Chantelle Kern backpacked through Italy after graduating from Brooks Secondary School in Powell River. She fell in love with the country, she said, and not long after with one of its countrymen. She met her future husband Giovanni at University of Victoria. The couple married in Italy in 2014 and moved there the following year. In 2017 they launched culinary and sightseeing tours showcasing Giovanni’s home region of Le Marche.
Are you originally from Powell River?
I am a 100 per cent pure Powell River girl. I was born at the old hospital that used to be located in Townsite and raised in Powell River. Both my parents, my mom's sister, my cousin and my grandparents all still live in Powell River.
After graduation, where did you go and what did you do?
I took a year off, worked at my grandparents’ bakery, saved up and did a solo backpacking trip around Europe. It was during these months that I left my heart in Italy and knew I always wanted to return. Following my six-month stint abroad, I returned to Canada and enrolled at the University of Victoria. I met my husband, Giovanni, in 2004 during my second semester at UVIC.
When did you move to Italy and where are you located?
In 2015 we officially made the move to Italy. We live in Ascoli Piceno, in the Le Marche region.
How did you start your business?
The [idea for the business] was born on our wedding day. We brought together friends and family from all over the world to Italy to experience a slice of our la dolce vita. Each guest at our wedding got to go behind the scenes and experience the real Italy. After reflecting on this day, how happy our guests were and how amazing it was to share our Italy with them, our passion for authentic Italian travel experiences was lit up and The Italian On Tour was born.
What exactly do you do?
We create intimate tours of Italy's hidden regions, Le Marche and Abruzzo, for food and wine lovers who want to escape the crowds and experience the real Italy. Our itineraries focus on truly getting to know our territory with a local's perspective. Giovanni grew up in the area, and we now live here as locals. When you travel with us you get access to our personal relationships and our insider knowledge that isn't attainable unless you call the area home. It is a small group experience where our guests come as strangers and leave as friends.
People often associate Italy with pizza and pasta; what kind of specialties and options do you offer?
Italy is home to pizza and pasta, but it is also home to amazing regional cuisine and local specialities you can't find anywhere else. What many people don't realize is that Italy's cuisine is full of variety and is very seasonal. If you are travelling Italy as a celiac you need to know where to eat, how to convey your dietary needs, and what to watch out for to ensure your food is prepared celiac safe. Offering tours for gluten-free travellers we've been able to help couples and families with members who have gluten allergies and/or celiac disease experience Italy's culinary delights. Because of Giovanni's expertise in food and wine, the culinary experience for our gluten-free travellers is just as amazing as that of our other travellers.
How long have you been running tours?
We had been offering friends and family travel advice and tours of our region for many years. At the end of 2015 we started the transition from dream to reality, officially having our first customers in 2017.
For more information, go to theitalianontour.com.