My story is not a typical one. I am not Italian or French, although most days I feel like I was in a former life.
I was not immersed in European culture as a child. I did not spend countless hours cooking with my Grandmother in the kitchen, sharing time-honored family recipes, globetrotting, museum hopping or listening to stories about my ancestors’ life in the ‘old country’. Truth is, I never had an overwhelming desire to even travel to Europe.
Until the day I saw Under the Tuscan Sun. As cliché as it sounds, my life changed that day. For the better. I skipped out of that theater, determined to travel to Italy and subsequently planned my first of many trips to Italy.
I fell deeply in love with Italy and the gregarious people, the simple, yet delicious food, the cafés, the wine, the architecture, the history, the language, the gelato and the lifestyle in general.
Afer returning home, I truly missed that European culture. I craved more and decided to put that high-school French to good use and travel to Paris, solo. It was there that I discovered the nooks and crannies of the magical city, without the distraction of a companion.
I was awestruck by the grand architecture and manicured gardens. I savored my first real French croissant, began my obsession with macarons, dispelled the myth that the French are rude and overcame the fear of traveling alone in foreign city.
And I did it all myself, and on a budget. Without the use of a travel agent or signing up for one of those overcrowded and overpriced bus tours.
There is something very magical that happens when I spend time in these places, and Europe in general. The culture has infected me. When I am there, I just come alive. I feel like I belong. The moment I leave, I can’t wait to get back.
Ever since I became infatuated, I enjoy traveling frequently to Europe, but in between trips I also love to discover new things that remind me of the European culture of which I’m so enamored. As a writer and a travel consultant I started My Mélange as a way to infuse that European culture into your lifestyle; to share my experiences, recipes, photographs, travel tips, ways to travel on a budget, how to travel with only a carry-on bag and anything else that would keep YOU in the know.
Eventually, I began helping others plan their dream trips and found that it was something I loved to do.
I’ve combined my passion for travel and food, undying love for Italy and France, my detail-oriented nature and my years of management and customer service experience and created a multi-faceted business which includes travel consulting, itinerary planning, foodie adventures , photography, and freelance travel writing. Recently, I’ve partnered with some of my trusted local contacts to offer tours, cooking classes and wine tastings which immerse you in the local culture while having a fun and memorable authentic experience.
My wish is for you to experience Italy and France like a local, discover your own passions for these two countries and be willing to let it change your life as it did mine. My goal is to help you, the independent traveler, travel smarter, lighter, stress-free and on any budget.
And me? Well, someday I hope to publish my travel memoirs detailing that very first time I set foot on Italian soil to my first solo trip to Paris and everything in between. Each subsequent trip adds yet more stories!
And I dream of living out the rest of my days deeply rooted somewhere in the beautiful Tuscan countryside – drunk on Chianti and the Italian language.
Robin Locker Lacey
Owner, Mélange Travel