Ever since journalist Elizabeth Minchilli started a blog, Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, in 2009, she’s been leading food tours, creating apps on where to eat in Italy, taking videos of chefs and cooks, and she rents out an apartment too. Minchilli has written six books, most recently Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City, a terrific part memoir, part guidebook and part cookbook.
I’m giving away a free copy of Eating Rome, Minchilli’s mouthwatering exploration of this ancient city. To enter this book giveaway, leave a comment below.
I interviewed Minchilli about her career, photography, and lifestyle:
Q. Your life in Rome seems so glamorous. You’re dining at fantastic restaurants, pressing olive oil and making pizza with masters. Is it really so stylish and all Sophia Loren?
A. Not Sophia Loren. I don’t think of it as glamour and style but delicious and fun. If that’s what’s coming through on my blog, then it’s true. But that’s how a lot of people live here.
Q. You have cobbled together a living from related products and services: food tours, selling apps, your blog, writing books, making videos. Which are most lucrative?
A. When I first started the blog, I wrote because I wanted to build a platform. I thought I was going to do it to sell books. But the things that turned out to be most profitable were the things I hadn’t planned out. I started doing food tours because people asked me. My food tours are private and one-on-one. It gives me a chance to show people a bit of Rome that they hadn’t seen before. And I love meeting the people on my tours, because they are from all over the world.
Also, I was asked to do my first app four years ago, and now I have several.
Q. You blog three times a week, for the past five years?
A. Yup. I don’t do things halfway. But it can start to feel repetitive, so that’s why I change things around. Lately I’ve had fun doing videos. I like learning to do something – take better pictures, edit videos – new ways to tell stories. That what keeps it interesting for me.
Q. Your book, Eating Rome, is part food guide, part memoir, part cookbook. Was it a hard sell in the US because of that mix?
No, not at all. I was approached by St. Martin’s to do the book. It was their idea to frame it that way. Publishing is changing, categories are changing, and ways of selling things are changing,
Q. You say branding is important in everything you do. What does that mean?
A. You have to be very focused. It all has to be cohesive. I don’t think you can write a book and have it not tie into your blog and your life. I was a journalist for 20 years and my job was hiding myself. When I started looking at blogs, the most interesting ones were personal and had a take-away. They let me see another way of living.
Branding is inspired by my day-to-day life, but then I can condense it into something. It’s not just my experience, but how I apply it to my own life. There’s a consistency. I’m very consistent on social media as well.
Q. Your photography on Instagram is gorgeous. You always seem to be somewhere beautiful. How does that work?
A. Am I really in beautiful places or am I using a lot of PhotoShop [giggles]? Instagram helps me improve my photography and my eye. It helped me see a lot of things I took for granted in different ways. Italy is gorgeous and I travel to really beautiful places.
I might post four to five times a day on Instagram but I’m taking 50 photos. I’m only posting a fraction. I wouldn’t post a photo on Instagram unless I thought was perfect.
Q. What have you learned about being an American in Italy, when it comes to food?
A. I’ve been here since I was 12 years old. So when it comes to food, I think I’m more Italian than American.
Q. Americans are obsessed with Tuscany and Venice. What can you say to get them to Rome?
A. Well, they’re pretty obsessed with Rome. My Rome app outsells my other apps by far. Literally, all roads lead to Rome and there’s way more tourism in Rome than in Florence and Venice. Cinema and literature has a lot to do with people’s fascination in Tuscany and Florence, but Rome is really the big draw.
* * *
So if you’d love to visit Rome, or you’d like a vicarious thrill reading about a writer who’s living the culinary life there, please leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random (US and Canada only, sorry!) Update: The winner of the book is Shayne Raze. Congrats!