Expat articles

I have been enjoying writing the Expats in Florence articles for The Florentine. It's a great opportunity for me to meet new people who live in Florence, hear their stories, and share them with others. The first few articles were about people I knew personally. A few of them were the inspiration for me to write the articles in the first place. I have a long list of people that I'd like to interview as well as new names getting added quite often.

I've seen the sign for the liutaio (violin maker) on via dei Leoni when I walk past it on my way home. Each time I used to walk past it, I would peek into the narrow, glass window and door. I saw a couple of violins and other interesting objects on display in the window and in the back I noticed a woman hunched over her table working. It wasn't until a friend told me that she was American that I was interested in meeting her. I could certainly not imagine her story and what brought her here, but after publishing the expat articles I was intrigued to find out.

I had doubts that the liutaia, Jamie Marie Lazzara, was American although I did wonder when I saw an Obama sticker in her window one day. I asked a few people in my neighborhood about her, and found out that she was indeed American.

While I was talking to the macellaio (butcher) one day, I asked him a few questions to see if he knew her. He confirmed that she was American. I told him that I wanted to talk to her in the hopes of maybe having someone introduce me to her, but he said that I could just knock on her door to talk to her. "Non voglio disturbarla. I don't want to bother her," I said, thinking that might be too invasive. "Se non voleva essere disturbata, non aveva una porta che dà sulla strada. If she didn't want to be disturbed, she wouldn't have a door that opens to the street," he said.

It made enough sense to me that I walked over to her studio (workshop) immediately, but when I got there she wasn't inside. It took a few visits to finally catch her alone and not looking too busy. The day I finally had the courage to knock on the door, she was on her computer.

After explaining to her that I wanted to interview her for the Florentine, she told me to come by any morning. I was excited to interview her because she had already told me a few things about herself and that she met Ridley Scott while he was in Florence to film "Hannibal." She said that he even ended up filming her studio.

The morning of the interview, I sat inside her studio on a wooden stool and she recounted all the details of her journey to Florence. A few musicians stopped by during the interview to either chat with her or get an instrument repaired. Each one praised her highly for her work, and wanted to tell me something about her. Unfortunately, I couldn't use their comments in the interview, but it did make me realize just how brilliant of a liutaia she is.

What I do find interesting about all the expats, like Jamie, is that they are all successful in doing what they love. Not all of them chose Florence as the city they wanted to live in, but they are all aware of the opportunities that the city has provided to them to make a living. Living in a foreign country, where the language and culture are different, is already challenging, so those who are able to succeed at following their hearts and earning a living doing so are an inspiration.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!

Back to Top