Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Dec 14, 2014 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

You know when you've found a kindred travel spirit, you can't get enough of sharing experiences? And you talk all night, and then over coffee for breakfast, barely stopping and gleaning each other's knowledge for new places to go, things to see, dishes to try... Such is the case with a book (actually, a WHOLE SERIES) penned by Gigi Griffis, entitled Italy: 100 Locals tell you where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in. And not only do we have the kindred travel spirit in Griffis, but in the 100 locals she's found to share the best of where they live. I love it!

 

Author Gigi Griffis, and her book, Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

 

In this genius concept for a travel guide, Griffis has found 100 locals, from all over Italy. They are a diverse crowd, including expats and natives, and let me tell you the advice they have! Each local is asked many questions (and while the questions are mostly similar for each person, there are some that are different). You'll have a baseline for traveling with a local, as it is, for the ENTIRE country. The book is split up into two main sections. The first shares local knowledge of interest-based travel, such as Italy for wine lovers, Italy for foodies (raises hand and waves), Italy for the outdoorsy, and Italy for history buffs.

 

Italian breakfast. A Gorgeous Parma B&B. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Italian breakfast. A Gorgeous Parma B&B

 

Then the book dives deep into local knowledge with geographic areas - and not just the big towns! From Venice to Sardinia, each geographic area of Italy is shared by locals who know (and love) their area. And friends? This advice is invaluable. It's like traveling with 100 local travel experts, so you avoid the dross and find the gems. The locals in this book are interesting people, and each has a unique viewpoint of living in Italy.

 

Exploring Parma. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Exploring Parma

Here are some things you'll discover:

  • Why people should visit each area
  • The best place to take beautiful photos
  • Recommendations for first-time visitors
  • Best neighborhoods for staying in
  • Day trips
  • Local dishes
  • Favorite bars/restaurants
  • Best way to meet locals and make friends

and my favorite:

  • What do locals find rude or strange? How can we do better to fit in with the culture?

 

With intercultural sensitivity and an enormous breadth of experience, this book is THE best travel guide to Italy I've ever seen. Highly recommended!

 

All things Italy! From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

All things Italy!

 

We caught up with Gigi to ask about her book, inspiration, finding locals, traveling unconventionally, top Italy travel tips, and more. Here's what she had to say...

Please tell us about your book, Italy: 100 Locals...

The idea behind the book is that the best travel tips come from the locals.

They know where to find the hidden-away pizzeria with the best pies in Naples, how to get to the little-known hot springs outside Florence, what dishes to try in Sicily, and how to better fit into the local culture.

I asked myself if there was any way to make this information more readily available to people who don't have a local friend they can ask about the best gelato or the most interesting winery--and in the end I decided to interview 100 locals all over Italy and compile their answers into a book. Thus, Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In was born.

Since then, I've published three city guides--for Prague, Paris, and Barcelona--with 10 interviews each and I'm currently working on 100-interview guides to Switzerland and France.

 

100 locals travel guides

 

What inspired you to write this book (and the others in your series)?

The books started as a blog series. As I mentioned above, my own best travel experiences often came from the people I met along the way, who would take me to their favorite hidden-away restaurant or tell me about the most charming local town, where tourists never ventured. I was looking for a way to bring those experiences to my readers and I decided a blog series was the answer.

The first interview I did was with a colleague in Verona, Italy--and from the moment I read her answers, I knew this was a much bigger idea than just a blog series. Her interview was amazing and her recommendations (which I tested for myself a week or so later) were wonderful. I knew I had to find a way to do more interviews--to make this bigger than just a city or two once a month on the blog. So I decided to write a book. And the idea of interviewing 100 people sounded both doable (though daunting) and like it would cover a good portion of the country.

The blog series did well (that Verona interview is still one of the top 10 posts on the blog each month) and the book idea caught on, so I decided it made sense to do more books. Thus, Paris, Barcelona, and Prague followed in Italy's wake and Switzerland and France are well underway.

 

Assisi, Italy. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Assisi

 

One of the things I love most about this book is the variety of viewpoints from locals - how did you find people to include?

That's one of the things I love, too! It was really important to me to include all types of people--born-and-raised locals, expats, older people, students, and people with very diverse interests.

I started with people I already knew from my own travels--friends I'd made in Italy, colleagues from my past jobs in advertising, landlords from apartments I'd rented, etc. Then I went after bloggers and people who were passionate about promoting their cities. I found them via blogs, on social media, on sites like Couchsurfing.org. And at the very end, when I needed just a few more, I reached out to my social networks and asked friends and readers to help me find those final elusive few.

 

Perugia. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Perugia

 

How can traveling unconventionally change your travels? How has it changed YOUR travels?

The more I travel, the more I realize that what really makes things memorable for me is the people I meet and the moments when I truly slow down to appreciate everything around me. This is what the books are built around: the idea that you can travel a little slower, dig into a culture a little deeper, see a place from a local perspective, and meet people along the way.

For me, traveling this way has led to motorcycle rides down Croatia's Dalmatian coast with a new Croatian friend, being invited into people's homes for pot lucks in Paris, eating the world's best schnitzel in a back-alley pub without a name, and throwing multi-hour international dinner parties in the Italian countryside. Those are some of my favorite travel memories.

 

Via Curiosa. Wandering Perugia.. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Via Curiosa. Wandering Perugia

 

Twilight in Venice. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Twilight in Venice

 

What are your top travel tips for Italy? (note: yours, not the locals)

I think my best tips apply pretty much everywhere:

1. Travel slow. Rent an apartment. Get to know a place. Take the time to enjoy small things. Shop at the fresh markets. Do as the locals do.

2. If you aren't sure where to eat, ask a local. If you can't ask a local, look for a restaurant that is crowded with locals. That'll be where the good, authentic, local food is.

3. Approach people. Say hi. Introduce yourself. Try to speak a few words of Italian. Don't be afraid to ask people for directions, help, or recommendations. Most people would love to help - and will be interested to talk to someone who is traveling.

 

Italian Coffee. Exploring Emilia Romagna. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Italian Coffee. Exploring Emilia Romagna

 

What's up next for you?

I'm working on Switzerland and France guides, both scheduled to publish before the summer season starts in 2015. And right now I'm doing a lot of traveling. I've been in France for five weeks and in a couple weeks I'm off to Switzerland, then Malta, then maybe Spain.

 

Tortellini, Exploring Emilia Romagna. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Tortellini, Exploring Emilia Romagna

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I love getting feedback and connecting with people who love books and travel. I often crowd-source questions, opinions, etc. on Facebook and if you're interested in my projects, please feel free to connect with me there! And if you want to know when the next books come out, you can jump on my mailing list (scroll to the bottom of the post and choose one of the options in bold) or just stop by the blog.

 
Learn more: http://gigigriffis.com/book/italy-100-locals-tell-you-where-to-go-what-to-do-and-how-to-fit-in/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/gigigriffis

Mailing list sign-up (at the bottom of this post in bold): http://gigigriffis.com/finally-a-must-visit-list-that-doesnt-suck/

 

Happiness is...Italian motorcycles. Florence. From Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In

Happiness is...Italian motorcycles. Florence

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Gigi Griffis, used with permission

 

 

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