Writer Wednesday – Meet Victoria De Maio
With a shared passion for travel and the always amazing Italy, Victoria and I connected a few years ago. But it wasn’t until my recent trip to the West Coast that I not only got to meet but be welcomed into her home to stay during my visit to Santa Barbara. There is one thing for sure about Victoria De Maio – not only is she charming, gracious and witty – she is my go to girl for all things Italian.
Writer Wednesday would like to introduce Victoria De Maio
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in a small town; Napa, California, I’m second generation Italian (my maternal grandparents came from Tuscany and my paternal from Sicily). We were a small tight knit family and upon reflection, my pretty wonderful childhood seems very innocent and sweet.
I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a writer. As a matter of fact, I was actually first “published” in my early elementary years. (I wrote a short story about my stuffed bunny that appeared in the Sunday children’s section of the local newspaper.)
In junior high and high school the comments and encouragement of my English teacher had an indelible impact on my dream of being a journalist and traveling the world. However, somehow I got sidetracked and became a teacher myself. Fast forward past college, teaching, marriage, divorce, career transitions, corporate life, and a few “mid-life” crises, I eventually decided to leave the corporate world and pursue what I felt was my true calling, teaching (not in the classroom but teaching yoga).
Several years ago I had the opportunity to be a part-time travel consultant. It was a natural fit and, not only did I learn the travel business but, it gave me the opportunity to do more traveling.
All of this time I was journaling and writing about writing a book! Three years ago, when I was going back to be traveling in Italy for a month, I decided to start a blog and realized that I needed embrace technological/social media. By the time I left two months later I had a new iPhone, a blog site and a used Apple laptop. When I returned I submitted my first article to, Italian Notebook, and when it was published and well received, I was absolutely ecstatic!
About two years ago, through wonderful social media connections, I met and partnered with a local tour expert in Puglia and, after two successful trips in 2014, became a tour leader. Organizing and promoting the tours overshadowed the ebook…until last spring when the idea for my ebook became obvious and, of course, the main character would be Italy!
Where are you from and why should people visit?
I’m a native daughter of California and I just love it. It is incredibly diverse and has something for everyone!
How many countries have you visited?
Not enough! To date, I’ve visited 14 countries (primarily in North America and Western/Eastern Europe).
What is your favourite place and why?
Italy is definitely my favorite place but I love being wherever I can be with close friends.
If you could describe your method of travel in one word, what would it be?
What is your must have travel accessory?
Hands down, my iPhone which is my “lifeline” and camera when I travel.
What is your most memorable travel moment?
There are so many but I love the pleasure and surprise when I greet someone in their language – even if it’s just “hello” or “thank you”. I also love taking photos of local people that I meet – shop owners, merchants, artisans, waiters and servers, etc. I always ask their permission and their names, and thank them. So often they are treated as if they are invisible and I love showing my appreciation for what they do. Their smiles and enjoyment are very special moments (which you will often see in my blog articles).
What is your dream destination?
Italy is always on the top of my list but I still want to do more traveling in France, Greece, and Turkey. I’ve never been to Portugal, Spain or Egypt so I guess I have a lot of dream destinations! Oh, did I mention the South Pacific? LOL
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, to where?
Next month (May 2015) I’m returning to Puglia and this fall to Puglia and Umbria with my small group tours. I will also do some “before and after” independent travel. Returning to Florence, Venice, and the Amalfi are on my spring itinerary as is a new destination, Matera in Basilicata.
How has travel changed you?
Undoubtedly! Travel gives me a new perspective, broadens my world and helps me to reset my priorities. It reinforces my belief that there is more that unites us than separates us and that there are wonderful, good people everywhere.
Writing and sharing my experiences is another form of teaching for me and I can only hope to inspire others. I love the St. Augustine quote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
How long did it take for this book to come to fruition?
For over a year I was toying with the idea of writing a series of travel tip ebooks. I had outlines and ideas and there it sat while I worked on other projects.
In spring of 2014, while preparing for a 6-week trip to Italy, I was thinking about ideas I wanted to blog about during my travels. One idea was to take notes (and photos) of what you will and won’t find when you travel to Italy. That became my “aha!” moment and the kernel of the concept to focus on travel tips strictly about Italy.
When I returned home, the goal of publishing my ebook before the year was over became my top priority. What started as a few thousand words, over the next six months and hundreds of hours, eventually fleshed out into 16,000 words. I counted over 30 “editions” and drafts! Enlisting a professional to help with the cover design, formatting, etc., and after more tweaking, editing, and proofing, the “finished product” was ready to download onto Amazon.
It all became real when I got my proof copy – it was unbelievably exciting to see it “in print”. On November 13th, 2015, it officially launched and I became a published author. It’s an incredible milestone for me.
To date, Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style has received 30 5-Star Reviews on Amazon. I’m so pleased and am now working on a multi-media presentation based on the book.
What do you hope your readers walk away with from ‘Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style’?
Practical, honest advice and a deeper appreciation, understanding and knowledge of Italian ways so that they will have a more rewarding and enriching experience (and not be disappointed or frustrated).
What’s your top tip for first time visitors to Italy?
What most people think they know about Italy – the people, the history, the food, etc. – is usually the stereotypical “Americanized” or filtered “Hollywood” version (i.e,, it’s not like “Under the Tuscan Sun” or “The Sopranos”!)
They REALLY need to read my book before they go so that they are armed with useful, realistic travel tips and information about the way things are and won’t be blindsided by culture shock. Then they will be prepared to immerse themselves in and appreciate the authentic Italy I love so much.
Do you have any new books on the horizon?
I do have my idea/concept for my next book – now to find the time to write it! (Hopefully within the next year.)
What is your favourite travel book?
Besides my own ;D? As far as travel guidebooks go, I always turn to Insight Travel Guides or local guidebooks I pick up on my travels. For travel inspiration, I love reading historical fiction and books set in my favorite places (e.g., novels by Sarah Dunant and Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti mysteries set in Venice).
What is your favourite travel quote?
That’s a difficult one for someone who loves quotes but Browning said it all for me: