Our Why ⋆ Silver Compass Tours | Wild Heart of Italy
People, Passion and Purpose – Our Why
These two right above, they are our #1 Why: Paolo’s daughters, Mariasole and Carla. They live in Italy. We live in Australia. It’s hardly ideal. But our purpose is to build up our travel business and make our way to Italy, and in the meantime every tour we host to Paolo and the girls’ home region of Ciociaria means more time with these two 😍
Our #2 Why is our guests, our fellow travellers. We are passionate about sharing our insider’s view of local food and wine and cultural experiences. In both Australia & Italy.
Our #3 Why is our locals, our people. We let our locals tell their own stories. We are just there to make the connections (and have fun!).
We are all about purpose, passion and people. Here’s an outline of our story below…
Kelly & Paolo
We met while we were both working in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates – Paolo was working for an Italian steel construction company pumping out the sides of skyscrapers in a warehouse in the desert, and Kelly was helping establish Abu Dhabi as a global tourism destination. We were together a year before we got the sudden news that Paolo’s company had completed its government contract early, and all employees were given two weeks to leave the country.
To cut a long story short, Paolo proposed and we decided to emigrate to Australia.That’s us at Abu Dhabi airport above, just about to board the plane for our new life adventure together!
We arrived in Sydney in 2013 and Paolo could hardly speak English. Neither of us could find work. After six months all our savings ran out. So we moved out into the countryside to the wine-growing region of Orange where Kelly grew up. It’s a farming region with an incredible diversity of fresh produce, over 80 vineyards and around 40 cellar doors – not a bad place to live at all.
POCHI MA BUONI
Paolo was immediately struck by the similarities of the landscape, cool-climate, and food and wine culture of the Orange region compared to his home region of Ciociaria in Central Italy.
So we started our Pochi ma Buoni pop-up regional Italian dining experiences at local cellar doors in 2014, as a way to integrate with the local community and to help Paolo share his unique Ciociarian culture through his passion for cooking.
And Pochi ma Buoni was born!
In case you’re wondering, the literal meaning of ‘Pochi ma Buoni’ is “only for the very few, but very good”, but we interpret it as ‘Small But Great’.
We have had immense fun over the last few years reviving ancient regional Italian recipes in rustic cellar doors in the middle of vineyards in regional Australia, and our Pochi ma Buoni pop-up events have been a huge hit with locals and visitors during the region’s annual food and wine festivals. We have also captured the imagination of the Australian media.
In the middle of all this, we ran off to Rome and got married.
SILVER COMPASS TOURS
We also started our boutique tour company, Silver Compass Tours in 2014 – with the ambition of creating packaged food and wine weekends to Orange, starring a Pochi ma Buoni pop-up as part of the itinerary.
We now host the annual Vino Express event during the local wine festival. This is a 3-day luxury packaged tour from Sydney to Orange by train. We have local vignerons jump on the train and host wine-tastings as we slow travel through the scenic countryside, and our itinerary is jam-packed with vineyard and cellar door visits, behind-the-scenes experiences and local fine dining.
WILD HEART OF ITALY
All along our journey, our Pochi ma Buoni and Silver Compass Tours guests have asked us whether they could join us on a tour to Paolo’s home region of Ciociaria. They’d tasted his food, they’d heard our stories about the forgotten food and wine region of Ciociaria in the wild heart of Italy, and they wanted to experience it with us.
And so began our concept of the Wild Heart of Italy immersive experiences into the distinct food, wine and culture of Ciociaria. We have spent the last four years carefully curating our bespoke Ciociarian food and wine itineraries during our annual reunion with Paolo’s daughters.
Paolo has designed our itineraries from the places of his childhood and youth that he wanted to share most with our guests, and together we have discovered some incredible local producers, vignerons, chefs, cooks, market-stall owners, shopkeepers, restaurateurs and shepherds who are all thrilled at the thought of sharing their craftsmanship and Ciociarian culture with fellow travellers with soul.
There is a real sense of a new revival in the air in Ciociaria, with many of the young people returning to their ethnic traditions through food, wine and song. It’s amazing to be a part of, and an experience of Italian culture that we are sure our guests will never forget.
The Silver Compass Tours team is passionate about sharing a slow travel attitude, where time and place is for savouring. We are just as passionate about drinking great wine, eating heart-warming food and introducing you to great locals for authentic regional travel experiences.
In Ciociaria, Central Italy we have an on-ground group of enthusiastic and passionate local foodies and adventurers on our team, as well as local professional guides. They all ensure our guests feel incredibly welcome to their home region and are always on the hunt for ‘secret’ experiences that will make you truly feel like you are living like a local while you are in our care.
Our focus is on introducing you to our local producers, vignerons, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, market stall owners, shopkeepers and shepherds so they can tell you their stories and share their immense pride in their craftsmanship with you themselves (with Paolo translating the Ciociarian dialect for you!).
In Orange, NSW we also have a great team of young Australians who are keen to share their cool-climate wine knowledge and introduce you to the wine-makers and food producers of the region.
When you walk into a venue with our team, wherever you are with us, you will be welcomed warmly as a local – and that’s about the friendliest greeting you’ll get anywhere in the world.
Paolo & Kelly Picarazzi