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When Americans dream of Italy, they often picture rolling hills, wonderful wine, fresh food, and carefree people. Luckily for Coloradans, all these things exist right here, in our own backyards.
Denver local Kathy McCabe has made a career out of her love of Italy. For 12 years, she has published a hyper-successful, subscription-based travel newsletter, “Dream of Italy.” And now, her passion for the country has been turned into a weekly travel show by the same name, which premieres on Rocky Mountain PBS on Sunday, June 14.
About 5,600 miles separate the Centennial state from The Boot, but besides Coloradans’ preference for craft brewing versus the Italians’ amore per il vino, McCabe claims the Rocky Mountain lifestyle isn’t all that different from that of the Mediterranean.
“I think Denver is the friendliest place besides Italy,” McCabe says. “People do more than just work—that’s what people love about Italy—it’s not about what you do for a living.”
McCabe, who has lived in Denver for five years, fell in love with Italy in high school, when she wrote a biography of her Italian grandfather. Her investigation led her to a small town in Italy, where no one in her family had been in more than 100 years. A handful of families in the town shared her mother’s maiden name and physical attributes, and what started as an original exploration of her heritage turned into yearly visits. After working for USA Today’s travel section, McCabe launched her own travel newsletter, “Dream of Italy,” in September 2002.
“People are crazy about Italy. They want to go back again and again,” she says. “Forty percent of my newsletter readers have been six or more times.” One reason for this, McCabe says, is that Italians represent an escapist lifestyle that Americans long for. She believes Italy’s appeal lies in the locals’ satisfaction with simplicity.
Such is the theme of Dream of Italy—which McCabe describes as part documentary, part interaction. The show focuses on simple adventures off the beaten path, instead of the classic tourist spots that are covered time and again. Upcoming episodes will feature a ride with Tuscan cowboys, a chocolate school in Umbria, and a wild boar hunt.
Despite her avid love of Italy, McCabe spends most of her time stateside, and says she doesn’t need to look far to replicate the country’s simplicity in her home city. For a taste of the Italian lifestyle, she stows away at the Tattered Cover for a good reading session, enjoys Denver’s museums and live music, plays tennis and hikes. And she thinks the risotto at Il Posto is better than any she’s had in Italy.
But even though the Mile High City has a taste of Italian food, culture, and lifestyle, McCabe still believes that Coloradans should journey there themselves. In fact, it’s because of these similarities that make us perfectly suited to truly enjoy it.
Ready to plan your trip? Catch Dream of Italy Sundays at 1 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS, starting June 14. The show will also air on Colorado Public Television on Mondays at 8 p.m., starting June 22.