News / Ottawa

Ottawa couple giving up 'rat race' to launch Italian tour company

Jake Rupert and Lisa Blais want everyone to see the real side of Italy.

The cascading mountains, the secluded coves and the virtually “untapped paradise” that they say makes up Abruzzo, Italy.

The Ottawa couple has purchased an old Italian villa in the picturesque region and are running an Indiegogo campaign to help start a new tour business that will take travellers on an “authentic” trip though one of Italy’s lesser-known vacation spots.

“Abruzzo is stunningly gorgeous and it’s diverse in its geography,” said Rupert, a former Ottawa Citizen reporter and current City of Ottawa strategist.

Both he and his wife, a federal prosecutor, are giving up their careers, or the “rat race,” as Rupert puts it, for the hospitality, vacation business.

“There are mountains, there are high plateaus and then there are beautiful rolling foothills with wineries and olive groves leading down into this beautiful Adriatic coast…Italians vacation here.”

The couple discovered their own little paradise while digging back through Blais’ family history, which led them to the small coastal village of San Sebastiano. It took just 10 minutes before Blais’ 70-year-old mother was sipping wine with her 93-year-old cousin.

“We heard these crazy stories and we saw people that looked like us and confirmed all the stories that my grandfather had told my mother,” added Blais. “We met 60 second cousins. It’s been really an enriching life experience. We have gone back every year."

They won’t have to go back every year come 2016 when they open Amazing Abruzzo Tours, but they are hoping to raise the final $150K through their online funding campaign.

The tour promises an authentic voyage into the heart of Italian culture – with its high quality wines, its delicious food and its simple way of life.

“We are going to be taking people to local festivals, taking them to local restaurants and villages and basically giving them an authentic Italian experience,” added Rupert.

Donors can take advantage of discounted vacations as rewards if they contribute to the online campaign at several different price points.

There are 36 days left in the campaign and so far, they have raised just over $21,000.

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