When I first began contact with Diana Skok Corridori, travel designer, and planner through her website, Italy Translated, I liked her immediately. I discovered that this Texan gal and I share the same sense of humor and curiosity about life around us. Although I have yet to meet Diana in person, I’ve grown to respect her natural abilities to bring Italy to life. She can make it sing for those seeking more than just a travel itinerary.
What I have observed and appreciate about Diana is that she does much more than put together an itinerary for those who dream of Italy. She has the natural ability to be personable and comfortable to converse with from the get-go. As a result, she discovers heartfelt desires and interests and creates a unique, tailor-made experience. Her goal is to enhance your Italian adventure. She uses her own personal knowledge born from experiences while living the life of an expat in Italy. I have read her stories of how she learned the Italian way of life as a young mother from Texas. I’ve found myself connecting with her thoughts, emotions and learning curves countless times. Through trial and error, there is no doubt that Diana has discovered the real heart of Italy.
Below is an interview I had with Diana that will give you some wonderful insight into her delightful personality and acquired skills as a travel consultant. I hope you enjoy getting to know Diana as much as I did.
- Diana, you provide travel design services for the independent traveler on your website, Italy Translated. What do you offer that is unique from similar sites?
Well, I think the core service is the same for all of us; and that is providing a smooth and hassle free trip for clients as well as making the most efficient use of their precious vacation time while showing them the “real Italy.” Whoa – that was a mouthful! But I think those are the goals and they are all equally important. There is nothing worse than losing an entire day due to an ill-planned cookie cutter vacation.
Having said that, I feel my strengths come from my love of understanding the Italian way of life as it compares to life in America and my own traveling adventures throughout the years.
I have done it all: solo female travel, couples travel, traveling with babies and traveling with my family (as in all of us: my family, my sisters’ families and my parents – talk about a logistical challenge!). And honestly, I feel like one of my unique offerings stems from my mistakes. Yes, as crazy as that sounds, it is true. Of course, all this traveling has allowed me to offer clients first-hand knowledge of the beauty of Italy, but it has also allowed me to anticipate potential problems and offer time-saving advice to my clients.
I also really try to promote getting into the Italian way of life. Many clients think this is not possible because they don’t have family or friends living in Italy. But I offer suggestions on how to get in there and hang with the locals. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to take a little time off from sightseeing and just do some normal, everyday activities such as going to the grocery store or even the neighborhood park. It might seem trivial at first, but these places can be really fun and offer a great insight into the lively Italian way of life. Also, feeling like you are part of it all is totally priceless to me.
- As a contributing writer to National Geographic and CNN, as well as maintaining your own blog about life in Italy, what is your highest priority when helping those who want to see Italy?
My biggest priority when helping someone plan a trip is to listen to what they want. It is THEIR trip, and it should be everything they dreamed of and more. I have a business development background and learned that identifying the customer’s needs is always the focus. After that, it is being consistently available and responsive. As you mentioned, I have other projects, but those will always be put on the back burner when I have trips to plan. So don’t be surprised if you don’t see blog posts for a while. ☺
- You have a great sense of humor and your articles are always packed with cool tips and information that someone who is planning a trip to Italy would love to know as well as those who love to armchair travel. What has been your most memorable experience so far in assisting someone to see ‘the real Italy?’
Well, thank you for your kind comment. I guess it is easy to write fun stories about the crazy, beautiful life here because almost every day has some surprise in store. And that leads me to the answer to your next question about my most memorable experience planning a trip. It actually involved my husband’s family. He has a big family and most of them live in Rome. He has uncles and cousins that work in the film industry for special effects. My husband’s uncle was working on the James Bond movie, “Spectre,” and asked if we wanted to see some of the filming, but we weren’t going to be in Rome. However, one of my clients was! So she was able to see the chase scene along the Tiber River! And not only that, afterward was invited for dinner with the crew and my husband’s family. What a unique experience!
- Being a gal from Texas who met an Italian and followed him to Italy, how did you experience the Italians as a new expat?
Well, honestly he was the first expat of the family. After getting married, we lived in Austin for 8 years. He even became an American citizen (and honorary Texan). Because of a job change, we moved to Milan. I was probably more excited about the move back to the old country than he was. He loved Texas and the ease of life there. As an expat, even in a big city like Milan, I have to say the people were so kind and helpful. I think this is interesting to note because Milan has a reputation for being a hectic city as well as a little boring and maybe even a little cold. But everyone was always so kind.
In fact, I don’t know how I would have managed if the people had not been so wonderful because I have to admit the first six months were really tough. And the odd thing was that I felt so prepared. I knew we would be exchanging our four bedrooms, two bath home for a two bedroom, one bath apartment. I walked into our rented apartment so boldly, only to notice there were no kitchen cabinets or stove or fridge or even a sink. In Italy, when you rent an unfurnished apartment, you are renting the walls, floors, ceiling and electrical wires (no light fixtures either). Yes, the empty apartment with a three-month-old baby and toddler was not so much fun. But we got through it and with time I learned to adapt to the Italian way – which means learning to be very patient. I also gained a new appreciation for my own, wonderful country. I think being an expat really makes you appreciate the things we take for granted. I feel very fortunate to have had the option of living in these two great countries. Obviously, both have their pros and cons, but we try to take the best of America and incorporate it into our lives here, just as we did when we lived in Austin: only pasta for lunch (sandwiches were forbidden), along with a glass of wine of course!
Thank you, Diana. I’ll take you up on that glass of vino and a side of pasta one day soon in bella Italia!
Diana Skok Corridori
Travel Designer and Planner