#DolceVitaBloggers alberti mantova church architecture

The Italian Connection #DolceVitaBloggers

The internet is a wonderful thing. Sure it has its downsides, but when you find yourself moving to a new city or country, it can become a wonderful resource and a way to make new friends and connections. In the end, it can also lead you to find that special someone in your life, as it did for me. Today, thanks to some of those online connections I’ve started to make here in Italy, I’ve been invited to take part in the first #DolceVitaBloggers link-up organized by Kelly, Jasmine, and Kristie. The first theme is the Italian Connection, how each blogger has found themselves with a connection to this fascinating country.

Italian Introduction

My connection started off purely academic. I was at university studying art history and had to take a course on Italian Renaissance art and architecture. At first, I wasn’t particularly excited, as my interest at the time lay in Gothic architecture. My expectation was a class full of pictures of naked little chubby baby angels fluttering about. Meh. Fortunately, I was oh so wrong!DolceVitaBloggers renaissance art

I ended up falling in love with the art of the Italian Renaissance. All of that symbolism, iconography, and those colors and forms! The faces full of drama and passion and pathos! I still get a thrill when I get to see a work in person that I remember studying. It’s like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in ages! All of the emotions come rushing back.

I did also end up falling in love with the architecture. Give me some rustication, alternating curved and triangular pediments, columns, keystones, pilasters, decorated cornices, and quoins and I’m positively giddy. Probably a bit annoying, too, if you’re walking with me in any Italian city and having to stop constantly for me to admire some little architectural bit here and there or when I suddenly cry out, “Ohhh!” upon stumbling across a building I hadn’t been expecting. Not quite When Harry Met Sally levels of ecstasy, but you get the idea.

#DolceVitaBloggers alberti mantova church architecture
The unexpected joy of coming across Alberti’s Basilica di Sant’Andrea in Mantova.
Basilica di sant'andrea mantova alberti architecture
Look at that coffered ceiling in the entrance arch!

Sono Una Tifosa

Unfortunately, I’d come to my love of Italian art and architecture a bit late in my academic career and didn’t end up studying the Italian language at the time. But I was becoming a full-on Italophile, furthered by the Wold Cup taking place the year I graduated. I was cheering on Italy throughout the tournament and they went all the way to the finals! Then there was a penalty kick shoot-out that went horribly wrong and we won’t mention that any more.

Eventually, I started following Serie A, Italian calcio (soccer/football), thanks to the Internet and some international newspapers and magazines I could find at one of the big bookstores. I started trying to learn Italian on my own and could occasionally catch an episode of TG1 (evening news) on cable tv late at night. I eventually signed up to take Italian 101 at the local university, which was hugely helpful. I had also started exchanging emails with someone in Italy, so I was able to practice my Italian regularly.

By the time I finally organized my first trip to Italy, I was able to get by with the basics, had some fun conversations that were a mix of Italian and English, saw some works of art and architecture I’d been dying to see, and even got to go to an Inter-Milan derby at San Siro.

Love Connection

In 2000, I moved to New York City, when my job moved there. After some really lousy dates, I decided to give Internet dating a shot. It was new and a little weird, but hey, it couldn’t really be worse than some of the other dates I’d been on. In the end, I actually met a few really nice people. One, in particular, stood out, and he just happened to be Italian.#DolceVitaBloggers amore

Certainly, the fact that I knew something about Italy and knew a tiny bit of the language helped us connect, but we hit it off anyway, talking for more than five hours on our first date. I knew he was a keeper when he surprised me one day with the gift of a book. It was one of his favorites, Ocean Sea, by Alessandro Baricco (in English, though).

Sixteen years later, we’re still together and we’re now living in his hometown, Bologna. I get to indulge in my love of Italian architecture — and Bologna is particularly stunning with all of the portici. I’m also trying to remember and relearn all of the Italian that I once knew and have forgotten. I think official classes will be part of the plan in 2018. We spent nearly the last nine years in the Netherlands, so I’m currently speaking a mishmash of Italian and Dutch. I’m never quite sure what’s going to come out.

As well as learning the language, there are other adjustments to be made. But I’ve assimilated more than enough to now recoil in horror about the wrongness of spaghetti bolognese like a true native of Bologna!

trattoria serghei restaurants in bologna italy tagliatelle al ragu tortellini in brodo
Tagliatelle al ragú, as it should be!

Are you an Italophile or simply have your own Italian connection? Check out the other blogs being posted today and check out the #DolceVitaBloggers. There are seemingly endless types of pasta and surely just as many personal Italian connections.


17 thoughts on “The Italian Connection #DolceVitaBloggers

  1. Oh no..you’d better not read my Italy connection story now, I used to adore spaghetti bolognese WITH garlic bread which I was a child…what a blasphemy! I like that you mentioned Mantova for architecture, it has some surprising little gems like the Rotonda church, have you been there?


    1. Oh, I used to eat it, too. There are so many rules to Italian pasta that I refuse to cook it for fear of committing some heinous crime. I leave the pasta cooking to my boyfriend. 🙂

      I went to Mantova mainly for the Palazzo Te, but after visiting there, we wandered around Mantova a bit, which is when I saw the Basilica. It was winter and getting dark, so we didn’t stay that long, but I’d love to go back.


  2. Alison, I love your description of Italian art & architecture! It had me both swooning and laughing out loud! I used to be afraid of “people on the internet” but now I feel like I’ve found “my people” all thanks to the world wide web! Btw, I too met my Italian boyfriend online through a language exchange! How sweet that yours gifted you a book, that’s a keeper right there! Oh, and I am also a proud defender of ragù…omg I cringe every time I hear about something like “chicken bolognese” from big food bloggers. We can definitely use the internet to save Italian food!


    1. Thank you! A mix of swooning and laughing is what I usually aim for with my blogs. 🙂

      It’s hard to watch cooking shows now, especially with my boyfriend. He always starts ranting, which I find adorable and funny. But he’s definitely rubbed off. Chicken and pasta?! The horror!!


      1. It seems to be everywhere in the US. I get twitchy looking for chicken recipes and seeing so much pasta!


  3. Thank you for joining up! So many of us have fallen for those cheeky Italian men! What a great place to live as well. Hubby keeps telling me we need to do a trip to Bologna because the food is amazing! Lovely to learn more about you and look forward to reading more posts! Kristie xx #DolceVitaBloggers


    1. Thanks for helping to organize the linkup! I’m looking forward to having the time to read all of the posts today. It’s always interesting to see all the different stories.

      And Bologna is definitely worth a visit. Visually, it’s beautiful, but this part of Italy is where so many iconic dishes originated, so you’ll also eat well.


  4. Alison, we need to meet up in Bologna! I’ve NEVER been can you believe it?! I might have a trip coming up though so I’ll keep you posted. I’m starting to think we should have a hashtag called #DolceVitaBloggersHABs (Husbands and Boyfriends) ahaha! Thanks for this post though and stoked to have you with us in this ever-growing tribe.


    1. I’m still learning the city, but it really is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. A real gem! Do let me know if you’re coming into town. And thanks again for the invite to the linkup.


  5. Italia has magical powers if you ask me. It’s so beautiful how a country can bring people together! Beautiful story!


  6. Reading how you abandoned the craziness of spaghetti bolognese and embraced the glory of tagliatelle al ragù made my day! 😀
    As you might have guessed, I’m from Bologna… I’m happy you found a home here, it’s indeed a lovely place to live in.

    After reading the beautiful posts of everyone’s connections to Italy, I don’t seem to get used to words of love for my country (and even more for my city). It always makes my heart melt!


    1. Yay! Another blogger with a Bologna connection! Bologna is easy to love, though. I have a number of friends who have visited the city in the past and they were all excited that I was moving here and talked about how much they loved Bologna. Now I just have to get over some of my own anxiety and explore it more. 🙂


  7. Chicken and pasta is a very common combination in India and I too like you, have grown up eating it. As an Indian, our food is also really experimented (I saw an Indian curry version pasta once in Italy) and if we Indians started to criticize everything we saw on Indian food abroad, it would be crazy. Italians do it a lot of it and I know its wrong to change things but I also feel every culture imbibes things to their own habits and tastes. Btw love your Italian connection especially the book gifting 😉


    1. I tend to avoid saying I’m making any particular cultural dish. I just throw things together and if they happen to have a few Italian — or Indian — influences, well, that’s just a coincidence. Less possibility of offending! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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