I want to be Stanley Tucci when I grow up, or just be reincarnated as a Stanley Tucci avatar after I pass.

Who doesn’t love Tucci? Look at his resume, “The Hunger Games,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Captain America.”

Check out the films he danced through without getting star billing, “The Big Night,” “Julie & Julia,”and now with Colin Firth in “Supernovo.”

In every movie, every part, his subtle touch unsettles the stars around him. Ask Meryl Streep who co-starred with him in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Julie & Julia.”

Tucci is posh without the chill; Tucci is cool and elegant without being aloof. Stanley packs more into his lines than most stars do with a page.

Here is Stanley Tucci who started his life as the son of two Italian-Americans, both teachers and artists with roots in Calabria, who returned to Italy for work and took him, a teenager then, with them.


Tucci immediately connected to his Italian genes, and absorbed the climate and the Italian heart.

Now, on CNN, Tucci, bald and bespectacled, thin and charming, takes us along to his beloved Italy in season one’s six episodes.

From Tuscany, Tucci’s former home, he along with local celebrities does a wine bar crawl, moving along an ancient wall with small portals that, with a tap on the stone, offer different tastes of wine.

It’s in Tuscany that he uncovers the secret to concocting a mesmerizing tomato soup, made with chunks of stale bread, garlic and the famous San Marzano tomatoes. I made it. It works.

In Rome, our host discovers the Four Pastas, and weaves his way through different pasta restaurants. We see the many faces of pasta. Here we learn that during World War II, the dictator Benito Mussolini actually tried to ban pasta from Italy, proclaiming it weakening and unhealthy.

That lasted about six months until the dictator was overthrown and strung up with his mistress in the town square in Milan. A tip: don’t mess with an Italian’s pasta.


It’s in Rome that we learn how, in the early centuries, the wealthy Romans took the best cuts of meat, leaving the “offal” (the brains, stomachs, hearts and kidneys) to the poor, who then took these leavings and created a world famous cuisine.

In Milan, Stanley sips wine, enjoys aperitivo and lends his hand to make a real Pizzoccheri noodle made from buckwheat, and tempts us with veal chops and risotto.

In episode 6, Don Tucci exposes the secrets of Sicily’s great wines and olive gardens. On this, he had me at “Ciao.”

This is no sitting, slurping and chatty travelogue. Each episode floats like a river of wine, pulling us in, enchanting us with small doses of history and introducing us to the locals.

“Stanley Tucci’s Italy” was all shot before the arrival of the virus. There is no sadness here, just moments of the true happy heart of Italy.

“Searching For Italy” plays each Sunday night on CNN at 9 p.m. and can be followed online.

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