After analyzing Dan Brown’s novel Inferno, we at Florence Inferno have asked ourselves how the city of Florence is perceived by tourists and expats from abroad. How much do they know about the city? How do they perceive it?
To try to answer these questions, we have decided to interview some of the expats more active in the community of Florence, to discover what they do and how they live in the city.
The first interview we have conducted was with Helen Farrell of The Florentine, the magazine reference point for the English-speaking community mentioned in Inferno.
Today, we are going to interview Tiana Kai Madera, a blogger and marketing consultant born in Hawaii, raised in Miami, and who lived in Colorado before arriving in Florence. She is full of energy and open-minded, an avid traveler and photographer, and an admitted food lover.
Hi Tiana, nice to meet you! You are a traveller and you have lived in many cities before stopping in Florence. What convinced you to settle here?
I rekindled a relationship with an ex, a Florentine who I dated back in 2001. We met in Miami and lived together in Florence and New Orleans. We were apart for seven years and always thought about each other. I moved to Florence in 2012, got married, traveled…it’s been a great two years!
What are your thoughts on the Florentines and the relationship between Florence and its foreign communities?
I have never met a more proud community than the locals in Florence. The city has so many traditions and tales, that it must be fun to be born and raised in such a gorgeous place that has contributed so much to our history!
Have you read the bestseller Inferno by Dan Brown? Do you think that this book has had a good or bad impression on Florence?
You can send me a copy for my birthday. 😉 I am dying to read it, especially since it is set in my new home.
Well, then, we will write a birthday letter to Santa Brown telling him that you’ve been good this year and that he should send you his latest novel. We are not related to him or his staff, but we will try 😉 You have to read it anyway: you will discover amazing places and sceneries in Florence!
Now, let’s get back to our interview. Recently you organised an Instameet in Florence. You say that you have an “obsession for Instagram”. Please explain. Also, what’s an Instameet and how does one go about organizing it?
I’ve been in love with photography since I was 8, possibly younger. It’s something I think about often. A fun day for me is exploring a place no matter where and trying to capture unusual angles that make people think and smile. I’m @tianapix and try and share my best images of Florence and my travels.
An instameet literally means “Instagram + meeting”. Last month I invited a few good friends to join me in discovering another side of Florence. We spent the afternoon taking pictures of the city (especially down by the Arno) and of each other on our Instagram accounts. The day finished at my favorite wine bar, Il Santino! I created the hashtag #instameetflorence, so anyone can see all of our shots from that day.
We also know that you have a very successful blog. What makes it different from others?
I like to speak from my own voice and give tips of my travels and of Florence that most travelers and fellow expats will enjoy. My style can at times be poking fun at my new life here, which many can relate to.
Even back home in Miami I was the go-to person for tips, so it was natural for me to share my tips about Florence when I moved here.
Where did you get the idea to create a blog? In a few words, could you explain who is a blogger and what does one do?
I started my blog when I moved here and got married in 2012. Since I was new to Florence I didn’t know many people, so I wanted to reach out to the world and share my personal experiences of getting married, moving abroad… and then it turned into a travel blog that shares my life and adventures in Italy.
A “blogger” is someone who writes and shares their stories, tips and insights on a blog (website). Many bloggers, even great ones, simply share their every day life experiences making them relatable and intriguing.
You are also a marketing consultant. Would you please describe to us of what your job consists and how much influence it has on your personal blog?
I love what I do! Marketing has been a big part of who I am and what I do for more than a decade. I have fun solving problems and thinking outside the box for clients.
It’s exciting because every job is different and each one gives me the opportunity to grow in diverse industries. The jobs can consist of developing strategies for products/services and social media accounts, overseeing marketing staff, writing and running blogs, managing websites (UX, copy, project management, users), creating events, writing collateral, etc. I guess the job description is as colorful as my clients’ needs!
My personal blog is completely separate from my work, although I partner with travel companies during my travels, which is sometimes tied in with my blog posts.
Finally, one last question. What is a real must to be able to say that one really knows Florence?
Good question. I would say you have to know where to go for the best bistecca fiorentina, wine, cocktail, pasta and pizza since they are all at different locations! Can you tell I’m a foodie?
Thank you, Tiana, for this great interview!
The pictures in the article belong to Tiana Kai Madera