Kathy Mccabe and Dream of Italy!

There are few jobs as exciting as Kathy McCabe’s in television travel series. Diana meets Francis Ford Coppola, cooks tortellini in Bologna, and follows truffle hunters through Piedmont as the host of the PBS series Dream of Italy. Dream of Italy: A Taste of Italy Even though she’s done two seasons, she continues to produce her Dream of Italy newsletter, which is now available on the Create TV channel. I just had the opportunity to hook up with her and question her about her plans to travel to Italy.


Tell Us How You Came Up With the Idea of Dream of Italy?

It all began with my publication and website, Dream of Italy, which was created 16 years ago. While I was working as a journalist, I made it a point to visit Italy on every one of my vacations. When I realized how many other people felt the same way, I understood I wasn’t alone in my Italy-loving escapades and daydreams. At the time, villa rentals, cooking lessons, and other forms of experiential tourism were all starting to gain popularity, so I set out to create a platform for travelers looking for an authentic Italian experience.

With a focus on 4- and 5-star accommodations, Dream of Italy offers everything from where to stay and eat to what to do (including truffle hunts, art workshops, and Italian language schools, for example). There’s a lot of emphasis on who to meet — I love to introduce readers to the great Italians who make Italy the most magical location on Earth. All old issues can be accessed online, and there are 10 new issues issued each year for subscribers.

PBS’s television series, which began three years ago, is an extension of the work I’ve done in print and online, taking viewers to many of my favorite places and encountering fascinating characters along the way. If there’s one place in the world that most people fantasize about, it’s Italy, and Dream of Italy is a great name for it.

After two seasons of Dream of Italy, congratulations, Kathy! When putting the series together, what was most difficult?

It takes a lot of work to edit. Since we can’t use everything, we’ll have to remove some of my favorite clips, soundbites, and even entire parts. The episode on my ancestral village of Castelvetere Sul Calore was the most difficult for me to maintain on schedule. As a result, I was able to deliver the story fast and effectively thanks to the support of my editor and director. As an example, the magnificent religious parade that honors the town’s Madonna, which spans two days and takes several hours, was reduced to two minutes.

When I first started, I created screenplays for national TV news anchors. Because time was important, every word was valuable. It’s been fun to try to convey as much information as possible in a limited amount of time.

To tell someone we shot that their section couldn’t fit into the main episode is difficult. The Dream of Italy YouTube Channel has some of those segments, as well as other web-only videos.

What Have Viewers Responded to in the Series?

Viewers always send me the sweetest emails and call me on the phone. All of them have a special place in my heart. They’re in love with Italy, and I know exactly what they’re going through. Moments like this are rare and precious. Whenever a fan is motivated by the show to go on a trip to Italy or to do something I’ve done on screen, it makes me happy. An episode of our Florence series inspired her to take a tiny boat ride on the Arno River in Florence.

People have been sending me a lot of emails with their own stories of Italian origin and how they’d like to visit the places where they were born and raised. All of us have felt it at some point. How astonished I am that this show has had such a profound effect on viewers. Putting my personal experience out there was nerve-wracking, but I’m so pleased I did.

Kathy Mccabe Personal Life
Kathy Mccabe Personal Life

You Know Italy Very Well but Were There True Discoveries for You Along the Way?

I’m taken aback by parts of what we film that I’ve never seen or heard of before. Even though I had been to Abruzzo, a beautiful and under-the-radar region in central Italy, I had already decided to film an episode in the region and had already visited it. We, on the other hand, had only just arrived in Gran Sasso National Park. Mountain majesty and a vast expanse of greenery took my breath away.

You visited Castelvtere sul Calore in Campania, the ancestral village of your maternal great-grandfather, to trace your roots and apply for Italian citizenship. What was the experience like, and how difficult is it to become a citizen of the United States?

There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the most significant thing I’ve ever done both personally and professionally in my life. When my mother and I first visited the small town my great-grandfather had left over a century prior, my passion for Italy and the direction of my life’s work were set in motion.

I brought my parents with me to film, and I’m positive my ancestors were there, too. My mother died in April of this year; we finished filming a year ago, and the episode aired in January. We watched the Castelvetere episode over and over again while she was in the hospital. As a result, it has a significant personal significance to me.

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In Basilicata, you had the pleasure of meeting Francis Ford Coppola. Has he tried to track down his Italian ancestry and family?

This season’s high point has been meeting Francis Ford Coppola in Basilicata. As young adults, we both discovered our ancestors’ hometowns in southern Italy, a journey that echoes our own experiences. “I didn’t think it existed,” he said at the beginning of the episode, which is how we always begin each new one. He’s alluding to the legends he’s heard from his father and grandpa about the mythical town of Bernalda.

He has taken his re-discovery one step further, though, by constructing an opulent boutique hotel, Palazzo Margherita. It is a love letter to Italy written by him. I had a great time chatting with him, and he’s a fantastic storyteller.

Venice is the subject of one of your episodes. What are your thoughts on the city’s current overcrowding issues?

I feel that everyone should visit Venice at least once in their lives, as it is unlike any other place on Earth. However, it was never intended to accommodate as many people as this. The environment and construction are delicate. Keep in mind that everything must be transported to and from Venice via boat. I believe that something must be done if Venice is to exist for future generations, but the solutions aren’t simple.

Even though Venice is the most visible example of overcrowding, it is by no means the only Italian city to have this problem. Similarly, the charming city of Florence wasn’t built for the influx of tourists that it now sees. Municipal governments in Venice and Florence have launched efforts to encourage visitors to be considerate and leave no trace of their visit by using the hashtags #enjoyrespectvenice and #enjoyrespectflorence.

If there will be a third season of Dream of Italy, where would you like to shoot it?

No doubt there will be additional seasons as long as we’re all still pining for Italy. For me, the southern province of Calabria and the northern region of Friuli are locations that people may have heard of but may not have known much about. We could spend an entire season in Sicily alone since it’s so full of fascinating tales. Turin, in northern Italy, is one of my favorite cities, and I’d want to show it off to you. The Dolomites have me enthralled. The options are virtually limitless. Italy is a never-ending source of inspiration.

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