Arrivederci Roma 2017

2017. World. Universe. You have been so darn good to me. As you all know, I round up every year here on HeartRome and each time it gets harder and harder to pack a whole 365 days worth of experiences into a blog post. This year as you can guess, is no different.

And on a year where a massive dream project has come to life, where does one begin? As I sit here in Rome in the dead of the night typing away, I nostalgically think and reflect. I’m one of those people who cries easily at the thought of happy memories – I fight back tears as I think, “what a year”.

Gosh, this time last year I didn’t even know I would be writing a book and as you read this, I Heart Rome is being sold all around the world and my Rome adventures are inspiring even the Romans themselves.

I confess, when I physically saw the book for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to think or feel. It was a surreal moment in which exhaustion, pride and nerves collided and I was left thinking – is this right? Is this how you feel when you see your book for the first time?

Then I started revealing it to some of the people featured in the book. The unsung food heroes of this city, as I like to call them. The people who I interviewed and profiled and the people who are an intrinsic part of my daily Roman life. My local cheese guy Signor Roberto (by now, you all know him!) couldn’t stop hugging and thanking me. He had tears in his eyes. My first radio interview a few weeks back with SBS Italian Radio was serendipitously with a Melbourne-based Roman DJ. Off air he said to me, “As a Roman I can tell you this is one of the most beautiful books about Rome I’ve ever seen.”

Then I presented the book to 70 close friends, my family who flew in from Australia, collaborators and local and foreign press at a special event on 3 November. Rome’s only female Michelin star chef, Cristina Bowerman – an inspiringly talented woman who I’m proud to call my friend – dialled in to deliver a live video message to congratulate and compliment me.

As I poured my heart out about my family’s migrant history and how this strong connection to my heritage was the catalyst for me moving to italy and ultimately wanting to share my love for Rome with the world – I saw tears and real emotion. Roman colleagues said to me afterwards that my words, my outlook on Rome and this book has made them see the city in a way that they had forgotten.

The events were made even more special by my parents and sister flying in just for the occasion! (You can read my speech at the major launch right here. Oh and here’s the video package of my book for fun viewing!)

These have been the most rewarding and proudest moments of my life. To genuinely influence, positively impact people and inspire new ways of thinking, is a feeling I can’t describe. My one objective in writing this book (because it’s wasn’t for financial gain believe me – and anyone in publishing can second me on that!) was to share my love for Rome with the world and to showcase the many people who work tirelessly (and for the most part without accolades or air time) to preserve food customs and traditions. The people who have given so much to me over these last 6 years and in a way they’ll never know. For me this has been my giving back to them and to the city that adopted me unconditionally.

I have been blown away at the Italian press interest in my story and just about died when I saw I Heart Rome on the front pages of the food section of Italy’s national newspaper, La Repubblica. I was also interviewed last week by national news RAI TV (I will share the segment as soon as it’s available) and spent 6 hours shooting on location showing off my daily life in Trastevere.

Oh and if writing a book wasn’t enough, my freelance writing and other work continued. I happily filed articles for CNN, The Telegraph and EasyJet inflight magazine. I updated a number of chapters of the 2018 Rough Guide and was even featured in Martha Stewart’s wedding magazine in America. I attended press trips, launches, new openings, events.

I spent the summer with my brother, sisters and nephews and experienced moments I will never forget!

HeartRome continued to grow and is now being read in 100 countries and has over followers 30,000 across social media.

It’s been another year of love, laughter, tears and magical memories. In a nutshell, one of the longest, most challenging, beautiful and rewarding years of my life.

Setting goals and achieving them is a sweet, sweet thing and being humble throughout this journey called life, remains my guiding mantra.

I have been profoundly touched by a global outpouring of love and well wishes. I will cherish them and hold them in my heart and mind for a lifetime.

Thank you to each and every one of you who contributed in some way – big or small – to nurturing my Roman dream.

This girl is Melbourne-bound!! I have 4 events planned for when I hit the ground (at Lupino, Lievita, Jimmy Watsons and Mr Ottorino) and will then be spending Christmas and New Years surrounded by my family and loved ones. In January, I will hit the Australian coast for a very much needed break and lots of sleep.

Thank you all for continuing to follow me on this crazy gig called HeartRome and I sincerely wish you and your loved ones a safe, fun and happy holiday season.

Every year I post my year in pictures but this year, you can view this video highlights package – from Melbourne to Rome, Capri, Vietri sul Mare, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and more – these are the moments that made my 2017 special: (if the video doesn’t play, click here)

Signing off from Trastevere for the last time in 2017 with a bursting heart,

Baci Maria

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