Born and raised in Florence (Tuscany), Italy, at 22 years of age, Nada relocated to the USA in 2001 with nothing but a suitcase and a heart full of hope, after falling in love with her amore, a young Italian-American from NY State whom she married soon after. It seemed like a relatively easy and natural choice, since she already spoke fluent English and was familiar with the American culture, having spent a few years in Florida with her family when she was a child.
To her disappointment, soon after settling in she realized that what she thought was a life-long amore was, instead, fading faster than a gelato left in the Summer sun. Nada was left alone in her new environment, away from family and friends, with no job, and no money.
While trying to figure out how to make ends meet in Chattanooga, TN, she noticed an immense fascination towards Italy and the Italian culture in the eyes of all the people she would meet.
“People would ask me why Italians seem to enjoy life so much. I didn’t know what to tell them. All I knew were the everyday experiences I had growing up in Italy, the way we live, the way we eat, spending time with our families, and our attitude towards life. So I simply started to share those.”
This is when Nada’s true love story began: the one with her own country. As distance makes the heart grow fonder, Nada began to rediscover her own relationship with Italy, and learned to appreciate it more than she ever did before. Determined to turn her past disappointments and struggles into a positive outcome, she embarked on a personal journey to find out what it truly means to live la dolce vita, the sweet life, as Italians call the genuine appreciation for the simple pleasures in life such as good food, family traditions, and good company.
After divorce and moving to Charlotte, NC, Nada rolled up her sleeves and started teaching Italian language and cooking classes, showing people how to make quick, yet fresh and tasty meals, and educating them about the different regional cuisines of Italy. Certainly, an unexpected detour from the graphic design career she started back in Italy, but far more gratifying than anything she could have ever imagined.
Growing up in a city like Florence, constantly surrounded by masses of tourists and endless rows of busses, she decided she was going to do things a bit differently: she would offer a more leisurely pace throughout the trip, without early wake-ups, keeping the group at no more than 12 participants, and having a home-base, whenever possible, so travelers could enjoy more of the local culture.
“At first, taking a group over there was merely a creative way for me to get back home, see my family, enjoy some of my favorite food, and take people places they wouldn’t necessarily find on the ordinary tourist routes. I even had my Mamma come cook for us at a villa I rented in the countryside so we could spend time together! It was fun, simple, and spontaneous. I never set out to start a tour company. Perhaps I didn’t always know what I was doing, but I did it with all my heart. And people seemed to really appreciate that.”
When bringing up the concept of a tour, she kept hearing what sounded like a broken record: “I’m not a tour person. I don’t like tours... I don’t like to be herded…”. She knew that to stand out and wow travelers, she needed to deliver unique experiences and activities that would allow visitors to see Italy as a local and be part of the lifestyle first-hand.
After seeing that people really enjoyed this type of relaxed, stress-free style of travel, in 2004 “Nada’s Italy” was born, along with its slogan “Tours for people who don’t go on tours”.
“In all these years, the core philosophy of my tours has stayed the same: it’s about people connecting with people. It’s about finding small treasures in unexpected places. It’s about rediscovering your own passion for life.”
As part of Nada’s philosophy is to raise awareness of Italy’s immense cultural, culinary, and historical wealth, Nada’s Italy sponsors the Italian Social Club, a free-to-join group, connecting people in the Charlotte area with a passion for “all things Italian”, featuring regular monthly events such as wine tastings, Italian classes, socials, and lectures. Nada’s Italy, Inc. regularly makes both financial and service donations to various national non-profits, including Opera Carolina, NPR, the Friends of the Uffizi Gallery, The American Heart Association, among many others.
“What I enjoy mostly about my business is touching that little part in people’s hearts reminding them that they can enjoy life no matter where they are by not sacrificing the little pleasures that each day can offer, may it be cuddling with your dog, preparing dinner with a friend, or even just appreciating a compliment from a stranger. It is my desire to pass on this message not just to my clients, but all those in my life. “Living Italian” means enjoying everything from the complex to the mundane tasks. It means having passion. Passion in everything you do. As with art and sculpture, in music, so in daily life. It means spending our precious time with those who matter to us.”