On Writing (about Italy) & the blogger roundtable
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.
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.
Because it makes me go out and do things
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
- Because it’s not Florence everywhere… and because it’s home. from At Home in Tuscany
- What Can I Write About Italy That Hasn’t Been Written Before? from Italofile
- Why I Write About Italy from WhyGo Italy
- Why I write about Italy by Rebecca “Brigolante”