armchair travel

Armchair Travel on my 6th Blogiversary

These past six months have both dragged and flown. And I realize that my sixth blogiversary is upon me. Reflecting on whether or not the time actually adds up to a year, I remind myself that we must surely be thankful for our ability to imagine, to ponder past our own backyards or as they say #DreamNowTravelLater – I’m learning that there’s a hashtag for everything. We used to call it armchair travel.


armchair travel

The Las Vegas Strip

Last year for my fifth blogiversary, I was in Reggio Calabria for the Procession of the Madonna. Now, I’m in Las Vegas. Most Italians’ eyes light up when they discover I live in Las Vegas. When I taught English in Calabria, my students were amazed that someone from such a metropolis, as they saw it, would be in their little corner of the world. Funny thing about perspective.


Strolling along Main Street in Reggio Calabria

Thinking back on the Festival of the Madonna, a symbolic phrase repeated during the celebration comes to mind: By earthquakes, in times of war and peace, this festival has been and will be celebrated!

There wasn’t a procession in Reggio this year. The Madonna della Consolazione was transported between the two cathedrals during the night, in seclusion. The virus has certainly struck a blow to festivals and gatherings around the world, but I dare say that faith may have become stronger.

Calabria church

Reggio Calabria’s Cathedral

Most people reading this count themselves amongst the lucky ones, the #dreamnowtravellater crowd, making necessary adjustments in their daily lives and trying to look forward to a more promising future. But then that forward keeps getting postponed and we realize that the disappointment is not so much the cancelled plans but the fact that we have stopped making plans and we don’t have anything to look forward to.

Italian food

A swordfish pasta enjoyed with friends


I don’t know if my mother actually told me this or if I intuited it, but I grew up under the notion that whatever happened in life, I should never become one of those women who sat around in curlers watching daytime TV.

I had high hopes for my Calabria tours this year. My first Calabria Cultural Tour in 2019 was a grand success. I haven’t given up hope for 2021. Let’s wait and see.

Although my plans were dashed and expectations changed, I did my best to buckle down and used the time to complete and publish my second book Basilicata: Authentic Italy.

My father suggested I take some well-earned time off. I said, “What do you think? A couple of months?” And without missing a beat, he replied, “I was thinking more like a week.” That’s a family work ethic for you.

armchair travel

An agriturismo visited on my Calabria tour


For all those who would like to relax and dream a bit about their next visit to Italy, I recently gave a presentation about Basilicata on Zoom for the Discovering Italy Series, which had for numerous years been hosted in a Las Vegas public library. The virtual event was recorded, so you can now see it on my YouTube page. Click on the following photo or pour yourself a glass of wine and watch it on your big screen television. My presentation highlights Basilicata’s magnificent natural beauty, rich culture and longstanding traditions – a great first taste of the region. (My YouTube page is called KareninCalabria for further armchair travel viewing.)

armchair travel video

Video of Basilicata presentation – click on photo and watch on full screen!


My book Basilicata: Authentic Italy, of course, gives much more detail and is chock full of anecdotes. I greatly appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for this new project of mine, and I know many of you have just received your copy in the mail. (Nice comments – and lots of stars – on Amazon are always appreciated and not only help to promote my books, but also nurture interest in these lesser known and underrated regions.) A handful of reviewers had the opportunity of reading it earlier and I am thrilled with the first two professional reviews.

The Midwest Book Review writes:
“Ideal for both the armchair traveler and the on-site visitor, Basilicata: Authentic Italy is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Impressively informed and informative, Basilicata: Authentic Italy deftly showcases both the famously well known and the obscure off-the-beaten-path sights to see, places to visit, and people to meet.”

The Library Journal categorizes it in their Social Sciences section and writes:
“As a solo woman traveler, Haid takes everything in stride, and her meetings with residents are the best parts of the journey. Visitors looking for an authentic experience need not look far—everything in Basilicata is authentic.”
And sums it up with:

“An intimate exploration of an often overlooked region of Italy. Recommended to readers who appreciate all things Italian.”armchair travel book

You can find longer versions of the reviews together with various links to purchase on the Basilicata page of my new author website,, which streamlines the information about my two books. My Italian blog on this website will stay the same.

Thank you for following me and your eager comments on social media as you look forward to my new book. I can tell you that it means a great deal to hear from those who have read and enjoyed my book(s) and blogposts. And hopefully, we can regroup as we have been forced to #DreamNowTravelLater and our future travel will be sooner rather than later. Until then, I will see you through words and images in a bit of Italian armchair travel.

The cover photo is a map of Venosa, which you’ll find in Chapter 10 of Basilicata: Authentic Italy.
(p.s. I do not have man hands; these
are a man’s hands.)armchair travel

“Like” Basilicata Facebook page, Calabria: The Other Italy’s Facebook page and follow me on Karen’s Instagram and Karen’s Twitter for beautiful pictures and information.

Sign up below to receive the next blog post directly to your email for free, and if you aren’t familiar with my book Calabria: The Other Italy, click on the book below to check out what it’s about, read reviews and see global availability.Calabria book

Comments 14

  1. Hi: Karen: Thanks so much for bringing Calabria & Southern Italy to the world and helping me learn more about my Italian heritage. I dare suggest you write about the small town of Morano which has given the world many immigrants but especially the small country of Costa Rica. Most Costaricans of Italian Heritage stem from this small town. I am one of them.

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  2. I’m just about to crack open your new book. If it’s even half as good as your last one, it will be a winner for sure. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Your father’s comment made me chuckle…he sounds like mine used to. Good luck with your enterprise. Those guided tours sound magical. Orna

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      Thanks, Orna, it looks as though we inherited our fathers’ work ethic – I’m thinking both nurture and nature. And I must say, I really enjoyed the tour, myself! Happy reading!

  3. Auguri Karen-for both the bloghiversario and the new book. We started our blogs the same year and I think 6 yrs is an amazing accomplishment. Yeah us! I watched your Basilicata presentation live on zoom and really enjoyed it. I almost felt like I was there. Almost. Here’s to the next 6+ years of blogging and books. Ciao, Cristina

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      Grazie! Glad you enjoyed my presentation, and I was also happy to be able to see the video of your talk about grano arso on the recent Italian-Canadian Food Culture seminar. After reading your many blogs, it was nice to get to actually see and hear you talking, not to mention your kitchen’s pots, pans and little Pinocchio backdrop. Congrats to us on our 6 years blogging and zoom presentations! Al futuro!

      1. Ha ha! I chose my background wisely 🌶. I don’t like being recorded, so I was so nervous-and I’m glad I didn’t know in advance how many people would view the recording or it would have been even worse. Hopefully my hanging pots distracted from my fear of being recorded! I think I will stick to blogging! Ciao, Cristina

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  4. Hey Karen,
    Congrats on your 6th Blogiversary!
    Would also like to congratulate you again on your new book – well done!
    We all had great plans in 2020 but staying positive is the most important thing we can do and yes, there’s always 2021. 😉
    I”m missing Calabria! My things and apartment are still there but I’m still in Australia unable to return.

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      Thanks, yes, positivity is so important. Little goals each day and hopefully this strange time will be a memory a year from now. Enjoy your Australian springtime.

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  5. Happy blogiversary! You are so right as to the way time has warped during this pandemic. I don’t know that I will ever think of time in quite the same way for the rest of my life. The other thing you mentioned had long struck me during my own travels: how we often romanticize and enjoy a place not our home because of its novelty. Las Vegas to a Calabrian is enchantment, while Italy to a Nevadan sounds like paradise…

    Hoping this finds you well-rested and safe.

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      Thank you for your wishes. So far, all is well, although I could definitely use, as you say, some novelty in my life right now. Here’s wishing you some, as well.

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