Hi Nicole, thanks so much for sitting down with us for a virtual aperitivo chat. First question – if we were chatting in real life, what would you be drinking? (Cin cin!)
Grazie mille for having me! For me, I’ll definitely have an Aperol Spritz. Salute!
Your Instagram @mybestdolcevita is dedicated to your love of Italy, including many beautiful places and delicious food! Tell us a little more about yourself, including your Italian connection and what draws you to Italy in particular.
Have you ever heard the expression: “live your best life”? My Instagram handle is inspired by that, but with an Italian twist (my “best dolce vita”). I strive to live my best dolce vita every day by appreciating the little things and all of the wonderful memories that come with them. Because I am of 100% Italian decent, I can’t help but live a life that is influenced by my Italian culture. I was raised in the Chicago area, but I still grew up in a VERY traditional Italian household, so an appreciation for simplicity, a strong love of family, and an enjoyment of good food make up the core of who I am. It is those very notions that draw me to Italy, too.
Some other things about me: I am a college English professor and tennis coach (5-Time Coach of the Year), and I have a rambunctious Maltese-Shitzu named Sabino…who you’ll see make special appearances on my Instagram from time to time, lol.
Congratulations on your dual Italian-American citizenship! Why was it important for you to get your dual citizenship? What was the process like? How long did it take, where did you apply, and did you encounter any challenges along the way, etc.?
Grazie! It wasn’t until my return from my 2016 Italy trip that I realized I was eligible for Italian citizenship. Growing up, all I ever knew was that I was “Italian.” It never occurred to me that I could have citizenship in Italy, so I pursued the citizenship process through my Italian Consulate in Chicago, and on Christmas Eve 2018, I opened the mail and found that I received official documentation of my dual citizenship. There was a lot of paperwork involved with this process, so when that letter finally came in the mail, it was a very emotional moment. I always knew I was “Italian,” but to “officially” be Italian validated everything I ever knew about myself, how I was raised, my culture, and my beliefs. I feel like I now have a foot in both countries, and a whole new sense of authenticity with my culture.
What a wonderful Christmas gift!
You recently published a book of poetry called, “Poetry in the Piazza.” Tell us a little about your book, what inspired it, your unique poetry style, where we can buy it!
Poetry in the Piazza is just as much about the photography as it is the poetry. Overall, it is an authentic attempt for me to showcase everything I love about Italy: food, wine, sunsets, monuments, the sea, etc. The original photography is what inspired the poetry, so combined, the book presents a unique perspective that I think the public will enjoy. You can buy it through this link on my website or through the publisher.
You travel to some very beautiful places in Italy! Which Italian cities/regions (because I know it’s impossible to pick one!) have captured your heart the most? What is it about the soul of these places that captures your heart?
This is definitely the toughest question because I feel so blessed to have experienced so many different parts of Italy. If I had to, I would narrow it down to three places: Campania, Roma, and Firenze.
Campania because most of my family lives there (they’re spread out all over Italy too!). Combine that with the gorgeous sea and calmness of the countryside, and it’s no wonder why I love it here. Plus, I may or may not be obsessed with mozzarella di bufala, haha.
Roma because that is the very first place in Italy I visited, so there’s something so special about those very first moments that keeps drawing me in to the Eternal City. Those cobblestone streets, burnt orange facades, and inviting piazzas steal my heart more and more every time I come back to visit!
Now Firenze is a funny one because the first time I ever went there was on a day-trip from Rome. It was nice, but compared to the allure of Rome, it didn’t really compare. So, I actually moved up my train time and cut my day trip short! Flash forward to my next trip to Italy, and I made it a point to give Florence another try and actually stay there for a few days. THAT was exactly what I needed. The culture, art, food, and rich traditions all make Florence such a unique and magical place for me!
I’m all about that mozzarella di bufala, too haha. Speaking of food, what are some Italian dishes that you can’t find in the US, but always crave when you’re away from Italy?
Melanzane Parmigianna. Hands down! And nobody makes it like my Zia Maria (in Campania)! A close second would have to be pasta carbonara. I feel like I am on an endless quest to find something remotely close here in the States, but nobody can do it quite like those Romans!
Where else can we connect with you?
- Instagram: @mybestdolcevita
- Twitter: @10s_Coach
- Website/Blog: https://mybestdolcevita.wordpress.com
- Book: https://mybestdolcevita.wordpress.com/check-out-my-book/