First Time On Surviving In Italy?

Your First Time Here? STOP. This is not a traditional travel blog. If you’re offended easily or struggle with sarcasm or irony you should skip my website and watch this instead. Also, I swear ALL THE TIME and ramble on about the capybara. You still there? Winning! I’ve Put Together Some Of My Most Popular Posts For You To Start With:


21 Ways To Survive Being An Expat 

Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

Christmas In Italy 2013: The Time The Blowdryer Ate My Mother-In-Law’s Head

13 Things That I’ve Learned From Marrying An Italian Man

17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy Or Homicidal

Italian The Hard Way

10 Reasons That I’m Surprised That Someone Married M.E.

In My Husband’s Family, Leaving The Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten A Child 


7 Best Things To Prepare You For Italy

Dining In Italy: How To Avoid Making An Ass Of Yourself

Rome With Rick Zullo

Travel Bologna With Sarah Dowling

5 Steps To A Non-Conventional Night In Florence

A Weekend In Chianti

Vacation Apartments In Florence: How To Overcome Writer’s Block (Or Just Hang Out).


Moving To Italy: Studying And Living 

Frequently Asked Questions: Jobs, Immigration, Circumcision, Love

31 Reasons You Would Be Better Off In Italy

How To Move To Italy


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I just wrapped up a three hour game of Risk with my husband, younger siblings, my dad and my step mom. We had pie and drank coffee. Earlier today, Francesco and I had lunch with my mom, my step dad, my younger brother, aunts and uncles. There may or may not have been some male camel-toe action, cowboy boots, and my mom may have said, “oh yeah! I’ve been eating vegetables, i ate broccoli last week.” 

Man, are families crazy. 

But I’m so grateful for mine. Despite our collective flaws, quirks,  lifestyles, and varied opinions of Donald Trump (wtf?!), I’m happy to have the family I have and the experiences of gained from them. And their sense of humor. My eleven year old sister today made fun of me, “I hate t.v., it totally distracts from me saving the world. Wait, unless you want to watch a documentary.” Touché kid sister. 

Life is good. 

I’m also grateful for my husband. He drives me insane. I thought about creative ways to choke him to death at least three times today. I screamed, “I’m going to stab you!” At least once. But? He’s perfect. He’s so generous and giving and loyal and wonderful. He sings French songs threateningly at me in the car and it’s weird and adorable. Thank you, universe, for giving me too much vodka and dropping me in a bar in Florence. Disney should make a movie about it. Frozen…the margherita version. 

I hope that all of you had a fun-filled (wine soaked) holiday with your insane family. Also? Detail your funny story in the comments below! 

Tanti Baci. And tanti vino. 

Italy In The Winter: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Baby, It’s Cold Outside. And Inside. I’m Basically Dying Of Hypothermia In Florence, Italy

Let’s start this winter post about Italy with a short apology: I’ve been sort of absent lately. Not because I want to be but because Francesco was laid off after 3 weeks at a new job (the CEO decided to close the branch, you know, for funsies), and we had to move for the second time in ONE MONTH. He finally found a new job that is totally awesome and started yesterday, we move yet again next week, and all the while I’ve been editing my book with two completely badass editors who have worked for a bunch of fancy publishers and it’s been glorious. Unfortunately, I’ve been pulled in so many directions, and my head has been lodged so far up my own ass, I’ve hardly had time to be here, with you guys, doing what I love. However, my beloved COSI GROUP was all, “Nuh-uh, bitches,” and they collectively pulled all of us out of our slumber (there’s been a few of us struggling lately…this summer/fall has been a real pain in the ass), to get back on the COSI bandwagon and blog. This month’s theme? WINTER IN ITALY. And guess what? This subject could wake me from the dead because there’s nothing that causes me more suffering, or makes me whine like a toddler, than the cold.

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Travel To Saint Vincent, Italy, For Poker, Hot Springs, And A Hot Time

I’ve travelled all over Italy, from Brescia to Sicily and I’m still somehow amazed by the diversity and beauty of such a teeny-tiny country (Italy is smaller than some US states). There are a lot of things that I love about Italy that might surprise you. Since I’ve been to so many places, I’ve decided it would be fun to write little mini guides for as many cities as I can manage. 

I’m going to kick it off in Saint Vincent. Why? Because it’s north and I’m going to slowly make my way from the top to the bottom of the fabulous Italian boot. Plus, the north is the area that I’ve explored the least but want to explore the most. All of these crazy braggarts keep telling me about how their people “stand in lines and stuff” in some parts of the north so I’d like to see this in real life, naturally. 


Saint Vincent is located in North-West Italy. It’s in that part of Italy that kind of resembles Switzerland; it’s green in the summer, beautiful, and clean (and the people have interesting mixed accents). The city has unique weather since it rests nestled in a valley and has its own little “microclimate” with coolish summers and mild winters compared to the surrounding areas. 

The location makes it a super rad city to visit, rain or shine. It’s far north, so during the summer months it’s less hot than say, scalding Florence, but in the winter it’s “colder than a witches’ tit,” as my mom would so eloquently say (she has a way with words). During the winter this region gets snow and just 1640 meters from Saint Vincent you can find the Col de Joux ski resort, making the cooler months an especially fun time to visit.

Aside from skiing, there’s also the “Grolle d’Oro” film awards at the end of October, and famous hot springs! Who doesn’t love hot springs when it’s crisp out? When I was a teenager in Utah, I’d drive for four hours north to Idaho to go to the hot springs because I was weird, but also adventurous. Seriously, it was the highlight of being 16-year-old me (stop judging). Anyway, I love hot springs, it’s good for your skin with all the minerals, and it feels less toxic and pornish than a Jacuzzi. Seriously, who wants to sit in a Jacuzzi with strangers? Nobody, that’s who. 

Just imagine it: fall leaves, a thermal bath, a nice dinner with some wine, followed by cocktails and gambling. James Bond-style, my friends. There is a huge casino in Saint Vincent that is pretty famous, the Casino De La Vallee, and there really is a big poker tournament organised by PokerStars there and, well, seriously? Italians, poker, Italy? Sounds like a spy movie and I’m totally IN. Plus, it totally sounds like your cup of tea, too, guys (gremlins). I’ve recently started watching poker tournaments on TV which is a little like participating in an anthropology experiment because the players on TV are weird, like “maybe I eat people,” weird. And there’s always some dude wearing sunglasses in the dim casino and I’m always like, “Oh! A singer!” but he’s not a singer, he’s just a gambler being very sneaky (I realize that I shouldn’t associate men in sunglasses with talented blind performers). The poker in Italy is probably way cooler than TV poker though, guys. Looks kind of swanky, honestly. 

After your night at the casino, you can head on over to the church, the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Vincenzo. It’s a really unique church, built on top of Roman ruins dating back to 300-A.D. The church was built in the Romanesque style, and the frescoes inside date back to the 1400s. It’s one of those, “I can’t believe it’s this old” places you have to see if you’re in the region. You can totally Instagram it and be like, “Look mom, I was not gambling, because I was too busy taking beautiful pictures of majestic churches.” Honestly, everyone wins.   

While you’re there, or on your way out of town, stop at Les Saveurs d’Antan, a famous gift shop that I haven’t been to but has received a ton of great reviews from Italians who are picky about their products. The little shop carries grappa, cheese, and various other regional specialties that you probably want to take home in bulk (as usual). If you’re flying internationally remember to put any food items or liquids in your checked bags. 

Saint Vincent is the kind of place that would be great to visit if you’re looking for somewhere new to go or if you want to take my advice and do an Off The Beaten Path, trip around Italy. If you’re crazy/bold enough to rent a car and make small cities and weird adventures a big part of your trip, Saint Vincent will fit right in to your itinerary. It’s also kind of a fun place for a romantic weekend, a bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a place to take your friends to create embarrassing and fun memories. It’s definitely top ten on my bucket list for one of these next few winters. Francesco can’t snowboard or anything though so I’ll have to get him and Oliver a sled and matching puffy coats. Can’t wait! 

Have you been to Saint Vincent or are you currently living nearby? In the comments below let me know if there are more things I should add to my “to do” list! Your comments are the best so let the other readers know what they’re missing out on!

Does This Country Make Me Look Fat? Guest Post By Melissa Kulp Frankenfield

This morning, someone asked if I was pregnant. Again. *Sigh* And she was a beggar. So, it was practically a hate crime.

Since this faux-pregnant gal is all for improving human-relations, I just graciously smiled (and swore off eating) as I assured her “No, bambini! No bambini! Mi dispiace.” I actually apologized. For not being pregnant. Does this country make me look fat? Apparently. No thanks to my steady diet of wine with a side of wine.

Here are my (unsubstantiated) anthropological findings: Italy is a study in contrasts. Legislation and liberty. Restraint and moxie. Beauty and decay.

For example: The Italian government gives trash removal the same oversight a TSA agent grants a passenger named “Kamil” with pilot’s license. Clear plastics must be separated from colored plastics which must be separated from glass which must be separated from paper and so on. Basically, it’s the IRS of trash laws.

So, you have that regulation. And then you have this liberty: While recently dining at a local trattoria, the proprietor/probable mafia godfather approached my entourage. The invariable first question is always as to whether all three are mine. All. Three. Friends, “three” does not even qualify me for a TLC reality show.  But, maybe I just seem that overwhelmed. Or like a child-trafficker.  You decide.

*Tight smile* Yes, yes, they are all mine. But, we aren’t sure about the father.


Then, suddenly, this hairy godfather reached down and plucked my toddler right out of his seat, holding him in his floured arms as he pinched his cheek and kissed his head.  Kissed. His. Head. And I hadn’t even signed a “photo release” form yet. Liability release forms. That was my first thought as he affectionately stroked my toddler’s chubby face. On one hand- I can hardly blame the guy. My man-child is edibly adorable. It’s his fatness. (An unfair asset for only the very young.) But, still, can you imagine a comparable situation in say- an Olive Garden? Um, never.  You would be on Megan’s List, labeled as a predator before the day ended.

But, to be honest- my “creeper radar” registered nothing on this old mafia kingpin. Most likely, he was one of those fabled Italians, who actually love children. And frankly, it is the trash police that we could do without. Cause ain’t nobody got time for that.

About The Author:

Melissa Kulp Frankenfield is a washed-up high school actress. Obscure pageant finalist. Child-wrangler. Homeschooler. Wannabe spy.


Miss Italy Wants To Relive WWII

It’s not every day that your husband sends you an article that makes you question whether or not humans should be wiped from the face of the planet. It’s mostly every other day, and especially a few days ago when I read about Alice Sabatini, otherwise known as Miss Italia 2015. I’m worried, guys, that our species is beyond fixing. Sure, we’ve poisoned the planet, destroyed our own ecosystem, and are currently experiencing mass extinction only ever seen before during DINOSAUR TIMES, but I like to think, to hope, that if enough really good people breed (and the assholes stop) we can turn things around.

Now, I’m no so sure. We might be totally doomed, guys.

20/09/2015 Jesolo - Concorso di bellezza Miss Italia - Alice Sabatini Miss Italia 2015

20/09/2015 Jesolo – Concorso di bellezza Miss Italia – Alice Sabatini Miss Italia 2015 (

If you haven’t heard about Miss WWII, well, you’re in for a real treat. Here’s the story, according to The Chronicle,

“”A Miss Italy contestant has faced ridicule after telling judges she would like to experience World War Two.

When asked which historical period she would most like to live in, 18-year-old Alice Sabatini paused for a moment before replying “1942” – one of the darkest years in Italian history under the Mussolini dictatorship.

Likely a little baffled, a woman on the beauty contest judging panel asked: “1942? During World War Two?”

Sabatini confirmed her choice and said she had read a lot about the period.

“Well… to see really what the Second World War was like, since the books talk about it for page after page. I want to live it.

“In any case I am a woman so I wouldn’t have had to do military service, so I would have been at home with the fear of…” she said, trailing off with a light laugh.””

She wanted to live during WWII guys, cause, ya know, Hitler, Mussolini, assholes galore, why the fuck not? Plus, she has a vagina, so all she’d have to do is, ya know, sit home hungry (food wasn’t exactly plentiful during the war) and wait for her brothers, husband, and childhood friends to be shipped home in body bags. Yay!

English: The image is a depiction of Benito Mu...

English: The image is a depiction of Benito Mussolini from 1917 when he was a soldier of World War I Italiano: Benito Mussolini nel 1917 durante la Prima guerra mondiale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here’s what people on Twitter are saying in response to this eighteen-year-old super genius. It’s pretty damn hilarious, I highly suggest all of you to #MissItalia right this minute. It’s glorious.


And if you’re thinking that things couldn’t get any weirder with this pretty lady, later, when asked which Italian historical figure she admired she smiled, proudly, and giggled, “Michael Jordan.”

Clearly, Miss Italia chosen for her amazing intellect and not at all for her impressive brazillian bikini wax. Sigh. Universe, please help us.


The Eternal Holiday: Guest Post By Jenni Midgley

I read an article in a popular British magazine the other day. It was about a girl who had been on holiday for three years.

They mean holiday as in, she had quit her draining 9-5 job and decided to travel the world. She has now been on the road for a substantial period of time..

I refute calling this a holiday, it’s simply a new option, a new lifestyle that many people make a life out of. I’m someone who’s  doing the same. It’s not a holiday, holiday suggests its lesser somehow to staying put, to doing the same job for 25 years, buying a house, getting married and churning out babies.

It’s enviable yeah, which is probably why those in the ‘real world’ need to call it a holiday.

What I call it is challenging yourself to work out what really makes you happy.

For me London wasn’t making me happy. I don’t have some demon that I’m running away from (wait, do I? DO I?), I do have wonderful friends in England, London especially. I had a lovely job. But I knew there was something I needed to explore. Living somewhere warmer, meeting new, open-minded people, learning another language, seeing beautiful things every single day.

So, I saved some money – not loads, but enough. I stayed on friends’ couches for as long as I could get away wIth, saving three months rent, which in London is a sizeable amount and then I flew to Rome.

I mainly travel to find door porn

I mainly travel to find door porn

The main roadblock for people is the money thing. Relax, it really is different once you start your adventure. You will be amazed at how easy it is to get about now for a lowly sum. You don’t have to eat out at fancy restaurants – in fact, make it your mission to meet locals. Work out how they live their life and see if you enjoy doing the same.

I knew I wasn’t up for trekking about with a big old backpack for two years, so i started with Italy. Knowing I wanted to see it properly, be immersed in the culture, learn the language and see a lot of it, that was the extent of my plan.

I started with a few weeks WWOOFING, which cost me next to nothing. By the time I was done, I was ready for the cultural stuff – ie. I learned so much from living and breathing my hosts lives that I knew I’d be able to hold my own alone.

I also made friends this way. You’ll be amazed the huge difference that travel friends make. They are intense relationships and they really pay dividends, the kindness of ‘strangers’ never ceases to amaze me.

Opportunities continually arise because of those I’ve met on the road. That’s how I ended up house-sitting in Imola for two weeks (cost: nothing), that’s how I ended up in an Air BnB apartment with an American I met the day before (experience: FUN , cost:little, privacy: lovely).

Imola - cleaner than a clean thing

Imola – cleaner than a clean thing

Sharing Air BnB's-Local Style

Sharing Air BnB’s-Local Style

If you want to get from one place to another, don’t panic. Use Blah Blah Car, look at train prices – there are simply hundreds of ways to save money these days. Every time I use Blah Blah Car in Italy, I meet lovely good-spirited Italians who know stuff. Ask your co-passengers questions, you never know where it might lead. I also love BBC as you get to see the country you’re staying in.

Of course, all of this is a little bit of a headache sometimes. I like to have bases when I’m travelling – they make me feel more calm. But, if you’re in a city for a couple of days. Book a hostel for a couple of nights and see what happens.

Perks of housesitting - Ravenna

Perks of housesitting – Ravenna

Hostels – of course read reviews, if you’re 30 don’t go for some monster raving loony 18-year old party hostel. There’s something for everyone out there now and people who are backpacking want to talk to other people who are backpacking, it’s as simple as that.

I guess the main thing I should address is the idea of loneliness. Travelling solo, travelling as a girl solo, has a few alarm-bell type strings attached to it. Please believe me when I say, you won’t feel alone. You may physically spend time alone. But isn’t that great? It only takes one person in one place, to make you feel like someone’s got your back.

I sometimes crave more time alone! I like to wander the streets of another country, people looking at you not knowing why this old pasty non-Italian is in Imola. Being the local freak is great and then, guess what? You’re not alone. Local inhabitants of any non-tourist spot the world over are desperate to know what you’re up to and ask you questions.

Obviously, don’t be yelling English at all the locals, telling them what you’re doing there, what I’m saying is some people will be attracted to you and want to know what you’re doing.

Right now I’m a little more static, to people back home it’s exotic, I’m off to live in an apartment in Bologna and go on adventures (it’s a great place to get to other places in Italy) while writing and desperately trying to make more friends. For me, almost three months into my life ‘abroad’ it’s become a little less exotic, a little more just-my-life. I find that the anxieties I might have had in England don’t raise their little heads so much here. I don’t panic about money, I see each day as an opportunity instead. I don’t worry about relationships (friend, male, female, love, animal) as I have an Italian phone now which (surprise, surprise) helps with that stuff. I just try and go with the flow while still keeping hold of my identity.

The author- On Top Of A Mountain

The author- On Top Of A Mountain

It’s not always La Dolce Vita but, so far, it sometimes feels damn close. Yes, that may because I’m comparing it to commuting from Peckham to Oxford Street every morning (I resent all phrases such as HappyHumpDay, HappyFriday, SundayBlues – every day should be as good as the one before or after!) but trust me, you just need to be brave and see what happens.

If everything goes tits up, we can all return from whence we came. God I hope not.



Jenni Midgley is a 20-something writer. She left her 9-5 editorial role in London to reinvigorate her lost sense of adventure and to take more naps by the sea. She currently resides in Bologna, enjoying good food, better wine and writing about what happens whenever she leaves her apartment at She loves Instagram.

Three Years Ago Today I Married My Italian Man

Three years ago I married a badass Italian man in freezing cold Park City with my family and friends and Francesco’s awesome friends who flew in from all over the world (6 months later we married again in Italy).

Our best friends gave terrifying/sweet speeches, we danced (and my step mom learned to cut the cake), and celebrated our majestic union. Three years and nobody has been strangled. Totally killing this marriage thing. Thanks, Francesco, for smirking at my OCD, making fun of my terrible temper, and loving my friends and family like they were your own. You’re the best (like way better than that one bitches husband), and I’m so happy to fall asleep every night next to you, mildy tangled in your luxurious chest hair.

To forever! Or until one if us taps out (but if you tap our first I’ll hire a hitman…cause LOVE ME). Tanti baci…to the man who has made me a more empathetic, tolerant, open person. I love you. Aggressively.