A Michigan-born musical theatre performer based in New York visited Florence on a three-day solo trip. Sitting alone at the Jazz Club, she sees Dario, and that’s where her story changed. This is the start of many ex-pat stories in the city, but perhaps without the element of fame that came about when Kacie shared her romantic encounter on TikTok and suddenly found herself the creator of a viral video. Here, she tells us about the unexpectedness of that surreal experience and where it has taken her so far.
Jane Farrell: A very overarching first question, but can you tell us about how you got to where you are?
Kacie Rose: I went on a solo trip to Italy three years ago and visited Venice, Florence and Rome. On my first day in Florence, I went to the Jazz Club and I met Dario. We spent my three days here together (I know, it’s so cheesy!) and then we were long distance for a year before he moved over to New York for 12 months. I was a dancer in New York, so my industry shut down during the pandemic, and we were at a point where we needed to decide what to do with the future. We made the decision to transfer here and I started sharing videos about the experience. Just before we began the 17-hour trip from New York to Florence, I uploaded a TikTok documenting my and Dario’s relationship. I had never uploaded anything to TikTok before, or even used it for anything other than scrolling through videos of cats and recipes, so when we got here and I turned my phone back on, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the video had gone viral! We had to do mandatory quarantine for two weeks, so I thought, well, I might as well keep going! There are so many new things around me that I’m learning about, so I decided to share them once I saw that people were relating with the culture shocks and cultural differences that I was observing.
It’s such a help to hear about shared experiences.
Yeah, also for me, I have people say to me, “I had that exact same experience!” and it’s great to know that I’m not the only one! I’m learning right along with everyone else. Recently, I made a video about drinking grappa like a shot, and I can’t tell you how many people messaged, saying, “I did the same thing!”
Of course, you’re not alone, although it can feel quite isolating to be in a new place and trying to forge a fresh life. There are always those little things that nobody could prepare you for.
For sure! I remember asking a barista for a cappuccino after lunch and she looked at me like, “Are you sure?” so I just looked back like, “I don’t know, am I?” It’s little things like that too: you don’t think you need to Google ‘What time do I have a cappuccino?’
What has helped you settle into life in Florence?
I think Facebook groups have helped a lot. Social media can often be viewed as something negative, but I found my first friends here through social media—it’s an essential tool. For example, I’ve bought loads of things I needed through the ‘Foreigners Living in Florence’ group.
Absolutely! What’s wonderful is that you can ask a question to the groups and nearly always someone will reach out and try and help.
Even something like finding an English-speaking doctor. Facebook groups are a great place to start.
What are the best and worst things about living here?
The best is obviously the food! And also, the culture of enjoying your life, which is something very different to what I knew in New York. People always ask me what’s the biggest difference between American and Italian culture, and I find it’s taking time to enjoy life: going on vacation for two weeks in August and knowing that there are moments when it’s time to work and moments to live. The worst is the bureaucracy. I love Italy so much, but it can be a struggle!
What are the best and worst sides of having an Insta-lifestyle?
The best is being able to connect with people who have been in similar situations to mine, it makes me feel not alone. I also love it when people tell me that my videos have helped ease their anxiety about moving here. Sometimes social media can be overwhelming, especially when you encounter negativity, but at those times I just switch off my phone and do something else. It’s important for me to have boundaries with content creation and moments for living. If you look at things through a lens of humour and positivity, I think it just makes the whole situation so much better. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but what helps me keep a positive attitude is thinking about what I can learn from a situation, and then it automatically turns into a positive. If you’re negative, you’ve got no options; if you’re positive, you’ve got a million.
Ph/ Valeria Raniolo
I’m a history geek. I have loved learning about the Medici.
Favourite place for a panino?
Pino’s Sandwiches on via Giuseppe Verdi 36! Back in April, I was going through a bit of a homesick phase and so many people told me to go to Pino’s for sandwiches: he’s known as the Study Abroad Dad! It’s such a warm, kind environment and you instantly feel like you’re at home. I made a video about my experience there and it ended up going viral and then the next time I walked past, Pino told me he was going to name a sandwich after me, so now there’s the Kacie Rose special!
Favourite places in the city?
Just walking through the city. I like to sit by the Arno to eat.
Favourite place to visit in Tuscany?
Greve in Chianti is beautiful. Dario’s friend is a butcher there, so we’ll go up there to drink wine and eat. It’s cute and secluded, and I love it.
See The Florentine‘s Instagram Live with Kacie Rose, held on October 14, 2021.
See @kacierose_ on Instagram, @kacierose4 on TikTok, and Kacie Rose on YouTube. Her website is coming soon.
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We thank Claudio Meli, the General Manager at the recently relaunched The Place in piazza Santa Maria Novella for hosting this Instainterview.