About Me

Hello! My name is Michelle Bottalico and I’m an American living in Torino, Italy. Simply Italiana is a place where I write about Italian daily life, the ever-fascinating Italian language, and how living in Italy helps make my quest for a simple life a reality. I’m a photographer and enjoy documenting the world around me, and I share photo projects and shots of my life and travels. I blog about other topics that are important to me, throwing in posts about hearing loss, dual citizenship, the search for my Italian roots, minimalism and veganism, and things that make me smile. In short, this blog is a little hard to categorize- just like me. Please read on for more of my story.

My Story: How I Got Here and What’s Next?

Technically, my Italian journey started in 1981 when my mother visited Italy while pregnant with me! The next big opportunity came after my first year of college, the same year I started studying the Italian language. I visited Italy for two weeks with my fledgling Italian skills and was scared to order a sandwich in a caffè. After three years of Italian electives in college, I started focusing on other things and Italian fell by the wayside.

Fast forward a few years and the Italian bug returned with a vengeance. I won’t deny that meeting an Italian boyfriend had a lot to do with that! I signed up for a couple of courses in Philadelphia and studied like it was going out of style.

That relationship eventually ended but the spark was lit. For a long time I felt a subtle, yet overwhelming desire to go to Italy. I went on with my life and my work as a newspaper photojournalist and wedding photographer in New Jersey, but the idea of being in Italy crept into my consciousness and set up shop for good.

I didn’t have any practical reasons for wanting to go; I just wanted to be there. Like Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Eat Pray Love, I liked the way speaking Italian made me feel. The idea lived in the back of my mind for awhile as I struggled with feeling that packing up and leaving everything was unrealistic. I had no idea how I could make it happen, how I would afford it, and what I would do once there. But somehow, things started falling into place.

Driving one night during an ice storm, I lost control of my car and wrecked it beyond repair. To say I was distraught is an understatement. I didn’t know how I would be able to afford another car, which was essential for my job driving to photo assignments. Eventually, what at first seemed like a negative turned out to be a positive. The $800 I made from selling the totaled car on eBay became the beginning of my travel fund. I had to find more work to cover the car payment, and from the new income I was able to start saving everything I could for Italy. Then my older sister sent me an article about helping out on farms as a cheap way to travel the world, and I knew it was possible.

Bedecked in a backpack and a ridiculously heavy suitcase, I embarked on a solo, life-changing trip around Italy (and Europe.) I wandered all over the map, seeing beautiful places, meeting beautiful people, increasing my Italian skills exponentially, and experiencing untold generosity and hospitality. My surroundings inspired me as a photographer, and I had fun documenting my new environment. I learned more than a few things about myself and about other people, and in the end, I didn’t want to leave.

I eventually came to stay in Torino and became a dual American-Italian citizen after an at-times frustrating, at-times exhilarating search for my Italian ancestry on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now that the initial giddiness of being in Italy has somewhat faded, I have a more grounded position from which to view my surroundings, which continue to offer me joy and discovery. I’m living a more natural daily life here, meeting people, becoming more comfortable with the language, and working on slowing down, minimizing, and shaping a simple life for myself.

I’m excited for the future and hope you enjoy reading about my Italian journey. Please feel free to comment or contact me as I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by!

14 Responses to About Me

  1. Julie says:

    Hi! I found this site through Michelle at Bleeding Espresso and just wanted to say that I find your photos stunning. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m looking forward to reading more.


    • Michelle says:

      Thanks Julie! I’m excited to start this blogging adventure and it’s nice to hear the other side from readers.

  2. Hi Michelle! I’m really enjoying the new blog. Now that life has resumed to a new “normal” for me, we’ll have to meet up and get to know each other.


  3. LivedinItaly says:

    Ciao e come stai oggi?

    I was fortunate enough to live in the Veneto for six years and Italy courses through my veins today. I am in the States, however, my heart and soul are wandering through the Bel Paese. Auguri!

    • Michelle says:

      Sto bene, grazie. It sounds like you had a really nice experience in Italy. Where exactly? The Veneto is a region I’m not that familiar with, although Treviso is one of my favorite Italian towns.

  4. LivedinItaly says:

    I lived in the area where one finds Soave and Valpolicella wines and the Vicentino leather shops, and I have a fondness for Baccalà Vicentino. My favorite pizza has asparagi bianchi con uovo, and, IMHO, the best pizza can be found at Ristorante Pizzaria da Walter e Lella, Via Gamella, 4 in San Marino.

    Are you familiar with Gelateria della Palma (Via della Maddalena, 19/23,) and Tazza D’Oro (Via degli Orfani, 84) in Roma?

    I need to mention a tweet by Michelle Fabio guided me to your site. Stai me bene.

  5. Michelle says:

    Maybe Vicenza??

    Sorry, I don’t know those places!
    Buona giornata.

  6. Susan Krysiak says:

    Hi Michelle!
    It’s so nice to hear from you! I miss you, but I am enjoying experiencing life abroad vicariously through you. Thank you for sharing it. Your photos, as always, are a joy to see. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Susan! Thanks so much, there are some blogs I really like to read and if my stories give someone a similar experience that would be really neat 🙂

  7. Chris Schwartz says:

    It’s great to see you blogging again (and the quality of your photos is truly stunning)! I think the last post I saw from you on the old site was 2010…

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Chris, it’s good to hear from you and thanks for your comment! By the way I like your article about the multiverse.

  8. Hi Michelle,
    I’ve visited and commented on your blog before, and the more I read the more I like! I just wanted to let you know that I’ve added you to my Blogroll!
    Ciao for now,

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I’ve been reading your blog as well, complimenti! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll!