to paint is one like above. One that is sad, gray, covered in dust from years of neglect. On other days the smog and prejudice clears, and I’m able to see that I happen to live in an oasis of green.


Elegant magnolia’s decorate the lawn with their enormous white flowers, secure in their station and beauty, like elderly ladies in low heels and over-sized jewelry. Palm trees take over in summer, slow to grow but quick to open, and the fig, pomegranate and hazelnut trees grace us with their fruit throughout the fall. It’s our own private paradise.

I live in Sovico because I love Marco. I’m here because he loves this place.

Because when the buildings seem too gray and everything a bit bleak, my garden bursts in springtime colors. 

Because when it’s raining, we’re stuck inside together, cooking a meal for no reason or reading on the couch.

While the world might be drinking in it’s city smog, we’re in the hammock protected by the pine trees. When I finish a long day of work and drive past storefront after storefront, accidents and mechanics, light after light of traffic, I know that when I get home Marco and I will shut all that out, filling our kitchen with the smell of basil, of fresh bread, of love.

I sometimes think that I must be one of the only expats not living in a restored farmhouse in Puglia or an ancient apartment in Rome, watching the via vai of the city pass under my window. I’m not in the center of Florence or the design district of Milan. Instead I live on the outskirts, in the suburbs, removed from the action or landscapes that expats so often seek.

Home is not a given. We are not ordained a specific home at our birth that will be ours to keep for our lives. Anyone who has traveled, anyone who has left, anyone who has stared out the window of their birth-given home and dreamed of any place but there, knows this. The truth is that there comes a point when we build our homes. Some never realize this fact. Some never find it. It’s a constant process.

Home is in yourself. It’s what you carry with you, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll find someone who will help you along the way.

I might be living in no man’s land, but when I’m here with Marco, I know I’m home.


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