A Celebrated Italy Travel Writer Lives a Love Story
Meet Elizabeth Heath, a Frommer’s Travel Guide, Italy Editor, Washington Post Writer - A Wine Wanderings Premium Newsletter
Introduction to Elizabeth Heath, March 2021
Elizabeth Heath is a travel and culinary writer/editor living in central Italy. Liz has written about travel, adventure, wellness, and lifestyle topics. She writes for the Frommer’s travel guides in Italy, writing the content for the Rome chapters, among others. Liz was about to leave Italy and return to the U.S. when she met her husband, Paolo Marchetti. Their love story continues. They married, had a daughter, and currently reside in picturesque Umbria, Italy, a region east of Tuscany. I caught up with Liz in early March 2021 to ask her about Italy, travel, the effects of the Pandemic, and “living the love story.” See Zoom interview above and transcript below.
Recent Elizabeth Heath articles
4 Epic Adventure Travel Ideas in Italy, From Tuscany’s Rolling Hills to the Dolomite Mountains – Travel + Leisure Magazine, November 12, 2020
Aboard Rented Houseboat, Vacationers Take to The Water at a Safe Distance – The Washington Post, July 30, 2020
The Best Machu Picchu Cruise Tours – CruiseCritic, March 19, 2020
Is it Safe to Travel to Italy? – Tripsavvy, December 31, 2020
Fortunately for Liz, Travel and Leisure Magazine named Italy its ”Destination of the Year for 2021.She will stay busy, despite the current Pandemic. In our Interview she poignantly discusses the current situation in Italy as well as her love story.
Let’s welcome Elizabeth Heath to Wine Wanderings. See Transcription Below.
Sagrantino de Montefalco
The Sagrantino grape has one of the highest levels of polyphenols (antioxidant properties) of any grape as noted in my article: The Healthiest Wine? Red- Enjoy a Glass of Antioxidants. Montefalco Sagrantino is a style of Italian wine with 100% Sagrantino grapes grown in and around the commune of Montefalco in the Province of Perugia, Umbria. The DOCG status was conferred in 1992 (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e garantita) and is the highest wine classification in Italy.
Wine Enthusiast – 91 Points
Tasting Notes: “Aromas of dark-skinned berries, toasted oak and underbrush lead the nose. The spicy, structured palate offers dried black cherry, black pepper, tobacco and clove alongside tight, close-grained tannins. Drink 2022–2029.”
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Transcription: An Interview with Elizabeth Heath, Travel and Lifestyle Writer
Tricia Conover, Wine Wanderings (TC):
Hi, Welcome to Wine Wanderings. Today I have Elizabeth Heath, travel and lifestyle editor in Italy joining me. Don't you love her background scene [on Zoom?] Welcome.
Elizabeth Heath, Lifestyle and Travel Writer (EH):
It's my backyard!
(TC): I think that's beautiful. And it reminds me of my trips to Italy. Elizabeth, I'd like our readers to know about you. You're from the United States originally?
(EH): Yes. I was born in Missouri. I spent most of my life in Florida, with a few little detours here and there. But I mostly grew up on the west coast of Florida. I was most recently living in Sarasota, one of my favorite places in the world, before I moved to Italy.
(TC): And what brought you to Italy?
Isn't that the famous story? The longer version is that I went back to school a little bit later in life to work on my Ph.D. in archaeology and anthropology. I did that with the idea that I wanted to do archaeology in Italy, because I had visited Italy once before. I was really fascinated with this classical history. I think for somebody who grew up in Florida, where an old building is from the 1950s, to come to Italy and see these layers and layers [of history] was really fascinating. I started coming to Italy to work on archeological digs in the summers. More and the more I kept thinking I might want to live here. In 2008, I spent the summer in Italy, with the idea of really testing the waters. I got myself an apartment. I was by myself. I was in a place where I didn't know anyone else. I wanted to see “what does that really feel like” to be the stranger in this strange land. Then, a couple weeks before it was time for me to leave, I met my future husband. He's Italian and he lived where we live now in a small town near Orvieto, which is in Umbria, central Italy. Yes, we did a long distance [relationship first]. He came to visit me and I came to visit him. Little by little “Piano, Piano,” as they say in Italian. That was 12 years ago. We now have a nine-year old daughter.
(TC): Umbria is known for its Sagrantino, wonderful wines. When were you able to start writing? You secured the authorship of the Frommer’s day-to-day chapters for Italy. How did you journey into writing about travel?
(EH): I have always been a writer and editor. I've been freelancing for 15 years,
before I moved over here. That was always something that was there. It was sometimes more editing than writing. Sometimes I was doing medical [articles.] As a freelancer you go where you have to go, and where the money is to write. I had also been teaching writing and humanities at the University of Florida. I had been an editor for The Frommer's travel guides, and a freelance development editor. I've edited guides for all over the world really, and I was a regular editor for The Italy guide. When [Frommer’s] Rome writer left, I put my name in because I already had a relationship with Pauline Frommer [Co-President of FrommerMedia] who set up for travel for Overseas Travel LLC. I said, “you know, if you're looking for somebody to write Rome, I think I might be able to do that.” I now write all of the Rome chapters for all they have - a series of guidebooks on Italy. I write all the Rome content for them. Was it the right time or just persistence?
(TC): I'll call you before my next trip to Italy. How have you fared during the Pandemic? Because, of course, you get our news, and we get your news. Tell me about your experience this year.
(EH): Just on a day-to-day level, we've been lucky because first of all, like I said, this is my backyard [pointing to the landscape.] We're not stuck in a little apartment with no balcony. Some of the people in Italy have really suffered. The people who lived in cities during the most severe lockdown suffered. [Currently] we're in a pretty strict lockdown again and that started a week ago. But we live in a rural area. There aren't a lot of people coming and going here. We're not as exposed to the virus. it has hit some people in our town. But we also haven't had that closed-in sense. We can take walks, and we can be outdoors. We have a little bit of a yard. In that sense, we were much more fortunate than a lot of people. Now we're in our third lockdown. What's happening now is more similar to the first lockdown in that restaurants and bars are closed. Depending on what part of the country you are in, [food might only] be available only for takeout. You can't even go in the in the bar and get a coffee. Even if you could, you can't stand outside the bar and drink it. You have to move along, because they don't [allow] people congregating at all. Schools are closed. My daughter is back to homeschooling, virtual schooling, and it's going to go much more smoothly, because everyone's used to it. The tourism economy - that's just been devastated. It's been devastated here.
(TC): The hospitality and tourism industries this year in almost all locations have just been terrible. Tell me what some of your current projects are. You [said in our] previous discussions, you had to pivot a little bit during this time?
(EH): I've had [to pivot], and I was lucky. I have had a surprisingly productive time here writing about travel and travel adjacent topics. I then jumped in to writing more reported items on what's going on [during the Pandemic.] It wasn't [about travel] here. I wasn't writing stories that said, “Look at all these fabulous places you can go,” because really, we don't want to rub people's faces in it, right? I was writing, however, a lot of items about trends in travel, news and travel, and how the industry was adjusting to the Pandemic.
I got my first assignments with the Washington Post during the Pandemic. That's been a high watermark for me, and definitely for my writing. Then fortunately for me, Travel and Leisure named Italy ”Destination of the Year for 2021.” I've been able to write a lot of Italy content for them that has not been related to the Pandemic. It’s about places you can go in Italy, even if it's just armchair travel. At least I can provide some inspiration, hopefully. I get to write about some of my favorite places. I've written some wellness articles, too. I think I've probably written 100 articles about home improvement for websites that specialize in home improvement. These are the topics that have been booming during lockdown: health, wellness, home improvement, cooking, and pets. These are the things I've written about because “you make lemonade from lemons,” right?
(TC): Of course. And you know, our home improvement shows in the US have gone crazy, like HomeTown and Good Bones. Thank you for joining us on Wine Wanderings, Elizabeth. It was a pleasure.
(EH): My pleasure.
TC): I would like our readers to see some links to some of your articles (Posted above). We'll definitely include those. Have a great day.
(EH): Okay. Thank you.