The Heroine’s Journey of Valeria Fanelli

What is the best thing that I love about my work?  

I love that my job allows me to meet people from different cultures, background, and social statuses. I learn so much from the people I interview and I have the feeling that they help me to understand the world a little bit better. 

What is my idea of perfect happiness?  

Being at the beach, with my friends and family, perhaps having a picnic (my mom’s homemade food is the best).

What is my greatest fear?  

I am scared of wars. My mom was born in Rome, Italy at the end of World War II and she always tells me stories about how hard life used to be for them back in the days. I am terrified about the idea of living in a war zone and I think no human being deserves to live in such a horrible condition.  

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? 

I am not sure if there is one trait that I deplore in myself. There are definitely aspects of my personality that I would change or improve, but overall I feel pretty happy about myself. Maybe I am a little stubborn sometimes, but I am working on changing it.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? 

The person that I most admire in my profession is Journalist and Professor Stephen Franklin. He is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and the most amazing Journalist that I ever met in my entire life. He has reported from different countries and he is training journalists around the world now. He was my professor and mentor at Columbia College Chicago.

What is my greatest extravagance? 

I like to sing loud in my car and raise the volume of the music, so that no one can hear me singing (neither myself).

On what occasion would I lie? 

I don’t usually lie. 

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? 

Unprofessionalism. I am a strong supporter of education and hard work, so I hate when people in my field act without any respect for other’s professional work. If you are a journalist, you should respect and follow a journalism ethic.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? 

I believe that I was the happiest in my work when I met former President Barak Obama while covering the NATO summit in 2012. It was a great achievement for my career and being in a conference room with one of the most influent person in the world made me feel pretty enthusiastic. I was also excited to interview in person Singer Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. 

 If I could, what would I change about myself? 

I would probably try to be a little bit less idealist. It took me years to build strong ideas about the world and the society I live in, but sometimes I would like to be more realistic about life and things that happen around me.

What is my greatest achievement in work? 

Being part of an International community of writers, and having published stories in different languages is a great achievement for my work. Covering big events such as the NATO summit or the U.S. presidential elections were also significant milestones in my career. 

Where would I most like to live? 

Close to the beach, but in a big city. Chicago and Rome are the cities where my heart is.  

What is my most treasured possession? 

The 2012 U.S. presidential elections pass, signed by Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini.  

What is my most marked characteristic?

My smile. I am a happy person and people usually notice it through my smile. 

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

I lived in different cities over the past 10 years: Rome, Chicago, Madrid. When I am in Rome, I like to sit down in front of the Trevi Fountain and be amazed by the majestic beauty of this monument. In Chicago, there is a spot in Lincoln Park where I like to walk and spend my time. You can see the city from there while enjoying the nature around you. In Madrid, I like to watch the sunset from the Debod Temple. It is such a magical and inspirational place. 

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

In Rome, pizzeria Da Remo, in the hearth of Testaccio neighborhood is my favorite restaurant. It offers authentic Roman style pizza and much more. In Chicago, my favorite restaurant is Gyu Kaku. It serves Japanese food in a simple yet sophisticated environment. In Madrid, my favorite spot for food and drinks is Platea. It is an amazing redesigned former theater, where people can enjoy authentic Spanish food, while listening to live music. 

 What books influenced my life and how?

The Color of Water, by James Mc Bride; The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende; Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare; The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri; All the way to American, Dann Yaccarino. I can relate to each one of these books because my background, my education and my life were influenced and shaped by their stories. The Color of Water helped me to realize that we are all human beings and that we should remind ourselves that life is a mere repetition of events where we can decide our faith while never forgetting the past. The House of the Spirits guided me to meditate about my spirituality and to connect with my mother’s soul. Romeo and Juliet thought me about endless passion and love. The Divine Comedy represented the connection between myself and my Italian roots. All the way to America is the book that reminded me that the story of an Italian immigrant is also my story and the one of many others who left their lands and worked hard to pursue a better life. 

Who are my favorite writers?

Nigerian Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Italian Writer Alda Merini; American Author James Mc Bride.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

A great selection of Jazz. 

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

I am a big fan of Actress Viola Davis. She is so unique and such a powerful role model. 

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My mother and my friends. All hard working women. I wouldn’t be me without them. I am also a big fan of former First Lady Michelle Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Mamma Mia! It’s a celebration of life, love and nature and one of the most amazing interpretations of Meryl Streep. 

What role plays art in my life and work?

For years I refused to incorporate art in my everyday life. I have a technical background (went to law school) and I thought that art wouldn’t have added much in my life. After meeting with some amazing artists, I started to get inspired and decided to add art in my life. Now I can’t live without it. 

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My mother and my best friends. They are always there to support me in all my adventures and projects. 

Whom would I like to work with in 2017?

Some of my former journalism colleagues, my former Professor Steve Franklin, Italian Journalist Beppe Severgnini, and Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017?

Journalist Anderson Cooper and Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on?

I will be publishing a book by the end of 2017 and I hope I will be able to start working on the second one of the series. I am also considering enrolling a PhD program. I love teaching and would love to earn the qualifications that would allow me to be a better teacher and inspire aspiring journalists/writers. 

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?

Follow my page italiansinchicago.com  (www.facebook.com/ItaliansinChicago) or my LinkedIn page www.linkedin.com/in/valeria-fanelli-119b3255/. A webpage of my new book will come out soon. 

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

They mean that no matter where I am in the world, my social condition, or my family situation, I have to keep doing what I like to do and what makes me happy. 

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Sandra Chiarlone, Natalia Aicardi, Francesca Cavallo, Ashlee Rezin.

How can you contact me?

LinkedIn is the best way to reach me www.linkedin.com/in/valeria-fanelli-119b3255/ 

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