Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures Founder Francesca Montillo Visits Malden Public Library

Emanuelle Oliveira also contributed to this article.

The Malden Public Library is known to knit the community closer together through its events. So, in celebration of a successful local, the library recently gathered Malden citizens and beyond to welcome cookbook author and founder of the Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures, Francesca Montillo.

Francesca Montillo, founder of the Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures and a cookbook author, poses next to her display table. EMANUELLE OLIVEIRA

Held on December 15th, Montillo and attendees had an intimate conversation about her life story: how she turned a passion for her Italian heritage into a successful travel business. 

Montillo is an Italian native, having been born in a little village called Palermiti in Calabria, Italy. In 1988, she moved from Italy to the Greater Boston area. She worked in healthcare administration for several years but would yearn for a more exciting path in her life. 

“What I truly wanted was to focus on traveling to Italy and inviting people to Italy in the realm of food and wine,” said Montillo. “There’s a lot of tourism there, with museums, history, architecture—all wonderful things—but I’m more passionate about its culinary aspect and sharing it with others.”

Montillo discusses how she turned her enthusiasm for Italian cooking and travel into a business. EMANUELLE OLIVEIRA

In 2016, she founded her travel business, Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures, as a “side hustle.” She hosted her first few Italy tours, all while working her then full-time job. Then, over the years, the business became more full-fledged, leading to Montillo’s greater focus on ensuring its success. “But, as everyone knows, the pandemic slammed the brakes on traveling.”

Montillo knew that it was “devastating. I was sure I had to give up my business.” In the early stages of the pandemic, she had lived on savings and a part-time healthcare job. However, through her persistence and a significant consumer demand to travel once the pandemic simmered, the business continued growing. She began to host more and more culinary adventures around Italy—one of which she did with celebrity TV chef Joanne Weir. 

A few of the many Italian destinations that Montillo traveled to with her guests include the Amalfi Coast, Bologna, Calabria, and Puglia. In these adventures, she planned activities such as making fresh pasta and cheese from scratch, tasting wine, visiting olive oil mills, and dining at local hidden gems. 

But while the metropolitan landscapes of Italy are more coveted tourist destinations, Montillo also expressed that she enjoys exposing her guests to the quiet charm of the countryside. She revealed that “some of next year’s six trips are in more rural places—out in the country. One is in a villa in the Tuscan countryside, and then in another, we’ll go to Bologna, which is a very rustic, foody region.” 

While tourists often flock to cities like Florence and Venice—places she does offer culinary tours in—she finds that “the more rural part of Italy is just as beautiful and is authentically wonderful but sometimes overlooked… still, Italy is wonderful throughout.”

From left to right, top to bottom: Guests engage in a cooking class on the island of Sicily; Montillo and guests posing with their culinary creations during a vacation in Puglia; Montillo and guests visiting a dairy farm that makes artisan cheese wheels. All photos from the Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures Website.

But above all, Montillo shared that bringing others to Italy makes her feel “happy because it’s like bringing them to my home—well, it is my home! When you bring someone to your house, you want them to make them feel welcome, show off the best, serve them well… and it’s the same when you’re in Italy.” 

“I’ve formed really great personal relationships with others over my travels and have had many come back to go on more trips. We have great dinners, great bonding experiences—and it’s what really makes the trips wonderful. I’m doing what I enjoy for a living.”

Francesca Montillo

As the Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures flourished with sold-out culinary tours, Montillo started branching out her business to beyond traveling. “I was doing food blogging, food writing, and teaching cooking classes in-person and on Zoom for hundreds of students in these last few years. It’s been an interesting ride,” she remarked. 

While integrating these new culinary aspects into her travel business, Montillo launched cookbooks containing family recipes. She had “made these cookbooks dedicated to her mother, whom I learned how to cook from.” And while the recipes are tailored to a more American audience, they uphold their charm dear to her family’s Italian cooking. 

Additionally, in some cookbooks, Montillo aspired to help busy home cooks struggling during the pandemic with fast and affordable Italian recipes that can be made with common pantry ingredients. 

Two of Montillo’s cookbooks, which include classic yet simplified and efficient Italian recipes. EMANUELLE OLIVEIRA

Overall, although residing in Greater Boston, Montillo finally emphasized that she maintains direct connections to her Italian heritage through taking others on culinary tours while sharing with them the physical and cultural beauty of Italy, as well as visiting relatives in Calabria. 

One attendee, Elena, expressed that she appreciated Montillo’s “experience in these tours and how she is so knowledgeable about Italy.” With this, she hopes to reconnect with her roots by attending a few culinary tours one day as her mother, an Italian first-generation American, “tried always cooking Italian. But, as none of the recipes were written down, we only watched and tried to do them from memory.” 

The attendee further added that “if it’s not written or remembered and is without someone to pass it on, the culture dies—no one will know what true Italian food is… so I want to go and actually experience Italian food in Italy with [Montillo] because that will be something unforgettable.”

Montillo explains information about her culinary tours to an attendee. EMANUELLE OLIVEIRA

Finally, the event ended with attendees sharing warm conversations with Montillo and holding new signed cookbooks in their hands, and they left the Malden Public Library happy that night.

For more information on the Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures’ virtual cooking classes, culinary tours, and more travel services, visit

From left to right: Attendees of the event take a look at Montillo’s cookbooks; Montillo signs a purchased cookbook. EMANUELLE OLIVEIRA

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