I live in Abruzzo, a beautiful region in Central Italy, only two hours from Rome. While it’s well-known among Italians and Central Europeans, overseas visitors are only starting to discover the area. It’s famous for its three stunning national parks, its picturesque medieval villages, a stunning coastline and hearty traditional food. From my spacious terrace at home, I can see the Adriatic coast on my left and mountain peaks on my right. I am writing this sitting in the shade of an old fig tree in my garden, with a glass of chilled rose wine, produced in local vineyards, for company.
When I moved to Abruzzo, I had to figure out how to supplement my income as a freelance writer. Finding a job here is not easy, so I invented one. It was a no-brainer: I love good food and wine, often eat out in traditional restaurants and shop at farms for local produce, so I decided to share my knowledge and passion with those who visit Abruzzo by taking them on food tours.
I had already done the groundwork when searching for fun things for my friends to do when they came to visit…so turning that knowledge into a way to make money was pretty simple. These days you could say that I eat and talk for a living. I charge from $81 to $115 per person for my tours and never overload myself with work—doing only one to three tours a week in peak season.
One of my favourite activities that I offer to tourists is truffle hunting. I became acquainted with a local truffle hunter a year ago and now take my clients to see how his joyfully restless dog digs fragrant tubers out. For me it’s a delight and a gastronomic adventure, but I also get paid for these outings…and often bag a few fresh truffles too. How’s that for a job?
Life in Abruzzo is affordable. I own my house, but those who want to rent can find apartments and houses here for as little as $465 per month. My grocery bill rarely exceeds $47 a week and includes the best and freshest local produce. I eat out often as prices in restaurants here do not break the bank. It’s only $8 for a delicious pizza in a bar in my village and $10 for a plate of home-made pasta in a rustic eatery in the next town over. The other day I bought a bottle of exquisite award-winning wine from a local producer and paid just $10.50.
Summer and early autumn are my busiest times, but being my own boss means that I can take a break whenever I feel like it. I am just back from a two-week holiday in Tuscany; refreshed and ready to work again. Abruzzo is not overrun by tourists, so I don’t get a huge amount of requests for my gastronomic tours, but a constant trickle of queries provides a good side-income. The perfect excuse to indulge in what I love…
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