My Do’s and Don’ts in Rome, Italy

I’ve recently returned home from my study abroad experience in Italy and I wanted to share what I loved about the city and maybe what others could avoid! A majority of my time was spent on our campus in Cortona, but we went to Rome twice and Rome is definitely NOT overrated. I have way more Do’s to share than Don’ts because it’s an amazing city with so much to see and do.

IMG_0298 Do: See the monuments! If you’re like me, you’re not going to be going to Italy very many times in your life; experience it! While the monuments are crowded and have long lines, they’re monuments for a reason. They’re breathtaking. Every single sight was one of those things in life that makes you feel very small in a big world. The major spots include: the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Vatican, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo.

Don’t: Get sucked in the tourist restaurants, like in Piazza Navona. We were exploring Piazza Navona around dinner time, which was maybe a mistake. We were constantly bombarded by servers that have to stand outside the restaurant and entice customers in. These restaurants are all very similar, pretty cheap and don’t have the best service in the world. I wouldn’t say we had a bad experience at all, but you could tell it was a tourist trap and I think we could’ve found something more authentic!

Do: Wear sunscreen and comfy shoes. I got very sunburnt by just walking around the city all day, LOL. I’m pretty pale, but I know I’m not the only one! I also underestimated the amount of walking we’d be doing, so I went for the cute shoes instead of sensible. I ended up with tons of blisters and a whole lot of pain! I recommend grabbing some Birkenstocks or good, Italian-made sandals as a souvenir!

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.14.05 PMDon’t: Try to walk the entire city. Rome is a massive city; don’t try to walk it. One day, we walked 12 miles and only saw a fraction of the city. I recommend tackling it by region, instead of hopping around too much! All it takes is just a little planning of where you want to go and your time schedule! I included the map to the left, just to demonstrate how something may not seem that far on Google Maps, but it’s actually a good distance away.

Do: Take the metro! We bought the Roma Pass, which included 3 days of public transportation use. To me, the bus system seemed okay for short distances, but for a brand new tourist, it seemed pretty confusing. The metro was extremely easy to figure out and use thought and I definitely recommend! It was faster than the buses, as well. They only have two main lines that basically hit all of the main spots!

Don’t: Be careless with your belongings, but don’t give yourself too much anxiety over pickpockets either. Before our trip, I felt like I was in a reverse episode of Beyond Scared Straight. They warned us about pickpocketing so much that I was terrified that every single person in the entire country of Italy was out to rob me. While I know pickpocketing is SUPER common, they had us thinking that it happened at every turn and if you people-watched for a few minutes, you could see it happen. This didn’t happen. While I did buy some RFID sleeves for my cards and I wore a cross body purse, neither I nor anyone on my trip was pickpocketed. Don’t be stupid with your belongings, but I do genuinely think that it’s not aaaassssssss bad as they say. Or maybe I just got lucky; I don’t know. IMG_0274

Do: Visit an art gallery or museum! We were on a study abroad trip, so naturally we were going to museums left and right. I’m not super into art history, but I’m glad I got to see some important historical works in the place that they were created!

Don’t: Wait in a line all day for one museum/attraction when you could be exploring the city. (Unless you’re visiting the city for a longer period of time) Like I said, we went to a ton of museums on our program and most of them were extremely crowded with ridiculously long lines. Don’t wait in every line for every museum. I recommend picking one or two and really experiencing those, rather than blowing through all of them just to say you went! The picture to the right is of the Borghese Gallery, which was definitely one of the better ones! You buy your ticket in advance for a time slot, which regulates the amount of people that are inside at a time. It was nice seeing the pieces without being pushed over or having a blocked view the whole time.

Do: Find some authentic souvenirs, not just magnets and Italian flag pasta. Rome is the center of Italy’s tourism industry. It’s a massive city, where millions visit every year from all over the world. They have countless souvenir stores and booths with the same cheap things in each one. While I bought the cliché souvenirs like some David magnets for my friends, I also made a point to buy some local art prints from street vendors and some snacks from a bakery!

Don’t: Worry about not knowing Italian fluently. Italian people are awesome. We had very few negative experiences with local people in any of the cities we visited. While I think they appreciate it if you actually try to speak with them in Italian, they’re more than happy to speak with you in English if they know it. Almost everyone we encountered in Rome knew English pretty well, so we didn’t have any major communication problems and you probably won’t either!

IMG_0756Do: Pick a cool spot and hang out for a little! My favorite spot in Rome was the Trevi Fountain. It was pretty crowded at all times of the day, but it’s so pretty and such a fun spot. There were people sitting and drinking wine, tossing coins in the fountain, playing instruments, talking with friends; just hanging out! It’s so big, intricate and old; again, it’s one of those things that make you feel small in a big world. I recommend picking a spot, just to sit and take it all in! You’re in Rome, Italy. Get some wine. Grab a snack. Enjoy it.

Do: Hoard your euro coins! If this is your first time in Italy, keep your euro coins like they’re gold! Italy has a huge cash based economy and coins are scarce. Most stores and restaurants don’t usually take cards, unless it’s a large purchase. Rome was much better about having change than in some of the other Italian cities, but I wanted to point it out because I’ve seen where a cafe couldn’t (or didn’t want to) break a €5 bill for a €1 purchase. Their cash based economy can easily be adjusted to and really isn’t a big deal; I just wanted to warn any first timers!

Do: Go out and experience the nightlife! IMG_2053Rome is a big city with a lot of young people, so the nightlife is awesome. While we were there, we went to an Irish pub (lol) that had a ton of locals inside watching a soccer game, which was cool to experience! Then, we headed over to Ice Club, a pub made entirely of ice! That was super fun, even though we were three of the five people there at 9pm on a Sunday evening. We didn’t have a ton of time before we had to catch the last metro, but you could see people pouring in and out of pubs all night! If you’re not into the party/club scene, we also went to plenty of bars (cafes) for wine and snacks for a chill night out!

Do: Get gelato and pastries literally whenever you want! This is the most important Do. Eat whatever you want and don’t feel guilty! You’re burning tons of calories trekking around the city and you deserve a couple gelatos throughout the day! It’s cheap and you will never find anything more satisfying than a cup of gelato on a hot day in Italy. Once you get home, you won’t be able to find anything just as good! Trust me, I’ve looked. 😦

These are my major Do’s and Don’ts of Rome! Did I miss anything? Comment below! 

 

 

Why I think truth is smart

Why I think truth is smart

I have never smoked cigarettes and never will, so I’ve never needed convincing to not smoke; however, if I did, truth would certainly have convinced me to quit by now. In my opinion, this anti-smoking campaign is extremely effective from an advertising and marketing standpoint.

“truth” is a national anti-tobacco campaign by the Truth Initiative (formerly known as American Legacy Foundation), working towards ending smoking among youth. They’ve been at it since 1999 and they’ve truly adapted with the changing technology and culture over the years. truth commercials have been on air throughout much of my life and I’ve been always been impressed with them all. The most memorable for me was the “Singing Cowboy (2007),” that scarred just about every kid in America at the time. This was obviously when they were still going for the shock and awe effect; it worked.

Today, the organization has evolved to trying to connect with social issues and social trends. The Truth Initiative uses all forms of media outlets and social media platforms to reach today’s teens, Gen Z. The commercial that sparked my interest again to encourage this post is their (relatively) new campaign, #StopProfiling, from ad agency, 72andSunny. I think this ad effectively connects with current social issues in the country, connects it with their cause and connects it to today’s youth. This can be a somewhat tricky sector to break into, as we saw with the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi disaster, but in my opinion, they did it. It works because: 1) it calls out huge corporations for taking advantage of the less fortunate and 2) it’s supported by facts. According to the National Cancer Institute, from 1970 to 2005, there was a major shift in advertising spending from measured media (TV, radio, magazines and billboards) to promotional activities (price discounts). This was a shift from about 18% on promotional activities to almost 100%. This doesn’t look good for “Big Tobacco” when they have been long known for keeping prices low for the lower classes. This particular campaign is causing quite a stir; this tweet gained significantly more engagement than usual, when their average tweet has about 20 retweets and 50 favorites.

A few more campaigns that I thought were effective in connecting with social issues and social trends are:

Hitting us where it really hurts (our wallets)

Our generation’s obsession with our pets, memes and GIFs

Our love of going green

Nice job, Truth Initiative. This millennial doesn’t really need to be convinced not to smoke, but I do appreciate your marketing strategy and trying to make America a little bit healthier.

An American in Cortona

This May, I was fortunate enough to live in Cortona, Italy with the UGA Terry College of Business program. Largely known for its depiction in Under The Tuscan Sun, Cortona was the perfect way to experience small town Italian culture. UGA’s Cortona campus is a renovated monastery-turned-dorm at the top of the scenic mountain town. It was crazy how quickly it began to feel like home, almost 5,000 miles away from Georgia.

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Cortona is located in the farthest eastern corner of Tuscany atop a mountain. The streets and buildings are all made of stone with almost no greenery that is not in a pot, but this really adds to Cortona’s overall charm. The only flat street in town is Via Nazionale where all the shops and cafes are located. These are the cafes we would visit almost every day for a latte (only 1 euro!) and a pastry to work on our assignments. While the stone structures and streets add to the overall charm, the real charm of Cortona is its people. I honestly expected local people to not like us since we were American, but they were really patient and kind to us, as well as all tourists. UGA has had students coming to Cortona for the past 50 years, so they’re definitely used to us, but I think it helped that they knew we were genuinely there to learn about their culture. My favorite part of Cortona was its family owned, local artisan shops all around town. You could buy anything from handmade soap to custom designed clothing. While you might want to come prepared where your wallet is concerned ($$$) if you’re hoping to buy, it’s so much fun stopping in and meeting the owners and artists themselves!

Through this Terry College of Business study abroad program, we took an international business course and an Italian culture course. Our Italian culture course explored Italian art and literature, as well as the history behind it. By visiting local businesses and speaking with their owners, we learned fascinating information about the overall Italian business culture. I was most interested in two aspects: riposo and “marrying your employees.”

Riposo is basically the Italian “siesta” and it is still a very common practice in Italy. We had to wait until about 3pm to go to the cafe every day because they’d be closed from about 12:30 to 3 every single day. While I admit this definitely results in some profit loss and reduced productivity, it is genius from an employee job satisfaction standpoint. The mentality behind this practice is that employees aren’t living their entire waking life at work. This allows employees to feel as though going to work is an activity that occupies most of their day, but isn’t their whole life. They get to maybe nap, eat, or see family and friends during their break, which allows them to feel rejuvenated when they come back at 3 or 4pm until close around 7pm.

When I say “marrying your employees,” I mean that it is law in Italy that an employer cannot simply just fire an employee. An employer commits to employing someone for life, unless they do something insanely terrible or illegal. Even if they are a horrible employee, an employer is required by law to give them three warnings and then, if they do not correct the behavior, they can be let go. However, the fired employee has an option to appeal this, which can cost the employer thousands of dollars in legal fees, time and energy. While I say this, it is not necessarily a bad thing in the Italian culture. While lackadaisical employees can hinder productivity, often times it’s good for a business. This practice has encouraged the Italian people to see their job as a career and not so much so a stepping stone to the next best thing. For example, it was very common for 40 year old men to be a waiter at a restaurant and they took their job very seriously. Whereas at home in the US, a waiter is usually a bored college student trying to pay some bills and student loans. Waiters in Italy were always very concerned if you did not eat all of your food because they thought you didn’t enjoy the food. The success of the restaurant directly affects their chosen career, so they want to ensure customer’s satisfaction with their experience.

My favorite part of Italian culture is “aperitivo,” when everyone in town comes to the piazza around 6pm to sit, drink wine or walk around to talk to neighbors. It’s something both locals and tourists can participate in, which what I thought made this custom cool. This Huffpost article did a great job of explaining the historical significance behind it and the typical “aperitivo” food and drink. I didn’t know about Spritz before I went to Italy, but they are an Italian staple. I wasn’t a huge fan though, so I stayed with red wine most of the time! Italian’s eat very late, after aperitivo, so they usually eat around 9pm and later. The Italian culture believes eating is an activity for spending time with friends and family. In a traditional Italian dinner, there’s at least 3 courses and 5 courses is most common: antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and dolce. I love Italian food, so it was great getting to try so many things each night. Some have asked me if we had to adjust to different portion sizes in Italy versus the “huge” American portions. Honestly, I ate way more food in Italy than I ever do at home in the US. While each portion may be small, a person gets full after 3 or more courses of carb-loaded food.

If you ever have the opportunity to not only go abroad, but live abroad, do it. I cannot stress enough how amazing it was to spend a month in this amazing little town. Immersing yourself in a culture so different from your own allows you to appreciate their way of life, but also your way of life back home. While I was very happy to be home, I already miss Cortona with every part of my being and I’ll forever be an Italophile.

More to come about my travels to Rome, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Venice! I just wanted to share about beautiful Cortona first! 

Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

I recently went to Nashville for the weekend and I owe our successful trip all to Pinterest! Usually, I look solely to Instagram for travel recommendations. Instagram users find the coolest and often hidden gems in cities, and then are able to share the exact location for other users to find! However, for Nashville, I found that Pinterest was a great platform for bloggers to share sample itineraries for weekend trips. Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.00.06 AM

Even though it rained about 99% of our weekend, we were definitely able to make the most of our trip! Here are some of my favorite places we visited:

Draper James: First, I am obsessed with all things Southern and Draper James is classic Southern style. Second, Reese Witherspoon has been one of my role models ever since I can remember. She’s an amazing actress and businesswoman. And third, we actually got to meet her and she was so nice. So. Nice.

ACME Feed and Seed: ACME is a four story factory turned into a restaurant, bar and concert venue. This place was packed with both tourists and locals, and I definitely know why. You could easily spend your whole night in this one building. The rooftop bar had a great view of the river and city, while the ground floor had delicious drinks and food, as well as a live band.

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Murals: We hit a few of the most popular ones, but they are located literally all over the city. Murals are one of my favorite newer city trends. They’re art that everyone can relate to, while also livening up the area. I saw most of these on Instagram first, but some blogs from Pinterest helped me find their location!

Biscuit Love: I had heard so much about this brunch place online and from friends-of-friends, so we had to try it. The “bonuts” are definitely not overrated and worth every second of the wait in line. Get there early to avoid a line around the block!

The Broadway Strip: I feel like everyone should experience this at least once their life. The street is lined with huge neon signs and every bar is at least two stories high (most are three or four!). Each bar has multiple cover bands playing on each floor. We loved exploring the four floors of Honky Tonk Central, the old school car hung on the wall at Nudie’s and the party scene at The Stage.

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Antique Archeology: I was a History minor in college, so I’m a huge fan of the American Pickers show on the History Channel. My parents and I used to watch all day marathons on the weekends when I still lived at home. I had to include their Nashville store location on my Nashville list and I wasn’t disappointed! They had some crazy items, as well as tons of show merchandise for fans of the show.

The Loveless Cafe: The Loveless was one of those things that I knew was famous, but wasn’t sure why. Every famous country music artist has been and taken a picture there. While it is actually a little bit of drive out of the city, it was definitely worth the trip. The food was amazing and it was fun to learn about it’s history in its shops during the wait. It was originally one of the few stops on Highway 100 in the 1950s and has been famous for its Southern food ever since.

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More of Pinterest’s Nashville highlights include:

  • The Pancake Pantry
  • The Pharmacy
  • Pedal Tavern
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • The Grand Ole Opry
  • The Parthenon
  • Pinewood Social
  • Hattie B’s

Cause marketing: Who’s doing it right from a millennial’s perspective

It’s no big news that cause marketing is in right now. However, companies need to be vigilant about how their cause-marketing-related messages come across to consumers. Growing up around constant advertising, the Millennial generation has been conditioned to ignore and filter out messages from companies, resulting in a bit more cynicism than our predecessors. This cynicism gives us the ability to know if a company actually has good intentions or just wants to stay in the market with a false “do-gooder” appearance. I loved this article from DigiDay, talking about how cause marketing has been a little of “too much of a good thing” recently, or as some call it “causewashing.”

The companies that are correctly using cause marketing (no BS motives detected) are either: 1) essentially the ones that created the movement in the first place or 2) are dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. When corporate social responsibility has been built into the core of a company’s brand identity, we’re all about it. The ultimate key to cause marketing is transparency about the cause and what exactly the company is doing it for it. Unfortunately for some, donating a mere 5% of proceeds to an obscure charity isn’t good enough anymore; we want to see real change from a company if they claim to have an impressive CSR policy.

Brands doing it right:

  • LUSH Cosmetics: LUSH is one of my all time favorite cosmetic brands and they are champion cause-marketers. Their charities directly align with their products in such a way that the product is made to work with the cause itself. For example, they are combating and bringing awareness to animal testing and harmful cosmetic ingredients simply by selling their products. While their whole business platform is a cause in itself, they also sell Charity Pots where a percentage of proceeds go to a specific charity.
  • Patagonia: Patagonia is one of the most transparent brands out there and they’re dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. Most recently, they created an entire support campaign for Standing Rock, featuring almost no branding at all. This Standing Rock feature was the homepage for days. Patagonia has mastered the cause/product/content marketing balance.
  • Toms: Even with some recent backlash, the Tom’s brand story comes across as genuine and well-intentioned. In my opinion, Toms is one of the top brands that started this recent cause marketing trend in the first place. The Tom’s website incorporates photos of the children they assist on almost every page and the Toms employees giving them away, which is key. Consumers see the Toms brand actively working to help the cause themselves, not just a check sent in the mail. The One-for-One business model and tagline was crucial in the success of this 2006 startup. Consumers feel as though they have personally helped an in-need individual and changed a life by purchasing shoes for themselves.
  • Alex and Ani: Alex and Ani has so many things going right for them. All of their jewelry is eco-conscious, meaning both the materials used and production methods are sustainable. All of their products are made in America, which is a cause in and of itself. They also feature several “Charity By Design” collections, where a portion of the sales are donated to specific charities. Even with the various aspects of an amazing cause-marketing platform, they barely advertise it.
  • KIND: I really like KIND because they have really integrated their brand identity around just the name itself and I love their message. The food is kind for your body and the brand encourages kindness in the world. The Kind Foundation aids those superheroes in local communities that genuinely care about helping other people.

Pro tip: Never post anything like “For every Share, we’ll donate…” I hate this. It sounds like you are withholding money that could be doing the world a lot of good ransom for likes and shares. If you are that desperate for engagement, I would much more respect a company that would post something like, “We have this amount of money and we want to know who our customers want us to give it to! Vote here!” Voting or commenting allows you to reach your audience and fosters engagement, without seeming like you’re withholding money just for attention.

Here’s an infographic from an AdWeek article that I found to really ring true, at least in my opinion.

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March 12, 2017 AdWeek Article by Emma Bazilian

Wendy’s is savage and Twitterverse loves it

I know I’m not the first person to acknowledge how Wendy’s Twitter account is hilarious, but I wanted to address how I love it as a digital marketing strategy for the company.

Wendy’s understands who Twitter users are and how they utilize it as a platform. While there are Twitter users all over the demographic spectrum, the most active users are the millennial generation and younger. Millennials were the innovators that first made Twitter successful in its launch in 2006 and continue to consider it as one of their favorite platforms. Millennials largely use Twitter to: 1) talk about politics 2) complain about things and 3) share jokes and memes. Wendy’s marketing team has gone with #3 and ran with it. 

The overarching goal of a social media campaign is to create an online community around your brand, where you can facilitate discussion about the brand in a positive light. Nothing gets millennials talking more than a savage fast food company tweeting insults and “clapbacks” about its competitors. This clever use of brand personification makes millennials want to be Wendy’s best friend. This guy even wanted to hookup with Wendy’s, to which they replied “We are literally a restaurant.” 

If you haven’t seen Wendy’s Twitter yet, here’s one of my favorite videos that compiled the best of the best examples of Wendy’s tweets:

Insta the travel guide: Atlanta edition

I love doing “Insta the travel guide” posts for two reasons. 1) I get to spread the word about how one can use social media platforms to your advantage while traveling! 2) I try to convey to the marketing world and business owners the importance of the use of social media platforms to reach certain markets. For many like me, if we can’t find your business online, we can’t find your business in person.

My first blog post ever was about how I used the Instagram account, ATL Bucket List, to make the most out of my summer in the city! Now, I wanted to do a separate post about my favorite places I found through Instagram! ATL Bucket List and the Atlanta Places tag were great places to start, as well as stalking friends’ and family’s  accounts! Here are my top 9 places in Atlanta!

1. Murals: I am the most stereotypical millennial and loved the murals. They are all over the city and this Instagram account tells you where they all are! My friends from school came to visit and I dragged them all over the city to see them. This particular one is in the heart of the Edgewood neighborhood and definitely my favorite of the ones we saw!

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2. Jackson Street Bridge: This was by far the hardest place to find because most people don’t like tagging its exact location, but I found it! This bridge has the best cityscape view in the city (that I found so far)! Hopefully this helps someone else who had seen it pictures, but couldn’t find it!

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3. High Museum of Art:  I don’t live under a rock. I had heard about the High before, but the photos in the Places tag made me want to go! I wouldn’t say I am “into” art, but I loved exploring this place!

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4. Chattahoochee Coffee Company: In the back of a gated apartment community, there is the cutest coffee place with the BEST view in Atlanta (ITP!) Pull up to the call box, say “Coffee!” and they’ll buzz you in!

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5. Atlanta History Center: While the museum itself was very interesting, the best part is the Swan House out back and its gardens! I had seen photos of this place and had to find it. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a must-see while in Atlanta! It was once owned by the (very rich) Inman family in the 1930s. Today, it’s known for that the Hunger Games was filmed there!

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6. Sweet Auburn Curb Market: Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve been! Sweet Auburn Curb Market was started in 1918 after the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, as part of the area’s revitalization efforts. Today, you can find really affordable produce and meats, as well as shop at various food court style restaurants! I highly recommend Bell Street Burritos, a local business similar to Barberito’s and Moe’s!

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7. Monday Night Brewing: Although one of the big three breweries in Atlanta, I initially found Monday Night through a friend’s Instagram and I had to go see the tie wall! While I wasn’t the hugest fan of their beer selection (I’m not a fan of really hoppy beer), it has a great atmosphere and hilarious tour guides. Tucked away in West Midtown, this a must try for a fun evening out!

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8. Midtown: Midtown is an obvious must-see, but a picture with the sign in Colony Square is a must-do while in Atlanta! Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

9. Georgia Aquarium: This one is cheating because I interned there this summer and I didn’t find it on Instagram, but it is definitely an Atlanta must-see and their Instagram is always on point. One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was getting to take a yoga class in front of Ocean Voyager! Processed with VSCO with se2 preset

The best thing that has ever happened to me in my life was catching this cutie’s attention and snapping this awesome picture of our staring contest! I love beluga whales.

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These are my top 9 spots in the city! What are your favorite spots in Atlanta?