Tell us about yourself!
I’ve always been referred to as “the girl who is obsessed with Italy.” Can you blame me? I grew up traveling to Italy
every year since I was born. I am first, second and third generation Italian. My mother is from Calabria and my father’s parents were of Sicilian, Abruzzese and Veneto descent. I was born a dual citizen and am fluent in the Italian language. I went to a private, Jesuit university in Cleveland, Ohio (John Carroll University) and majored in Art History and Italian Studies. But fashion was my passion and living in Italy was always my goal from the beginning. So, after graduation in 2006, I pursued my life-long dream to live in Italy working in fashion. I attended Istituto Marangoni in Milan to study fashion styling. I then landed a career a Glamour Italia (Conde’ Nast) where I worked beside the fashion editor of the magazine. It was, no doubt, the job a million girls would kill for. I traveled the world, worked on photoshoots, attended fashion shows at Milan, Paris and New York fashion weeks, went to the parties, met the celebrities, was given designer clothes and handbags. I lived the dream. But that kind of lifestyle wears you out and I realized there was much more to life than clothes, fashion shows and parties. So, I moved back to Cleveland, worked at a local Italian publication as editor and after a year I was offered a job at the National Italian American Foundation in Washington, D.C. and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio but currently live in Huntington Beach, California with my husband and our Pitbull rescue dog, Lucy. I was living in Washington from 2013 until I married my husband in 2019 and transferred to the west coast. Talk about a culture shock!
Italian drink of choice?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one! I love waking up to a silky espresso every morning but when aperitivo time comes around, Aperol Spritz is my drink of choice, a glass of red with dinner and to finish the night off with an Amaro del Capo…the best digestivo ever, straight from Calabria.
Favorite restaurant in Italy?
This is literally impossible to answer because everywhere I go in Italy, I have the best meal and best experience. But, if I must choose, I will say the Ristorante Timeo at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina (Sicily). My husband and I got married in Taormina and our reception was at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo. The restaurant at the hotel overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Etna. The food is absolutely out of this world and the people who work there are so friendly and accommodating.
Favorite Italian restaurant in the US?
Fuoco Pizzeria in Fullerton, Calif.—they have THE BEST pizza Napoletana in the US of A!
Favorite town on the Italian Riviera?
It’s a toss up between Sorrento and Tropea. I currently have Tropea as my background on my computer.
Go-to gelato flavor?
Favorite Italian saying?
La classe non e’ acqua! Class (elegance) in a person is not something you can find easily (like water).
What are the benefits of joining NIAF?
When you become a member of the National Italian American Foundation, you are saying ‘yes, I want to ensure that my children and grandchildren will know what the Italian culture is after I’m long gone.’ It’s so easy to become assimilated and lose our identity. Especially since most young people today are more and more removed from the immigrant generation. When you become a member of NIAF, you ensure that our Italian identity is never lost. We work tirelessly every day on our programs that promote and preserve the Italian culture. Italians have a lot to be proud of—the culture is so rich and diverse; we can’t let it just slip away and be forgotten. Of course, with membership we offer a plethora of discounts off products and services, like Eataly, CARINA Clutches ;), Mozzafiato—Italian beauty products, Your Italian Passport –Italian dual citizenship services, Roscioli Wine Club—artisan Italian wines, and the list goes on and on. I encourage your clients to look into membership, because it’s beyond the discounts, it goes further. Without our members, we wouldn’t exist, and neither would our programs. You can learn more on our website at NIAF.org.
Advice for other women pursuing their passions?
Keep at it. Stay focused. Stay positive. Your dream will come true, but you must believe it yourself and want it. Ever since I was a little girl, I always told my mom that I was going to move to Italy one day. I stayed focused on that goal, and I moved after college. When I moved to Milan, I told the recruiting officer at the fashion school that I wanted to work at a fashion magazine. He laughed in my face, telling me that I was crazy because every girl in Milan wants to work at a fashion magazine. But I was determined, kept my head up and it happened. You just must stay positive and focused and don’t get caught up on the naysayers. Forza e coraggio!