Ciao, I'm Cassandra Lena Santoro
This is how Italy became my story...
It all started when...
I grew up like many other Italian-Americans: helping Nonna cut the mozzarella in our pizzeria, eating pasta on Sundays, and learning from Nonno how to grow the perfect tomatoes. Life was simple. My only real worry was if I would ever understand the crazy Sicilian dialect that was being spoken throughout the house.
Family life was great until 2002 when everything changed. That 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....
I had just accepted an event planning job in Manhattan when I got the idea that I may want to go abroad and find my heritage again. Within days a pop-up appeared on my computer screen promoting internships in Italy. It took one click on that link to make me realize what I needed to do.
A few weeks later I was on my first trip to Europe. When I arrived in Italy, I felt more at home than I have felt anywhere else in the world. In that moment, my path changed. I discovered 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. I kept returning and returning. I applied for my dual-citizenship. It took two years but I finally moved.
Based in Florence, I began to travel throughout Italia making wonderful local friends, tasting amazing regional specialties, and had the opportunity to work for two fantastic tour companies. I was determined to find the real and authentic Italy. I dreamed that one day I could bestow this very same experience upon others.
That is what inspired Travel Italian Style.
Now I split my life between New York and Italy as a dual citizen. Through Travel Italian Style, I am here to personally guide you on your own Italian journey -- one that will open doors to the simple joys of Italy, and quite possibly even to life, and yourself.
What's my story these days?
After 13 years in tourism, wine, special events, and personally visiting all 20 Regions of Italy, I now use all of my experience and knowledge to create memorable vacations to Bella Italia for you!
I also love sharing my story of Italy, my family, and entrepreneurship in hopes of inspiring others. Some speaking highlights have been:
interview on iHeartRadio
panelist at NOIAW 2016 Women's Event at Cipriani Wall Street
featured speaker at TEDxDHBW Mannheim
panelist at the 2017 42nd Annual NIAF Expo Weekend in Washington D.C.
panelist at the 2019 NY Times Travel Show in New York City
During this crazy journey called life, I realized my goal is not only to create memorable Italian vacations, it is also to spread a beautiful message: that travel can inspire you to live your life with passion and purpose.
To see my latest adventures of traveling 6 months in Italy and 6 months in NYC , follow along on Instagram. Feel free to say hello whenever you stop by any of our social sites. I love meeting you as followers and hearing your stories, after all this company was created for you!