I truly LOVE Italy. My last trip to Italy was in 2019, the year before the pandemic started. Can’t wait to go back again — maybe next year. It’s one of my favorite places to travel. While I’ve visited Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Positano and Sicily, there are many more places in Italy I want to explore — ooh, ooh, ooh, especially Bologna and Emilia Romagna and Venice and Milan.
A book for all those who love Italy
If you love Italy like I do, you’ll enjoy reading my interview with Maria Pasquale the author of HOW TO BE ITALIAN. Maria’s most recent book is a celebration of the Italian lifestyle including how to eat, drink, dress, travel, and love the sweet life or as they say in Italian, la dolce vita. Maria’s tone is endearing, you can tell she LOVES Italy and is very good at explaining its culture and history. Her additions in the back of the book are fun too, like the party playlist of Italian songs, the calendar of Italian holidays and festivals, and the glossary of Italian words.
Chatting with award-winning travel writer and journalist Maria Pasquale
HOW TO BE ITALIAN is actually Maria’s second book about Italy. Her first, I HEART ROME, was published in 2017 and is a love letter to the Eternal City. How did an Australian born and bred girl get to know so much about Italy? I’ll let Maria tell you. Here’s the interview:
Be sure to read to the end and enter the giveaway to win a copy of HOW TO BE ITALIAN.
You grew up in Australia. How did you develop a love for Italy?
Maria: “My parents were born in a small town in central Italy and emigrated to Australia in the late 1950s and late 1960s. My paternal grandparents never emigrated to Australia and so having nonni in Italy, and Italian parents in Australia meant I always had a very strong tie to Italy. I visited as a child, fell in love with it as an adolescent, travelled throughout it as a young adult and moved to Rome in 2011.”
Tell me how you became a travel writer.
Maria: “I always wanted to write and be a journalist but my studies and career took me down a different road at first. I’ve always written about my travels, even always keeping a journal when I was on holidays. In my first year living in Rome, I began writing a blog about my experiences and worked in a PR role in my first years in the city and met many journalists. As the blog started to grow, I became the Rome local expert for 10Best USA Today and the rest is history. I still write for USA Today and contribute regularly to CNN, Fodor’s and Condé Nast publications with bylines in many other magazines and news outlets.”
What is the essence of living like an Italian?
Maria: “Practicing the Italian philosophy of la bella figura. Basically, it means making the right impression and always putting your best foot forward. And the art of the dolce far niente; means being idle and taking a moment to appreciate life and your surroundings. To be Italian is to have respect for and an appreciation of history, tradition, excellence, food and wine, family and friends and so much more – but these are a great start!”
Tell me more about the meaning of dolce far niente. It sounds like an Italian form of mindfulness.
Maria: “Yes, it’s mindfulness but more importantly this art of being idle and taking a moment of pleasure is done without guilt. That’s the key.”
Food is such a big part of Italian culture. What is your favorite style of Italian cooking?
Maria: “I love all the traditions, the customs and the classics. Roman cuisine is great and I love it but I do love Sicily, Abruzzo, Piedmont, Campania and Emilia Romagna for their culinary dynamism. I have much respect for cucina povera (humble cuisine borne of poverty and focused on not wasting anything) but just as much for innovative new Italian cuisine. Diversity keeps Italians so content when it comes to eating.”
Beverages play a major role in Italian culture too. Any tips when ordering coffee in Italy? What about wine or aperitifs?
Maria: “Coffee is great across the country, but don’t ever miss it in Naples – a city that is fiercely proud of its coffee. Also if you want to keep up with the locals, don’t order anything milky after midday or with your food. Italians do not eat with a cappuccino in hand. Cappuccino is for breakfast. Aperitivo is the other important Italian ritual and Aperol spritz is not for lunch or dinner.”
Fashion is such an iconic part of Italy. Know wonder I love the country so much — food and fashion are my two favorites in life. Ooh, ooh, ooh, can you offer any fashion tips for my next visit to Italy?
Maria: “Dress like the Italians and dress for the season and not for the weather. No flip flops or beach wear away from the beach and add some choice items like an accessory (belt, hat, scarfs, broach) to lift your outfit.”
You note that Italy is one of the most popular destinations in the world for travelers. What’s the best way to travel like an Italian?
Maria: “Don’t plan too much and too much in advance. Italians like to take things con calma (slowly) and are quite spontaneous and last minute when it comes to planning and travelling.”
Finally LOVE. You say that “to be Italian IS TO LOVE love.” With all the struggles and unrest in parts of the world right now, maybe things would be more peaceful if warriors heeded LOVE advice from our Italian neighbors. How can we LOVE more like the Italians?
Maria: “See beauty in everything. Be passionate about something, a cause, anything. This is key to loving like the Italians.”
Thank you Maria for your cool info about HOW TO BE ITALIAN. If you would like to learn more about HOW TO BE ITALIAN, check out Maria’s website and for all her tips about Rome, read her blog, HeartRome.
Enter the giveaway for a copy of HOW TO BE ITALIAN
Now that you’ve read Maria’s interview, are you eager to book a trip to Italy? I sure am! To get yourself ready for travel, enter the giveaway for HOW TO BE ITALIAN. Complete the rafflecopter below or leave a comment and LMK about what you love about Italy or if you could travel there now what Italian city you would like to visit. One lucky winner will be selected to win a copy of Maria’s book. Maybe it will be you! If not, I highly recommend this book as a gift for all your friends who are fans of Italy.