Back when I started this blog, I didn't really think about meeting other bloggers along the way. I didn't have "internet friends." I can't say that anymore, as I've made connections with people from all over the planet - both via BootsnAll and the various expats in Italy I've "met" - but I think I can safely say that my first "internet friend" was someone who I later had the pleasure to meet in person, stay in contact with to this day (something like 5 years later), and who is celebrating a milestone of his own at the moment.
Let me introduce you to Alessandro of the fabulous Otturatore photo blog.
I found Alessandro's blog via Photo Friday many moons ago, and linked to it on my sidebar. Naive as I was to the ways of the web back then, I didn't realize that he'd be able to track me down via that link - but track me down he did, and he commented on my blog. That was back in 2003 or 2004, and it began a correspondence that's continued to this day. Ale's become a great friend, and we've gotten to the point where we'll spend a bit of time just about every week on Skype - me at the beginning of my workday, him at the end of his - chatting in both English and Italian. I'll confess that his English is far better than my Italian (he's completely fluent, in both normal English and all kinds of slang, in a way I dearly hope to be someday in Italian), but he's very patient with my Italian mistakes and has even taught me a word or two in the Friulano language of his home region.
Chris & I had the good fortune to meet Ale in 2004 when we passed through the Friuli en route from Venice to Croatia, and although we were nervous about meeting this "internet person" I'd only corresponded with via email, he turned out to be delightful, friendly, and incredibly generous. He even managed to teach me how to use a couple of the gazillion bells and whistles on my big DSLR (which I'd completely ignored to that point).
I should mention that Ale's a great photographer, with an eye for turning the everyday into something artistic and worthy of a second look. When we met, he was toting a new (well, new to him) medium-format camera, and I'm convinced he's forgotten more about photography than I'll ever know. He posts a photo every day on his blog, and he recently sent out a note to proudly announce that his 1000th post is going up tomorrow, March 26.
So, happy 1000th post, Ale - I look forward to visiting you again - hopefully on a day you've decided to bake something delicious, perhaps to help you celebrate your new house, and (if I'm lucky) learn a new trick or two on the camera.
AUGURI, ALE! E MANDI!