Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Me in Venice

This is a kind of personal post. And it’s so rare and out of character that there is not even a category on this blog into which I can easily slot it. But I have to write it. Here’s why.

Today is the first post in an “Italy blogging Roundtable” to which I have been invited. Five of us will be writing assigned topics each month. Depending on how you look at it, I’m either in really good company or I have some stiff “competition”.

The topic chosen by Jessica of Why Go Italy is “Why I write about Italy“. I assume she has a good answer. Rebecca “at Brigolante” is sure to come up with something self-deprecating, hilarious, and terribly profound that has me saying “why didn’t I write that”, until I realize that our experiences and personalities are so different, I simply could never have written it. Gloria known as “Casina di Rosa” will have an ironic, Italian take on the matter and it will be well thought through and perfectly written on At Home in Tuscany. From Melanie of Italofile Blog, I’m not sure what to expect. As she’s not in Italy right now, I’m really curious to know what her answer will be.

And me? Why do I write about Italy? What do I get out of writing this blog? Is there any possible non-narcissistic excuse for wanting to document everything I see?

Because it’s where I am (and I like it)

Had I married a man from Iceland and not from Florence, would I blog about Iceland? Maybe. It depends how much there is to do in Iceland. After 12 years here, I still have plenty left to see, experience, and learn (unlike Rebecca, for example, I have not attended a pig slaughtering, nor one of Gloria’s dad’s grape harvests). There’s no need to remind you that Italy boasts a ridiculous range of territories, climates, and regions and I haven’t seen half of them. But even here in Tuscany, I find myself constantly amazed.

A google image search for Monet + Rouen

Recently I co-hosted Slow Art Day in Florence; we picked paintings in the exhibit “Picasso Miro Dali” at Palazzo Strozzi that participants had to focus on for 10-15 minutes. We looked at how Dalí painted numerous views from his family’s summer home in Cadaqués and I wondered why he kept painting the same place. Or why Monet kept painting the same Cathedral at Rouen. The two artists had similar goals of capturing light, though for the Catalan artist it was also an issue of capturing a sense of place.

For each of us, there are some things we never tire of looking at. For me, it’s the view from our summer home in Maremma that I find myself staring out at and photographing frequently. The slight changes in the trees and valley as the seasons and days progress continues to hold my attention. Whatever your medium, if you’re trying to get a grip on the true essence of something, repetition seems to be a good approach. So I keep writing about Italy and Tuscany.

Yet another sunset in Sticciano

Because it makes me go out and do things

Hard at work posting information on the go.

Having a blog is a commitment. If you don’t write for a while, you feel guilty (even if probably nobody else really notices my absence). And so comes the Saturday that I say to Tommaso “we have to go out and ‘fare le cose’…” or “do things”. This is code for blog photo/story mission. Most of the time these things are within an hour’s drive of either Florence or Sticciano and are chosen by looking at a map and cross-referencing it with the Touring Club red guide. My husband will tag along on any artistic mission so long as he gets properly fed, preferably at a Slow Food restaurant. He generally documents the voyage with his iphone, posting on facebook as we go, while I check in on Foursquare using my Android.

The way I travel when I have to write about it is probably different than how I’d experience a place “just for myself”. There’s pressure to remember to photograph not just what’s beautiful but what I realize needs to be documented. And I find myself constructing posts on the fly, making sure I get the story or information necessary to recount it to my readers. There’s no question that I benefit from this process as I pay much more attention to what I see when I know that I have an audience who will enjoy my sharing it.

Is this terribly narcissistic? Is it wrong to go out and do something (like waking up at a ridiculous hour to take photos for the blog) just because you can share it. Maybe, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

Because of the community

And speaking of sharing… Arttrav’s been around since 2004, but things really picked up in 2009 when I started using social networks and “met” other Italy bloggers. We “like” each others’ posts on facebook, and probably consist of a lot of each others’ traffic, too. Knowing that I’m not writing in a vacuum but that I’m part of a great, generous community is one of the factors that keeps me going. So Jessica’s idea to start a blogging roundtable fits perfectly into this context, allowing us to create an even stronger link (pun intended) to each other.

Blogger roundtable posts

By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • Pingback: Italy Roundtable: Why I Write About Italy » Brigolante Guest Apartments

  • Pingback: Because it’s not Florence everywhere… and because it’s home. | At Home in Tuscany

  • Gloria – Casina di Rosa

    Bella! So nice to see a personal post on your blog! I loved it! This morning I had to still precious minutes from breakfast time to go read your post right away!
    Bacio!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    thanks my dear! Yes, these purely personal reflections are rare, though
    you’ll notice that i’m way less factual than I was a few years ago and bring
    more personal references (and names) into my writing in general. I will have
    to carve out some time tonight to read your post…

  • http://twitter.com/3pipenet three pipe problem

    Thank you for sharing this Alexandra. I think for some of us, it is harder to write these more personal posts – I would put myself in the same category. It was nice to hear your reasons, and of course explore them in the interview you did at 3PP.

    For me, as art writing is not my profession, my reason for doing it will always be “to learn”. If I can also inspire others to want to learn a bit more about an artist or era, then even better!

    Whilst you did mention learning briefly above, I find this to be the most powerful element of your work – its ability to impart knowledge and make others strive to create captivating experiences and connections.

    We are very lucky to have you!

    Kind Regards
    H

  • Alberti’s Window

    Great post, Alex. I know what you mean about how a blog “makes you do things.” I enjoy having that self-imposed pressure from my blog. It helps me to keep on my toes, and also makes sure that I take time to do the things that I love (i.e. write and research).

  • Alberti’s Window

    Great post, Alex. I know what you mean about how a blog “makes you do things.” I enjoy having that self-imposed pressure from my blog. It helps me to keep on my toes, and also makes sure that I take time to do the things that I love (i.e. write and research).

  • Brigolante

    I considered adding a paragraph in my Roundtable post entitled “Because Otherwise I’d Be a Big Lazyass” which pretty much said the same thing. And I totally start composing blog posts in my head while I am still there. It’s a little meta, but some of my best writing happens on the spot (and generally gets forgotten before I get a chance to jot it down). Love that you mentioned the community…I very much feel the same. Great post, brainiac.

  • Pingback: Italy Travel News 05/05/2011 | Italy Travel Guide

  • http://www.emikodavies.com Emiko

    Wonderful and inspiring post! This is the reason I love to read blogs – it’s like a snippet of someone’s personal diary ;)

  • http://www.emikodavies.com Emiko

    Wonderful and inspiring post! This is the reason I love to read blogs – it’s like a snippet of someone’s personal diary ;)

  • http://www.emikodavies.com Emiko

    Wonderful and inspiring post! This is the reason I love to read blogs – it’s like a snippet of someone’s personal diary ;)

  • http://www.emikodavies.com Emiko

    Wonderful and inspiring post! This is the reason I love to read blogs – it’s like a snippet of someone’s personal diary ;)

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thanks emiko, and thank you everyone for your supportive comments. I’m
    starting to think i may have to start writing more personal posts on this
    blog!
    alexandra

  • Maccarthy_annemarie

    @arttrav HI Alexandra, loved reading your post! I’m heading to Florence next week for a 5 week study of Italian. Am so looking forward to it, albeit a bit daunted as I’m leaving husband in Ireland until mid June when I’ll join him in Milan. Will spend some time this week reading some more of your blogs from Florence, so I’m more prepared for my adventure (will also be reading some more the roundtable contributions! Thanks again for sharing Anne Marie

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thanks Anne Marie! Enjoy your stay in Florence – pick up a copy of The
    Florentine when you arrive so that you’re on top of all the happenings (and
    of course keep an eye on arttrav… but more info goes into the newspaper
    than the blog, that’s for sure!)

  • Italicana

    Great post! I agree about needing to “go out and do something” just for my vlog, and I believe it is actually great motivation to not take free time for granted. Each moment, I’m thinking, “what can I do, what would my audience like to see etc.” Not only does this keep the mind stimulated and excited, it also pushes one to explore and not fall into mundane monotony.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    You’re so right! You know you have to find something you haven’t done
    before, and that hasn’t been written about a million times!

  • Pingback: It must be a sign: Driving in Italy | Arttrav.com

  • Pingback: Windsurfing in Tuscany (aka, what I learned on my summer holiday) | Arttrav.com