La Dolce Vita with a side of realism.
Do people actually care what I think?
Welcome to An American Girl In Italy.
A few years ago I moved to Turin from New York. I know what you’re thinking: Why in the hell did she choose that city when she could have moved to Rome or even Naples? What is Turin even known for? Who lives there? Did she do it for a guy?
The answer is really not that interesting — I fell in love with the city.
Its coldness and sense of apprehension reminded me of an old boyfriend who lived in Queens, and for whom I couldn’t quite figure out but was helplessly drawn to. I guess Turin hooked me in the same way ( but at least now I refrain from trying to “figure out” the opposite sex. Especially the Italian ones. Just. Don’t. Do. It.).
Also, the wine.
Most people don’t know this, but I also moved to Italy to write a book and had initially planned to rent a tiny Airbnb in Lucca as per the advice of Dutch Cinematographer David Claessen.
“Italy will be the greatest place you will ever live, Joan. It’s going to be the perfect setting for your book,” he said over drinks in Harlem in March of 2017.
I moved to Italy in late November of 2017 and David has never been happier — and I have never had more writing material in my life.
A few weeks ago, a friend who works in New York asked me why I hadn’t written anything in a while. Not for other magazines or even for RELATE (my digital storytelling platform), but simply for the folks who loved my personal musings.
Honestly, I was kind of thrown for a loop. I thought, the successful dude from Google actually READS my shit?
And apparently, he wasn’t the only one. A friend of mine in Minneapolis asked me to write some pieces and share the many recipes I post via the gram — something to keep her busy during these pandemic filtered months. When I recently left OSF, a colleague in Brussels asked me if I’d now take the time to do some writing with my whiskey, something to “take the edge off” in a way. *I always write with a drink in hand so I can feel closer to Hemingway*
I guess after devoting myself to sharing the stories of others I’d somehow forgotten how to do so for myself. Though there’s a lot I’d love to write about, it’s also quite difficult for me in this period. The challenges and opportunities that writing presents are both fleeting and fun, and in a day and age where content is consumed like Uber Eats, I have my misgivings.
So today I asked a guy I know if he thought this space would be a good idea, and naturally, he had some pointed advice about positioning and audience. And with that, here I am, ready to flood your inbox with stories about life in Italy, falling in and out of love (with men too), the occasional threesome (I will explain in further detail down the line but it’s actually NOT what you may think), wine, why running a startup in Italy might be like signing a death agreement, my not so secret obsession with Guiseppe Conte, and why asparagus is the ultimate aphrodisiac but you may not want to add it as a primi or secondi (always a starter).
An American Girl In Italy is a play on words in tribute to the famous Ruth Orkin photo from the 50s.
Growing up in Minnesota, the idea of La Dolce Vita was always regulated to white women traveling through Tuscany and eating gelatos with handsome men on red Vespas. And though part of that imagery does ring true (at least pre-Covid times and if the man is from “the south”), it’s also complete bullshit. There’s so much more to life in Italy than what Americans are fed — I know because I’ve lived it.
And in our racially insensitive and often devastating world, the American Girl comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes — and I’m doing my best to make sure that that representation goes beyond the original photo.
If you’re interested in what I might have to say, what recipes are banging my fancy, or if the saying “Torinese false e cortese” is actually true, subscribe.
I’ll share two stories and one recipe a month. Your support keeps me motivated and keeps me creative.
Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.
In the meantime, tell your friends!