Interview With Cherrye Mooore of My Bella Vita
•Please tell my readers about yourself. What made you want to start my-bellavita.com?
I relocated to Catanzaro, Italy - the capital of Calabria, ie, the "toe of the boot," in 2006 to end what had been a four or five year long-distance relationship with my (now) Italian husband. A year later he and I opened a bed and breakfast in his childhood home and two years ago I created My Bella Vita Travel, LLC - a company that provides travel planning, tours and assistance to southern Italy-bound travelers.
I started the website, My Bella Vita as an online journal a few months after I moved here. This was before the Facebook craze and I expected it to be a way to tell my family and friends in the US about my new life. I remember being surprised (and honored) when someone I didn't know commented on a post. I realized I had to clean up my writing and keep my language clean enough that I wouldn't shame my mamma.
•In all of your travels, in your opinion what country has the best food? and the worst food? Aaaaah, the best food??
Come on, Shane. I live in Italy. Ok, maybe I am biased but nothing beats the fresh produce, delicious cheese and robust wine of southern Italy. As for the worst ... I am not really a risky eater, so Scotland didn't do much for me. I did have a fried twinkie there, I think.
•When you first started traveling, did your family support your decision?
They did. My first international flight was in 2000 when I was moving to France for a six-month job with Disneyland Paris. My friends and I didn't make much money there, so we'd eat beans out of the can and cheap pasta so we could afford to take one long weekend trip a month. It was great.
•If you had to choose one favorite destination, which one would you chose?
It isn't fair for me to include Italy because I know it so much more intimately than I do the other places I have visited, so I guess I'd say Greece. No. Switzerland. No. Greece. Uhm ... it's a tie.
•What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
None of them! I love every single place I've been. I think the key to that is to do a little bit of research before you go so you 1) know what to expect and 2) can appreciate the place for what they offer. I will say, though, that you can get in a rut just about anywhere. I remember talking to my mom one day after I'd be in Paris (I lived in a village about 20 minutes outside of the city) for about five months. "I am just kinda bored today," I told her. "Bored?!?!" She berated me. "You live in Paris - if you are bored, it is your own fault." And of course, she was right.
•Did you always have a love of travel or did you develop your passion for traveling as you got older?
Definitely as I got older. I guess looking back I always had that drive to go and that feeling that wouldn't let you settle ... but I was 24 years old before I ever flew overseas. I expect things will be different for my son. He had already flown 15 flight (segments) by the time he had his first birthday. We are going to make a traveler of out him yet!
•What impact has my-bellavita.com had on your life?
It is a little dramatic to say it changed my life but in all honesty, that is what it has done. When I wrote my first post back in the summer of '06 (with a glass of wine in hand, no less), I never could have imagined the course my life would take. Since then, no only has the blog gotten a new url (I started on blogger!) and a facelift or two but it morphed into my business website where I promote my travel business and am often contacted by publishers and editors looking for writers on southern Italy or Calabria.
•What has been the most surprising destination you've been to?
Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a different experience than you had imagined. Maybe Switzerland. I did absolutely no research before I went and actually just hopped on a train with friends when we were living in Paris. I was blown away by the beauty. And the chocolate.
•If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in your life, which destination would you chose? Don't tell the Bel Paese... but it would be France. Although I have lived in Italy for almost 6 years and am married to an Italian (and have a half-Italian child), my love affair with traveling, international cultures and languages began in France. It was there I decided I wanted to be a travel writer-that I wanted to live in other countries and learn other languages and meet and understand how other cultures work. Plus I met my husband there... that was pretty much life-changing.
•What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
Making the most of a trip isn't about rushing through a city or country's highlights or cramming in as much as you can in three days. Slow down. Even if you only have three days, have some down time where you can sit and people-watch in a park, have a long lunch, linger at a cafè.
Thanks Cherrye for the interview. Visit her blog @ My Bella Vita !