Happy Pride Season everyone! A time to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also a time to realise how much we still need to do. The world is a beautiful place, but not every place is warm-heartedly welcoming LGBT travellers – yet. Luckily there are some changemakers out there, conquering the world with love. We are on a quest to connect with these heroes and have them tell their story. Meet Anna & Danielle, the girls of It’s Va Bene!
Introduce yourselves! What should people know before meeting you?
What’s something we can’t know from social media?
Hey there, we are Anna and Danielle! Anna is a 28-year-old Italian helicopter pilot, Danielle is 24 years old and just finished her Master’s Degree in International Business in Miami. After being in uni for a total of 5 years, she is looking forward to starting her career soon and one day her own business!
To get to know us a little better, we’re going to share some random little facts!
Danielle: Made in Miami but is half Cuban, half Italian; hates seafood; double-jointed; great at planning trips but awful at packing (usually waits until an hour before the flight); can’t live without coffee; puts at least 30 alarms on in the morning. In three words: creative, caring, organized.
Anna: Eats cereal with cold tea instead of milk every morning; can’t touch her toes but swears that one day she will be able to; has a foreign accent also in Italian—her native language. In three words: pragmatic, curious, dreamer.
It’s Va Bene: Being that we are both fluent in English and Italian, we tend to speak in a mix that we like to call “Ital-ish” …but always sort out arguments in English; sunsets are our favorite although we’re not opposed to catching a good sunrise; we love camping as much as we love a comfy bed. In three words: adventurous, happy & in love!
You fell in love 8,347km apart: tell us more!
Anna: The whole story is actually pretty funny… Danielle came to Rome to study abroad three years ago and happened to be in the same Italian class as one of my friends who was visiting me at the time. One evening we met all together to have an aperitivo near Piazza Navona, and besides being mesmerized by this beautiful American woman, I was astonished to find her eating a pizza at 5 pm with a knife and fork (if you are Italian, you know this is a big mistake haha)! Anyways… 10 minutes into the aperitivo, I mentioned how I would be going zip-lining in the mountains of Rocca Massima the following weekend and immediately Danielle jumped up and said, “OMG I have family from there, I’m coming with you!”
After a couple of weeks, we found ourselves spending so much time together that Danielle even missed a couple of her Italian lessons… but even she will agree it was so worth it! One night while watching a movie (and after a couple of glasses of wine), I ask her, “are you hitting on me?!?” (I’m not the best with picking that up :P) Anyways, you can imagine the answer to that. From that night on, a deep connection was made and from there, something beautiful started…
Danielle: Yeah, so that pretty much sums it up… It’s funny because the moment I met Anna, I knew there was something there…I can’t really explain it better than I didn’t know if I wanted to be LIKE her, or WITH her! The fact that I had a boyfriend at the time also added to the confusion of the situation!
Long distance: how does that work and what does it look like now?
Danielle: Long distance is normally a pretty scary thought for people and when we tell them our story, they are amazed as to how it has worked out so well. I actually have some friends who ask my advice on maintaining a long-distance relationship and among several things, the most important piece of guidance I can give them is that – if it is with the right person, it is worth it. It’s as simple as that. Fun fact: we didn’t have our first kiss until 3 months into the relationship when Anna came to visit me in Miami!
Anna: I couldn’t agree more, but thankfully our relationship hasn’t always been long distance and hopefully it won’t be like that for too much longer. Anyhow, we started our relationship with long distance and what really kept us going was that deep connection. We have this love for each other that is just so true and pure. What really keeps us going is that desire of going to sleep in the same bed at night and wake up the next morning right next to each other, because we really love when we have that and we try not to take it for granted.
The positive side of doing the long distance is that were able to enjoy so many holidays together! We have been fortunate enough to be able to see each other every 2 months. We have to give a big shout-out to Apple, as Facetime is what really helps us stay together! Whether it is 2 am in Rome or 4 pm in Miami, we always know that we are just a call away from each other!
In fact, we can call our relationship as a relationship 2.0 because is really thanks to the technology that we are able to be us… that feeling of knowing that she is always there for me no matter what, no matter the distance or the time difference. Just in case Danielle is not paying too much attention to her phone, we have a secret word we can send to each other that basically is a ‘911…pick up the phone’ 😛
When did the travel bug bite you?
Danielle: I would say straight from the beginning… being that I literally invited myself on her trip the first night we met! A couple of days after, we decided to do something that Anna had on her bucket list for a pretty long time… catching the sunrise on the east coast of Italy and the sunset on the west coast all in the same day! Ever since that day we really haven’t stopped. We know how precious every moment is together, so we try to spend it in as many different places as we can. We are in love with exploring and getting to know new people and experiencing new cultures.
Anna: I think also that our mutual love for travel and urge for adventure is what helped attract us to each other!
What do you do & where do you live?
Anna: I work as a helicopter pilot in Emergency Medical Service Operations based off the coast of Sicily, primarily in Palermo and Lampedusa, however, I live in Rome whenever I’m not working. Thankfully I have an amazing work schedule where I work one week on and one week off—this is what really enables me to travel with such ease. As for Danielle, she is just finishing now her Master Degree in International Business at Florida International University in Miami. She hopes to pursue a career in business development and possibly open up her own business one day!
How did ‘It’s Va Bene’ start?
Danielle: Grammatically speaking, “It’s Va Bene” doesn’t mean anything, however, we created it as an American-Italian mix (just like us)! It became our motto the summer that we met and is just a funky way to say that everything is OK and will continue to be so… I know it must sound a bit lame, but even when we are going through difficult times, we always remind each other of it. Towards the end of the summer we met, we were at a concert of Angus and Julia Stone and even though we were surrounded by amazing musicians and great friends, we couldn’t help but stick by each other and laugh the entire night.
At a certain point, we decided our group of friends should get a tattoo to commemorate the summer and what better than “It’s Va Bene”! The next day we all got the tattoos and I can honestly say that I look down at my wrist every so often, and the words calm me down in times of panic. More recently, our friends have suggested we make a common Instagram account so they could keep in touch with all of our travels and stories.
Anna: Since then, we have decided to share our stories online with the world in hopes of inspiring other people and reminding them that they can be whoever they want and especially WITH whoever they want… We were tired of hiding our love for each other and just wanted people to know that even if their situation is rough right now, it will get better—we promise!
On social media we can’t find so much about you, may we ask why?
Anna: Honestly, we are both kind of private people, and all of this is new for us so we are trying to find our place online. Initially, we were even wary of putting our names online, but quickly realized that we were being silly and there was nothing to hide about our relationship together! We are still in the process of establishing our blog, but hope to have it up and running soon enough!
What does Pride mean to you? And how do you celebrate?
Anna: I would say that for me, Pride is pure happiness. Although LGBTQ pride festivities tend to be reserved to just one month out of the year, we strive to celebrate our love everyday—even if that means just taking a couple minutes to appreciate our unique life together!
Danielle: Well said, babe! Just before leaving Miami, I had the privilege of attending the annual Pride event and it was absolutely spectacular (however the 2015 Amsterdam Pride Parade definitely beats it ;D)! This year, however, we have teamed up with A&F and the Trevor Project to help LGBTQ+ youth in crisis and could not be happier about the thought of helping LGBTQ+ teens through difficult times.
What will the future bring? More travels, more work?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – E.Roosevelt
Anna: This is one of my favorite quotes because it’s so true for me… If I didn’t believe in the dreams I have for Danielle and me, I wouldn’t be here… I know that we have 3 fantastic years together and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us! Long-term speaking, Danielle will start working and start putting some money on the side and within a year from now, I will move to the States since I have both the European and American flight license (I actually did my flight school in Florida back in 2010 before knowing Danielle).
We feel that the States is the right place to start our long-term chapter, and we will keep Italy for our travel and adventures. Short term speaking, we are traveling Australia and Indonesia together and then we will see each other again in November for a proper Thanksgiving in the States! Hopefully, we will be able to fit in a new country while I’m on that side of the world…I’m thinking Cuba!? ;P