Panoram Italia: When did you first become enamoured of all things Italian and why?
Liz McConomy: I vividly remember reading Vogue Italia at my mom’s hairdresser (I know, I am cliché already, but it’s true!) and seeing these incredible homes and people. It was never the models but the “extras” behind them that fascinated me. It felt like a storybook world!
PI: What was your favourite experience when you last visited Italy?
LM: I have to start with the experience right before – as we waited for the trip to start – when my husband got down on one knee and proposed to me. That was incredible! On our first night in Atrani, we stumbled onto the town’s yearly feast – the piazza was bathed in lights, and local artists were playing on the stage. We celebrated with the whole town that night. Magic.
PI: If you could live in an Italian city, which would you choose and why?
LM: Rome. I know I haven’t been everywhere, but this city has a part of me. Walking through every side street, getting soundly lost, finding the best gnocchi in a dark alleyway, a glass of wine in one of Trastevere’s piazzas . . . I love it all.
PI: If you were a famous Italian personality (dead or alive) who would you like to be?
LM: I want to be the love child of Roberto Benigni and Sophia Loren – gorgeously goofy, a woman in her best form and a wit to catch them all off guard – the best of both worlds.
PI: Italian-Canadians in Montreal are . . .
LM: My favourite kind of crazy.
PI: You know your neighbours are Italian-Canadian because . . .
LM: You get a giant Ziplock of frozen homemade gnocchi every four months at your door.
PI: What is one element your culture shares with the Italian culture?
LM: Sure, the Irish love to drink too. But it’s really just a way to stay at the table for hours with loved ones. Be it endless bottles of wine, endless plates of food, a perfectly placed shot of Jameson – we get creative with our excuses!
PI: How well do you speak Italian?
LM: Better in my head than spoken aloud.
PI: What is one element of the Italian culture that you most appreciate?
LM: The food. My husband owns an Italian butcher shop in the Mile End (Boucherie Chez Vito) with his brother, and watching them curate everything that comes into the store – the attention to detail they put into the products. There’s an art to it that stems from the simple appreciation of good quality which Italians mastered centuries ago. We visited butcher shops in Italy and they had the same simple fridge with the best products available, then we’d talk about how to cook it. Food is an event for Italians; I love that! It makes everything more delicious.
PI: What is one Italian product (made-in-Italy product) that you own?
LM: I have lots, but the one piece that comes to mind is this turquoise suede clutch made in Florence that I bought last time I was in Italy. Bought on the riverside under the moonlight; shopping and romance, doesn’t get much better than that.