Rome’s Iconic Pine Trees (April/May 2022)

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2022 issue of Dream of Italy. In ancient times, Rome’s famous stone pine trees, also known as umbrella pine trees or Pinus pinea in botanic terms, were revered symbols of spring and immortality. A legend from Roman mythology details the story of the god Attis, who fell in love with the goddess Cybele …

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Sister Act: From Australia to Italy (December 2021/January 2022)

This article originally appeared in the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Dream of Italy. The stories of how people end up living in Italy—and what they pursue—are fascinating. Twin sisters Lisa and Toni Brancatisano grew up with a Calabrian father and British mother in Melbourne, Australia. Since moving to Italy within a few years of each other in their 20s, …

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The Small But Essential Pleasures of Italy (October/November 2021)

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2021 issue of Dream of Italy.  For me, dreaming of Italy—which is all I have done since my last visit there in October 2019—might not be what you would expect. Yes, there is the sublime cuisine and superb wine, but I write Italian cookbooks and can make dishes at home that remind me of la …

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New Place to Stay in Rome: Mama Shelter (August/September 2021)

This is one of the featured properties in the article Nine New Places to Stay in Italy that appeared in the August/September 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. The quirky French hotel chain Mama Shelter has opened its first location in Italy, Mama Roma, just minutes away from the Vatican in Rome’s upscale Prati neighborhood. The chain’s characteristic witty design …

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Dreaming of Italy Through Atmospheric Paintings

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. The new TV special Dream of Italy: Travel, Transform and Thrive will also be airing on PBS stations as a pledge special to raise funds for public television. Actor Joe Mantegna joins me to co-host these breaks but because of the pandemic, we had to film virtually in private …

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Susan Gravely: Bringing Italian Craftsmanship Home (February/March 2021)

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. Susan Gravely’s first trip to Italy nearly 40 years ago was filled with serendipity. After arriving on the Amalfi Coast and falling in love with the intricate patterns on their hotel’s dinnerware, Susan, her mom Lee and her sister Frances found themselves struck with passion for the handmade …

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Glamour, Gourmet Food and…Gunfire? (October/November 2020)

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. Picture an Italy on high alert. Dread isn’t quite what’s afoot, exactly, but in the major cities—Milan and Rome, in particular—people look suspect. Bodies are quick to stiffen in public spaces. Sirens cry late into the night; carabinieri eyes linger on residents a little bit longer than they’re accustomed to or comfortable with. And glitzy, expensive restaurants with densely seated clients don’t exactly feel like the safest places to …

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Seven Ways to Photograph Italy Like A Pro (October/November 2020)

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. Anyone who has been to Italy knows how visually seductive it is. If you’re carrying a camera (and with every mobile phone equipped with a high-quality camera, who isn’t?) Italy becomes even more alluring, compelling you to make photographs of nearly everything you see. But why is it …

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The Women of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Portraits (August/September 2020)

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. Growing up in late 15th-century Florence, Leonardo da Vinci was surrounded by smart, beautiful women. While the young artist was learning from Andrea del Verrocchio, painters were busy depicting upstanding women in profile. In these portraits, the point was not to reveal anything about the woman’s personality, but rather …

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Share Your Dream: A Friendship That Has Endured (June/July 2020)

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. When I dream of Italy, I dream of the places I’ve been with my Italian friend, Liliana who lives in Milan, and the places in Italy we have yet to see together. Liliana and I were matched up, by happenstance, as pen pals in 1977. I was taking …

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