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Meet Lauren A. Birmingham of Cooking Vacations Italy in Back Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gennaro “Rino” nickname Piscitelli.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a child, I always wanted to drive along with my father in the car. Sometimes, at my grandfather’s vineyard – he let me sit in his lap and get behind the wheel – and we drove together. I always knew I wanted to be a race car driver. When I was 19 years old – I started racing cars in Salerno Italy. My passion was always on fire for car racing– but then there was the military – which is mandatory in Italy. I had to serve my time. When I returned to Pompeii, the city where I was born, I raced only for fun. Then, after my time racing, I started a car service. It was a natural with all of the tourists that pour into Rome, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast each year. Today, I own Italy Car Drivers. and work with my wife Lauren, who owns Cooking Vacations. She does the cooking – and I drive the guests to Naples, Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. In the off season, we lead tours, and of course, I drive, to Tuscany and Bologna. Food and wine is my passion too so it is a natural!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When you have passion, everything else falls into place. Having your own business takes perfection, hard work and most of all, passion. I love to drive, I love meeting new people. I pick them up at the airport or train station, put on some good Italian music, then stop with my guests along the drive for a Prosecco, sfogliatella (Neapolitan desert) or granita of lemon (I cannot drink while driving) and share my Italian food culture with them.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Italy Car Drivers story. Tell us more about the business.
I drive guests while they are on their Cooking Vacations culinary tours – guests who want to learn about Italy, our food, music and culture. It is a pleasure sharing my traditions with guests! They arrive as guests and leave as friends. I keep in touch with them and sometimes we’ll meet in Boston while I am there for the winter.  I love my job!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am blessed. I am Italian married to an American. We live half the year in Boston and half on the Amalfi Coast – That is luck. I am blessed!

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