unique blogger award

A Little Internet Love with the Unique Blogger Award

This past week Lulu from Calabrisella Mia nominated Calabria: The Other Italy for the Unique Blogger Award. While I’ve gotten lots of great comments from readers over my three and a half years blogging, this is my first official recognition from another blogger in the blogosphere. 

LuLu is an Italian-Canadian with roots in Calabria, and one day she up and moved to Cosenza, from where she telecommutes for a living and blogs for fun. Cosenza is in the north of the region and you can read more about it on Lulu’s site and my post Cosenza: Old and New.


The Unique Blogger Award is a pay-it-forward, share-the-love, 21st-century creation, and those nominated must answer a set of questions and then nominate others. Of course, you don’t have to participate, but I thought I would verge from my usual post style and take a carefree plunge into the worldwide blogosphere.


1. What inspired you to start blogging?

unique blogger awardI started my blog a couple months before I published my book Calabria: The Other Italy, because popular wisdom dictated that the writer of a travel book should have a travel blog. (“Travel book” is a simplification of its contents, but the world loves categories.) To tell you the truth, I wasn’t really aware of what blogging was all about at that time. I had certainly read posts on various blogs as a result of Internet searches, often with the focus of food, history, culture or travel, but I didn’t follow anyone regularly or really think about it that much. I searched until I found what I was looking for and then I’d enjoy a good article or recipe. So I suppose I can say that my experiences of discovering and reading quality material inspired me to start a blog of my own. My book grew out of the four years I lived in the Province of Reggio Calabria, and my subsequent visits to Calabria and other areas of Italy, many of them quite extended, have moved me to write about new places, people and things.

2. Has anything interesting ever happened to you thanks to your blog?

Yes, and I hadn’t expected it. Of course, you never know who is reading your blog. You’d like to think that there’s someone other than your immediate circle of family and friends. And in fact, you start small and gradually gain followers. I was also new to social media, so it took a bit to get a handle on the basics. The first time you receive a warm comment about your blog from a complete stranger, it feels good. I put my heart and soul into it, as I did my book, so it’s nice to be appreciated and have the feeling that you’re making a contribution.

Every once in a while someone contacts me professionally, wanting to know more about the region or about a specific subject. For example, I was interviewed by an Estonian newspaper and my name appeared numerous times in a long article about Calabria in a language so complicated I couldn’t begin to decipher it. A Chinese TV network contacted me for information about the bergamot and a few months ago, Andrew Zimmern’s assistant contacted me because his Travel Channel show “Bizarre Foods” was interested in doing a program about the frittole, which they had read about on my blog (Le Frittole: The Pig Boil, Calabrian Style). Unfortunately, they weren’t up on their Italian geography and the crew was going to be on the Amalfi Coast, so Calabria was too far out of the way, but who knows what they’ll plan for the future? So when I open my email, I never know what I’m going to find!

unique blogger award

View of Tallinn with St. Nikolas’ Church, Estonia

3. If you could travel anywhere, in this very moment, where would you go?

It’s a good thing this question specifies “in this moment,” as there are so many enticing places in the world. However, in this moment I would like to be transported to Calabria’s Sila National Park. Breathing that fresh mountain air, feeling the crisp snow underfoot and being immersed in the gorgeous wintery scenery would lift my spirits, as I imagine they would anyone’s. And this year the photos I’ve been seeing on social media, and yes, also on blogs, have been particularly enticing. (See Trekking in the Calabrian Snow.) I’m not a skier, but riding a steam train through the snow-blanketed woods, taking a walk or gliding over frozen ground on a dogsled, and enjoying a hearty homestyle meal with delicious natural products from the area… well, it sounds like heaven.

Sila National Park

Dogsled in the Sila National Park, Calabria


Here is the part where I share the love and nominate a few of the blogs I follow for the Unique Blogger Award. They are all in English and encourage commenting:

Almost Italian – Francesca is an Italian-Australian with a fluid style and a vast knowledge of Italy. Her blog focuses on food and travel, and I particularly enjoy reading her seasonal recipes from Down Under.

Ciao Chow Linda – Linda is a retired journalist and an excellent cook who always looks like she’s having fun. I wouldn’t mind joining her for a delicious culinary adventure, whether at home or on her travels.

Bespoke Traveler – Jesse Japitana and Atreyee Gupta travel all over the world looking for the unexpected, and their blog tells stories that immerse the reader in their experiences. Their words and photos go deep.

The Rover in Leather Jacket – Sara is an Italian who writes in English, so this is a blog all about Italy from an Italian’s perspective. She’s thoughtful and a good sort of quirky.

Un po’ di pepe – Cristina is an Italian and a Canadian from Puglia. She writes mostly in English on a wide range of Italian cultural topics and food. With just a little bit of spice!

Orna O’Reilly: Travelling in Italy – This enterprising Irishwoman, recently featured on Italian national television, blogs about her new home in Puglia, traveling in Italy and beyond (with good pics).


My three questions to these nominated bloggers, should they choose to participate in the Unique Blogger Award, are all or any of the following (the “rules” say all, but I know that my nominees aren’t the two-word-answer type of bloggers):

1. What makes something bloggable for you?

2. If another blogger (me) would be so lucky as to be invited for dinner at your house, what would you dazzle him or her (me) with?

3. Do you think Internet articles that display how many minutes it will take to read them could be a sign of the end of the world as you know it?

No pressure, no time limit. And to my readers: did you enjoy my uncharacteristic dalliance into this newfangled form of Internet love?

unique blogger award

A unique blogger should have a unique keyboard

For an in-depth look at the beautiful land in the toe of the Italian boot, check out Calabria: The Other Italymy non-fiction book about daily life, history, culture, art, food and society in this fascinating southern Italian region.

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

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CALABRIA: THE OTHER ITALY makes a great gift!

Comments 12

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      Ha, ha. I guess I didn’t exactly spell it out. From LuLu, who nominated me:
      Here are the rules:
      Show some love to the blogger that nominated you.
      Answer the questions.
      In the spirit of sharing the love, nominate other bloggers for the Unique Blogger Award.
      Ask them three questions

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  1. Yes, I did enjoy your ‘uncharacteristic dalliance’ ! 😉
    Congratulations on your being nominated for the Unique Blogger Award ….. Lulu knows a good thing when she sees (and reads) it !!! 💕👍🌟🌟💕

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  2. Ciao Karen
    Grazie mille! Sei troppo gentile. I read most of the other blogs you mentioned, so I feel honoured to have made your list! I almost choked on my tea when I read your question #3-that answer will require some thought! Ciao, Cristina

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      Sei veramente brava – and you have so many different talents. Question #3 could only be asked of thoughtful individuals, so I’m interested in your response. Plus, I figured I had to come up with a “unique” question…

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