Sarah Centrella: Bringing Bambini to Italy

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. Join Dream of Italy as a member to access this issue and 180+ back issues. 

Master life coach and bestselling author Sarah Centrella believes that we have the power to manifest our dreams. While she has manifested a number of dreams including two bestselling books (#Futureboards and Hustle Believe Receive), making her dream of visiting Italy come true, and including her children in the journey, might be one of the most meaningful. Sarah combines the skills she has learned from her coaching business with parenting tips to make the dream of family travel a reality for anyone, including other single moms like her.

Kathy McCabe: Why did you want to go to Italy so badly? How did you make it happen?

Sarah Centrella: My love affair with Italy started in my junior year of high school. I saw the movie Only You with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. I grew up very sheltered; we didn’t have TV or anything like that. So, as hard as it is to believe, that was the first time I ever saw Italy in anything. I remember the scene where they’re going down the Grand Canal and Pavarotti is playing in the background. I was like, “Holy crap, what is that? And how do I get there?”

I actually sat down and planned a trip three different times in my lifetime, and every time I wound up canceling last minute. I either was scared, didn’t have the money or it was more of a fantasy than a reality.

Then in 2016, I had learned some tools for manifesting. I had already changed my life dramatically. I thought, “What if I put this same methodology into making this ultimate 20-year dream happen?” The biggest thing was I made a decision that I was going. I was like, “I’m going to Italy this year, and somehow on top of that, I’m going to take my kids.” That was the craziest part, because going there as a single person is expensive and scary. I’d never been to Europe, but I’m a single mom and I couldn’t imagine having all these amazing experiences and having my kids miss it.

The kids and I spent three weeks in Italy. We landed in Venice, and the very first thing we did is ride down the Grand Canal. My son at the time was 13, my daughters were nine, and they had never been out of the country and they were just as awestruck as I was.

Kathy: How has traveling helped your kids grow?

Sarah: The confidence that kids get when you travel is incredible because they’re experiencing things that they would never see in a normal life. They’re trying foods they would never try; they’re having to be adaptable to schedules. We’ve now been to a total of seven countries and 32 states.

We have roles in the family. At an airport, my son was the one to figure out where we need to go and what to do. I would play these little games where I would test each one of them, like how you get to a rental car. They understand that whatever it is, they can do it. They can figure it out. They’re not scared. From the artistic side, travel has led both of my daughters to love art and cooking and that European way of life, which I am also super passionate about.

Sarah and kids in Cinque Terre

Kathy: Are there things you do differently at home since you’ve been to Italy?

Sarah: One of the biggest things that changed in our day-to-day life was that I tried to bring in that spirit of Italy at least three to five times a week. I would make the traditional slow-cooked meal, get the music on and the glass of wine, go to the farmer’s market to get the food.

We have all these Italian words that we use almost in place of English words. We have a full, nightly routine that’s all Italian. I’ve been taking Italian lessons ever since. I was kind of depressed when I came back. I was very frustrated that I wasn’t living in Italy. But it’s really changed me as a mom to be able to value that and to be able to say, “It doesn’t matter where I live or what my situation is. I can live that life here.”

Kathy: Do you have a specific dream for yourself with Italy?

Sarah: Oh yeah, absolutely. My dream of Italy, when all the kids have flown the nest, would be to have a villa. That is where I want to spend at least half of my time, writing books. My roots are from there. My great-grandparents both came over from Italy. So much of what [my dream of Italy] means to me is how the priorities are ones that are aspirational to Americans. They’re priorities of family, of love, of passion, of joy, of experiencing life, of taking care of our land, taking care of each other.

Kathy: Your book is called #Futureboards. Can you tell me what a Future Board is and how people can use it to plan out their dream life?

Sarah: A Future Board is a visual representation of your dream, your future life. Every single thing starts with us allowing ourselves to have that dream. Most of us shut down that dream by [saying] things like, “Oh, that isn’t realistic” or “Oh, when can I afford that?” or “How could I do that?” or “That’s for other people.”

Getting to a place where you can really own the dream is huge,getting to a place where you are okay talking about it, you are okay fantasizing about it.

Pinterest became that place for me years ago, when I realized that it was the biggest source of beautiful photography on the web. I didn’t know there was power beyond that. I would go on there and look at pictures of Tuscany and look up, what did people do in Tuscany? What did the markets look like? If I spent an hour doing that, my brain was transported. I was able to let go of all those constraints about reality.

If you have that clear dream and that dream still really excites you, that will get you through any adversity and any obstacle. That is where the Future Board came in for me. I had that clarity in my head of what I wanted. The pictures became just a physical reminder.

Sarah Centrella

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