Kate Little-Paradiso, Sales and Client Management, has been with the Bella Vita team since 2009. Originally collaborating with Megan as a tour guide in the Cinque Terre, as well as a Sommelier offering wine tastings, Kate’s first client trip (“an extensive wine tour around northern Italy- amazing!”) was in 2011 and she’s been with the team ever since.
We spoke to Kate about her journey with Bella Vita, her travel journey, and what a typical day-in-the-life looks like in her world.
First up, what started your love of travel?
“My family always stressed the importance of study, travel, and discovering new cultures.
My earliest memories of wanderlust were sparked by my grandmother’s stories of traveling around Europe during the 1920s when she was studying in France. My curiosity, fueled by my family’s support, led me to leave for university in England a couple of months after my high school graduation in 1987.
Europe was far more than I expected it to be and after almost two years in London, a few months in Spain, and a good deal of backpacking through Europe, I ended up on the Italian Riviera where I’ve lived since 1989.”
What’s it like being on the Bella Vita Travels team?
“It’s exciting to be able to share your passion with people you genuinely enjoy being with. Everyone in Bella Vita is not only a colleague but more importantly a friend, people that I love being with even off the job.
Each of us brings something different to the table: a particular interest or expertise, a style of travel, a favorite region… etc., so working together creates a great dynamic of talent, enthusiasm, creativity, and fun.”
How do you balance work and leisure?
“During our busy season, when I have clients on trips in Europe, I am on call practically 24/7, and I do take that responsibility very seriously.
Luckily, all of the planning done before the trip and our amazing trustworthy suppliers guarantee that we very rarely run into issues in which I need to intervene.
I am very fortunate to live on one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world (have you heard of the Cinque Terre?) and being outside relaxes me. Hiking with my dogs or spending a couple of hours in the afternoon on the boat with my son and husband get me back in balance.
Ironically though, I do have to go to the cities once every month or six weeks to get a culture-fix. I almost always walk out of an art museum feeling refreshed.”
“My mornings start with a large cup of coffee and a to-do list – very American!
After I figure out the priorities of the day, I get to work on whatever needs to be taken care of. Usually that includes a long list of emails, research for client trips, budgets, proposals, itineraries, etc. During the winters, when we have fewer clients on trips, I focus on destination research, business development, and planning the trips for the following year.
I try and get a good 6-8 hours of work in the mornings before my teenage son comes home from school at 3:15pm starving.
In the late afternoons, I transform into a classic Italian mamma. I love to cook and my husband and son love to eat, so meals are a very important part of our family life.
Living in Italy, our lives are very much based around the seasons: In the fall we forage for mushrooms, in the spring we’ll hunt asparagus, and in the summer we are busy taking care of our very large vegetable garden.
In the afternoons, we’ll hike, spend time in the garden or go out on the boat to catch some fish for dinner. Sundays are spent with friends and on the rugby field watching my son’s games!”
Favorite part of the job:
“There are a lot of things I love about the job!
Traveling for research and getting to meet our clients is an obvious perk. Crafting specialized trips is extremely gratifying- we’re making people’s dreams come true. Clients write us with a foggy idea of a perfect honeymoon, marriage proposal, family trip, relaxing vacation, etc., and it’s up to me to make that idea a reality – but better.
Afterwards, when my clients (by now friends) write me that they had the best trip of their life, and that the experiences were unforgettable, I love it. The whole process of getting to know a client and figure out what the magic ingredients are to make the trip amazing is both a challenge as well as immensely satisfying.”
Favorite working memory:
“That’s a hard one… All of the positive feedback that I get from my clients is wonderful, especially when a special event like a proposal, honeymoon, or anniversary is involved. It’s difficult to pick just one!”
Favorite thing to do:
“I’m by nature extremely curious so discovering anything new – be it a city, a novel, a recipe, a hiking path, an emotion brought about in a museum or beautiful view, a language, meeting a new person – excites me.
Eating a great meal and enjoying wine, especially with good company, is also on the top of my list.”
Favorite place to be:
“Put me under the sun and surrounded by saltwater and I’m happy. It really doesn’t matter where (but Puglia and Sardegna would be top choices!).”
Favorite place you’ve been with Bella Vita:
“I have an embarrassing secret that I only tell people when they are hesitant about visiting one of my very favorite cities – I used to hate Venice.
I visited Venice in the 80s and 90s a handful of times and never appreciated its beauty or uniqueness.
One year, before I started working with Bella Vita Travels, Megan and I were attending the Vinitaly Wine Fair in Verona together and we made an impromptu decision to spend a night in Venice just for fun. In less than 18 hours, I fell in love with the city and since then go as often as I can.
Though I’ve been to many amazing places and had countless unforgettable experiences thanks to Bella Vita, I would have to say that having Megan reintroduce me to Venice has been the most invaluable.”
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