When I first started blogging, there were a few blogs I visited over and over again for inspiration. I told myself that I would never have the technical know-how, travel opportunities, or photography skills to have a blog like theirs, but that they were examples for me of what a creative and successful blogger can do. I feel a tiny bit less intimidated now but still very inspired by their work, and I have been happy to get to know them through the Internet these last two years.
Simon’s blog was one of these. I fell in love with her photographs the first time I visited her site. Not only is Simon’s photography amazing and her love of the planet infectious, but she is also a very warm and humble person. I look forward to meeting her in person someday. I am honored to feature Simon in my interview series!
1. Tell us about your site/sites and how you started travel blogging.
I started blogging in 2009 as a way to learn about new media, which interested me so much. I chose to write about travel, my greatest passion (which gave the name to my Wild About Travel blog) and… after only a few weeks I found out that blogging was simply fantastic.
2. Your website was one of the very first travel blogs I started reading, and I’ve long admired your photographs. What inspires you when you take photographs?
I remember well that you have been following me from almost the very beginning and this was a wonderful encouragement to go on and pursue my passion. When choosing a travel destination, I am strongly influenced by the power of images. Photography is what strikes my imagination and that’s why in Wild About Travel photos are an important part of my story telling. Words and images convey different emotions and I try to involve my readers through both. As for my photography, I have absolutely no technical background. I just follow my inspiration, driven by what in that very moment I feel as pure beauty and trying to capture it.
3. You are from Italy, a country I have always loved. Can you share something special about the area of Italy that you are from?
Italy is the richest country in the world in terms of art and cultural heritage and a land of great landscape diversity, ranging from the Alps in the North to the bare islands in the extreme South. I live in Milan, the second largest Italian city and the capital of Lombardy region. Milan was quite damaged by the bombings during WW II and while not comparable to cities as Florence, Rome or Venice, it still has its charm. And although quite overlooked, Lombardy has a few little gems, as the lakes (Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como, Lago d’Orta), the historic centre of Bergamo, and beautiful Mantua, with its amazing Middle Age and Renaissance heritage.
4. How do your travel choices reflect who you are as a person?
I guess it is in the destinations I choose, as well as in the ‘travel style’. I love wilderness and remote areas, but I am also passionate about art and culture. The main drivers to me are beauty and emotions. That means that a certain level of comfort is something I like but it is not a must and sleeping in a tent will surely not prevent me to visit a specific area, as I did in the Algerian desert. I just try to find a good solution to get the best of every travel experience, keeping costs reasonable.
5. Tell us about a favorite trip or favorite travel experience.
Difficult question, as every place I visited was unique in some way. Peru was one of my favorite travel experiences. I fell in love with the colors, the landscape – one of the most diverse I ever found in a single country – and the culture.
6. What are some travel lessons you have learned recently?
There are many, but the most important is probably learning how to be respectful of a country, its history, people, traditions, beliefs and cultural heritage. This is likely the most difficult thing, and while I’m trying to do my best, I know that I still have to improve a lot. Traveling into a different country, especially when for a limited time, can give us a little understanding, and we should keep in mind that it is only a very partial vision and knowledge. Impressions are not the truth (supposing that a truth exists) and I’m always afraid that I might forget it.
7. One country you and I both love is Brazil. What was your travel experience there? Brazil was one of the most beautiful and challenging trips of the last few years. In Europe, countries are small, so coping with very big countries and huge distances with limited time was not an easy task. I was eventually able to visit the two places that were attracting me at most: the Lençois de Maranhenses National Park and Fernando de Noronha, besides other wonderful sites such as Salvador de Bahia. It was a wonderful experience and I’d definitely would like to go back.
8. What place really surprised you and why?
Venezuela was a wonderful surprise. I was not expecting so much beauty and wilderness and felt really speechless especially in Canaima National Park and in the Gran Sabana. I also loved the people: so welcoming and joyful.
9. I am have an optimistic world view, and I believe that through travel, we can become better citizens of the earth. What is one way that you can make a positive difference in the world while traveling?
Excellent question. I do believe that there are at least two ways in which travel can make a positive difference (but only if travelers are willing to…). First is looking at the extreme beauty of our planet, in the hope that the strong emotions of a single moment might lead to more love and respect towards nature and environment. The second one is related to people and different cultures, where I ideally fancy that knowledge might lead to abolish cultural, religious and racial barriers and intolerances.
10. What are your specific hopes for your future travels?
I hope to be able to see wild and remote places (as Antarctica or faraway areas in Africa) and endangered sites. Our planet is wonderful but also extremely fragile. Things are changing very quickly and, unfortunately, not always for the better.
You can find Simon at her blog, Wild About Travel, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@1step2theleft). Thank you so much to Simon for this interview! Find more of my interviews with inspiring travelers here.