From Lawyer to Dine at Home Host: Meet Deborah Lanini

by | 22 Jun 2022

When travelers visit Italy, the smells wafting from every tiny trattoria and home will stay with them for years. Food is integral to the culture here – every Italian remembers their Nonna’s cooking, and Insight Vacations Travel Director and Dine at Home host Deborah Lanini has brought those recipes with her through her life from country to city.

Insight guests have the unique opportunity to meet Deborah in Rome, and experience an authentic home-cooked meal at her table.


When asked why she made the change from lawyer to Dine at Home Host, Deborah explains how her life was halted dramatically at the age of 45. “I spent eight months lying on my back, as a result of spinal surgery. In that time, I lost almost everything; my best clients, my husband and even some of my friends.” Deborah realized that she was very unhappy but saw an opportunity, “it was a catalyst – from here I could choose another path.”
She began casting the net, sending out her CV to different roles, but couldn’t find something that lit a spark inside her.

Then she came across a website that connected travelers with local people to provide dinners at their home. According to Deborah, “this was a ‘wow!’ moment for me. I am very social, love to cook and invite people to my home. I knew it would suit me.” Now she just had to encourage her daughter to help her. “I told her it wouldn’t be often, maybe once a month,” Deborah winks.


“I will never forget the first dinner we hosted, because after the guests ate, one woman turned to me with a huge smile and said, ‘thank you. That was the best lasagne I ever tasted in my life.’ This was the moment I realized that I wanted to be the queen of dining experiences. During my law career, even when I got a great result, no one had ever smiled at me that way. It was so fulfilling to make people happy through food.”


For a period, Deborah was a representative for Eat With in Rome, when an Insight Vacation Travel Director came to her looking for the best at home dining experiences. “My place wasn’t on the list. I invited her to my home simply to demonstrate how we do things, and then brought her to some of the other homes.” However, the Travel Director had already been won over by Deborah’s charm, home and delicious dishes. This was the authentic experience that guests needed. Since then, she has welcomed thousands of Insight guests to her Roman home.


“All my life I was used to studying, so doing a formal cookery certification was a logical next step for me,” Deborah explains, “I don’t want to work in a restaurant; I simply want to share my love of cooking with other people.” Now she runs courses for adults and children in her kitchen beneath a disco ball, classes “full of pasta, wine and song.”


Deborah makes a point of meeting the guests outside, excited to learn about each one and introduce them to her home. She listens to the travel guide stories about each guest, so she can adapt the level of interaction required based on the group. “My daughter is a qualified sommelier, so she makes sure the Montepulciano or Trebbiano D’Abruzzo is always topped up, and my son helps out too. We share local traditions and stories from my grandmother’s farm kitchen, where I began making fresh pasta at the age of 3.”

Deborah is full of warmth and fascinating facts as she serves homemade pepperoni pizza, saltimbocca or meatballs and her zucchini and pesto lasagne. Her collection of ornamental frogs is a unique talking point and Deborah is an endlessly entertaining host, visibly passionate and engaged with her guests.

Join Deborah for an authentic Roman dining experience on the Easy Pace Italy tour.

Alex is the Editor of Insightful, and has over 10 years' experience as a writer and editor within the travel industry. In his professional travels, he has been all over the world – from road-tripping in Australia and New Zealand, to eating his way around the Canadian Maritimes and criss-crossing Italy from Sardinia to Emilia-Romagna.