I remember the feeling of excitement and wonder as I met new people, tried new foods, and participated in different holidays and traditions. I especially enjoyed introducing my friends and families to the many new and wonderful places that I came to know and love. I would fantasize about taking people on tours so they could experience the fun and sense of adventure that I so enjoyed.
The first time I traveled to Europe, I flew to Bulgaria with family to discover my sister-in-law’s native country. It was so beautiful and so different than my Indiana home! We journeyed through large cities and small mountain towns. Private guides took our family into southern Greece where we basked in the history of ancient ruins, walked in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, and lolled in the Mediterranean Sea. The language, the customs, the food were so rich and diverse. I felt so alive, so connected to humanity.
In 2015, I was 50 years old, working for a global automotive company, and attending graduate school. I had the opportunity study in Italy as part of an immersive communications program. Fifteen of us found ourselves in Cagli, Italy. The lovely citizens of this small, medieval town in the Apennine Mountains embraced us as we immersed ourselves in their customs, celebrations and daily lives. The fast pace of American life met the measured timeliness of the rural Italian countryside.
And the experience changed me.
I knew then I wanted to introduce others to this type of experience. I returned to Italy two years in a row for extended stays. I learned to drink espresso like a local, cool off in mountain streams in the heat of a summer afternoon, and appreciate the tradition of passeggiata, when my Italian friends stroll to their town piazza for aperitivo and good conversation.
I visited the East Coast of Spain in Christmas of 2016 and New Year 2017. The beauty of Barcelona touched my heart, while the seaside village of Tarragona offered a peaceful retreat in the December off-season. Valencia charmed me and I fell in love with the city’s walkability and delicious tapas and paella.
In late 2017 I took my future husband on a custom-designed three-week itinerary through four regions of Italy. We feasted in the mountain top village of Castello Frontone. We sampled neighborhood delights during Cagli’s Palio dell’Oca renaissance festival. Traveling north we lazily explored Cinque Terre and the delightful botanical gardens in Lake Maggiore and the Borromeo Islands.
Immersing into local cultures, taking the time to explore the world’s hidden gems – these became the gifts I wanted to share with others. This dream became a reality in 2020, when I founded Brava Adventures. I so look forward to helping you design your unique journey!