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News > Alumni News > A Unique Business Venture for Rebecca Wiles (OI 2000-13)

A Unique Business Venture for Rebecca Wiles (OI 2000-13)

Announcing the launch of her new travel company LUCCIOLA, supporting locals and tourists with both sustainability and mental health.
28 Apr 2021
Written by Carrie Baker
Alumni News

"Having spent 13 years at School, I appreciate how much I was invested in while there, but that's nothing compared to the graciousness and warmth I have received since leaving in 2013, after GCSE study. I went on to Colchester Sixth Form College where I added another string to my languages bow, thanks to the encouragement of Tracy Boyle and Maria Cascón-Soriano, completing A-Levels in Spanish, German, and Italian.  To say this set me up for life is probably an understatement.

I had found a love and determination for mastering the challenge of languages, so I found myself in Canterbury in 2015 to begin a BA in Italian and Spanish at the University of Kent, during which I had the insane opportunity of living abroad in two beautiful cities in 2017. "I cannot emphasise enough the growth and personal development gained from ‘sink or swim’ situations which transformed the anxious, self-conscious, relatively quiet individual Sarah Milner was faced with weekly, to the individual I present myself as today." Therefore, if there is one thing I would have told my younger self it would be to take the risk, feel the fear, but do it anyway, knowing that the long-term impact will be so much more positive than the regret.

Turin is one of the best-connected cities in Italy, being the old capital, so I took the opportunity to explore the country ‘as a local’.  Since my drive took me straight from school to university, I had not yet made my first steps as a solo traveller, so my first stop was the Cinque Terre, five small fishermen’s villages, on the Ligurian coast.  From then on, I thought anything was possible. One dear friend came to visit and really wanted that picture in Pisa, so five hours there and five hours back on the fast train, we did it – what a day out! I set myself a goal each week to plan a trip for the upcoming weekend. In Spain, this was easy to accomplish, as university life was not as demanding.  Adventures mean memories, whether incredible or otherwise – everyone needs them now more than ever.

On graduating from Kent, I wanted to tailor my knowledge of culture and language to a business discipline, so onward to the University of Lincoln to achieve my first-class MSc degree in Events Management, crucially exploring international tourism too. Here I learned some fundamental issues with destination marketing and the sustainability of tourism. Italy grabbed my heart in 2014 when I visited on an Italian exchange trip with the Sixth Form, staying with my Italian family for a week and returning to the UK having forgotten how to hold a conversation in English! It is for this reason, together with witnessing tourism in Italy’s hotspots first-hand, that I have set up my own travel business, LUCCIOLA Travel.

LUCCIOLA, meaning ‘firefly’ in Italian, is on a mission to unveil lesser-known, quieter corners of Italy to reduce the effects of over-tourism, in turn helping to even out the economic benefits of tourism across Italy. As we step back into the world and return to all the things we love, some will feel more confident and comfortable than others; most anxiety will arise from the anticipation of crowded, confined spaces. LUCCIOLA is here to support you on this transition, to ignite hope, inspiration and confidence in travelling to those places you have had in mind (or ones you didn’t know you need to see). By focusing on the hidden gems in spaces you can breathe, choosing small hotels, country houses and farm stays (agritourism), you will be warmly welcomed by locals, who will thus offer the best quality experience for you. 

People are central to my passion for this business – LUCCIOLA supports locals and tourists alike, with sustainability and mental health. As we have not ignored the pandemic, we cannot ignore the mental health pandemic on the horizon as a result. Having felt the consequences of mental health in loved ones for some time now, the passing of my grandad in February this year inspired me to act further; 10% of all commission from your travel booking will be donated to MIND, the mental health charity. I feel fortunate to have a platform, as an independent travel agent, on which I can offer dedicated support to a crucial cause affecting so many. I also know he would be so proud of this feature as he was passionate about the School, having made his mark as a quantity surveyor on the library building back in 1992, and supported my entry to Ipswich School, starting in the nursery in 2000.

LUCCIOLA promotes my recommended way of seeing Italy, though there are no limits to the accommodation and destinations I can book, so I have exciting solutions for anyone looking to get away ASAP, or simply seeking inspiration for next year. It would be my pleasure to help even one other person experience Italy more authentically as I did – a journey inspired by language learning and the tight-knit community at Ipswich School, positively shaping my future professionally and personally.

To find out more and how best to reach out, check out www.lucciola.uk – I’m always here for a chat, business or otherwise."

Rebecca Wiles (OI 2000-13)

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