Monday, November 18, 2013

Why I Love What I Do…

I consider myself very fortunate. Not everyone can say that they really love their job, but I can! 

When I started my business as a vacation planner a few years ago I based it on a few solid principles:

1) to tap into my capabilities and interests
2) to do something I was truly passionate about
3) to share my knowledge and integrity with others
4) to be my own boss (not a small thing)

It didn’t take long to realize that this was something I REALLY enjoyed doing. Luckily, it also turned out that I was quite good at it!

Organizing tailor-made vacations gives me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of interesting clients, who are a great source of personal enrichment. Locally, I have had the privilege to meet quite a few like-minded people who have since become my closest collaborators. Despite all the difficulties in the industry, there are still passionate individuals out there who are willing to invest a huge part of themselves in what they do, and working with them is inspiring.

Rita at work!
Marilena - my assistant.
Chef Francesco
Ellen (front right) with a great group of clients.

The process of building my business has also taught me a lot about myself. I have learned (or perhaps been reminded) that I am very tenacious. Italy is a wonderful place, but to live here you need to be pretty determined, and quite resilient. Unfortunately, over time you can lose sight of the enchantment, and sometimes risk downright disillusionment. It is a country that will capture your soul and try your nerves with equal intensity. So, it’s no wonder that Italians tend to be creative people - because the “art of getting by” is an essential part of life here. Those of us who have chosen to make it our home have had to become just as resourceful.

I have worked hard to open doors (many of which are often kept locked, because fundamentally many Italians are defiant or skeptical when you approach them initially). In most cases I have first needed to prove myself. There have been challenges, frustrations and setbacks but also moments of great satisfaction and unexpected success. I can honestly say that it has been one of the most exciting times in my life.

As I strive to convey the beauty of Tuscany to others, I am constantly reminded myself of what it was that made me decide to stay. Yes, becoming a full time resident is very different than coming here for a vacation. Daily life anywhere has its difficulties. Yet, if you remember to step back once in a while and practice what you preach, you will realize that you really are living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is this conviction that makes me credible. I am not trying to “sell a product” I don’t believe in. When I plan someone’s itinerary, I put myself in their shoes and work to share with them my own love of the territory and its treasures, so that they can come away with that same special feeling I had when I first discovered this extraordinary place so many years ago. 

Italy is struggling at the moment: with its economy, its national identity, its government. There are many reasons to be concerned. However, if we all try to make our small contribution to find the good and make it better, there is truly unlimited potential here. So, in the bigger scheme of things, this is my tiny effort to help build the image of a place I believe in, which has touched me profoundly and become a part of who I am. Italy does that to people, even when it tests your patience and your stamina; in the end it always works that subtle magic and you are once again under its spell! 

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