Dream of Italy | Weds at 10:30P | Thurs at 8:30P
With its mesmerizing landscapes, rich artistic treasures, deep ties to the past and warm people, it is no wonder that travelers Dream of Italy more than any other destination in the world. Join Italian travel expert Kathy McCabe, editor of the award-winning travel newsletter Dream of Italy, as she explores diverse regions of Italy. Meet Italy’s colorful locals — chefs, artisans, historians — who are deeply connected to their land, carrying on and preserving the traditions of their ancestors.
There is simply no other place in the world like Venice. Host Kathy McCabe takes a gondola rowing lesson from an 8th-generation gondolier. She learns how Venice is fighting rising water levels with a special ecology tour. Kathy meets an impiraressa – a bead stringer – who is bringing Venice’s ancient art into modern times. Chef Riccardo takes Kathy to Venice’s 1000-year old Rialto Market and teaches her how to cook up some eel.
Bologna is one of Italy’s lesser-known big cities but is one of its more charming. Known for its cuisine (this is where Italians go to eat) and as home to the oldest university in the western world. It’s also the center of Italy’s “motor valley” and host Kathy McCabe gets a test drive in a Lamborghini. Not only does she learn how to make Bologna’s famous tortellini but she attends Gelato University, yes it is real. Kathy and her friend Alessandro head for the Bologna Hills, La Dolce Vita-style in a convertible and meet the nonna (grandmother) who makes some of the best ragu in the world.
Florence is known for its Renaissance art and architecture. But the city isn’t stuck in the past, it is always evolving. Host Kathy McCabe gets to see the restoration of the Duomo from a unique perspective—a crane. She visits the only Last Supper painted by a woman — a Renaissance nun nonetheless — and she shows how it is being brought to life. Florence is also home to modern street artist Clet Abraham and Kathy joins him for an artistic caper of sorts. There are fresco-making and cooking lessons and a unique, historic boat trip on the Arno River.
Just two hours from Rome, but a world away, the region of Abruzzo is filled with mountains, national parks and beautiful beaches. Host Kathy McCabe takes viewers from coast to countryside. She catches her lunch in nets on an historic fishing hut before listening to traditional music with a modern twist. In Sulmona, Kathy sees how the famous confetti (candy-covered almonds) are made and heads to a farm for some unusual donkey therapy.
Deep in the south of Italy, the region of Basilicata is timeless and otherworldly. It is home to one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Matera, a city of caves. Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola introduces host Kathy McCabe to his ancestral hometown of Bernalda and talks about how he rediscovered his Italian roots and opened a hotel here. Kathy digs for clams on the coast, learns to make mozzarella with a very special treat inside and learns about the difficult past of this beautiful land.
Ten percent of Americans have some Italian blood and many of them could qualify for Italian citizenship by birth. Host Kathy McCabe travels to the ancestral village of her maternal great-grandfather —Castelvetere sul Calore in the region of Campania — to trace her roots and see if she can qualify for citizenship by blood line. This has always been a place of mystery and miracles for her family. Kathy takes part in an ancient procession honoring the town’s patron saint Madonna delle Grazie. Her visit is full of surprises and the kind of magic that can only take place in southern Italy.