Even before she first moved from Sierra Leone to the United States at the age of thirteen, Fatima Diab dreamt of becoming a doctor and taking care of children. Today, she is an in-patient pediatrician at a community hospital in Richmond, and her husband Michele Nasti is a restaurant consultant who also runs an online store of authentic Italian food products. Together, they manage to juggle their busy professional schedules and still make time for the things they love: travel, spending time with family, and sharing wonderful food.
“When you first start out medicine, you have the attitude that you have to keep going at all costs, whether you’re sacrificing family time, friendships, or your own personal well-being,” Fatima says. “But ten years later, I have more flexibility to enjoy the little things in life. I’ve learned not to take work home with me.”
To help them relax and recharge, Fatima and Michele have transformed their home into a peaceful sanctuary. After major renovations, they began renting out their basement apartment on Airbnb which led them to discover an unexpected side job. In addition to hosting accommodations in their renovated basement suite, they also offer 2 types of AirBns experiences a pizza experience and tiramisu experience.
“I was looking for ways to use the room when we didn’t have guests staying, and I discovered Airbnb Experiences online,” recalls Fatima. “I had the idea to create an authentic Italian cooking class led by Michele, and we ended up being one of the first Airbnb Experience Hosts in our area.”
As part of their Airbnb experience, the couple welcomes guests into their home where Michele takes them through a hands-on Italian cooking tutorial. Afterwards, they enjoy the fruits of their labor by sharing a meal with their guests. “It’s a very intimate setting,” describes Fatima. “At first, you’re talking to these strangers in your house, and then after two or three hours these strangers feel like friends.”
This unique Airbnb Experience has provided a meaningful way to meet new people and share Michele’s craft. But, as Fatima notes, it’s also a lot of work: “Every year, I make a point to take time off for a two or three-week vacation, usually in Italy where we visit Michele’s family. I still work a lot of twelve-hour shifts, and I volunteer to work holidays, but it’s all so I have time to travel, spend time with family, and celebrate special occasions.” This year, Michele and Fatima are looking forward to celebrating their ten-year anniversary in Italy!