203 Travel Challenges in Italy. Interview with Travel Blogger Maria Angelova

Maria Angelova is one of the founders of 203challenges.com and its editor-in-chief. She calls herself "a traveling disaster roaming the world". I reckon she is a talented blogger and I love how accurate her descriptions are. She lived in Italy for a while and I asked her to tell us something about her italian experience.

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I really like the post “5 unique little towns in Italy for true explorers”. Everyone around the world knows Rome, Florence or Naples but there is much more to see along the “Boot”. How do you consider these hidden gems of Italy? Do you think they are so different from Italian big cities?


Italy has so much to see that you could easily get overwhelmed and give up before you even start.
— Maria Angelova, 5 Unique Little Towns In Italy for True Explorers

As someone who've lived in a small town in Italy for a while, I find them very different. In a little town, almost nobody speaks English but people are more prone to help you. There's no official tourist center but the locals will show you the best places and will tell you the amazing stories behind them. There aren't world-famous restaurants but your neighbor may invite you over for a dinner and teach you how to cook the perfect Tiramisu.

Let’s focus on the language. I know that you lived in Italy for 6 months. When you moved to Italy, did you speak a bit of Italian? Any trouble communicating with the locals? If you have studied Italian, what is the hardest part about learning it?

I could say only “Buongiorno” and “Grazie” the first time I set my foot in Italy but living in a small non-touristy town helped a lot in my mission to learn Italian. I simply had no choice. My university professors were kind and understanding, my landlord was friendly, and all the old ladies who were trying to explain something important to me were all part of the learning process. Well, living in Abruzzo was the reason why I started straight with a bit of a dialect but that's the best part about Italian language – all these different sounds and words – you travel around the country and discover new ways to say the same thing.

 Maria in Thiesi, Sardinia.

Maria in Thiesi, Sardinia.

Italy welcomes millions of tourists every year, but don’t expect Italians to speak English. Before you go, it’s well worth jotting down some useful phrases in Italian. Italians are genuinely flattered when a foreign visitor makes an effort to speak their language, and will open their hearts to you.
— Maria Angelova, 22 Honest Travel Tips for Italy


According to your website's spirit, what is the biggest challenge you have completed in Italy?

Italy is a country where you can fulfill your craziest ideas and you'll always be surprised by the result. My love affair with Italy started in 2009 and my biggest challenge (because it's lifelong) is to visit it every single year of my life. So far, I've done it for eight years in a row.

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Is there anything you wish to add?

I want to challenge everyone reading this to discover an amazing story during their next trip (a fascinating local legend, the life story of a butcher in a small town, or the story of your favorite painter, which can be turned in your next travel itinerary).