What are the benefits of traveling together?
Ivana: One of the biggest benefits is to be able to share the good, the bad, and the ugly on the road.
I also like that we can always compare our impressions from a country, situation, or cultural tradition. It’s enriching and refreshing, as you often realize you might have missed some important aspects or details that could bring a very different perspective.
Needless to say, travelling with a passionate photographer guarantees countless ventures to off-the-beaten path places, interacting with locals, and finding the best light of the day for the photographs when exploring a place.
Gianni: It’s easier in many aspects. From simple things like having someone watch your backpack while you’re in the restroom at the airport, to helping each other when you’re sick.
There’s not a big difference between living at home alone or with someone, and traveling solo or as a couple. You cope with the same challenges on the road as you do in everyday life.
Ivana and I see many beautiful landscapes and meet amazing people, and a bonus is that we can share those things with the person we love.
What does traveling with a purpose mean to you?
Ivana: For me, it’s about observing, being curious, and learning. It’s about letting go of what we don’t need from our previous lifestyles, so that we can grow. It’s also about giving back to those in need and to those who cannot defend themselves.
Gianni: The main thing is to try to become a better person. When you travel, you’re exposed to new cultures and new environments. Your mind will naturally open to the “other” and the “different.”
To travel with a purpose means to expose oneself to another culture, to become more tolerant, and to understand that although people have different skin, we all have the same blood with the same beating heart.
What are the most important things each of you has discovered about yourselves through travel?
Ivana: To find an answer for this, I need to travel more. I feel those deep changes and internal discoveries need to “mature” to be visible to me.
Gianni: I feel that I have become more compassionate, as we have seen many people in poverty, like people who didn’t have enough food to feed their families or to leave the country to start a better life.
I’ve become more grateful for what I have, and I try to help those in need more often.
How is Italy transformative?
Ivana: Italy embraces you, feeds you, entertains you, and impresses you. It feels as if there’s no place like it anywhere else in the world.
It’s hard to define the mesmerizing energy in Italy, and in Puglia in particular (the region where Gianni comes from). The people spread immense energy and joy, while also staying connected to nature and the earth.
Once you see the fields of terracotta-colored soil with thousands of ancient olive trees, the abundance of fruits, and their architecture, you’ll know what I mean.
Gianni: Italy is a country that is well known for a lot of things: amazing food, friendly people, richness of culture, history, beautiful beaches, landscapes. When you go there for the first time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all this.
Many people fall in love with it so much that they change their lives completely by buying a house and deciding to live there.
What advice do you have for people who struggle to stay balanced and present while traveling?
Ivana: I feel that staying in touch with locals and immersing yourself in what a new culture offers is one of the best ways to stay present. Indulge in all new smells, tastes, noises, and voices around you, either while walking alone or with a friend.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. When you face a fear of the unknown, you have to overcome it in the present moment you’re in, as quickly as you can. When you love your new local experience, you then make that particular moment your present.
Doing things you would never expect to do back home will definitely help you to stay present while on the road.
I also love finding a tea house everywhere I go so I can have a cup of good pu-erh, which grounds me and helps me stay in the here and now.
About Ivana & Gianni
Ivana and Gianni are a digital nomad couple. They set off for their long-term journey in 2013. On their blog, Nomad is Beautiful, they talk about ecotourism, responsible travel, and adventure.