Carol Sicbaldi: Centering Experiences Around Food in Italy
January 4, 2020
Growing up, Carol lived on her family's tree farm near the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. Founded by her grandparents ("nonni") who emigrated from Italy in the late 1920s, the tree farm slowly evolved over the years into a nursery with a garden center and flower shop. Her father and one of her brothers eventually took over the business, while Carol decided to venture into tourism in Europe. Read on to learn about her active foodie tours in Italy
What are you currently working on?
I am working on promoting and selling my bespoke active tours Italy. These tours take place in all regions of Italy and are all intentionally centered around food and its origins. This means that on a tour with me, you'll come close to farmers, producers, artisans and local Italians. You'll meet who grew your vegetables and who brought them to the table. It's very personal.
This has led me to creating a series of educational trips for professional nutritionists and dietitians. I am taking that same group to Scandinavia in 2020 to learn all about what is happening with sustainability, fermentation and the recycling of foods in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
After over 20 years of working in active tourism, leading tours and connecting passionate people together is still what excites me the most. My dream is to capture these moments on film as a way to share them with a wider audience.
How was the idea for your business born?
It was a natural evolution for me. My last full-time position was leading educational tours for upper-level buyers and managers at Whole Foods Market. I would take them around Italy to meet producers, while translating and filming the process. This experience made me realize that THIS is exactly what excites me. This was, and always has been, my purpose. I am the host, narrator and protagonist that brings folks up close, front and center to come in contact with the numerous lives and stories that matter.
What has been your boldest career or life change?
I studied film and video and worked in the film industry the first five years after finishing my studies. After some personal adventure travel experiences I decided to take the leap and change careers by volunteering as a receptionist for a well known adventure travel company in San Francisco. And, so my path began. Haven’t looked back since then! My biggest life change would have to be moving to Italy 20 years ago.
How would you like to impact the travel industry?
I think that travelers are already demanding more personal experiences. With the advent of AirB&B and other similar accommodations, people are just wanting more and more of that. My goal from the beginning, and to this day, was to provide my guests with intimate, unique experiences that they’d never discover or have access to on their own. These kind of experiences are so impactful. It's something that involves years of building precious relationships here in Italy!
We all know travel can bring us to unexpectedly * magical * moments . Tell us about one you’ve experienced.
Ah! There are so many and the ones that come to mind are related to misfortunes or intense moments on tours where somehow, someone came to rescue and resolve the situation. Years ago, I was with a female Alpine guide in the Dolomites and while we were hiking a small rock slide happened above us. Most of us were able to get to shelter (in caves, under bigger rocks) but our guide got hit badly on her head. I had to scramble to get help and they had to helicopter her out but the way the group responded and bonded was unforgettable. Living this kind of experience was truly profound.
How are you using what you've been given in life to bring more good to the world? (Or how would you like to?)
I love people and have a natural curiosity. This is a gift, I feel. Bringing people together and connecting their energies is also something I really love.
Can you share your favorite “undiscovered” destination?
I'm really interested in Patagonia, New Zealand and places that offer beautiful and intense experiences in nature. Nature is where I thrive the most and where my best self comes out. Other places of interest include Portugal and walking the Camino de Santiago. Any of the long pilgrimage walks are appealing to me.
In what way(s) are you working on being a better person lately?
Just by being present and sitting with discomfort rather than acting out or avoiding it. Also, just doing my small part on a daily basis to live responsibly and to be kind with others. Kindness and service is so key. This only leads to more love.