We’re always dreaming of Italy at Mozzafiato, so who better for us to sit down with to chat about Italian holiday traditions and favorite brands than Kathy McCabe?
Kathy is a renowned expert on travel to Italy, the host and executive producer of the TV series Dream of Italy currently airing on PBS, host of the Dream of Italy podcast, the publisher of the award-winning Dream of Italy magazine, and she just published her first book. Read on for an inspirational dose of Italian beauty and adventure.
Mozzafiato: Kathy you’ve been exploring and writing about Italy for more than 20 years. Can you share with us some of your favorite Italian holiday memories and traditions?
Kathy: I love the holidays in Italy because Italians maintain age-old traditions especially around food and Christmas is much less of a commercial holiday in Italy. My grandparents were Italian-American and I remember my grandmother would make struffoli (Neapolitan dough balls) every Christmas.
When I lived and worked in London in my 20s, a distant older cousin who lived part-time in Rome and part-time in my ancestral hometown of Castelvetere sul Carole, invited my parents and me to spend the holiday in the Eternal City. The joy of Italy is in the simple pleasures - all-year round - and some of my best memories of that visit were walking around the city and ducking into church after church to see the presepi (nativity scenes). We had a huge Christmas eve dinner at my cousin's apartment and then the three of us went to St. Peter's Square to stand in the piazza and listen to the Pope holding mass inside. The next day we drove into the countryside of Lazio for a country Christmas lunch by the fire.
Mozzafiato: As you know, we love to explore Italy in search of the very best heritage beauty brands and bring them to the US. What are a couple of your personal favorite Italian brands?
Kathy: First, Marvis! I've long been a fan of Marvis toothpaste which hails from Florence and is beloved by Italians. I think it is one of the more natural options on the market and tastes great!
Second, Rudy Profumi from Milan. As you know, I recently tried some new Rudy Profumi products because of you. I shy away from anything with too much fragrance because I sometimes have allergic reactions. The Rudy Profumi products are so natural and have a lovely but unencumbering scent that I'm hooked on. (Rudy Profumi Maioliche Hand Soap - Mediterranean Herbs)
Mozzafiato: So your new book, Dream of Italy: Travel, Transform, and Thrive, is hot of the presses – congratulations! Tell us your inspiration for writing a book.
Kathy: I've been running a travel magazine for nearly 20 years and hosting a travel show for 6 years and somewhere along the way I truly realized that Italy and travel to Italy isn't just about going to have a good time, it is about transformation. I don't know a soul who hasn't been deeply affected by experiencing the Italian lifestyle and culture. This lead to the idea for my recent PBS special Dream of Italy: Travel, Transform and Thrive which features Sting & Trudie Styler, Francis Ford Coppola and Under the Tuscan Sun author Frances Mayes as well as some truly inspiring expats.
There was just so much more to say than I could fit into a one-hour special, so I wrote a 276-page companion book about how to transform by living like an Italian at home, traveling in a more meaningful way or moving to or retiring in Italy. There's something for everyone who loves Italy! Plus we have profiles of many who have made THEIR Dream of Italy come true at home or in Italy!
Mozzafiato: That’s so inspiring! We’ll drop all the links below so people can find the book and subscribe to the magazine! Happy Holidays!
And for subscriptions to Dream of Italy Magazine: