Gianluca Gotto was born in 1990 in Turin, a grey industrial city in the north-west of Italy. For him it was like living in a cage: all the opportunities led to things he didn’t want to do: graduate, even if you don’t like what you study, because after that you will find a 9-5 job, find someone to start a family, buy a house with a mortgage and wait for the final credits of your life’s movie.
At 20 he decided that he wants to see the world, first, because he could not accept that as the only way to live his life. He bought a flight ticket to Australia spending basically all his money and started his journey. From 2011 he hasn’t been living in the same place for more than 6 months. He worked and travel in Australia, then he moved to Vancouver. He had all the kinds of jobs: waiter, process worker, baker, clerk. All these experiences led him to understand that he was able to do more than what he has always thought.
And so one day he said: “I love writing. It’s my biggest passion. Why can’t I be a writer? And since I wanted to dream, I decided to dream big: why can’t I be a nomad writer? A person who travels the world while working with his passion?”
He took a flight to Bangkok and started to write articles for websites. He became a freelance web writer/digital nomad, then in 2016 his partner and he started @mangiaviviviaggia , a blog about alternative lifestyle, travel and spirituality. In 2018 he self published his first book “Le coordinate della felicità”; It became a success, and he then signed with the biggest Italian editor (Mondadori) to publish his first novel (“Come una notte a Bali”) and republish his first book. And here he is now living in a van in Portugal after 6 months on an island in Thailand during COVID-19.
Here is Gianluca Gotto in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) How did your journey begin?
My journey began before I even left home. It started in my heart when I realized that the most common lifestyle, the most common life choices and paths were not for me. I wanted to have a life in which I could totally identify myself. But I couldn’t find a way to do it, so my solution was to leave my hometown (Turin, north of Italy) and wander. When you are not happy where you are, sometimes the best choice is just to move somewhere else. With this in mind, I used all of my money to buy a one-way ticket to Australia.
2) What made you an avid traveler?
When I was younger and I could not travel, I was an avid reader (and I still am). The deeper reason why you pick a book and read is the same reason why you pack your things and travel: to explor and discover. I’ve always had this urge and as soon as I started to travel, I realized that was my path in life.
3) What really moved you after your 20?
I wanted to be free. I wanted to rely only on myself. I wanted to make my choices. I wanted to be independent from parents, bosses, teachers. I wanted to be free and I quickly discovered that to be free you just need to be brave in your choices and responsable for your actions. That’s what I did and to find the courage to do that, is one of my biggest accomplishment.
4) Throughout your job changing experience, what was your thought process?
I’ve always had the fear to choose the wrong path in life. You know, to get the wrong degree, get the wrong job, live in the wrong city, marry the wrong person. End up with the wrong, unhappy life. How do you face this painful doubt? My solution was to try as many things as possible. That’s why I worked as a waiter, I worked in factories, I worked as a clerk, I played poker for a living, I became a professional baker. Only by testing myself in all these contexts, I realized what was my way: to travel and to write.
5) Where do you find inspiration?
People are my inspiration. People are a human archives of stories, culture, traditions, feelings and ideas. As I write in my novel “Come una notte a Bali”, the greatest travel of all is the one you make into people.
6) Tell me more about “Le coordinate della felicita”?
It’s the story of my life. The story of a drop-out insecure and sad 20 years old Italian guy that finds his Ikigai, as Japanese say, his purpose in life, by going outside of his comfort zone to discover himself while discovering the world. It went out as a self-published book in 2018 and somehow it became a sort of manifesto for a whole generation of modern travelers and dreamers, people who just want to be free to live their life according to their hearts.
7) Tell us your experiences with Mondadori.
To see your books being published by the biggest Italian is a huge satisfaction and a dream that comes true. As an indipendent author and a lifetime rebel, I was a little bit skeptical about publishing with a “major” but life showed me again that to have prejudice is always a bad idea: I work with passionate people, true readers who want to make a difference with their work. So far it has been a great experience
8) What it’s like living there on an island during COVID -19?
The world seemed so far from us, since covid never really arrived in Koh Chang, the thai island where we were during the peak of the pandemic. We were listening with concern to our relatives and friends in Europe while our life was so slow and peaceful. It was a strange contrast that taught me an important life lesson: your reality is not the only one. As westerners we tend to forget this and we end up complaining about silly problems. Once you get a bigger vision of life, you realize you are lucky enough to appreciate the simple things. Happiness becomes the easiest choice. That’s what I did during those months: learn how to appreciate the little things of life. The fact that you are alive and in good health, for example, is enough to start your day with a smile.
9) How is it like living in a van?
It’s pure adventure. It’s not easy, not at all, but I strongly believe that some things are not for everyone. If it was easy to wake up with the sound of the sea, if it was easy to chase amazing sunsets, meet new people every day and get to places where the vast majority of people cannot get to, everyone would have done it. Instead, Vanlife is only for adventurous people. It pretends a lot from you but it also gives you something that money can’t buy. In a short sentence, for me living in a van is pure life.
10) Tell us about your Blog.
I started Mangia Vivi Viaggia in 2016 together with my partner Claudia. We were already digital nomads, we were living our best life around the world, but we wanted to help other people in Italy to get away from the most common, negative, cynical and accomodating mentality in Italy: that life sucks, it’s all a matter of luck and dreams are for fools. We were the living proof that change is possible, especially (but not only) for young people. So we started the blog to share this message. After 4 years we have over 5 million views to the website each year and over half million followers between all our social media, but the biggest satisfaction is to know that we are helping people to feel less wrong, lonely and strange. We are not here to suffer more than what is inevitable, life is joy.
11) What is your life on the other side of traveling and writing?
I love music, I consider it my safe place. I love spending time with my partner Claudia. I love cooking and eating. I love to walk a lot and take time to enjoy the sound of nature. After many years of struggle, I can simply say that I just love being alive!
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