About 7 years ago I launched into the unknown and began Bagni di Lucca and Beyond. I knew nothing of blogs, had never written anything much and had little interest in photography.
I enlisted the help of my friend Liz’s son and the blog was born. The initial reason for starting it was to inform friends staying at our Bagni di Lucca apartment about things to do in the area.
Nobody was more surprised than I was when the blog gathered a following and people from all over the world began leaving comments. The blog expanded to include my travels in Italy and beyond.
Bagni di Lucca was being left behind, so I started Bella Bagni di Lucca to concentrate on the group of villages that make up the town where I now spend 6 months every year. I also began Beautiful Helsinki, just because I love the city. I go there 4 times a year, on my way to and from Italy. I have a connection with Finland as my grandfather was born there.
One of the fun things about writing the blogs is the number of people I meet along the way. Some have become friends online and others I have met in person, something I didn’t expect at all. I was delighted the first time someone stopped me at Bar Italia in our piazza to tell me they read my blog.
Best of all are the readers who write to me to tell me their stories of Bagni di Lucca. Last century many people left the town and went to live in USA. I get dozens of emails and comments on the blog telling me tales of parents and grandparents who left to make a new life. They left looking for a better life, but never forgot where they came from. They tell me photos and stories on the blog help to connect with a past life.
Many people let me know they have come to visit Bagni di Lucca because of my blogs. I take this responsibility quite seriously. I try to present the villages as they are. My photos are not enhanced or coloured, they show things in their true light.
I have been to all the villages in different seasons and find something delightful in all of them. I try to give as much information as I can to help people enjoy their time in the area. I receive lots of questions about the area and I try to find answers to all of them.
Most of my meetings with blog followers have been positive. I have had coffee or aperitivo at Bar Italia with readers who have come to stay. Many tell me they felt immediately at home and had fun recognising places and faces they have seen in the blog posts.
Not all meetings have gone well. One fellow leapt to his feet when I arrived and said in an accusing tone that he hadn’t expected it to be windy and they didn’t like the house they had considered buying and they wouldn’t be staying. I beat a hasty retreat.
Another interesting contact was with a blogger who came to stay with Jim and me for a few weeks. She went on to write posts about her stay in both our apartment and Casa Debbio without mentioning us at all. It was as though she stayed in something she booked from Trivago. We were surprised to say the least.
Apart from these, it is the interaction with people that is the motivation to continue writing. Without conversations with readers there would be little incentive to gather stories to share.
I have little idea how the whole thing works. The number of followers keeps growing, but the number of hits daily does not. Clearly some people sign up but never actually look at the posts, which is a puzzle. I try not to worry about the mechanics and just enjoy writing and taking photos.
Thank you to all the readers, especially those who take the time to say something in the comments section or send me personal emails. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and that 2017 is a wonderful year with lots of travel…and perhaps a few rainbows.