JULIA BUCKLEY

freelance journalist

Acqua alta in Venice, January 2016. Image: Julia Buckley

Here's why I write so much about Italy:

I studied Modern Languages at Oxford and loved Italian so much that I dropped the others to concentrate on its language, linguistics and literature - especially Gabriele d'Annunzio, Dario Fo and the proto-feminist poets of the Renaissance. I spent my year abroad in the Marche region, pouring espresso and scooping gelato in a bar near Urbino, and exploring the Marche, Tuscany and Umbria on days off. After finals, I spent several months between Florence and Rome. I used to have a regular house-sitting gig in Milan, and recently, I spent six weeks in Venice, researching a comprehensive city guide for Travel & Leisure. It's taken me a decade to be comfortable saying this, but I speak fluent Italian.

I've written about Italy for UK and US publications including the Independent, Telegraph, National Geographic Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Mashable, HotelChatter, thelondonpaper and Jetsetter, as well as snippets for GQ. I've broken Italian travel news, and even made the news in Italy: my articles have been picked up by La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.

I've travelled in every Italian region bar Sardinia, and have spent time in major cities from Palermo to Trieste, but my current specialities are the following:

Cities: Venice, Florence, Genoa, Bologna, Rome, Milan

Regions: Tuscany, Veneto, Calabria, Puglia, Marche

Subjects: Culture, food, craftsmanship, literature, architecture

I have wide-ranging contacts, from politicians and artisans to innovative chefs and hoteliers. I know the best tartufo-maker in Calabria, and the best leather-worker in Tuscany. I know which non-descript railway town is hiding perfectly preserved Etruscan tombs on its outskirts, and which stop of the Circumvesuviana you should jump off at for the best preserved Roman ruins in Naples (hint: it's not Pompeii or Herculaneum). I know the best hotels don't always have a PR budget, and the best restaurants are the ones full of truckers, not celebrities. If something's not online, I know who to call; and I call in Italian. I have an outsider's eye when it comes to stories, but a local's network when it comes to researching them.

I love writing about all things Italian, but the articles that give me the most joy are those which allow me to introduce readers to things, places or people they won't have heard of. Two of my favourite recent pieces were cover stories for National Geographic Traveller. "Made in Italy" was a series of interviews with artisans throughout the country, and "Secret Italy" pulled out 14 lesser known attractions and places bookable only via private appointment. Another recent favourite was my piece on Eremito, a modern day Umbrian hermitage, for the Independent. It's such a special place that I just returned from my second stay.

Translation work

I'm a firm believer that, regardless of fluency, there's no translator like a native translator, so I prefer to stick to Italian-to-English translation. Past clients have included the BBC, Pisa and Le Marche tourist boards, Orion Publishing Group and private business. I'm open to English-to-Italian translation, with the caveat mentioned above. I'm also an Italian "reader" for the Orion Publishing Group, advising on the translation potential of newly published novels, and would welcome similar commissions.