This week, we are so excited to be chatting to Ishita from Italophilia. We’ve been massive fans of Ishita for a long time now! If you haven’t yet discovered her blog and are a fan of all things Italian like us, then, quite simply, you must! Covering everything from the Italian language (I’ve picked up a few new phrases thanks to Ishita), to the best books to read about Italy to an incredible wealth of information about things to see and do in this incredible country, even down to the details of where to find the best coffee, Italophilia offers an absolute wealth of good quality, useful content for anyone planning to visit Italy, or who simply wants to learn more about all things Italian. For those missing Italy right now, it’s the perfect way to enjoy some armchair travelling!
First and foremost, we had to ask Ishita about how she came across the word ‘Italophilia’ which seems to perfectly sum up her blog. The dictionary definition states an italophile is ‘someone who admires Italy, its language, its culture or its people’ and this is exactly what italophilia is all about. (Although it does mean that there is an opposite ‘ Italophobia – which has had us completely stumped as to how anyone could possibly feel negative towards Italy and its culture!) We have to confess, italophilia was not actually a word we had ever come across until she introduced it to us. Over to Ishita…
Ciao Jo. Thanks for having me here. I love this question – no one’s asked me before. When I traveled to Italy for the first time in 2013, I was looking for anything that remotely connected me to Italy. I searched for things related to Italy (mainly Rome) on Twitter and googled a lot of them later. Somehow I landed up with the word Italophilia and thought it described me perfectly. That’s why I chose it to describe my blog name.
Tell us a bit about your background and where you grew up.
I’m an Indian, born and brought up in the city of Shimla in Northern India. I’ve lived in a nuclear family with my parents and younger brother. They are only 5 hours from my current home in Gurgaon (Delhi NCR) where my husband and I have settled. I have no Italian blood or connection. Italy just happened on a girl’s trip in 2013 and it’s my life long quest now.
In many ways, your love affair with Italy is a relatively new one then. What was it about Italy that captured your heart?
Agree. It’s not even a decade old love, yet in some ways it feels like Italy has been with me forever. What captured my heart on the very first trip was the beauty of Italy. I had never seen something as pretty as an Italian street. When I moved to explore smaller villages and towns, I was even more blown. That led to more trips and the inkling to know the culture and language. What made it special was the more places I visited, the more I wanted to keep returning. I met wonderful people who helped me on the way and even though I was very shy to open up and talk, it helped me understand a new side of me. This also pushed me to learn Italian. Knowing the language has really helped me in my travels. People see me differently now.
Can you see yourself moving to Italy at any time in the future or will India always be home?
For now, I feel I have the best of both worlds and cultures. I don’t have any plans to move to Italy unless life surprises me… who knows some day!
Is blogging your full time job now?
No, not yet. I have been working full time and blogged on the side and was satisfied with a little bit of affiliate income. I never really understood the power of blogging until 2020. I’ve decided to make it a full time profession now and hope I can be successful in the coming years. It’s not an easy journey.
How do you decide on where you will travel next?
It depends on a place I really want to see. There are so many in Italy but I usually narrow to two regions or two big cities at the maximum.
Where are you planning to travel to next and when do you hope that will be?
I have Campania on my mind because believe it or not I have yet to visit the region. It seems my trip there is super jinxed. But I wish I had an answer to ‘when I will go’. I have no idea with the Covid situation and restrictions on travel. But if not Italy, I want to explore Eastern India, places such as Darjeeling and Gangtok especially.
Have you been lucky enough to get away since the pandemic and, if so, where to? If not, what have you missed most about travel over the last 12 months?
I too have really missed traveling during this challenging time of the pandemic. Thankfully my husband and I could do a short getaway to a remote village in the beginning of March 2021. We traveled after 15 months and it was exhilarating! It was relaxing to book a mountain cottage and relax for a few days away from city life. The best part was that there was no one at the property except us. Perfect situation, I’d say!
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you about travelling? Or, conversely, what advice would you give to others…
Best piece of advice I’ve ever received is from my Dad. He always tells me travel is the only way to live and enjoy life. He loves to travel himself and I think I’ve got the travel itch from him! I’d tell anyone I meet that travel is the way to live and learn. No one can teach the things you learn on the road.
What Bookings For You villa do you like the look of most and why?
I have Amalfi on my mind so I’d love to book any of your gorgeous Amalfi coast villas. I also loved the villas of Umbria especially the ones in Spello. Amazing choices!
A huge thank you again to Ishita for chatting to us. We hope Italophilia can inspire you as much as it has done us.