JohnnySnelgrove's Travel Journals


What do you want to do the next time you travel abroad?

learn a language, study abroad, work with the environment, experience a new culture through studying, meet new people, gain professional experience, make some money, change the world [somehow], adventure travel, play music

  • 28 years old
  • From Washington, United States
  • Currently in Washington, United States

Firenze, Italy 2012

Living the life of an Italian journalist.

Busking, Bumming, and Bussing

Italy Florence, Italy  |  Nov 04, 2012
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 Because to be artistic, one cannot close off an avenue of inspiration for fear of being wrong. You have to just do it, and whatever people think afterwards is irrelevant. The creating is all that’s important. 

Several interesting things have happened within the past week: the “Great Southbound Wander” took shape, The Florentine liked a story idea of mine and asked me to hammer something out for them, I swallowed my pride and tried my strings at busking, and a groovy couchsurfing musician from Prague stayed at our place for awhile.

The “Great Southbound Wander” started with my finding a cheap flight to Sicily for 17 euros. I had to book a seat for my guitar as well—who’s name is now Master Extra Seat Item—so the price, after a few dumb fees, came out to around 39 euros. Still pretty dang cheap, though.

I’ll cover everything in one economical trip. Malta’s been on the list ever since I read Thomas Pynchon’s V. in high-school. Since I was going to be so close, I figured it wasn’t too much of a stretch to hop a ferry to that little cultural melding pot of the Mediterranean. Tunisia’s not too far away either, but that might be pushing it. After Malta, I’m heading north to explore the sonorous land of Sardinia. I’ve already started researching local musicians to interview for my final story of Sardinian music.

Back at home (has Firenze really become home now?), I’ve been given the go ahead from the Florentine on a story idea which follows the life of a Tuscan tomato from farm to table. So far, I’ve emailed the president of the local “Slow Food” chapter in Firenze asking for any leads, specific farms to check out, and so forth. The Slow Food movement is a reactionary movement to the fast food culture that has come to dominate the gastronomical landscape. It started in Bra, Italy, a town in the northwest region, and has spread worldwide to over 150 countries. You can learn more about the movement here: I highly recommend getting to know about the program. Eating local, sustainable, and fresh produce—as well as learning to slow down and enjoy that produce—forces us to appreciate our minds, our bodies, our environment, and our lives as a whole. Eating slowly and eating well is probably the easiest thing a person can do to raise their quality of life and sense of wellbeing.

Food, travel, and music. These are the three pillars of my existence. In the realm of music, I met a terrific singer/songwriter through the site, named Temple. I’m pretty sure he’s my doppelganger: a wandering minstrel (he prefers the term troubadour), who dons brightly colored button-up shirts and only travels with a backpack and a guitar (you can check out his music here: He stayed for a few days, I showed him around Firenze, we jammed, sang, got others to join in, and had a genuinely good time. Everyone at the Frat House (my apartment’s nickname) dug our tunage. Temple may be a bit more of a free spirit than me—my hair’s a lot shorter and I’m more nervous about dedicating my life to music—but I think we're on a similar brainwave. It’s the musician brainwave: off-kilter, curious, cynically bold, and maybe a bit naive. I think it’s the confidence to create, perform, and be wrong that defines the artistic mind. Because to be artistic, one cannot close off an avenue of inspiration for fear of being wrong. You have to just do it, and whatever people think afterwards is irrelevant. The creating is all that’s important.

Its getting colder, so I decided to try busking before the weather got any worse. Tonight was cool, dry, and comfortable. I played and sang for twenty minutes on a busy street corner, making two euros, twenty smiles, and a crowd of dancing bambini. I’ll play again some day, but I think I need a license or else I could be fined.

I’m busy, busy, busy with two big articles and a podcast to put together. Writing becomes difficult in an apartment filled with 18 mates. There’s hardly a quiet place. I’d write in a cafe, but I’m trying to ween myself off coffee (Italians drink a ton of coffee: a cappuccino in the morning, an expresso in the afternoon, an expresso after lunch, an expresso before going back to work, an expresso after work, an expresso after dinner, etc...), and cafes are too tempting. I’ve been drinking green tea at home for the past three days and I think I’ve finally started to get my caffeine intake under control. I feel healthier drinking less caffeine. Writing a three page article without downing a gallon of coffee is also extremely reassuring. Caffeine is nice, but it can be a slippery slope if one’s not careful.

So in closing: I’ll try to write more for the blog, I feel like I’ve been neglecting it lately. I’m getting busier, it’s tough to write in the house, but there are big plans ahead. Until next time, enjoy this recording of Temple and I jamming on Halloween; also, here are some pictures of Fiesole, a small town overlooking Firenze from above that my friend Jake and I visited spontaneously today.


The Saltiest Minstrel

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