Pam: Although you connect with numerous friends and family on your travels through
, your two books, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair
with Italy and My Love Affair with
Sicily, recount your travels solo. What motivated you to travel alone to Italy ? Italy
Margie: After I visited
for the second time, I knew
that I wanted to return for an extended period of time. And I knew that it was
unlikely that anyone I knew could get enough time off or have the money needed
to travel for a couple of months. So I decided to do it myself. Italy
|Countryside outside Caltagirone, Sicily.
Photo courtesy of Margie Miklas
Pam: What were the benefits and pitfalls of travelling alone?
Margie: For me the benefits include the ability to travel at my own pace and do exactly what I feel like doing without having to consider anyone else's agenda. Also I am free to meet up with others at my leisure and meet new friends with no time constraints. My agenda can be somewhat flexible without having to consider another person or person's intentions. The downside is the cost of the hotel room and eating alone. However I use the time at restaurants to people watch, and sometimes I even engage in conversation with others seated close to me. I have even invited someone else to share a table with me, and we subsequently became friends.
Pam: How did you learn to speak Italian?
Margie: I used a number of tools, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur CDs, online sites. Then I enrolled in Italian classes though a local Meet-up Italian group. At first I took group classes, and eventually I had private classes for a year and a half with my Italian teacher in preparation to go to
alone for three months. Italy
Pam: Your writing reads like a travel diary, exploring not only your experiences as you encounter a foreign culture, but also your feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and inner peace. How would you describe your writing?
Margie: I would call it conversational. I write as if I am telling a story to you in my living room. I want the readers to feel like they are with me along the way. That is why I wrote those first two books in first person present tense.
| Winding road of Savoca, Sicily.
Photo courtesy of Margie Miklas
Pam: How did blogging help during your travels? When did you find time to write during your trips?
Margie: Well, I made time when I traveled alone, and I also used a small recorder later. I find it much harder to keep up blogging when I travel with others on a busier agenda. I carry a small notebook and jot down notes, names of places and people, what I might see or hear. Now with an iPhone, I make use of the voice recorder to do the same. I also use my photos to jog my memory about more details when I write about my experiences weeks or months later.
Pam: You also write for LaGazzetta Italiana, a monthly newspaper based in your home town of
. How is
the experience of writing for a newspaper different from blogging? Ohio
Margie: It is the same inasmuch as I do not get paid. I write out of a passion for
Writing for a newspaper is different from blogging since there usually is a
word count minimum and maximum, and
usually only one photo is used. I also have to think of the audience,
which is similar yet different from readers of my blog. Italy
Pam: Can you describe the ONE experience that could never have happened anywhere but
(excluding having relatives
Margie: Yes. I scheduled a cooking class in a small village in
in an agriturismo. We got lost trying to find it and arrived more than an hour
late, despite a few calls to the property. Just as we arrived, the owner, who
happened to be a count, was in the driveway with his keys to his car. After greeting us with hugs, he informed us
that he was going to leave to try and find us. Incredible! Sicily
Pam: Aside from visiting your heritage, why do you feel so at home there?
Margie: I think it is the way the local Italians treat people. In my experiences, complete strangers seem to go out of their way to help, to make me feel like family. They have invited me into their homes. They engage in conversation easily. It is the people that I cherish the most in
Pam: Your third book was published this spring, a photographic essay on
Have you had training or education in photography? Italy
Margie: I recently completed my third book, Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast and it was published at the end of April. It is a dream come true for me because I have wanted to do a photo book for more than ten years. I have always been interested in photography, especially landscape photography. I took a photography course at a community college when I first moved to
thirty years ago. I used to sell some of my framed photographs at art
festivals, and have won a few awards as well. So my love of photography is not
|Photo courtesy of Margie Miklas
Pam: What do you aim to achieve over the course of your writing career?
Margie: I'd like to continue writing my blog as well as write more books. I am currently working on a novel, a completely different genre, a psychological thriller. I hope to complete it in 2016.
Margie Miklas is an American writer with a passion for
. She writes the blog, margieinitaly. Follow her on Twitter, FaceBook , Instagram, and Pinterest. She is the author of the award-winning book, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy and also My Love Affair with Sicily and the recently released Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Italy