Arrivederci 2021: HeartRome year in review

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2021 I know it’s hard for all of us to process that we are about to enter our third year of a pandemic. So much of the last year has been fog. A new concept of time and space. A vortex. Spinning through days, weeks, months and now years of stillness, uncertainty and for so many of us, pain and fear. We’ve seen light too. Rebirth, innovation, new ways of doing things, new ideas and even new outlooks. We’ve seen science in its glory too and how it has helped to save lives and I feel privileged to have been able to access vaccines in this current climate.  

It’s been a hard year. A long year. A strange year. An unforgettable year. And as always, I stop to reflect and share some thoughts with you. 

I’ve not written much on the blog this year. I will try to more next year but we’ll see how that goes.

As I look back on 2021, I feel so many things. It’s hard to ignore the grief. We’ve all lost so much. Some more than others. But I have immense pride as I continue to celebrate the release of my second book, How to be Italian. It is currently out of stock in Australia and the USA. I am truly humbled and it all feels so surreal. I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support. 

After 16 uncertain months in Australia, I am grateful that in 2021 I got to go home to my other home in Rome. It was overwhelming and equally joyous to return after so long. Italy was so hard hit and there is this solemn, indescribable silence I felt on return. But also a desire to rebuild and an inspiring fighting spirit. 

I am grateful to have spent 4 months in Italy this year. While nothing about that feels quite normal right now, I hope that 2022 brings back even just a little more normality. 

Despite the complexity, I have many things to be grateful for. Namely, family and close friends who love and encourage me. Work that fulfills me, personal growth, prospects and possibilities. I authored my second book too and it’s an indescribable feeling. Importantly, I consider myself fortunate to not have endured severe illness or death of loved ones this pandemic. Things never to be taken for granted. 

I’ve loved, lost, gained, laughed, cried, grown, changed, feared, hoped, struggled and thrived. Importantly, I’ve lived. And here’s a look back at some of the highlights: 

  • The international release of How to be Italian and subsequent sell out 
  • A virtual live launch of the book on Instagram with Australia’s Channel 7 London correspondent Sarah Greenalgh 
  • A rooftop book launch in Rome with friends, colleagues and the Italian and foreign press
  • Being named as one of Rome’s most influential travel personalities on social media by La Repubblica 
  • Attending my first press trip in two years 
  • Wining and dining in some of Australia’s and Italy’s best restaurants 
  • A short but most enriching trip back to Florence and Venice 
  • Spending quality time with family during two Melbourne lockdowns (and finally then with friends who I’ve missed immensely in Italy – including two special ones who visited from the USA) 
  • A glorious Italian summer in Ischia, Capri and Sicily
  • The most incredible Melbourne book launch at Il Papiro 
  • Having How to be Italian recognised as a must-buy by La Repubblica 
  • Being interviewed for a number of press outlets and podcasts including by Australian TV personality Catriona Rowntree 
  • Coverage of How to be Italian in Australian, UK, European and USA press 
  • Getting back to USA Today travel assignments after more than a year stalled 
  • Visiting the Bottura family in Modena, staying at their luxury property Casa Maria Luigia and dining at Cavallino – the new Bottura / Ferrari venture  
  • Staying in hotels again for press assignments after two years 
  • Press bylines in USA Today and CNN (where I proudly collaborated on a piece linked to Stanley Tucci’s, Searching for Italy 
  • My first article for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald (which featured on the home page no less!) 
  • Growth across all social media platforms with now more than 45,000 lovers of food, travel and Italy coming along the HeartRome journey 

For all of this and more, I am proud and thankful. 

Everyone’s list and recap will look different. And of course there’s no need to look back at all! But if even for a second, this post makes you think about 1-2 things you’re proud of or grateful for (‘surviving another year’ is valid for a one-point reflection list in my opinion) then I’m happy. 

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year. May 2022 be filled with moments of promise for us all. 

Much love to everyone and thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to read and follow HeartRome. 

(For a video recap of my 2021, click here!)

Signing off from Melbourne (with half of my heart always in Rome) for the last time this year,

Baci, Maria 

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