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Valentina Valentini

Journalist

Location icon United Kingdom

I am a freelance journalist who was based in Los Angeles for eight years writing about the entertainment industry for the likes of Vanity Fair, Variety, Vulture and other publications of that ilk (not all beginning with V).

Three years ago, I put my belongings in storage and began the life of a digital nomad, writing personal essays, travel pieces, cultural and human interest stories and adventurous tales. Now, I've hung up my nomadic shoes and am living in London completing my Masters in Creative Nonfiction. I still travel around Europe and chase stories as much as possible because, let's be honest, the travel bug never does go away.

I am also a copywriter and producer when the right situation calls for it.

Portfolio

Travel

Ensemble Vacations
11/01/2018
Luxuriate in Lake Como

A day at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo - spas, pools and all the food

AFAR Media
02/07/2019
The History and Mysteries of Lake Como's Most Romantic Hotel

A century ago, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo was the backdrop for some of Lake Como's most fantastic love stories-romances that some guests recorded in heartfelt letters. At one point, some of these letters-penned by various authors-were hidden in the walls and only rediscovered in the 1970s behind nearly a century of wallpaper and renovations.

Bbc
09/17/2017
Portugal's mansion of intriguing guests

When I heard the knock on my bedroom door, I was in my 50-shades-of-purple room at Casa Grande in Burgau, Portugal - a quirky bed-and-breakfast run by the quirkier matriarch, Sally Vincent, who expatriated from England 40 years prior. I was moping, chin on elbows, gazing out of the wood-panelled window at the bougainvillea drooping overhead.

The Independent
09/11/2017
Eight of the most extreme back-to-nature hotels

These days, a bed, clean sheets and a mini bar aren't enough to impress; modern travellers are searching for the most unique getaway, an "experience" that really kicks their trip up a gear. Glamping has gone from a niche way to spend a night in the woods to a multimillion-pound industry, while Airbnb has opened the door to a range of quirky sleeping opportunities worldwide.

Marriott Traveler
01/23/2016
Why Sam Neill is Addicted to Getting on Airplanes

Out of his isolated roots in New Zealand, Sam Neill has emerged as a multifaceted actor, able to tackle villainous roles ("The Piano," "The Tudors"), heroic ones ("Jurassic Park"), and those in between ("Peaky Blinders") with the same aplomb. A self-ascribed travel addict, Neill has worked in nearly three dozen countries and seems keen on upping that number.

The Independent
04/03/2017
How to save hundreds of pounds on flights, according to an expert

Scott Keyes has saved his followers a lot of money. In the past 18 months, he reckons, he's helped them save around £20m on flights alone. He's the king of cheap and "mistake" air fares, flagging deals to his followers that can get them across oceans and continents for the price of a domestic train ticket.

Mashable
09/01/2015
These digital nomads are going to sail the world while they work

Imagine facing another day of work on your computer, full of Skype meetings, email threads and spreadsheets. But instead of rolling out of bed and trucking it to the office, you slide the curtains aside - and gaze upon the open sea and azure sky.

Departures
Top Scuba Diving Sites Around the World

As anyone who's ever glimpsed under the earth's watery surface knows, there's a whole new world to explore down below. Dive deeper, and it's a universe unlike anything ever seen on land. Deeper still, and its only what the most lurid dreams are made of.

Bbc
10/23/2016
Where gravediggers drank their pints

As the photographer snapped the shutter, the man drinking a pint of Guinness in the front booth of John Kavanagh "The Gravediggers" pub held a newspaper up over his face, annoyed. "Oh no," said Anne Kavanagh, the front-of-house manager. "Don't take pictures of the locals. They don't like it."

Evening Standard
10/20/2017
New Orleans: how to do The Big Easy like a local

On my last night in New Orleans I found myself in Tremé with neighbourhood residents, barbecueing on a vacant lot next to the Candlelight Lounge. I'd gone there to catch a rotating cast of brass-band musicians who play every Wednesday night, and sometimes on Mondays.

Atlas Obscura
10/29/2018
How a Dublin Pub Became a Haunt for Gravediggers and Ghosts Alike

Tales of spirits, the afterlife, and the paranormal are often passed down from generation to generation. Through recounting these stories, myth can get entangled in fact and vice versa, and can eventually make up a reality that we're both eager to hear and take part in.

Food & Drink

Heated
06/18/2019
'I Felt Like I Lost My City'

Famous Syrian restaurateur who fled Damascus four years ago is about to open up his first London location Imad Alarnab holds his hands to his chest, crossed at his heart, when he recalls his life in Damascus. "I felt like I lost my city," he says as we sit on a bench outside a posh coffee shop off Carnaby Street in central London.

Munchies
10/03/2017
Inside Vladimir Poutine, Montreal's Dictator-Themed Restaurant

This year, Montreal has been celebrating its 375th anniversary (i.e. when it was "discovered" by white people) with multimedia installations, concerts, free events and official ceremonies throughout the city. It's a gorgeous town, with the culture of London and the romance of Paris and the food of New York all mashed together.

Evening Standard
11/09/2017
Montréal is fast becoming the food capital of North America

NYC for a foodie break? Not so fast. Montréal is an hour closer to home, has more restaurants per capita than New York, and has stolen back one top chef from the Big Apple. Direct flights from London take seven-and-a-half hours and it celebrated its 375th anniversary this year.

United Airlines Magazines
Uncorked: How Green Is My Valley?

Sustainable architecture doesn't typically come cheap, but Duncan is quick to explain that Silver Oak examined the "life cost" of the building when considering various green solutions. "Installing solar panels is an upfront expense that we think will be paid back in three or four years," he says.

Munchies
08/11/2017
How a 14-Year-Old Carton of Expired Milk Became Part of My Friend's Family

Toutes les photos sont de l'auteur. It was late summer 2003 when Nick Guth and Brett Monteleone decided to clean out their refrigerator. The two Louisiana State University seniors were a typical pair of bachelors, so it was only natural that there were unidentified specimens of foodstuff and a few half-finished milk cartons in there.

The Independent
09/26/2017
How to feed an entire holiday resort - without ruining the planet

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta resort, just north of Puerto Vallarta on the west side of Mexico, is a sprawling vista of lush riverbeds peppered with impeccable landscaping of indigenous plant life. The half-dozen hotels on the property - connected via miles of wood-decked paths - provide luxury accommodation to more than 3,000 mostly American and Mexican guests.

thrillist
01/25/2017
Secrets of Chipotle, Revealed by an Ex-Manager

Eating at Chipotle's about as straightforward as fast-casual gets. You stand at an assembly line and tell somebody what you want. They put it in a burrito or bowl. You get pissed about paying extra for guac. You then pay for guac. You eat. Done.

GOOD Magazine
08/16/2016
A Walk Along England's Curry Row

The young waiter, in a purple button-up and matching tie, stood over our table at Tandoori International listing off the specials in the typical thick South Shields "Geordie" accent, as the vernacular of the northeast is known. I asked how to spell the dish that I'd decided on, in order to keep notes on the meal.

GOOD Magazine
08/11/2016
Real Whiskey Is Coming Back To Dublin After 125 Years

Teeling Whiskey, run by brothers Stephen and Jack Teeling, is the first distillery to produce the liquor in Dublin in more than a century. Yes, you read that right: The political, financial and cultural hub of Ireland-the city that put whiskey on the world map in the 18th century-hasn't actually produced whiskey since 1942, and hasn't had a distillery open in over 125 years.

thrillist
08/08/2016
Cow by Bear, San Diego's Strangest Pop-Up, Has Its Own Short Doc Series

After they met, Bear ended up inviting Evans to a dinner and became quick friends. It was unusual that Bear, who is totally a bear and totally not a human who cooks in a bear costume, became so friendly with Evans -- typically, he evades the spotlight, going to great lengths to conceal himself, and is not one to reveal his inner self to most (his background has been a well-kept secret).

Personal Essays

Longreads
08/21/2019
Riding the Highs and Lows with My Mom

I hadn't wanted to go up there in the first place. Topanga Canyon only seems fun when you're with hip Angelenos who say, "Let's do something different this weekend," like they invented being different. But my mom was in town - as she often is, despite living across the country in Massachusetts - and, in her words, needed to get out.

Medium
Three Bottles of Wine with Jurassic Park's Sam Neill

"I would be a turkey," Sam Neill says to me as we sip his own label of pinot noir. I had asked him about naming his farm animals after famous people - his friends who have consented, he assures me...

Longreads
04/06/2018
A Clarifying Dose of Reality (TV)

After 16 hours, 5 hot dogs, 2 nacho bowls, 3 sodas, and 20,000 people, I felt more like an idiot than an idol. *** Walking down the steps to Qualcomm Stadium's field level, I wondered how I'd gotten there.

latimes.com
04/09/2016
I was sure I was flirt-texting with The One. Until he saw me on Instagram

It would be a small wedding. Nothing gaudy or over-the-top. Maybe we'd even elope. Admittedly, we'd only been texting for 24 hours, but I was sure this was The One. It began at a celeb-studded non-event in Beverly Hills the evening before with a few other journalist friends.

latimes.com
07/22/2017
When I became the boss, he broke up with me

"Who went on the roof?!" I screamed. We were just a couple hours into our 12-hour day of shooting my boyfriend's music video at a warehouse east of downtown Los Angeles. I had used all of my connections to get the best people onboard, and it was a $30,000 project that I was getting done for $3,000.

latimes.com
01/27/2017
How I figured out I was dating a drug dealer

There's a picture of me from that night - with a giant panda head on. I should have known then what I was in for, but that's half the fun - or torture - of growing up, isn't it? The not knowing what we know now; the hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Refinery29
12/01/2016
In Defense Of Having A Much Younger Boyfriend

My friends and family have always gotten giddy when I've told them about a new love interest. They want to hear all about him and how we met. And when I tell them about my current boyfriend, and the saucy, yet sweet, tale of how our holidays in Portugal collided and a transatlantic relationship ensued, they practically swoon.

Entertainment

Shondaland
09/19/2019
An Ode to 'Downton Abbey,' Clichés and All

As a veracious fan of all things British - upper class, lower class, teatime, royals, you name it (I even moved to the U.K. just to be closer to their kind) - I was, perhaps more than most, eagerly awaiting the trailer for the Downton Abbey movie.

Vulture
08/14/2019
Yvonne Strahovski Knows Why Handmaid's Tale Fans Love to Hate Serena

Spoilers below for The Handmaid's Tale season three. Yvonne Strahovski had been getting roles as silly spies (she played CIA Agent Sarah Walker on Chuck for five seasons) and serious agents (Hannah McKay on Dexter in 2013 and Kate Morgan on 24: Live Another Day the following year), when the chance to play "the woman behind the man" with 2015's The Astronaut Wives Club came along.

Shondaland
05/21/2019
Our Newest #MeToo Ally: Anne Lister of HBO's 'Gentleman Jack'

For those of us not entirely ensconced in all things Game of Thrones, HBO's newest show, Gentleman Jack, is serving up a different degree of period drama. The series follows the later years of the real-life Anne Lister - fiercely portrayed by British actress Suranne Jones - a 41-year-old landowner running her family's coal business with full financial control over their 400-acre estate.

Vulture
03/26/2019
Don't Rule Out a Taika Waititi Cameo in What We Do in the Shadows

Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi talks about the technicalities of filming vampires, why he thinks that the British have "better comedy" than Americans, and whether his What We Do in the Shadows character might wind up on the new FX comedy.

Documentary Magazine
02/05/2019
Peak Performance: 'Free Solo' Tests the Wills of Filmmakers and Protagonist Alike

Documentary filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband, climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin, haven't been making movies together for all that long. But you wouldn't know it when talking to them, as their synchronicity is acute, even over a conference call with each of them in different locations.

Pacific Standard
04/20/2018
How Hollywood Can Put More Women Behind the Camera

In March, Rachel Morrison attended the Oscars as the first-ever woman nominated in the cinematography category for her work on Netflix's Mudbound. The week before the awards, Wired celebrated her achievement on Black Panther as the first woman to film a Marvel feature, calling Morrison a " superhero."

HWD
08/30/2017
Narcos Season 3's Spoiled Villain Gives King Joffrey a Run for His Money

If you want to test your acting chops, try playing a flamboyant, amiable millennial drug dealer and the spoiled, incompetent, entitled son of a Colombian drug lord at the same time. Arturo Castro did just that last year, when the 31-year-old was simultaneously filming both Netflix's dark, dramatic Narcos and the decidedly sunnier Broad City.

HWD
12/05/2016
Take a Peek Inside Jackie Kennedy's Closet

Dressing one of the most iconic fashion figures of the 20th century might seem like a daunting task, but for costume designer Madeline Fontaine-who has created spectacular looks for films like Amélie and Yves Saint Laurent-Jackie was just another exciting challenge.

Entertainment Tonight
06/11/2015
Meet Director Colin Trevorrow, 'Jurassic World's New Alpha

Most of us remember exactly where we were when Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park opened in 1993. For me, it was the day school got out and I was holding the sweaty hand of Johnny Parker in the sixth row of the Calvin Theater while Mom chaperoned a few rows behind.

HWD
02/09/2017
Why Colin Hanks Turned to a Painful Story for His Second Documentary

Colin Hanks was in New York City for the Tribeca Film Festival when he decided to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum last April. "What really resonated with me-the thing that made me break down in tears in public-were the little details," he tells Vanity Fair via FaceTime.

HWD
09/14/2016
Ruth Wilson Navigates Shades of Gray, On and Off of The Affair

In over a decade of film and television work, Ruth Wilson has played characters named Alice or Alison no less than four times-on the British series Freezing, three seasons of the BBC's celebrated Luther, Showtime's ongoing The Affair, and, finally, in the new movie Dark River.

Vanity Fair
01/23/2016
Yes, There Is Room for Two O.J. Simpson Miniseries

Around the second episode of O.J.: Made in America, you may think to yourself, "Not much has changed in 22 years." Football players are still American heroes, celebrity scandals monopolize the media, black people are still being unfairly shot, prosecuted and persecuted, and rich people still get away with... murder?

Variety
11/19/2014
Black List Celebrates 10 Years as Haven for Screenwriters

In a business where the highest praise is often reserved for directors and stars, the Black List aims to be a haven for writers - an archive where the creators of concept, characters and content are given their due. This story first appeared in the November 18, 2014 issue of Variety.

Mashable
01/29/2015
Sundance Valley or Silicon Film Festival? Either way, it's getting there

PARK CITY, Utah - It's been a while since Sundance was just about buying and selling movies, and as much as film purists may hate to admit it, technology companies have staked out a big swath of Park City real estate in the past few years - particularly in areas that are most relevant to up-and-coming filmmakers.

HWD
10/06/2016
Johnny Simmons Finds His Footing

After dozens of roles as "that kid you recognize but can't remember his name" in films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World , and Robert Redford's The Conspirator, Johnny Simmons is breaking big.

Boston Magazine
07/13/2015
John Cena Embraces His Comedic Side in 'Trainwreck'

(It's never a good idea to start off a story with a cliché, but bear with me a moment.) Don't judge a book by its cover. (It's also never a good idea to start off a story with hyperbole. Again, indulge me.) Never has this been truer than with WWE wrestler and actor John Cena.

Vulture
06/16/2015
Orange Is the New Black's Matt McGorry on Why Bennett Wants to Be a Hero But Can't

Matt McGorry - now a household name because of his roles as Officer Bennett on Orange Is the New Black and Asher Millstone on How to Get Away With Murder - premiered a film, How He Fell in Love, this week at the Los Angeles Film Festival in which he's a quiet and sad romantic lead entangled in a love affair with a married woman.

Fast Company
05/15/2015
Refinery29 Already Has 25 Million Fans, Now It Wants To Win At Sundance

The lower Manhattan Refinery29 office in spring is the real-life equivalent of the lifestyle company's website. It's all whites and pastels, women everywhere in fashion-forward looks, a buzz in the air that makes a visitor want to be part of this world. But don't be fooled by the dreamy surroundings: There is hard work being done here.

Culture & Sports

ESPN.com
See what it's like behind the wheel of an iconic monster truck

Krysten Anderson, 21, has rounded out her first year as a professional Monster Jam truck driver with Grave Digger as her chariot. Her story is one of legacy: Anderson's father, Dennis, is the creator and original driver of Grave Digger -- one of the most iconic monster trucks in the world.

Playboy
08/03/2017
The ACLU's Defense of John Oliver is Freakin' Hilarious

On July 21, late night talk show host John Oliver had a defamation of character lawsuit brought against him and HBO - who airs his weekly satirical news hour, Last Week Tonight - by West Virginia coal baron Bob Murray.

Sports
05/04/2018
The Weekend Warriors Taking Women's Motocross to the Next Level

Photo by Marque McMasters The dirt bike scene held its first female-focused motocross race 44 years ago with the Powder Puff Nationals in Valencia, California. Since then, other professional and amateur competitions have been added alongside the male competitions, like at the X Games, the Loretta Lynns, the WMX championship series and the Endurocross series.

Vice
09/22/2017
How the Cinematographer of 'Transparent' Captures the Female Gaze

Jim Frohna on the set of I Love Dick. Image courtesy Amazon "We look forward to another season of comedy and drama, love and weirdness, God and sex-in the service of community and in pursuit of peace, joy, freedom and human rights for all," Jill Soloway, creator of the hit Amazon show Transparent, said when announcing their fifth season pick-up last month.

Vice
Rural Film Festivals Are the Next Frontier of LGBTQ Tolerance

In the fall of 2015, in tiny Lewisburg, West Virginia, Tim Ward and Jon Matthews were gearing up for the second annual Appalachian Queer Film Festival (AQFF for short). Their mission was both simple and profound: to broaden hearts and minds, to change stereotypical perceptions of West Virginians, and to shed light on what it means to be queer in a rural community.

VICE Sports
07/12/2016
Meet the Three-Year-Old Skater Sponsors Are Already Sending Gear | VICE Sports

Three-year-old Athen Camacho is quite possibly the youngest sponsored skateboarder in the world. Right now, he's sitting on the cement crying, because his father, Tony, won't let him try an ollie five-stair without a helmet. "I'd rather hear him crying and whining all day then end up in the hospital," he said.

VICE Sports
03/29/2016
The Drone Racing Gold Rush | VICE Sports

Inside the abandoned Hawthorne Plaza Mall in L.A., about 15 minutes from LAX, the buzz of drones echoed eerily through the 900,000-square-foot space. The cool cement and floor-to-ceiling nets-designed to catch errant drones-made the place feel like a dystopian war zone.

GOOD Magazine
05/23/2016
The Vigilante Pastor

Every day, Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko fights two wars. He tries to keep the Russian Army at bay from taking over his Ukranian home of Mariupol, and he tries to save children living in the streets from a life of drugs and inevitable death.

Los Angeles Magazine
08/12/2015
Why a Bunch of English Expats in the Film Industry Formed a Soccer Club - Los Angeles Magazine

The UFP is an eclectic mix of directors, screenwriters, two pro soccer players, and an heir to the British throne Photograph by Chris Baldwin Body slams, broken ribs, concussions, and connections It's an early Saturday morning in Santa Monica, and 22 soccer players, half of them in red shirts, the other half in white, race down a field of artificial turf.

Copywriting & Sponsored Content

JPMorgan Chase's News & Stories
08/19/2015
Emmy Nominations Usher in a New Era of Content

67th Emmy® nominations ceremony, of which JPMorgan is a sponsor. Present at ceremony, interviews after and use of original research to create a newsy and short piece.

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