Debbie Travis wasn’t looking to get back into television. The DIY star of shows like Debbie Travis’ Painted House, two seasons of From the Ground Up and All For One was burnt out by the medium. But a flippant remark at a speaking engagement in Vancouver almost seven years ago changed all that … and her life.
“I made this stupid story up where I said, ‘I have a villa in Tuscany and I’m going to invite everybody out to stay with me,'” she recalls. “And I didn’t have one. But within a short time, I had women signing up to take part.” She rented a retreat and gave it a shot. It was such a success, Travis decided to buy a property and renovate it so she could offer the experience annually.
That multi-year journey from flippant remark to reality is documented in OWN Canada’s La Dolce Debbie, where she, husband Hans Rosenstein and an army of construction dudes turn a 13th century farmhouse and property into an idyll for themselves and—for part of the year—a week-long haven for women looking to be recharged and inspired. Debuting Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, La Dolce Debbie revisits the exhaustive search to find the perfect property, a trek that took Travis and Rosenstein all over Italy. But discovering a tumbledown farmhouse was just the beginning. It took two years of paperwork and planning before a shovel turned the soil.
The six-episode program isn’t only about transforming a farmhouse into a 14-bedroom oasis. It’s as much a relationship tale about a young model who fell in love with a young man she met in France and the life they built in Canada. Travis commented on more than one occasion that Rosenstein wasn’t supposed to appear in La Dolce Debbie, but I’m glad he does, providing levity and patience when things go wrong and Travis becomes frustrated by bureaucracy and blips in construction.
It’s also, as Travis says, a series about next chapters. Upcoming episodes spotlight several of the women who attend the Tuscan getaways she offers where, as she says, you can “put your handbag under the bed” and everything is included. With responsibilities on hold, real contemplation begins via yoga, hikes, swimming, eating drinking, talking and laughing.
“I wanted to create a space where women can come and empty their minds,” she says. “Women today are looking for that next step in their lives and I want them to come and be spoiled with the best of everything, declutter their minds and think about what’s next.”
And, in the process, find their own dolce vita like Travis did.
La Dolce Debbie airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on OWN Canada.