Our Story

No, we are not Italian! We get this a lot. We are simply two well-travelled Australians who love the Italian people, culture, food and way of life.

After several Italian holidays, both on tours and independently, we started dreaming of spending a year there, to live simply. We longed to explore but also to allow ourselves the time to really live life.

In 2015, we made that a reality. To live in another country and not just be a tourist is definitely a whole different experience. We chose the tiny village of Acqualoreto in Umbria, population 80. The warmth and welcoming we felt there soon made us feel not just part of the village, but part of a way of life that’s hard to find.   We lived a short passeggiata from the piazza, in a 16th century villa set in its own 15 acre olive grove with delicious cherry, fig and walnut trees. Neighbours would drop by, delivering fresh cauliflowers, tomatoes, lemon cakes and wild boar stews. Others would offer toys to our son and invite us for meals with their family. It was a wonderful time, allowing us for the first time in years to truly slow down and feel the rhythms of nature around us and the beautiful change of seasons.

Friends and family came to stay and we would enthusiastically show them our favourite towns, homemade pasta shops, the local dairy farm, cantina and of course the best coffees & gelaterias! We derived such pleasure from sharing the local secrets and experiences that Umbria offered.

We experienced this slower way of life, loved embracing the more relaxed and unhurried pace than we were used to. We also discovered how much we enjoyed taking people on these impromptu tours, sharing our passion for Umbria and Italy.

No wonder that when we returned to Australia, we had another dream: to host small groups to the area and help others breathe in that magical Italian way of life.

Villa Santa Croce, Acqualoreto (our Umbrian home)

Now in 2023, we have finally created this reality!

We recently returned from finalising the itinerary and engaging specialised tour guides where needed. We’re so grateful to our Italian family & friends who shared their local insights and experience with us to ensure your journey’s not only a success but truly authentic.
Italy might not be in our genes but it’s now in our blood. We can’t wait to show you our highlights of the green heart of Italy!

Melanie McDougall

Founder and Tour Leader of Verde Italia has always loved people and food. She can’t go past a slow lunch in a beautiful hilltop town or vineyard unless she’s shopping in a great Italian boutique she has found! She spent many years in management in the fashion industry -- and naturally, was always drawn to Italy, admiring the style and elegance of Italian designers. Melanie also has extensive experience in event management, marketing and hosting people. In 2015, Melanie worked alongside a wonderful mentor and local, Mario Santoro of True Umbria, assisting to host overseas guests in beautiful Umbrian villas and deliver wonderful authentic experiences. Verde Italia is excited to continue this relationship to bring some local magic to our journey!

Anthony Little

Co-founder and general man-about-tour fully mastered the crazy Italian way of driving during his year there. While the same might not be said for his Italian language, he more than embraced the theatrical Italian hand gestures so critical for any Italian conversation. Incidentally, Anthony is usually good for humorous stories. Ask him about some of his Italian adventures – like the time he got stuck behind a car doing only 40km hour, to realize it was the policeman texting on his phone while driving! On a deeper level, Anthony truly understood and embraced the Italian way of life.