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Meet Vania. She’s one of our newest leaders in Italy, having led tours around the Amalfi Coast and her home region of the Prosecco Hills for just over a year now. But you would never guess that she hasn’t been doing this forever. 

Exodus Leader Vania

“Vania was so knowledgeable about the area and the history. I could see that she was also very popular with the hotel staff and the guides she employed. She exudes happiness and has the best smile going!” This feedback echoes what we hear in all of Vania’s testimonials: knowledgable, organised, friendly.  

It’s praise like this which has earned her a coveted prize in the Leader of the Year Awards 2018 for Best Newcomer. We chat to Vania about her win, Italy, and what being a leader means to her. 

Q. What do you love most about being a leader?

What I love about being a leader is the opportunity to show our guests some beautiful places in Italy. Staying in small towns gives people the feeling of living in small communities and being part of it. My home is in the middle of the Prosecco Hills in Italy where you can always see the little hills covered in vines. 

Q. What is your favourite thing about leading a group?

Every week I get to know different people, coming from different places. I love how a group of complete strangers almost looks like a group of friends at the end of the week.

My favourite thing is how each week a group makes the tour different and I can see the same views, the same spots and the same landscape in many different ways.

Q. Where’s your favourite place in Italy to share with your clients?

It is actually difficult to pick one, so I will pick one for each walking tour I lead. My favourite place when I lead the walking on the Amalfi Coast is during the first day, when I take the group to the top of a mountain right in Agerola, the village where we stay.

Starting from the bottom of the mount, it takes about two hours to reach the top and it is quite a steep ascent, and since it is the first day, it might be a little challenging for some.

On the way up, we always have the village behind us, so they can actually see all the way they have gone, but when they get to the top, on the other side, the view opens and right in front of you, you can see the Sorrento Peninsula and Capri lying on the sea.

Venice LagoonVenice Lagoon

Instead, when I lead the walking on the Prosecco Hills, my favourite place is the last day. The challenge is to get to the top of a mount on the Prealps, it is called Mount Cesen.

We start walking at 1000 a.s.l. and we reach 1400 meters a.s.l. Before reaching the top we go through some steep bits and the altitude sometimes doesn’t help. If it is a clear day, the top view is stunning. On one side you can see the Dolomites and on the other the Venice Lagoon.

Walking on Mont CesenWalking on Mont Cesen

Q. What are the advantages of a walking holiday in Italy?

I think the advantage of a walking holiday in Italy is the fact that the country has a huge variety in territory, landscape, traditions and food. So you can pick somewhere different each time and always find a different side of it.

I think the advantage of a walking tour in Italyis that you can cover 10 kilometers and see many things and go through many different villages.

If you think of the tour on the Prosecco Hills, in one week, you go from the flat land, when visiting the town of Treviso with its resurgence river going through it, through the hills covered in vineyards that reach about 300-400 meters above sea level, to the 1400 meters top of the Prealps.

Bridge in TrevisoBridge in Treviso

Q. What made you decide to become a leader?

Well, I have always been a hill and mountain walker, since I was a little girl and I have always loved being outside.

I have a degree in Natural Science and it led me to work in Scientific Museums as a guide and I loved it. When the opportunity of working with Exodus travels as a leader came up, I took it immediately, because it could cover being a guide and been always at the open air.

Moreover, I love my country, I think Italy has innumerable gems in all its territory that are worth the visit.

exodus Leader VaniaExodus Leader Vania

Q. What is your proudest moment as a leader (so far!)?

I felt very proud of my work with the group, when some guests that did the Amalfi Coast tour with me, booked for the following season the walking tour on the Prosecco Hills. I have about ten people coming back to do a tour with me this season and it makes me very happy and makes me think I am doing the job the right way.

Q. We were really pleased to feature you on International Women’s Day, celebrating our female leaders in the Better For Balance campaign. 

The Balance for Better campaign looks like the appropriate theme for theInternational Women’s Day. It is one of the goals that even Italy has been trying to conquer in the last few years. It is an important achievement, also in my type of job, that doesn’t have any kind of gender barrier.

Especially in group tours, like the ones I lead, the majority of clients are women. Having a female guide makes them more comfortable sometimes and kind of free to express themselves and to talk about any issue they might have during the holiday.

I think balance is the right pose to strike.

Vania for International Women's DayVania and International Women’s Day

Take a look at the walking tours below that Vania leads.