By: Jocelyn Schwalm
If you work a corporate 9-5 job, you’ve most likely dreamed of ditching the routine, but decided there was just too much at stake. For Lisa Grassi-Blais and Jake Rupert, however, the move from their fast-paced jobs to a more relaxed lifestyle as European entrepreneurs seemed like a natural leap. After vacationing in a small Italian village called Abruzzo, in the L’Aquila province of Italy, the couple couldn’t help but imagine life at a slower pace, a much more European pace. The couple decided to transition their dream to reality when they bought a 195,000 Euro home to convert into a Bed and Breakfast, abandoning their old lives to chase after the new and exciting.
Their adventure began when they decided to turn their annual 3-week Italian vacation into a business. For Grassi-Blais life as a federal prosecutor was that of daily argumentation and stress in court, while even Rupert felt that the life he was living as a court reporter could stand to be cut short. Having family from the area, Grassi-Blais decided that the village was the perfect location for a tourism business to thrive. With expenses totalling 700 000 euros, the couple was forced to turn to crowdfunding to meet the rising costs of opening up their dream villa.The house can hold 6-8 guests comfortably and is fully equipped with a local chef to capture the authentic taste of the coastal region’s cuisine.
The warm welcome from locals drew them to the area in the first place, and as connections slowly started to form, their opportunities for growing their business expanded. Within a few months of moving to Italy permanently, the couple successfully established themselves as part of the community, winning the approval of the locals with their zest for life. The startup business opened to the public in May 2016 and is just getting its feet off the ground as a full-on tourism business. “There’s risk in everything, including not taking risks,” Rupert says. It appears that he practices what he preaches, throwing out the idea of comfortability in place of a passion-fueled risk.
This couple’s success story instills hope in those dreaming of pursuing quality of life as opposed to the kind of soul-sucking lifestyle that results in money and not much else. Drawn by the mellow culture of a village by the Adriatic sea by pursuing their life’s passions in Abruzzo, things started to fall into place and for them, and the risk paid off.