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Welcome to Italy: Saskia Balmaekers

Saskia says ‘Ciao tutti’

After having interviewed two (blogger) friends of mine, Maria Pasquale (Australia) and Deyse Ribeiro (Brazil), it’s now time to introduce you another blogger: Saskia Balmaekers.

I met Saskia in 2014. The first time I saw her I thought she was a cute and quiet girl. She looks at you behind her thick glasses and she observes everything around her, but when she starts laughing she fills you up with joy.

When I met her for the first time, I didn’t know she speaks Italian very well and understands almost every Italian idiom and ways of doing. We had the occasion to talk about her blog and what she built in the latest years, so that I would like to introduce her to you.

If you are Dutch, I suggest you to follow her blog Ciaotutti because she loves Italy and through her blog you can deeply know Italy.

Now let’s read what she answered to our usual 10 questions.

1) Talk us about you

Since my friends were always asking me advice when traveling to Italy, my brother suggested to start a blog to share all my Italian stories. It was November 2009 – and I seriously did not know anything about blogging. I did not even had internet at home. But the idea of sharing my Italian discoveries with a lot of people sounded great, so I planned some stories. The first one was published on the first of February, 2010. Since then, I write every day at least one article about Italy: about places to go and to stay, about Italian culture, music, language, about Italian recipes, products and exhibitions. After almost 3 years, I decided to quit my job and to dedicate all my time to Ciao tutti – and thus to Italy. Since then, I travel a lot around Italy and with each visit I am more in love with the country and its people.

2) Why do you love Italy?

I fell in love with Rome in 1998 – love at first sight it was. I went back two years later, in 2000, and decided I would love to study Italian, to be able to experience more of the Italian culture, to discover more Italian stories and to be able to live in Italy for a while. I first finished my studies in the Netherlands, at the University of Tilburg, before heading to Florence to study Italian.

3) Which are the reasons why Dutch people have to come to Italy once in their life?

To experience the Italian dolce vita: the ‘no stress, enjoy life’ attitude. To wander around medieval towns, to gaze at Botticelli’s or Michelangelo’s masterpieces, to enjoy a beautiful sunset, to eat a four course lunch instead of a quick sandwich at their office desk and to feel the warm Italian sunshine…

4) Which advice would you like to give to Dutch people on holiday in our country?

There is so much advice – I already wrote almost 4000 articles about it. But the best advice: do not make too much plans for your stay in Italy. Try to enjoy the moment, decide what you want to do just in this very moment instead of planning every minute and making holiday programs that are worse than office projects.

5) What do they have to avoid to visit and why?

I do not think they have to avoid anything. Every town, every corner has its own charm. Just go and explore, even beyond the beaten path.

6) Which is your favourite Italian dish?

Risotto – the best comfort food. I also love arancini, the Sicilian fried rice balls. Thinking of it, I have to plan a trip to Sicily to taste the real ones again.

7) Which is your favourite Italian place?

That’s a question I just cannot answer. I like to stay in Rome or Florence for a while, but I love Venice, Turin, Milan and Verona too. I love to travel around Sicily, I dream of the beautiful Sicilian island of Favignana, I could live in Puglia and after a few months not being there I really miss Naples. I just cannot choose which one is favourite…

8) Why did you you create “Ciaotutti”?

Simply to share my love for Italy. It was love at first sight and that first love only deepened learning and experiencing more of the country. I cannot really explain it, it was just a strange feeling of coming home, breathing the first air in Rome, at Piazza del Popolo. I love the sound of the language, the warm welcome of the people, the cultural heritage, the monuments at every corner, the food culture (not only the food but also how people gather together to have lunch and dinner)… When I start talking about Italy, I just cannot stop. After almost 4000 articles on Ciao tutti, I easily can write another 4000!

9) What do you think about Italy?

I do not think about it, I try just to experience it – and every day it is a beautiful experience. I love the Italian culture and all the Italian landmarks. I know that – comparing to the Netherlands – Italy can be chaotic, but it so much warmer and welcoming. Just love this cultural aspect.

10) Will you live in Italy one day?

Maybe – if I have figured out which place I love more!

Eleonora

I'm a Italy lover, mom of two, living in central Italy and I love travelling. I have a degree in Tourism economics and management and now I'm a consultant helping businesses working in tourism.

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