Girolibero Italy

Mechanics and Logistics

Antonio (Toni) Germani

Though many cyclists will be familiar with Toni as a...

Though many cyclists will be familiar with Toni as a tour leader, these days he is our logistics frontman at the warehouse. As well as fixing your bike he can share a few tips on buying a new one. In his spare time he will saddle his MTB and recce the Pre-Alps of Vicenza or the Berici Hills – or else, if the weather is too rough, a good film will do.

 

Leonardo Ceron

Born and bred in Polenta Paradise near Vicenza, by the...

Born and bred in Polenta Paradise near Vicenza, by the age of 21 Leonardo had already fallen head over heels for a Française and all things French, including foie gras. After trekking round Europe (and the Italy-France commuting routes) by Lambretta, Cinquecento, train and hitching, Leonardo realised – having reached the Age of Reason – that he’d never cycled to France. Since then, his two wheels and legs have become one; France is his second homeland; and he is to be found now in the Loire surrounded by orange bikes. In his panier bags? – Jazz, Pink Floyd, corkscrew, chopping board, Opinel knife, On the Road by Kerouac, Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire and (most importantly) Liberté, Egalité et Vin rosé. (Chilled.)

Luca Cecchinato

Passionate about bikes and mechanics from birth, Luca is...

Passionate about bikes and mechanics from birth, Luca is known to have crafted a bicycle out of a brolly as a child. This appetite, precision and care all shine through in our workshops, where – in between bikes, on his lunch break – he can be found fiddling around with a vintage Vespa, his great love. If you drop in, you’re likely to find Luca servicing bikes, one by one, or shooting through our offices to test them. Depending on the season, he’ll be saddling his own bike or enjoying falconry and birdwatching.

Nicolò Minati

Well and truly from Vicenza, despite landing at...

Well and truly from Vicenza, despite landing at Girolibero on secondment from Verona University's Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature. Spends his days at our warehouse loading up bike trailers, or on the road delivering bikes to our clients in the Venice Lands and Croatia – or else shuttling to our boats (Ave Maria and Vita Pugna) in Mantua.

Tour leaders

Alain Rimondi

Born into a family of wanderers and with a diploma in...

Born into a family of wanderers and with a diploma in tourism under my belt, I have always loved sports, travel and people, searching for the magic thread that connects them all. I found it in the form of a bicycle. My two wheels allow me to feel part of the landscape, to be greeted as an old friend by strangers, admire new horizons and simply to be out there. My pedal baptism? – A year on the saddle discovering Europe and what makes us all the same and yet unique. An experience so powerful and fulfilling that it wrote the script for my next chapter: my bike became my profession.

Antonella Ricci

A physical trait of mine I love? – It's got to be my...

A physical trait of mine I love? – It's got to be my curls: free and windswept, just how I like to live! Ever since I was a wee girl, I've always looked around me dying to discover something new: I think I was two when I first ran away from home to explore the village piazza! A passion for foreign languages and cultures is something I've nurtured through my studies, along with sport. My bike became my favourite wheels during my years in Dublin. The Emerald Island's winds and rains have turned me into the toughie I am: there's no stopping me now!

Chiara Tessarotto

Originally from Trieste and a traveller from a young...

Originally from Trieste and a traveller from a young age, in the course of my Environmental Science degree at university I set off for the most magical, outlandish and unpolluted of all territories: Iceland! On the road, there is nothing better for me than sitting down to a spread of local dishes and chatting to locals, hearing their stories and sharing with other travellers experiences that will make me dream – perhaps in front of a smørrebrød, a steaming goulash or a humble pan y tomate, a good Wachau wine, or a bowl of tortelli di Valeggio.

Claudia Hartwich

Despite my German roots I have always been in love with...

Despite my German roots I have always been in love with Italy and Italians, not least for their gastronomy and wine. I adore travelling, striking up new friendships and getting to know new countries. My bike is my perfect travel buddy, especially in the summer. When I am not wandering around the world you will find me in Dresden, helping Italian and German visitors discover the city known as "Florence on the Elbe".

Daniela Zarpellon

Two-wheeled traveller by choice and tour guide by...

Two-wheeled traveller by choice and tour guide by profession, my career is all about the open air. Even the lure of Vicenza cannot keep me in town for long: if I am not on the mountain slopes I am on the road discovering new horizons. Linking up with Girolibero was inevitable and it was love at first sight. My most memorable travels? Australia, Patagonia and anywhere else down-under!

Elisa Bettineschi

A graduate in languages for tourism, Elisa has lived in...

A graduate in languages for tourism, Elisa has lived in half of Europe, exploring on foot and by bike. Forever seeking to learn as many languages as possible, Slovene now stands out as her favourite. After years abroad, Elisa has now rediscovered her native Vicenza, and will endlessly harangue her friends with the mantra: “There’s more to Vicenza than Palladio”. While passionate about softball and films, she relaxes by the seaside and snorkelling. She loves the Nordic way of life, not least tucking into a hearty breakfast.

Fabio Perselli

A nomadic childhood straddling East and West probably...

A nomadic childhood straddling East and West probably accounts for my later life as a bike&boat tour leader and linguist. I blame an eccentric grandmother for the rest: a passion for the Venice Lands (where my roots lie), their history, culture, wines and dialect – which I love to share with my groups on two wheels. Cycling also lets you absorb your surroundings, stop and chat with strangers, observe the birdlife (I never get tired of the Po Delta). My partner and daughters share my enthusiasm for Girolibero life and gelato, and are tolerant of my enjoyment of lower league football.

Hein Hoefnagels

Dutch by birth but a citizen of the world, I have also...

Dutch by birth but a citizen of the world, I have also lived in Italy, which I know and love as much as I love Italians! I have a sunny personality and what I love most about my job is laughing and joking with new people. I am a hydraulic engineer and enjoy taking Italians around to discover Holland, with its windmills, tulips and canals. I also lead bike&boat tours in Italy, between Mantova and Venice – a type of tour which is common in Holland and now popular further south too. When I am not leading Girolibero tours, I cycle around the world, read and dance the tango.

Hugo Gietelink

I hold a degree in Political Sciences and have led tours...

I hold a degree in Political Sciences and have led tours for many years – cycling trips as well as bike&boat ones – in Holland and other countries too. I am passionately enthusiastic about my job: it brings me happiness and the opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories and ideas. They say that in my groups laughter is always guaranteed – so... step aboard and find out for yourself! My heart, incidentally, is tied to Italy in more ways than one: my partner Barbara is an authentic Pugliese.

Marco Quaglio

I was born and bred in Mestre (mainland Venice) where I...

I was born and bred in Mestre (mainland Venice) where I took to cycling at a very early age out of fun and passion. You will still catch me cycling through the hills of theVenice Lands, along the banks of the Brenta or the Lagoon, which I also like exploring by canoe. Travel is something I enjoy best pushing pedals: I have traversed Europe from London to Venice by bike and explored Thailand, Australia and South America. With Girolibero I spend the summer in Provence and Camargue, where the landscape is similar to my homeland – all regions I love profoundly.

Michele Quaresimin

Sports trainer, in love with the Great Outdoors and......

Sports trainer, in love with the Great Outdoors and... Ireland. I espouse Pierre de Coubertin's philosophy, which advocates that sport is not just about competing, but also a lifestyle, pleasurable, healthy and for absolutely everyone – and that what matters is to partake in it, not winning. My greatest passion is my family: Marta and my children Mattia and Aurora. The only sports my kids do at the moment is cuddling – and for the time being I am fine with that!

Rosita Menghi

I was born in Romagna but am Bolognese by adoption. I...

I was born in Romagna but am Bolognese by adoption. I grew up to the rhythm of polka and mazurca, and then the dance beats of the Eighties. I have worked in all manner of jobs, from welder to masseuse, to keep me going through my studies until, in 1998, a summer job turned into a career as a professional guide. From that point onwards I set off touring by bike, vespa and on foot, in Italy and the rest of Europe – but beyond my continent too, non-stop! A passionate cycle tourist and traveller, I love horse riding, scuba diving, comedy and live music. I adore kids and animals, both two- and four-legged...

Silvia Pezzetti

If being born on lofty ground – at the foot of the...

If being born on lofty ground – at the foot of the Bergamasque Pre-Alps – gave me my sense of adventure, water is very much my natural element: sailing, scuba diving, voyaging. The steps from family holidays to back-packing, to tour leading all came easy, and discovering the big world out there soon became my passion – and don't get me started on architecture! Whether it's trekking on the Côte d'Azur, scratching under the cultural surface of the Baltic Republics, or island-hopping through the Cyclades, what I always pack in my bag is inquisitiveness, enthusiasm and a smile!

Stefania Corà

I teach English and German, and never get tired of...

I teach English and German, and never get tired of pedalling. Like all good citizens of the Veneto on tour, I strive to be precise and give it my all: in fact the best possible reward for me is seeing people enjoying themselves on their holiday. I adore large towns – I need a good fix from time to time, and throw myself in headlong – the travelling, the people who fuel me. Nothing gives me a better buzz than a good group tour, especially on my own saddle!

Tamara Veenendaal

I am 50% Dutch and 50% Italian, and my bike is both my...

I am 50% Dutch and 50% Italian, and my bike is both my hobby and my job. From April to October I lead cycling tours in Italy and abroad, but even in my free time, my passion for nature and the woods makes me jump on a bike – especially my MTB. In winter I work at a skiing school in Val Badia... quite a change from the flats of Holland to the mountains of Northern Italy. Before tour leading, I used to teach the disabled, the elderly and children. Besides cycling I love skiing, walking, reading and playing music.

Crew Italy

Alberto Reghellin

Born in Schio (Vicenza) in 1981, Alberto started working...

Born in Schio (Vicenza) in 1981, Alberto started working in the kitchens of Venice while studying philosophy and theatre. From the hobs and ovens of boatmen and fishermen, he moved inland near Milan where, with his two partners, he opened a restaurant. Its menu: a fusion of delicacies from Venice and Pavia, along with a progamme of cultural events. Back in Schio, Alberto dived headlong into another adventure: a resto-pub where he could further his ambition of feeding body, mind and soul through culture and cuisine.

Enrico Belloni

Born and bred in Vicenza, a graduate in Environmental...

Born and bred in Vicenza, a graduate in Environmental Science. Enrico's passion for music at high school led to the formation of a rock band with three friends, touring Europe, and later to a booking agency organising tours in Italy for foreign bands. Musicians from any corner of the earth would stay over at Enrico's in Vicenza, where he'd personally provide the catering and dish up authentic local recipes. His drums and cymbals have now given way to chopping boards and pans. Adores the bike-boat formula, which creates the unique atmosphere of an extended international family and leads to many enduring friendships. Enrico's ambition is to wear the captain's cap one day and he is currently training as an on-board mechanical engineering.

Esther Fontanella

A tireless explorer of the world and of herself,...

A tireless explorer of the world and of herself, Esther’s dream ever since childhood has been to travel – even if the original idea was to do so driving a taxi. Inquisitiveness has fuelled her days and the many professions she has ventured into. London, Milan, Mannheim, Paris: in every town a new job, home and a new corner of her heart occupied by fresh friendships, unfamiliar lights, smells and quarters which, once lived in, became her home. Esther loves healthy food that will nourish both body and creativity, while her experience in fashion design colours her culinary offerings.

Filippo Bonafè

A seawolf ever since boarding his first boat as a...

A seawolf ever since boarding his first boat as a toddler, Filippo is one of the few young skippers who know every bend and eddy in the River Po. His passion? – Honest, not-frills food, especially desserts, first and foremost Chef Giuliano’s fruit tart with Italian crema. Loves nature, the sea and, best of all, mountains. When not at the rudder or the dinner table, Filippo loves his sport, not least breaking into a sweat on his bike.

Giovanni Penzo

A skipper by nature, he names his boats after his wife...

A skipper by nature, he names his boats after his wife and calls his crew members "ciccio" ("matey"), irrespective of size or gender. For them, Giovanni is a natural seawolf and rat-catcher. Spends most of his life between prow and poop, usually accompanied by his four-legged companion, Lapo. Old habits die hard and after dinner Giovanni will make himself comfortable under the stars, whisky in one hand and cigar in the other. His repertoire of unlikely stories, all narrated in inimitable Chioggia dialect, is legendary and appreciated by crew and guests alike.

Giuliano Zarantonello

Chef by profession but especially by passion. Enlisted...

Chef by profession but especially by passion. Enlisted in the "Girolibero-Zeppelin Navy" to combine two of his cravings: boats and cookery – or perhaps to dream of a lady at each port of call! Will happily corrupt the Headquarters with crostoli and Venetian doughnuts to be part of the crew, and people say that his cooking is better than his English (although, thankfully, he does get by in this too). Giuliano's life is increasingly happy and intense, and he manages to juggle sailing, his sweetheart Giada and their little Leonardo with the disparate passions of a vagabond.

Irene Vigolo

Growing up amid sacks of flour at the family bakery,...

Growing up amid sacks of flour at the family bakery, where she used to play hide-and-seek with her brother, Irene has always had a weakness for carbs. Her first berth was a picturesque agriturismo, where her second family initially took her in as a waitress. Having finished her studies in tourism, Irene set off on the Camino de Santiago and soon caught the travel bug. With a passion for wines and fine food, she tries to stay in shape by leading motley crews through the orderly cycleways of the North, the elemental beauty of Apulia and the intoxicating vineyards of Bordeaux. A stroke of luck lands her on the Ave Maria; the rest is history.

Luciano Penzo

Hails from glorious Chioggia, the "other, real, Venice"...

Hails from glorious Chioggia, the "other, real, Venice" – famous the world over, he claims, for the sheer number of scooters and e-bikes. Though a seawolf cub by birth, Luciano never scorns the dry land where he's passionate about his ladies (wife and two daughters) and motorbikes. Like all true seamen, he is forever seeking the optimum balance between physical equilibrium and the perfect diet... without ever finding it. Aboard our Ave Maria Luciano is the Jack of all technical trades: he'll fix anything, and if he can't fix it he'll just buy it.

Riccardo Tamani

A citizen of Mantova to the bone, Riccardo claims to...

A citizen of Mantova to the bone, Riccardo claims to produce, with his father, the best salami in the world. Started working at 16 and resumed his studies a few years later, becoming in a short space of time captain, engineer, helmsman and diver – hence his passion for boats and water, which soon gripped his young daughter, Vittoria. On dry land, he loves to organise a bite with his closest friends and, being football mad, he loves a good kick around too.

Sara Visentin

"Once a Vita Pugna girl, always a Vita Pugna girl!" –...

"Once a Vita Pugna girl, always a Vita Pugna girl!" – that's her in the words of the "The Boss" (skipper). Loves cooking and, even better, eating desserts. Her speciality? – Pannacotta with basil and lemon. Sara discovered her passion in England partly by chance and partly by intuition. She now hops from hob to hob in the galley and has fallen in love with all things maritime: the boats, the water, life on the waves. The scents and creaks of the Vita Pugna make her feel at home, although she'll always yearn for the warmth of her family and dog, Wolly.  Loves travelling, dancing and... running in the rain.

Marketing and Communication

  

Anita Andriolo

Joined the Girolibero ranks in 2009. When not clutching...

Joined the Girolibero ranks in 2009. When not clutching her mouse, she dedicates herself to her sport, pets (a dog, two cats and a tortoise) and enjoys a full-bellied song – always accompanied by a chalice of Amarone! In defiance of her degree in Political Sciences, in 2008 Anita specialised in growing roses, both ancient and modern. She has pledged her eternal love to the Venetian Lagoon and the sea, but regrets to face up to the fact that her freckles are the closest she manages to a decent suntan.

Elena Riatti

A chaotic (orderly, she claims) jumble reigns supreme on...

A chaotic (orderly, she claims) jumble reigns supreme on Elena's desk, ranging from Girolibero and Zeppelin brochures to newspapers, magazines and scraps of paper. Joined the team in 2009 with a History of Arts degree and manages our communications and press affairs. Loved her beaches as much as the scout camps as a child, which accounts for an equal fondness of flip-flops and trekking boots. Elena's first love? – Guitar. Her latest? – Tanzania, where she spent her honeymoon.

Gessica Padoan

Born in 1991 in Vicenza – a town jokingly known as “full...

Born in 1991 in Vicenza – a town jokingly known as “full of cat eaters” – Gessica would fight tooth and claw for any mog out there. She’s passionate about visual design and, having graduated in Graphic Design & Art Direction at the NABA-Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, she then worked on inforgraphics as a graphic designer at No.Parking Studio in Vicenza. Along the way, whilst working on the music scene, Gessica also discovered a love of photography, which she nurtured as a photographer for EY Studio. Add her passion for cycling to her ability behind the camera and lens, and little surprise that she should end up at Girolibero.

Nicole Zavagnin

A graduate in Communications, you’ll always find Nicole...

A graduate in Communications, you’ll always find Nicole (no points for guessing) online, tweeting, posting and generally flying the flag for adventure travel across the web. When she’s offline, Nicole will jump on the nearest plane in search of a new destination to post up on Foursquare or Instragram. Music and radio are both close to her heart, and in her spare time she works as a presenter, interviewer and writer. A single astrological sign was never going to be enough for this busy bee, who is an Aries with the cusp on Pisces and Scorpio ascendant. (Don’t ask: Nicole isn’t sure either…).