My Interview as Featured Author of Italian American Press and Tutto Italiano, June 2019

16-06-2019 12:06

Buongiorno, dear readers!

I was interviewed and featured in the June issues of Italian American Press and Tutto Italiano in the USA on my book {My Sicily} and my Travel Boutique {That’s Amore Boutique Travels}. I share with joy and gratitude to Janice Therese Mancuso. Pictures of the piece, full article and direct link all below:

Featured Author

Francesca V. Mignosa

My Sicily: Life in the Cusp of the Mediterranean Sea

What inspired you to write your book? I   wrote   My   Sicily   in   six   months   to encapsulate   the   memories   and   travels around    my    native    Sicily    during    my childhood  and  also  as  a  way  to  cope  with the  deep  nostalgia  I  was  feeling.  The  book is  a  collection  of  my  favorite  memories  as I  associate  them  with  each  destination,  its people,   food,   and   rituals.   It   also   offers travel  and  cultural,  as  well  as  language advice.

I  was  so  grateful  to  travel  from  2012  to  2015  around  the  USA  with  a  book tour  of  55  stops  to  present  it  –  an  unforgettable  journey  that  allowed  me to  meet  and  interact  with  so  many  other  immigrants  with  the  same  love and  feelings.  I  wrote  about  Sicily  because  it’s  my  native  island,  what  I know  best;  but  really  anyone  from  any  other  cultural  background  may relate  to  it  as  they  relate  to  their  fondest  childhood  memories.  It’s  been seven  years  since  the  book  was  published,  and  although  I  will  always  look at  it  and  talk  about  it  with  affection,  so  much  of  me  and  my  writing,  and of Sicily has changed.

What is the most important attribute of your book? That  it’s  a  genuine  gathering  of  memoirs  of  a  Sicilian-American  young woman  reliving  and  attempting  to  bring  to  life  the  senses,  colors,  energy, and  often  mystical  stories  of  her  childhood  and  family  travels  throughout all  of  Sicily.  For  anyone  interested  in  learning  more  about  the  island,  it may be a light, easy read as an introduction.

Why should someone read it?Anyone   planning   to   travel   to   Sicily   and   wanting   a  more   biographical approach  to  travel  may  enjoy  it;  it’s  almost  written  in  a  diary  format. Sicilian  immigrants  worldwide  may  enjoy  it  because  it’s  a  dance  between nostalgic  memories,  travel  through  Sicily,  and  what  is  left  from  both  that molds our present identity.

What  made  you  decide  to  offer  tours  and  start  your  new  travel boutique? Well,  travel  is  in  my  DNA  with  my  father  being  Sicilian  and  my  mother Sicilian-American.   I   grew   up   in   a   bicultural,   multilingual   home   where Italian,  Sicilian,  English,  and  French  were  spoken  daily.  I  have  traveled from  Italy  to  the  USA  and  back  at  least  once  a  year  in  my  life,  and  have hosted  Italians  in  the  USA  and  Americans  or  internationals  in  Sicily  and Italy.  It  was  a  natural  progression  for  me,  and  years  of  travels  throughout my   island   and   the   entire   peninsula   have   allowed   me   to   strengthen connections  in  the  tourism  field,  that  I  now  share  with  my  clients  as  if  they were my family and friends.I  have  professionally  done  this  for  eight  years  focusing  only  on  Sicily  and Italy  –  before  that,  it  was  on  an  international  level  with  16  years  of professional  experience.  It  is  truly  a  privilege  and  a  delight  for  me  to  assist my  clients  in  designing  personalized  journeys  to  Sicily  or  Italy  according  to their  exact  wishes  and  budgets.  My  job  is  never  boring,  always  diverse,  I have   designed   and   led   genealogy   trips,   anniversary   trips   for   families, weddings   and   honeymoons,   culinary   and   language   tours,   weekend getaways,  day  trips,  wine  and  food  tours,  island  journeys,  writing  and artist  retreats,  business  conferences  –  Italy  is  a  kaleidoscopic  country  so rich  naturally  and  historically.  My  connections  are  local  experts  who  do their  job  with  passion  and  fun,  and  I  thoroughly  enjoy  the  creative  and human  process  behind  each  journey,  ensuring  that  my  clients  are  happy with their travels to La Bella Sicilia and Italia.

Can you describe some of the changes you mentioned earlier? Especially those in Sicily.The  Sicily  I  describe  and  remember  in  my  book  was  the  Sicily  of  my  childhood  –  although  many  of  the  places  I  recall  still resemble   those   of   my   childhood.   On   many   levels,   Sicily   has   also   moved   forward   especially   in   tourism   and   its internationalization:  more  English  and  Spanish  being  spoken  everywhere;  more  tourists  from  around  the  world  for  the  past 20  years  as  a  result  of  the  Inspector  Montalbano  series  –  that  featured  South  Eastern  Sicily,  in  particular  all  of  the  Ragusa province – on RAI International; more international cruise ships and therefore clients.

For  other  aspects  (bureaucracy,  transportation,  infrastructure,  unemployment  rates  among  others)  Sicily  is  slower  and  has  a radically  different  tempo  than  the  rest  of  northern  Europe.  This  can  be  an  obstacle  for  many  of  the  local  residents  while  it can  be  a  fascinating  and  charismatic  invitation  for  tourists  looking  to  be  immersed  in  a  “different  and  timeless  dimension.” For  example,  recycling  reached  my  hometown  only  three  years  ago,  while  the  rest  of  Europe  and  the  world  have  done  it  for at least the past 10 to 20 years.

In  all  the  places  mention  in  My  Sicily,  and  with  the  exception  of  your home town of Augusta, what are some of your favorites and why? As  you  can  imagine,  I  get  asked  this  question  many  times  and  it’s  always  very difficult  for  me  to  answer  because  Sicily  is  naturally  a  very  beautiful  island and   each   destination   has   something   unique   to   offer   and   explore.   I   will mention four of the places I love visiting the most on the island.

Brucoli,  the  fishing  village  of  my  grandparents  and  great-grandparents.  It  is literally  a  three-street  village  as  you  would  imagine  a  typical  Sicilian  village, but  has  incredible  canals  and  seafood  and  a  precious  view  of  Mt.  Etna  and  the entire city of Catania at a distance.

Mt.  Etna  [UNESCO  World  Heritage  Site].  in  the  past  four  years  I  have  taken the   time   to   explore   the   volcano   at   360   degrees   from   its   peaks   with volcanologists,  to  its  mountain  cuisine,  to  its  flora  and  fauna,  to  the  vineyards all  around  exporting  some  of  the  best  wines  the  island  produces  worldwide. It’s  an  almost  lunar  environment,  a  dimension  unlike  any  other  you  might have  experienced  in  your  life  and  I  now  recommend  it  to  all  of  my  clients, family, and friends.

The  Aeolian  Islands.  The  seven  sister  islands  [UNESCO  World  Heritage  Site], are  volcanoes  no  longer  erupting,  located  North  East  of  Sicily.  You  can  only reach  them  via  ferry  from  Milazzo  or  Palermo.  They  are  very  raw,  simple islands   that   only   offer   relaxation,   nature   and   sea   excursions,   incredible seafood,  and  Malvasia  wine.  Il  Postino  was  filmed  partly  on  the  island  of Salina.  I  sometimes  refer  to  them  as  the  “Hawaii”  of  the  Mediterranean;  their rich  and  mystical  natural  beauty  is  indescribable.  Anyone  may  enjoy  2  to  3 days there, detoxing from the “real”  world.

The  idyllic  Sicilian  gem  town  of  Taormina  [Tentative  List,  UNESCO  World Heritage  Site].  Perched  high  above  a  mountain,  with  a  stunning  view  of  Mt. Etna  in  the  distance  and  the  Mediterranean  Sea  below,  it  is  one  of  the  most romantic  and  well  kept  destinations  in  all  of  Sicily.  I  love  going  to  Taormina any  time  during  the  year  even  just  for  an  espresso  and  a  gelato,  or  a  Sicilian granita (Sicilian ice) almond or lemon flavored, or a pizza and a passeggiata.
What  have  been  some  of  the  most  memorable  tours  you  have  planned? What was your most challenging tour to plan?Truly  all  of  them  are  memorable  because  they  were  one  more  unique  than  the other.  I  feel  honored  to  be  a  part  of  special  chapters  of  my  clients’  lives  by assisting  them  in  the  design  and  realization  of  their  dream  journeys  to  La  Bella Italia and Sicilia. The  most  challenging  was  a  tour  with  a  disabled  couple,  and  ensuring  they would  be  included  in  all  activities/experiences  or  that  they  could  be  tailored just for them. It taught me a lot about my own work as well.
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