Sting, Francis Ford Coppola and Frances Mayes featured on PBS Dream Of Italy
As Italy reopens to the world, wheelchair travelers can take a quick trip to the land of La Dolce Vita via new Dream of Italy: travel, transform and prosper special on PBS stations in June. Hosted by Kathy McCabe, the special showcases the transformative power and beauty of Italy with guests who include Sting & Trudie Styler, Francis Ford Coppola and Under the Tuscan sun author Frances Mayes, all of whom are full-time or part-time expats living in Italy.
McCabe firmly believes that Italy can change your life. On her first trip to Italy 26 years ago, she rediscovered her ancestral home and was inspired to create Dream of Italy, an award-winning travel magazine and website, which led to the popular PBS series Dream of Italy.
In this special, she explores what she calls the 11 essential elements of the Italian lifestyle – land, food, family, art and culture, beauty, rhythm of life, passion, the movement, the community, the celebrations and the feeling of being at home – and shows shows. how Italy has changed the lives of each of its guests. The accompanying book Dream of Italy: travel, transform and prosper which will be released in June. The day before the show, I caught up with McCabe.
Everett Potter: In your new PBS special, Dream of Italy: travel, transform and prosper, you take a multi-level approach to talking about the country, from traveling meaningfully to even getting around there. Why did you take this point of view?
Kathy McCabe: I have been running Dream of Italy travel magazine and membership site for 19 years and produce the Dream of Italy series of trips for six years. I really realized a long time ago that it was about much more than “Italy” or “a trip” or this idea definitely crystallized for me in recent years. I heard readers / viewers talking about their own transformation stories, big and small, inspired by Italy and watching the show. Over the past year in particular, I have really learned that a large part of Dream of Italy gives all of us “permission to dream”.
Some told me how they started to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into their lives, others said they were inspired by my journey to research their own ancestral roots, others were exploring how to relocate or retire in Italy.
I wanted to put it all together to explore three main themes: how to live happier and healthier like Italians do, how to travel more meaningfully and how to move to Italy. All the guests have such eloquent points to make on all these themes. They feel Italy deeply in their soul.
EP: What was it like meeting Sting and Trudie Styler and touring their Il Palagio estate and vineyard?
KM: Well, the only thing I have learned through my work is that famous or not famous, the people I interview are just people who love Italy. We all feel a deep connection with this place and a deep and permanent passion for the land and its inhabitants. In this way, they are really like us.
I found Sting and Trudie to be kind, welcoming and down to earth. They have great energy and their land too. I’m sure one influences the other. I have visited so many places in Italy, but their home and Il Palagio vineyard have a very special feeling, especially with the way they take care of the land.
Sting told me, “Everything is connected, the wine, the way it’s grown, everything helps the environment. There are more bugs here, more birds here. They treat him nicely. Nature pays you a hundredfold.
EP: Can you actually visit Sting and Trudie’s villa and vineyards in Tuscany?
KM: You can rent Sting and Trudie’s main villa or one of the smaller guesthouses in Il Palagio. They also run a farm store open to the public. Here you can buy so many products that come from their land: fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, honey, olive oil, wine. This is also where you can taste some of the wines. Many locals shop here so it’s really authentic and will give you a taste of Il Palagio.
EP: Has Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun and countless other books on Italian life, guide you in your own explorations?
KM: I distinctly remember reading his book in 1997 and exactly where it had been in my library for many years. It is one of the few books that I have re-read and I remember a few years later I visited Cortona with my mother and made the pilgrimage to Bramasole. Frances was truly a pioneer in this modern dream of having a more authentic life in Italy. So you can imagine the thrill when she and I filmed the Rêve d’Italie: Tuscan Sun Special in 2018. She makes another appearance and offers some fantastic advice in the new special. Plus, in what must be one of the highlights of my career, she wrote the foreword to the new backing book for the special.
EP: As someone who has traveled all over the country, what are the lesser-known places Americans might like to explore?
KM: I love southern Italy. Maybe it’s because that’s where my roots are, in the Campania region, but I also like it because it often feels like a place out of time, a step back, a more life. simple. Southern Italians always celebrate something. When I spoke to Francis Ford Coppola in his own ancestral hometown of Bernalda he said, “They’re having fun” about all the local festivals and events. It seems like life is over at Technicolor in southern Italy. In Campania, I recommend the Irpinia region, where my family is from, which today is a pretty impressive wine region. In Basilicata, you must visit the Palazzo Margherita hotel by Mr. Coppola and see the ancient cave town of Matera. Puglia, ah Puglia to my heart. Visit the Baroque city of Lecce and spend time at the beach while staying in a masseria, an old fortified farm.
EP: One of the big things about the new special is that while Sting and Frances Mayes are in the spotlight, so are Americans who aren’t famous but have decided to live there. How easy is it for an American to move to Italy?
KM: I am a firm believer in anything you really want, you can achieve and I know everyone on this special feels the same. You might think that being famous for having money would make it easier, but you always fit in with a new culture and a different way of doing things and those (famous and less famous) who have been successful have been opened up and flexible.
As an American, you can spend 90 out of 180 days in Italy without needing a visa. So that’s six months a year. To live there full time, I think it’s easier on one side or the other of life – as a student to get a student visa and as a retiree to get a elective residence visa when you have an income and you do not have it. need to work in Italy. For professionals, it can be very difficult to obtain a job and a work visa in Italy.
Keep in mind that Americans with Italian blood can apply for citizenship jure sanguinis, by right of blood and obtain an Italian / European passport. I am working on this myself.
To find out how to move, I interviewed Michele Capecchi, citizenship and relocation lawyer in Florence, and Damien O’Farrell, who coached 10,000 expats on how to settle and thrive in Italy. There are so many nuances to moving to Italy and living in Italy that I wrote an accompanying book to the special in much more detail! It is also titled Dream of Italy: travel, transform and prosper and is initially available as an engagement bonus when viewers donate to their local PBS station. The engagement breaks are hosted by Italian-American actor Joe Mantegna.
EP: Do you think that you will one day take the plunge and move to Italy yourself?
KM: That’s the $ 64,000 question now, isn’t it? Well, it’s more likely now than ever because both of my parents passed away and that was part of what kept me close to home. I am definitely ready for life part time here, part time there. But I really do feel like the best version of myself so full time could be in the cards. Just where to live? I love so many corners of Italy.