italy planning consultant guided tours women

Women of Inspiration Featuring Cassandra Santoro

I have decided to take International Women’s Day a step further and celebrate the amazing women who have come in and out of my life all month. These talented and driven ladies have all given me encouragement as I reach for my goals, and I want to honor them and hopefully through their stories touch other women and girls who are trying to follow their own dreams. I present today’s Women of Inspiration featuring Cassandra Santoro.

italy planning consultant guided tours women
Photo credit: Maria Riazanova

If there ever was a #girlcrush, she is it. I share her dream and passion for Italy and have watched her wild success grow and grow. She is my inspiration on so many levels.

When did you decide to pursue your dream? Was there a specific moment or event?

In April of 2006 I returned home to NYC from Italy for the first time after interning for three months

I knew from the moment I had a new path in life.

My dream started at that moment, continued the day I signed the paper officially making my company an INC. and hasn’t stopped since.

Although it has only been officially two years ago of being an entrepreneur, I had put 10 years into preparing for this time of my life. This experience has made me realize that I actually have lots of dreams and I want to make as many of them happen as possible. So while I now have my dream of owning my business, I still have a bucket list full of a ton more that motivate me everyday.

What has been the scariest or most difficult part of your journey, and what did you/are you doing to overcome?

The scariest moment of this journey was losing everything. This started with my full time job then all my money, slowly the bank took my car, I was forced to leave my apartment, and also made a decision to leave my fiancé at the same time.

At this point I had already given everything I had into my new business. The only thing I could of done was give up or get on a plane back to Italy and give life and my dream one more chance.

So that is what I did and it worked. When I look back I can’t believe I kept pushing through even through this crazy emotional rollercoaster.

italy planning consultant guided tours women
Photo credit: Maria Riazanova

What is the best part about what you are doing?

I love that this business has turned into something much bigger than I had imaged.

When I say much bigger, I do not mean monetary wise or status but rather in the sense that I realized I was inspiring others around me not just planning travel.

I did not even realize this was happening until I was asked to speak at a TEDx event. Ever day I am grateful for this opportunity as it was one of the most eye opening experiences that I have had to date.

It really forced me to look back at my business from a afar and see the big picture. I finally realize what I created was reaching others in a way I had always dreamed but never thought possible.

If you could tell all the young women out there questioning themselves one thing, what would it be?

 As a child my father always made my brother and listen to the 1993 ESPY speech made by

American college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano. While I never watched too much college basketball, I was always fascinated by this talk.

He makes some amazing points.

Jimmy V says “How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.”

Living your dream is that simple if you can keep those two main points in mind: enthusiasm and hard work. You must work at your dream everyday It is may not be easy but stay positive and never give up and,I believe anything is possible!

italy planning consultant guided tours women

I’m writing because you obviously inspire me, who has inspired you?

I of course have mentors, and am inspired by both my parents. However, lately I find the ones that inspire me are my friends, colleagues, clients, and even strangers I meet in passing that are living their dream.

I love being around this amazing energy, it truly motivated me to dream bigger and work harder!

I couldn’t agree with her more, and I think my #girlcrush grew exponentially after reading this. Thank you Cassandra.

Make sure to go check out Travel Italian Style and follow her lovely IG feed.

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

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About the author: Andi Brown

I am passionate about helping people create vacations that are perfect for them through personalized travel planning, itinerary review and small experience focused tours. My services put an emphasis on the experience of Italy, getting my clients away from the tourist crowds and into the heart and soul of the people. I believe in working with family run businesses at great locations with attention to the details. If you can dream it I can make it happen.