photographer / recovering workaholic
Kara Marie Trombetta might not be the only one who’s ever dreamed of moving to Italy— but she might be one of the few people who actually did it. just upped and moved to Italy. from Austin, Texas. with her two sons and husband. during the pandemic. if we loved her before (which we did — this is her third profile!), we love her even more now for inspiring us — once again! — to think about life a little differently. here’s how (and why) she does it.
“i read this question, sighed deeply, and stared blankly at my laptop screen… not because i don’t know what is different, but because i don’t know where to start. since we chatted last, i did what some would consider the unthinkable and took a voluntary creative sabbatical at the “peak" of my career (who says?!). i sold or gave away nearly everything i owned in Austin — including my favorite house in the world — and moved my entire family to Como, Italy where we are trying our hand at a much, much different lifestyle.
moving to Italy was always one of those “someday” conversations that was perpetuated by the misconception that i had to hit a certain life status or financial goals — goals that i kept surpassing and disregarding as if it were out of the question to not wait until i was in my 60s. it took the cluster-of-a-year that was 2020 and a handful of proper mental breakdowns before i was able to finally say, “now is as good a time as any. let’s do it." we’ve been in Italy for nine months now, and while of course there have been some incredibly challenging days, i am so fulfilled and genuinely just proud of my little family for “climbing the mountain so we could enjoy the view” so to speak.”
“surreal. all of the things you daydream about when you say you want to pick up and move to Europe are very much my reality, and i don’t take it for granted for even one minute. we have picnic lunches in the park, we've become “regulars” at several local spots, we have fully embraced the Italian tradition of aperitivo. i’m fully immersed in assimilating to the Italian culture (read: desperately trying not to make a fool of myself on a minute-by-minute basis), eating all of the good stuff, stressing less, sporting an empty iCal yet constantly bewildered at how full life is now and how fast time is flying. we walk nearly everywhere, which is a very welcomed change, especially given our beautiful surroundings that i will never tire of. our kids are in Italian schools and assimilating to the culture well.
professionally, while technically on sabbatical, i am still remotely running the backend of my personal branding photography studio, Kara Marie Collective, for my team in Austin, while also continuing to teach photography. i’m taking a break from having to create on-demand all week, and instead i am creating only when i feel inspired to… which is, coincidentally, far more frequently than i expected, now that i am rested and not overworked. i’m still unlearning a multitude of bad habits that i once aspired to. there’s an espresso or a glass of red wine to my left, always. i’m aggressively learning Italian while simultaneously forgetting English, and being very hard on myself with it. i’m learning how to use all the perplexing varieties of toilets here. i’m not homesick as i feel right at home, but i am missing my favorite people in the States tremendously. now that restrictions have lessened here, it’s top priority to make friends, as i’ve always admired the Italians’ seemingly gigantic friend circles and how they build their daily lives around socializing — a concept that is foreign to me as a recovering workaholic.”
“whatever i want! i’m becoming increasingly comfortable with having no agenda whatsoever, and i very much look forward to making up for lost time in the New Year in whatever way i’m inspired to do so in the moment. i have decided that this winter i am finally going to learn how to ski. wish me luck. ;)’
“re-aligned priorities. and *REALLY* amazing food.”
“having not lived in a place with a traditional winter in many years, we’re looking forward to all the seasonal fun that snow brings. i’ve always had such a stressful affiliation with the holidays, and this feels like the perfect year to break free of that, to incorporate some new cultural traditions into ours, and place the highest priority around making memories together in this awesome season of life.”
“‘the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.’ - Henry David Thoreau
like so many others, the last year gave me a wake-up call of epic proportions. it’s cliche and belated of me, but 2020 really was my “oh my God… life is short!” realization. before this point there was no distinction between loving my work and letting it kill me. as traumatic as it all was / is, the gift that i was given was being forced to reconnect with the values that i always knew were important to me, but that i was too over-scheduled and downright exhausted to nourish.”
“best thing i’ve bought: a $30 gua sha set. these are polished stones used for facial massage and stimulating circulation and they are my Botox replacement. #8monthsclean
best thing i’ve read: “Women Who Run with the Wolves.” this was my answer last year and the year before. it’s a deeply spiritual collection of stories that give me a different powerful message every time i pour through the pages.
best thing i’ve done: ate the best meal of my life at an agriturismo in the Dolomites called El Brite de Larieto. an agriturismo is an independently owned farm that hosts accommodations and / or a restaurant onsite with all of its ingredients being sourced directly on the farm. i could write an entire essay on this experience, but i will summarize it by saying that i literally cried over my meal, right at the table. you could feel the pride in every.single.morsel of everything, down to the butter on the table. it didn’t feel like a meal, it felt like a history lesson, a visit with grandma, and a love story all at once. a beautiful memory was made for our family that night.
best thing i’ve listened to: Italians talking. hands down. (or, rather, hands up, hands down, hands motioning wildly.) it’s such a beautiful and passionate language, and even though i only understand about 40% of it, i love listening to it.”
“the square neck sweater tee is the perfect top for most all occasions this time of year. something of note about the European lifestyle is how much you do in one day in different types of environments that typically require different outfits. it gets trickier when your clothes always need to be both fashion and function for all of these environments. i love that i can wear the sweater tee with the orion legging II for yoga class, and then dress it up with a scarf, wedge boot, the all in one belt bag and nice coat to walk around town in comfort and style. that belt bag is quite literally the perfect size for my daily errands to carry my phone and cash without weighing me down or getting in the way. …did you ask for just one? because i’m going to cheat and add a third; i’m also really happy to add the everyway tie dress into my capsule wardrobe as it can be worn two different ways, and it.has.pockets.”
“my camera. my incense. moisturizer.”
“headphones in, no one home, dancing around the house pantsless.”
headed to Italy anytime soon? lucky you. and even luckier you for another reason: Kara Marie is currently available for private commissions coupled with photo excursions in Como, Italy. FInd out more here.