Our #myclahttitude ambassador today is Petra Belliti. An Italian who has been transferring our beauties and goodness to California for many years. We asked her to tell us a little about how an Italian lives abroad and what Americans love about us. Are you curious to know if the stereotype pizza, sole, mandolin still exists?
Enjoy the reading
– Hi Petra to allow everyone to get to know you a little better, I will immediately start with a question about your childhood: You were born and raised in Florence by an American mother and an Italian father. How was Petra as a child? Tell us
My memories as a little girl start in Torri, just a few colonial houses in the hills of Calenzano: La Calvana. A real and isolated countryside, but at the same time just 20 minutes away from the beauty of my beloved Firenze. A childhood made up of olive harvest in the fall, of wild blackberries picked from the bushes in August, of long adventures in the wild fields… but also made of Barbie and her thousand outfits. Finally there was music. My father Carlo raised me, as I often say, with Dante Alighieri, Opera and Classical music. Puccini, Mozart, Verdi and many others filled up my days. My mother’s cloths, turned into performance costumes, that were used for impro ballets, and recitals. For many years I studied opera singing, pianoforte and ballet. I was a soprano… the pride of my dad. then, with adolescence, rock made an entrance in my life. The piano was substituted by a guitar… the Opera Boheme, from the rock/grunge of the 90s… and I started singing and playing in different rock bends. To the present from the beginning, music has been a fundamental aspect of my life.
– At the age of twenty thanks to a vacation in Encinitas in California, your life takes a turn: you choose to move to the USA. Do you want to tell us about it?
A simple vacation that turned rapidly and unexpectedly into a new life. A phone call that wasn’t easy to make: mom, dad, I decided to stay here. At that time, I was working in the family business with my father, a consulting company for the textile industry, were I started soon after I graduated in Political Sciences – International Law. It was September 2007. I knew that I needed to change something in my life and, attracted by the peacefulness and serenity of the little town where I eventually landed – Encinitas (North of San Diego), I decided to start, by myself, the adventure that led me where I am today. Ho started from zero. To support myself, I started to work in a couple of Italian Restaurants and day after day I started to feel a strong tie toward the Hospitality Industry e toward the world of Italian Wine. I had found my niche. I started to study, I started to travel and discover amazing producers, and today, as an Italian Wine Ambassador (Vinitaly International) I promote with pride the amazing biodiversity of our country.
– After your move, you have been an ambassador of Italian beauty and goodness for many years now. You manage an Italian restaurant, do events and you are an Italian wine expert and you also teach courses. I would like you to talk to us about how important and what kind of appreciation your ‘Italian character’ is found abroad.
Italianity, mostly when we talk abour food and wine, is truly loved and maybe a bit mistified. Generally speaking, everybody loves Italy and most of the people/customers I deal with had been in our Bel Paese at least one time in their life… some even travel there once a year! To be Italian certianly helped me to build my carreer … that touch of “autenticity”, of “made in italy” that adds a sense of connection and vicinity with a Country that they love, and, clearly, it also adds a sense of credibility while I tell my stories about wine, food and territory.
– If you had to define in a few words that Americans adore our beautiful Italy, which ones would you use?
Food. Wine. Art. History. Culture. Nature and landscapes. Passion. Simplicity. Romanticism. There is also Pizza, Spaghetti and Mandolino! Yes, this famous expression to describe our country is still in use, mostly among those that did not have the chance to visit Italy yet. By organizing tours – with focus on regional cuisine and wine – I am constantly rediscovering forgotten beauties, through the eyes of my guests and their reactions. I cannot deny the pride I feel when I see the enthusiasm visiting Italy inspires.
– You know that on Myclah we talk about Italian beauties but above all about Made in Italy fashion. What is your relationship with fashion? Do you have a boss or more than one you would never give up?
I’ve always been my own personal stylist… without necessarily following the latest fashion trends. As with everybody, I had my phases: from blue hair with broken jeans and t-shirts, to a more classic and elegant style, to a Petra that today prefers a more relaxed look, let’s say bohemian. And yes. I certainly have a small collection of clothes from which, also if I know that I will never wear them again, I simply can take apart – we could call it nostalgia. My obsession is probably shoes. I still have a few pair that came with me from Italy in 2007. At this point, I think I will put those away for my daughter Sofia.
– Finally, tell us about your plans for the next few months: I know that you have started a partnership with another Italian American and that you have several things in bridge.
I just started a new collaboration with Marina Snow and DOCG Imports, an Italian Wine import and distribution company which is active in California and in the whole country in terms of retail/online sales. I’m the portfolio specialist for the DOCG Imports and in this moment the focus is on selecting new producers to expand our overall selection. I’m thrilled about this new project which matches perfectly other things that I’ve been working on. I’ve recently launched my website (still work on progress) where I offer services such as education on Italian wine, events, travels and also consulting for restaurants in terms of the wines program and Front of the House training. My final goal is to maintain my role as an Ambassador of Italian wine, and while developing the other aspects of my skills, keep highlighting the incredible biodiversity that our country has to offer – unique in the world – through the education of the final consumer and those who are presenting and selling the product.