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Italy’s Most Exquisite Experiences with Travel Journalist Maria Shollenbarger

Maria Shollenbarger has ventured all over the world as a leading travel journalist, but she always returns to Italy. Currently based in Rome, Maria is an expert at uncovering Italy’s secrets for travelers who want to experience the country in a deeper, more meaningful way. In this episode, she imparts her insider knowledge, offering numerous destinations, diversions, new hotels, and more—and sharing a few tales from a lifetime on the road.

We are all dreaming of the next place we want to travel, and for many, Italy is at the top of their list. But is it time to reconsider our relationship with the world’s most beloved destination? On this episode of Travel That Matters, travel journalist and Italy expert Maria Shollenbarger shares her secrets on how to experience the very best of the country in a more meaningful, sustainable, and insiderly way.  

Maria was an editor at large at Condé Nast Traveler and a senior editor at Travel & Leisure before taking on her current role as the travel editor for the Financial Times’ How to Spend It. She has lived in several cities throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S., and she’s currently based in London and Rome. She speaks with Bruce about what it was like to be in Italy at a time when other Americans weren’t able to visit, and how travelers can achieve that sense of insider access in the future.


For one, Maria recommends finding the right travel designer, someone like Emily Fitzroy of Bellini Travel. But even with an expert’s support, you need to do your research. Don’t just walk into any pizza spot in Venice; take the time to find that hidden spot that’s serving authentic Venetian cuisine. Her favorite way to enjoy Venetian fare isn’t at a restaurant at all, but rather aboard a yacht called the Edipo Re, which takes guests and top local chefs far beyond the city to explore the lagoon and Adriatic and sample local delicacies along the way.

Maria also offers up fabulous tips on Sicilian wine country, the Umbrian countryside, the island of Ischia, and more. But even with all the great insights on Italy, Travel That Matters wants more! Bruce encourages you to write to him on Twitter @TravelwithBruce or email him at and share some of your favorite destinations and secret spots throughout Europe. We know our listeners are experts, and we want to hear from you! 


Additional links and locations mentioned in this episode:

Sujan Sher Bagh in Ranthambore

Wilderness Safaris’ Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia

Edipo Re yacht in Venice

Tasca d'Almerita


Villa Tasca



Mezzatorre on the island if Ischia

Corte della Maesta in Tuscia

Castello di Reschio in Umbria

Rocco Forte’s Villa Igiea in Palermo


Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley & Darra Stone

Music by: Joey Salvia

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