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An Invitation to Bloggers: A “Gift” From the Italy Blogging Roundtable

Gifts
Many of you will know that, since May 2011, five of us have been writing a monthly post on a given topic and we call it the Italy Blogging Roundtable. Each month we decide the topic in advance and the only rule is that it has to be connected to Italy; the posts are published on the same day, and cross-linked so that readers can enjoy our diverse experiences. You can see posts by the other four participating writers here:

My posts for the Italy Blogging Roundtable

Normally we don’t tell anyone the topic in advance, but our post for December 14 is an exception. Why? Because we want you to participate! The topic is “Gifts” (or presents). It’s inspired by the holiday season, but does not have to be limited to “Christmas gifts.” For this month, we’re inviting bloggers to expand upon the topic of “gifts,” somehow connected to Italy, on their blogs.

Here is how to participate:

1) From December 1 to 13, 2011, post on your blog about “Gifts” (and Italy).

2) Include in your post a reference to the fact that this is part of the Italy Blogging Roundtable’s invitation to post on this topic.

3) Include, at the end of your post, links to the roundtable blogs:

4) Let us know by tweeting it with the hashtag #italyroundtable. If by chance you don’t use twitter, email it to one of us (my email address is info@……). We’ll each read them all, and retweet some too!

5) On December 14, 2011, we’ll post on the same topic and include links to our favorite posts by the larger community. We’re aiming to link to five posts submitted by others, but that depends on how many people participate!

Photo by stevendepolo

New Year, New Italy Deals

I hope you’re all having a very happy 2010 so far. I’m hoping this will be a great year for Italy travel and finding deals on tours, packages, airfare, hotels, etc. That’s why I’m launching an experimental page over on the Italofile Social Network.

The new Travel Deals page is a place where you can find the latest information on discounted travel to Italy. Right now, the deals are listed as comments but I’ll be working with other methods as I go along. the Travel Deals page shows deals from various RSS feeds. You can post other deals in the comments on that page or send me your RSS feed link so I it can get looped into this page.

And if you’re offering a deal, you can contribute to the growing list or get your deal featured on the network’s home page. I’ll be cross-posting all this information on Twitter (@italofileblog) and the Italofile Facebook page.

So thanks to all of you for reading Italofile through the years and here’s to a fun and fruitful 2010!

Photo © jacqs87

For the Love of Dante

dantecomputerItalofile Then and Now
When I started Italofile over three years ago, my goal was to help promote my Italy travel guides, collect Italy travel information in “real time,” and basically keep up with the ever-changing landscape that is the Italy travel experience. To give you an idea of how much can change in three years, there really weren’t a whole lot of blogs specifically about Italy-now there are thousands! In fact, my blog friend Jessica at Boots N All was just starting Italylogue, one of the best and comprehensive Italy blogs out there today.

Three years ago I started blogging so I could “stay in the game,” as it were. Now I write so I can stay out of it.

Doing It For Dante
If you have been following Italofile for some time, you may have noticed that my posts are less frequent. I apologize for that – it’s not for a lack of enthusiasm. Instead, over the past three years, as my first baby Dante has morphed into a toddler, I have been taking time out to enjoy him. And, admittedly, it has taken a lot out of me.

When Dante – who, of course, shares his name with a great poet – didn’t say his first word by 18 months, we realized we had a problem. Since June of 08, just before his 2nd birthday, we have been getting therapy for Dante, from speech and special ed to occupational therapy for his fine and gross motor skills. We’ve been told that D has PDD-NOS, an autism spectrum disorder also known as “atypical autism.” Dante is what you call “high functioning” and he has a photographic memory. Alas, he still can’t hold a conversation. We are hoping, of course, that these early intervention therapies will help Dante enough so that he’ll be able to tackle kindergarten successfully two years from now.

Why Write Now?
So what does any of this have to do with Italofile? Well, above, when I said that I am trying to stay “out of the game,” I meant that blogging, freelance writing, and basically working from home are my only options right now as a means for income. Going to work in an office right now isn’t practical for my family as I have Dante – and his little brother Leo – to care for. I choose to take on self-guided projects so that I can set my own deadlines (or no deadlines) and be available for my children when they need me. Sure, I could try to go back to the office, but leaving Dante in daycare for the hours he’s not in therapy would be a disservice to him and the caregivers, not to mention a large sum of outgoing funds. It’s a reality for many parents. I know I am not particularly unique in that respect.

Branching Out
What it boils down to is that I want my readers to know that I am still doing my best to be the “Italy travel resource.” in fact, I am fairly active on Twitter, a medium that has been very beneficial for a busy SAHM and blogger like myself. Yes, friends, there is a face – and family – behind the posts about Rome and Florence. I have also launched a companion social network to Italofile at http://italofile.ning.com, where I hope that readers like you will add to the conversation about traveling in Italy.

How You Can Help
The first thing you can do to help is sign up at the Italofile network on Ning and start contributing to the dialogue about Italy travel. I want to get everyone – from armchair travelers to local tourism boards in Italy – to sign up so we can all benefit from the information, deals, and direct connections.

Another way you can help is by clicking on an ad or two when you visit italofile.com or the Italofile social network. If you’re a hotel or offer a product or service, consider placing your own ad on Italofile. Send me a message at melanie at italofile.com if you’re interested. Or, check out my Amazon.com picks in the Italoshop. You know how it works. A couple clicks from everyone will be of great help to me as I try to stay home and do what’s best for my bambini.

I haven’t done the paypal donate thing yet: I am somewhat too proud to beg. A fellow blogger suggested I request donations through Paypal, so now I guess I ain’t too proud to beg! So if you want to send me some change for an espresso or gelato, click the following button:

[paypal-donation]

Also, if you have other ideas for how I can generate a modest income from my Italofile projects, please let me know. (I am working on some other web projects: visit www.missadventures.com for more info on those.)

And Finally…
Of course, I know that you savvy readers can go almost anywhere to get info on traveling in Italy. But I do think that I bring a unique perspective to my travel advice (and now, in particular, travel with kids!). Please feel free to ask me questions, send suggestions of topics you’d like for me to cover, or anything else to Melanie at italofile dot com.

Photo © Melanie Mize Renzulli, 2009.

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