Dave Quinn
November 15, 2017 10:32 AM

Diann Valentine has a secret for black women looking for love: go to Italy.

The author and love expert has been taking single black women to the boot-shaped country for years, where she says Italian men celebrate and adore women of color. And next year on Bravo, she’ll be taking five women — including Down Home with the Neelys star Gina Neely — to Rome and documenting their journey on the new Bravo series, To Rome for Love. 

PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at the docu-series, which also features Shay Atkins, Nakita McGraw, Ashley Russell, and Mercedes Young.

“Rome is one of the most magical places in the world,” Valentine says in the trailer. “It has great food, amazing architecture, old world charm and fine Italian men. I’ve been in the business of love for over 20 years and my team and I have been taking women struggling with finding love in the states to Rome for years where they can let their walls down and simply be themselves.”

Sharunda Atkins, Ashley Russell, Mercedes Young, Diann Valentine, Nakita McGraw, and Gina Neely
Bravo

Valentine will use her years of experience in the relationship space to help them move beyond the stigmas and stereotypes black women face in the United States. She’ll be joined by her two assistants — D. Micah Lindsey, who offers a strong male perspective, and Christine “Cece” Counts, a woman of Italian heritage who helps curate dates and vet Rome’s most eligible bachelors.

“It’s about them figuring out who they are and what they want out of love,” Valentine says of the show.

That process won’t be easy, especially for 52-year-old Neely who admits in the trailer, “This wasn’t the life I planned for me.”

She appears to be referencing her shocking split from her childhood sweetheart Pat, whom she divorced 3 years ago. The former couple’s 20-year marriage started to crumble when they first started working together on their Food Network show, which debuted in 2008 and famously showed the pair being constantly affectionate.

Pat and Gina Neely
Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

“Pat is not a bad guy, he’s just not for me. I didn’t want to divorce my husband but it became necessary do it in order for me to be my best self,” Neely, who shares one daughter with Pat and has another from a previous marriage, said on OWN’s Where Are They Now? in October 2016, adding that they had different expectations. “He felt like we didn’t spend enough time together. I felt like we did and we needed a little space.”

While she may have wanted space then, Neely doesn’t seem to be embracing Valentine’s process on To Rome for Love.

“I’m not convinced that you’re really invested,” Valentine tells Neely at one point in the trailer.

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And Neely won’t be the only one experiencing the drama — elsewhere in the clip, Russell appears to be hiding a man in the decadent villa where they reside. The other ladies, meanwhile, share their own fears as they work to get past their emotional baggage and open up for a chance of love.

At least one lady of the bunch is successful, exclaiming, “I think I may have finally found my Italian stallion.”

To Rome for Love premieres Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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