This Dolce Life | Rome Anniversary

Have you ever had an urge so palpable, so strong you simply couldn’t even fathom it being possible? That was the feeling I had sitting aboard a particular return flight to New York from Rome about 13 years ago, after a two-week trip. I thought to myself, Why am I leaving a place I love so much? 

It wasn’t an easy choice, uprooting my life from my beloved New York City to the Italian capital. At first, I only intended to stay a year – and that was in 2006.

Centro pink, 2018. From the series Maps of Time and Rome.
Paper, acrylic and mixed media on wood. 105 x 155 cm

Rome was never truly off my map. I’ve traveled here from my childhood – it was always the touchstone before going to Milan and Abruzzo, where there are some family roots. It was more local than Vermont, or the Hamptons for our family. As I grew older, Rome’s magic became more and more palpable. Its glamour and sumptuous nature took hold in my heart. By my late 20s, I had a small community of Roman friends and clients, some favorite haunts and an inexplicable desire to return again and again. 

Soon after that defining moment on the airplane, circumstances conspired, and I made a decision to initiate a new chapter: take-off was on October 16, 2006. Despite a scant knowledge of Italian or even the realities of foreign living, I was ready to try on the life I had dreamed of – in the face of my successful and thriving life in New York City.

Contrasting my vision of the place, the realities of living in Rome were often difficult. In the early 2000’s, Rome was not exactly a “hub” for graphic or web design. In fact it was behind the internet times, so, finding work or clients was a challenge, combined with my lack of Italian. The artist in me was filled to the brim with inspiration, but the professional in me was frustrated. It was a career-defining moment though that taught me something valuable about reinvention: flexibility. With practically zero work in the design department, I shifted gears into my editorial side. I became editor of the Italian Journal magazine, reviving the old title and once again feeling happily productive in my work.

Simultaneously, and slowly, I also began to build up my design business. Rome’s slower pace provides a counterpoint to my intensely energetic and expressive nature. With more time than it ever felt I had in frenetic NYC, I expanded my studio in new ways artistically and entrepreneurially. My artwork, previously something that I did behind the scenes, found its way into shows. I also created the Iconics series, which will soon be featured in a home design line. 

Adapting to a foreign culture, no matter how familiar it might have seemed, is a heart-opening, mind altering experience. There have been moments of extreme joy, despair, longing and gratitude. Sometimes, at a school meeting at my Roman-born son‘s elementary school, or winding my way around without a map, I am in amazement that I have a life here. I’m also deeply thankful that I continue to have a connection with my beloved New York, visiting there twice a year for extended stays.

Interviewed on the street in 2019 – my language skills somehow acceptable for Italian television 🙂

The wisdom of my deep urge is still being revealed – at times, it’s seemed even folly. But what is humbling is the support, acceptance and love I receive – technology allowing for intimate connections to continue over distances. Dismantling outdated beliefs and testing your preciously held ideas against your authentic truth is part of becoming a fully realized adult. My self-discovery just so happens to occur in Italian.

Follow some of my Roman times using #thisdolcelife and #newyorkerinrome tags on Instagram.