Happy 1st Blogiversary!

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

   I am very proud to announce that today marks one year since Not Just Another “Dolce Vita” came into being. Exactly one year ago today, up to my eyeballs in essays and right in the middle of crunch time for my Master’s Degree in Italian Studies, I decided that it was obviously the perfect moment to start writing an Italy-themed travel and culture blog.

   Not only has my little blog baby helped me to practice and (hopefully!) hone my writing skills, it has also helped me to share my cultural knowledge of Italia and gli Italiani, as well as regale  you with stories of my many mishaps – cooking, cultural and otherwise. I’ve connected with other bloggers, readers and Italy- enthusiasts from all over the world, and it’s great to know that I’m                                                     part of a larger community.

Knowing that my 1st blogiversary (love that word) was coming up, I started to really reflect on why I decided to start writing a blog in the first place. These are the reasons I’ve come up with:

1.) Distraction – I was looking for something, anything, even remotely productive to help me get through the final crunch of my Master’s Degree. Writing blog posts instead of essays didn’t seem like the best use of my time to many people around me, but brainstorming and writing about my favourite place (Italy, if you hadn’t already guessed) gave me the boost I needed to power through my work and finish my degree.

2.) Documentation – I’ve never been a fan of blogs that read like a badly-written online diary. I don’t need to know what you eat for breakfast each day, how long your commute to work is, how much you hate/love so-and-so, et cetera. At Not Just Another “Dolce Vita’s” inception, I was, however, a month away from embarking on an extended stay in Italy. I hoped that a blog would allow me to document my experiences for the folks at home. And of course, I hoped that a few strangers would stumble upon it and read as well…

3. Practice – I have always dreamed of being a writer. When I was younger, I never dreamed of being a doctor or a vet or anything along those lines. The one dream that has been alive inside me ever since I can remember, is the dream to write. One day I’d like to be published. One day, I’d love to see my name on the cover of a book. One day. So far this blog has been a great way to see if people are interested in what I write and how I write, and to get me into the habit of semi-regular writing.

4. ItalyNeed I say more? I’ll probably have to dedicate a whole post to why I write about Italy…

5. Other Perks -I’ve figured out how the confounded blog thing works! For the most part…  I’ve connected with other writers and Italy lovers who have inspired me. I’ve expanded my social media presence. I got to work with an awesome artist to create my beautiful logo.

My choice to create a blog has been an excellent one.  

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70 posts after my initial Welcome post, eccoci. Here we are. Grazie for reading, commenting, subscribing, tweeting, and supporting this blog. Do me a favour and follow me on Twitter @s_mastroianni and be sure to like Not Just Another “Dolce Vita’s” Facebook page. A year from now I’m hoping to celebrate Blogiversary numero 2 with twice as many subsrcibers, monthly viewers and followers. Aiutatemi! Help me to make it happen.

Looking Past “La Dolce Vita”

The sweet life.


That’s the literal translation of the well-known phrase, “la dolce vita”. These three words are usually used to describe an idyllic idea of daily life in…you guessed it! Italy. The phrase came into popular usage in the English language when director Federico Fellini’s film of the same name won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960. The film stars Marcello Mastroianni, a possible distant parente (relative) of mine and is worth a watch the next time you’ve got 3 hours to kill.

Oggigiorno, nowadays, most people aren’t even aware of the film’s existence, but the words “la dolce vita” conjure up all sorts of colourful (albeit stereotypical) images of living well in sunny Italy.

By giving my blog the title Not Just Another “Dolce Vita” I hoped to invite readers to take a glimpse into Italian life and see beyond the stereotypical “dolce vita” idea. Because while life in Italy may seem simple, stress-free, and always enjoyable to most North Americans (and Brits, and Aussies, and Kiwis, and whoever else…) the reality can be quite different. So please, take off your rose-coloured occhiali, and come get to know the raw Italy.

Picture a place that has had a whopping 67 governments since 1943. A place that’s still a little behind the times when it comes to equality between the sexes, both in the home and the workplace. A country that holds in its bosom the seat of Catholicism, yet has ever-declining faith in the institution of marriage. A place graced with much natural beauty, many World Heritage Sites and an enormous tourism industry, yet finds itself in the deepest throes of a financial crisis. A country where things move slowly and bureaucracy is beyond a nightmare. A country where one of the most beautiful, famous and historic cities is slowly sinking. A homeland where parents would love to have more children, but simply can’t afford to support them. A place where nearly-naked women (Veline) prance around as accessories on daytime tv. A country where fathers retire early so that their sons can have a chance at employment in their place.

It sure doesn’t sound like a very “dolce vita” to me. So why do we think la vita quotidiana (daily life) in Italy is so much sweeter than life in our home country?

Maybe it’s because most non-Italians are there for travel and tourism, so their soggiorno isn’t long enough for them to come in contact with these less-than-postcard-perfect aspects of Italy. Or maybe visitors to Italy cling so tightly to their stereotypes that they don’t ever get to see the real Italy.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because Italy and Italians do have a magical quality about them. And the magic isn’t that life in Italy is always easy and perfect, but it’s in the way that Italians approach life.

Case and point: when I asked a friend of mine what he thought about the financial crisis he responded with subdued pride, “Crisis? What crisis? As long as Italians can eat well with their family and friends, there is no crisis here.”

Life in Italy will always be sweet because Italians will always find the sweetness in it.