Founder & CEO, Cassandra Lena Santoro
Italian Travel Expert and Your Travel Consultant
I grew up like many other Italian-Americans—helping Nonna cut the mozzarella in our family-owned pizzeria, pasta on Sundays and learning from Nonno how to grow the perfect tomatoes in a garden.
Life was simple. My only worries were if I would ever understand that crazy Sicilian dialect that was being spoken throughout the house.
The family life was great until 2002 when everything changed.
This was the year I lost my father to cancer. It was through him that our family had been blessed to be part of this Italian community, so not only did I lose him, I lost a part of my culture.
After his loss I grieved, but not in the way I thought I would....
See, prior to this tragedy I had everything planned—buy a big house in the suburbs, start a new career in New York City and fill my weekends with fancy parties, restaurants and people.
Just upon accepting an event planning job in NY, I suddenly had an idea that I may want to go abroad and find my heritage once again. Days later, appeared a "pop-up" on my screen promoting internships in Italy. It took one click on that link to make me realize what I needed to do.
Three short weeks later I was on my first trip ever to Europe. When I arrived, I felt more at home than I have any where anywhere else in the world. At that moment I realized that my paths had changed and I would never be the same.
In Italy, I soon learned that fantastic meals can cost under 10 euro, a great coffee does not have to be longer than a shot of espresso, and that it is possible to love every day of your life.
Upon returning from those three months abroad I knew I must live in this country. After two years I applied for my dual-citizenship and with a few bags in hand I moved to Florence.
During this time I was determined to find the real and authentic Italy. So I began to travel throughout Italia making wonderful local friends, tasting amazing regional specialties and I even had the opportunity to work for two fantastic tour companies.
It was a wonderful life changing adventure and I dreamed that one day I could bestow this very same experience upon others.
This is what inspired Travel Italian Style and inspires me to empower women all over the world.
Now I am here to personally guide you on an amazing trip/journey that will open up the doors to discovering the simple joys of Italy and quite possibly even life and yourself.
"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
Quick Fun Facts about Cassandra
- I am a want to be Wino! Not only do I love it, I worked for 4 years at a vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island, NY!
- M & M's and Swiss chocolate are my weakness
- Currently I am being certified in Integrative Wellness & Life Coaching
- My event planning background started at the age of 19 when I organized my parent's vow renewal
- Fifty-four is the number of times I have walked the scavi of Pompeii (and I still love exploring the site)
- Besides my travel career, corporate companies such as Sleepy's & the YES Network are on my resume
- I learned Italian from working at a restaurant in Italy & the bus drivers (from being a tour guide) during my first travel job
- Seven chapters are completed in my upcoming book (Stay Tuned)!
- A few of my favorite things (besides all things Italian): Autumn, beaches, NYC rooftops, sparkling wine, laughing and sunshine :)