Born and raised in Rome, Alessandra brings a deep knowledge of Italy, its people, and their passions to Passion Italy.
Journey along the coast where centuries of invaders left their mark - yet traditions remain strong. Modern royalty and craftsmen equally represent the continuing historic charm of the region from Palermo to Castelvetrano. Alessandra visits the workshops of a Pupi Siciliani puppet maker, a cart painter, and a coral carver, each carrying on the distinctly Sicilian traditions of generations before them as one of the last of their kind. Visits with a countess and a princess to palaces seldom seen by tourists reveal magnificent architecture and hidden Italian history, including the early origins of vegetarian cooking. An exploration of Sicily's culinary gems also includes the surprisingly beautiful salt pans in Trapani, granita as perfected by generations of a family, a visit to the lively fish market, and one family's innovative approach to the famous Marsala wine. Viewers will also discover Europe's oldest archeological site at Selinunte and virtually participate in one of Sicily's most spectacular historic parades.
A journey covering known tourist favorites but with special access to the artisans whose passion shapes this extraordinary vacation destination in unique ways. In Altamura, known as the 'city of bread, ' Alessandra speaks to a bread maker as he explains the 24-hour process that has been followed for generations and meets a cheesemaker making his name beyond this small strip of land between two seas with a fresh take on family tradition. Viewers will also watch as some of the area's most skilled artisans work, including a stone mason assembling a spiraling dome for one of the Itria Valley's distinctive white stone houses or trulli; a master glass craftsman whose lampshades use light to reflect the heart and soul of Puglia; and a luthier making instruments using nearly lost techniques.
Experience the enticing city at Italy's center and its unique craftsmanship preserved for generations. A pipe organ maker invites Alessandra to his workshop in Trevi where he is cutting a mouthpiece by hand for a Renaissance style wall organ in his family's tradition, then on to Assisi where he is working on an organ restoration. While there, viewers experience a festival carried on since the Middle Ages to welcome the return of spring. Less known to tourists, La Scarzuola is an architectural wonderland by architect Tommaso Buzzi, whose nephew has given new life to this magical place. In Perugia, Alessandra meets a mother and daughter working side by side as the fourth and fifth generation of stained-glass artisans using Renaissance techniques in a castle. A bike ride to Corciano brings Alessandra to the home of a man who embodies the spirit of the series - a doctor who runs an agriturismo on weekends where he cooks and serves the dishes of his childhood to guests - and is also an accomplished sculptor.
Go beyond the usual gondola ride down the Grand Canal for a behind-the-scenes look at the most iconic Venetian images as Alessandra island hops around the lagoon. Viewers will follow the preparations for the most lavish party in the world, the Ballo del Doge masquerade ball, choosing ingredients for the feast at an ancient market alongside the chef and joining the costumed revelers tableside at the palace. On Chioggia, Alessandra's adventures in her father's homeland include a visit to the last artisan making the traditional ceramic pipes Venice has been known for since the 1600s. A quick ferry ride to the island of Murano finds the son of one the greatest glass artists of the 19th century continuing his father's legacy of exceptional treasures inspired by the region, as well as a choreographer dedicated to teaching historical dances as if time has stood still.
Full of wild beauty and captivating traditions in its 23 hamlets, this is an undiscovered gem for many tourists. In Castelli, Alessandra meets a father and son maintaining the Maiolic ceramic tradition that dates back to the 16th century then arrives in Chieti in time for preparations for the stunning Good Friday procession featuring more than 100 musicians and a choir of 160 alongside hundreds of mournful townspeople. On the Adriatic coast, Alessandra introduces viewers to the son of seafarers who has rebuilt one of the distinctive wood structures called trabocchi used for fishing since the 15th century for modern times. Viewers also discover the lifestyle of artisans crafting in copper, wrought iron and stone, carrying on familial traditions inspired by nature and moved not by profit but by the passion for their craft.
Alessandra's homecoming to Rome is a chance for her to share the lesser known corners of her city including the street art district, the Pyramid, and the magnificent Palazzo Colonna where a prince's family resides, and to introduce viewers to an eccentric artist who invented a language to describe his fantasy world. A day trip to medieval Viterbo provides a nice contrast to the great capital city and the opportunity to visit an ancient mint where coins are still made as in the Middle Ages. Finally, Alessandra tours a ghost village inside Canale Monterano with a local chef and choreographer and meets an artisan who invented the tamburella instrument which he plays in concert in the charming village of Cervara di Roma.