A chat with writer Nardia Plumridge.

Nardia Plumridge is a travel and lifestyle writer who began her career in London working in magazine journalism before relocating to Florence is search of Italy’s famed ‘dolce vita’. Here she began, Lost in Florence, that has now been made into a book released through Hardie Grant. 

Nardia will be in conversation with Mary Gray as part of a Florence Writers event in St Mark’s (first floor) on the 11th April at 6pm.

How did you come up with the concept for Lost in Florence? Was it something that happened over time or did you start with the idea and go from there? 

It dates back to late summer 2011. I was travelling through Europe and was in Madrid at the time. I arrived two days before meeting my sister for a 24-hour whistle-stop trip. As I prefer more than one day to get under the skin of a city, I arrived a little earlier, and solo, and started exploring the city on foot. Over those two days I wandered the streets, took the free tours offered by the local council, and found these little nooks, stores, and bars off the main areas. It got me thinking – why isn’t there somewhere that has curated information on venues beyond the tourist haunts. And the seed was planted.

Once my sister had arrived, I had organically created a bespoke tour for her, and the ‘Lost in’ concept was ignited – showcasing what I came to phrase the ‘boutique, chic, unique’ venues in a city.  I always imagined it as a book, an insider’s guide that could be made for any city. In fact my first manuscript working out the creative was on New York where I spent three weeks in November 2011 that formed the basis of sections: Wine, Dine, Fine, Notable Neighbourhoods, Tips & Tricks (now called The Essentials), and the introduction written as a postcard or personal letter in style. When I moved to Florence in 2012, it made sense to start with this city and go from there. Lost in Florence was born.

You have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts connected with your website, that’s a lot to keep you busy. How do you produce content that is engaging and yet different for each account?

I am a writer by trade and by heart, so the social media side I find, to be completely honest, exhausting. Anyone following me knows I am not very consistent with timings and posts. But I have my favourite platforms (Instagram, I love imagery) so my motto is post when you wish, make it matter, and don’t feel pressured to ‘perform’ or follow other peoples ways of managing content. It’s too much of a stress! It really depends why you have your accounts, for me it isn’t about numbers, rather it’s to post when it feels relevant and when I feel inspired which I hope will make it engaging. 

It seems like your work is very collaborative. How do you go about forming these relationships and how important are they? 

I believe strongly in collaborations and sharing talents. I don’t feel I can be the sum of all parts nor do I try to be. As a freelance writer, your days can be quite solitary so working with another creative is really satisfying. My early career was on staff at big name magazines so I was trained under the process of having an editorial team and a picture desk. So I brought this way of working with me to Lost in Florence where I collaborate mainly with photographers. Some I have met through word of mouth, others have found me and asked to do a shoot together. One of my biggest joys in creating the website, right through to the book process, is the people I can align with to bring ideas to life. From the artisans featured through to my editors at the publishing house.

It’s difficult sometimes to get away from the crowds in Florence. Where do you escape to in the city when the hustle and bustle get too much? (This could be a place, shop, person, etc.) 

My advice is to literally go one block back off the main streets to feel a new whole energy of the city – it will change in a split second. The hustle of the main squares will feel a world away and you’ll find the most stunning artisan studios or eateries to dine, especially in Florence. On a personal level, I love early morning walks, when the delivery drivers are making their rounds and you can grab a coffee (or two) on your walk and people watch while wandering the city’s narrow lanes. I love to hike up to San Miniato al Monte for the fresh air and views then back down via San Niccolò and along the river Arno.

What is next for you? ‘Lost in…’ other cities perhaps?  If there were another city you’d like to get lost in, what would it be? 

‘Lost in…’ was always an idea to take beyond Florence and now feels like the right time to do that. So I am launching ‘Lost in the Cities’ (www.lostinthecities.com) that will feature the same categories and philosophy of showcasing the boutique side of a city. It will also be a podcast – each week I will be ‘visiting’ a city by talking to a local Lost In-sider who spills the travel beans on how to experience their city beyond the tourist spots. From café to cocktail hour, we’ll discuss the best places to WINE, the food trends of the city in DINE, and where to shop for FINE items made by local craftspeople. SUBLIME tackles to cultural hotspots to see and excite the senses.

It will offer up-to-date information on current travel trends and places to explore that are off-the-beaten-path and independently run, which has always been the ‘Lost in…’ philosophy – of taking the little backstreets to see what you can truly discover and where most authentic adventures await you.

Lost in Florence: An insider’s guide to the best places to eat, drink, and explore, is released through Hardie Grant in Europe on 2 May 2019. 


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St Mark's English Church, Florence, Italy