When did you tell yourself the last time that you actually wanted to spend more time on this one particular and uplifting hobby? Giulio, ‘a 40 years old kid’ from Piemonte, the region where the Italian unification started, simply turned his passion into a startup company – with increasing success. Besides his career as marketing and sales manager, he founded IChooseItalia in 2015, aiming to promote Italy’s rich culture and hidden beauty that an average tourist might never get to see. Immerse with now us in the inspiring story behind this project and receive travel tips for Italy that only a pro as him and his ambassadors can give to us!
HTD: Giulio, every time we see a post of IChooseItalia on Facebook, we get itchy feet right away. There you publish even several times a day pictures of particular(ly beautiful) spots in Italy. Can you tell us a bit more about the story and the aims of your project?
Well, first of all let me thank you and your passionate readers for giving me the opportunity to speak about our baby, who was born almost a year ago, on June 2nd, 2015.
5 passionate founders (a young girl and 4 boys) contributed to the foundation of IChooseItalia. It was one of those typical Italian nights: midsummer, warm breeze, a village festival was going on, street food, red wine and all those bucolic ingredients… Our common passion for travelling and for beauty suggested us to concentrate our free time on a new project, to show the rest of the world that Roma, Firenze, Venezia and Milano are just a little part of 1000 treasures that you can find, when choosing Italia for vacation or simply a week-end.
We needed to take a step ahead in order to show and spread our passion as well as our love for Italy, starting from local, unknown beauties. Everybody knows Italy and of course most of the people love it, but when it comes to make a choice, so many people simply don’t know the other 75% of its hidden pearls – and go elsewhere. That’s the reason for IChooseItalia: If you know ‘it all’, you love it more and therefore, you choose it! Our mission is to create a community made of Italy lovers and choosers, but at the same time, we wish to enable a great number of tourism players, to get prepared and ready to welcome and satisfy more and more visitors.
HTD: What is your long-term aim for and with IChooseItalia?
We think that one of the reasons why Italy has to be chosen is because it is not only a country, but also a state of mind: You don’t buy a product, but a real experience, a way of living, even though temporarily. Our social networking (on Facebook and Instagram) will have to increase “Italy awareness”, especially for local and less known locations. This will finally also increase the number of satisfied new travelers that will also be our first ambassadors towards their friends back home.
HTD: What do you perceive as difficult by running such a project? What would you recommend to somebody who also wants to turn a passion into a more professional activity?
Along with Lucia, Cristiano, Gabriele and Andrea we decided to create our own company first and to work then on a business plan, focusing on our passion first and not necessarily on money; Walt Disney used to say “The difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline”. And so we did it, even though every one of us had its own job. The most difficult thing is to find the time to develop the ‘IChooseItalia idea’, but it’s so cool and satisfactory to work on your passions! So my suggestion is that “life is too short to waste it on a wrong job”! So if you can turn a passion into a job, go for it!
HTD: What can you recommend us for our next trip to Italy – from a geographic, culinary and cultural point of view?
Wow, that’s a very nice question! How many episodes do I have? Let me tell you, dear HTD, that I can give you some specific suggestions – but, and this is the essence of IChooseItalia, every single pic you find on our Facebook page can easily be turned into a two/three night trip experience in Italy. The choice is up to our followers and your readers.
Firstly, my advice is to consider every village or small city as a new book, a new story… – You open it and start reading, page after page.. But your feelings and your state of mind will influence your attitude and your mood, as well as the book itself. And here I give you five, out of hundreds examples:
Siena and Montalcino, in Tuscany. Imagine: spring time, nice weather, great food and terrific wine, I would suggest such a trip to couples or small groups; you’ll love the atmosphere, the golden bricks, gentle hills, unusual panoramas. This is the scene, but then it all depends on the traveler’s attitude! That’s the magic part of my country, just enter the painting and you can be part of it!
Lecce and its neighborhoods, pearl of Salento, in Puglia, extreme South East. This land is unbelievable: you can go swimming and relaxing, both in the Adriatic and in Ionic Sea, but you can also take cooking lessons in specialized ancient villas, or discover how extra virgin olive oil is made, or finally discover architectural masterpieces of “barocco salentino”.
Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, three spectacular and very well-organized areas in Piemonte, where you can visit vineyards, old borghi such as Alba, famous for truffles. You will easily find typical fairs and cultural events and sleep in gorgeous luxury SPA hotels or bed & breakfasts, also called agriturismi.
Marche is a region very well prepared to receive travelers from abroad and shows the magic of terrific and still wild nature, great food tradition and wonderful evidences of medieval and Rinascimento art and culture: Urbino, Loreto, Fabriano, Ascoli, Recanati and may others.
Sicilia is also a must; as part of the ancient Magna Grecia, you can still find unbelievable memories from the past: there are at least 4 temples in a very good shape – in Agrigento, Segesta and Selinunte; cities like Catania, Siracusa, Noto and Modica are 5 stars destinations.
All the other regions (there are 20 in Italy) have hundreds of reasons to be chosen as well, but there will be other occasions for you, I hope! Let me just take down a few suggestions: Civita di Bagnoregio and Circeo in Lazio, Cinque Terre in Liguria, Mantova, Bergamo and Como in Lombardia, Ischia and Costiera Amalfitana in Campania, Emilia Romagna and its food-cultural district of Parma and Bologna. Also the North-East of Italy has such a great concentration of beautiful places: Padova, Treviso and Verona but also smaller towns such as Cittadella, Castelfranco, Oderzo, Portogruaro and Grado, Aquileia, Udine and its majesty, Trieste.
HTD: Your favorite spot in your home country..?
Tough question indeed. I’ll answer using different senses:
- from a romantic point of view I’d say Rome region, Siena and South Sardegna;
- if you’re looking for pure beauty presented ‘in a precise way‘, North East is at the top -though you can easily find “fun-crazy” people;
- to look for nature and tradition, Toscana and Marche are my choice;
- Sicilia and Puglia are my choice in terms of wild and terrific beauty in a more Mediterranean scenario: ladies simply love these regions.
- Milano and Torino – my places to live.
HTD: What needs somebody to know about Italy, who has never been there before?
If you are a Northerner, you’ll most likely simply love our temper, which is certainly more easygoing; Italians are friendly and open to travelers; if you are a girl, be prepared to receive compliments and unconventional whistles, but there is no need for particular worries; just enjoy the atmosphere and recharge your batteries!
HTD: Why is Italy according to you always worth a visit?
Well, culturally speaking, the Romans taught the ancient world, that everyone could become cives romanus (roman citizen), no matter if they were from Romania or from Spain; after being conquered, other populations didn’t become slaves, but citizens; in the same way, a visitor or a traveler coming to Italy is always considered to be part of our country, even though temporarily, and I think this is a great experience and a great sign of hospitality! If you want to be and to live as a local in a country, where style, creativity, music, beauty, design, comfort, taste and tradition are the main passwords, choose Italia, we are waiting for you 😉
HTD: Thank you so much, Giulio, for all these true insider hints, your great advises and the opportunity to know more about your awesome project! Unsurprisingly we got again really itchy feet – and are more than happy to have already chosen Italy for our summer vacation this year! (ger)
Photo credits: Giulio, Gerlinde