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More About David

David's Story

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. While in college I made my first trip to Italy in 1985. I spent one month living with an Italian family in a small town near Turin. The daughter of this family had been my pen-pal for four years before this trip. By the end of the month I had met all of her friends, had mastered kissing people on the cheek (left side first), and had learned zero Italian. It was a remarkable time because I had seen Italy from an Italian perspective. I was the only native English speaker in this little town, I went to church every Sunday (even though I am not Catholic) and I spent most of my time with Italians of my own age. My full-immersion experience was aided by the fact that in 1985 phone calls to the US cost over one dollar per minute and there was no internet or e-mail. I had had the great fortune of been dropped unprepared into a little Italian town with a loving Italian family. 
Intrigued by the experience I went back to the US and took two semesters of Italian my senior year in college. Upon graduation I didn't know what to do and decided to return to Italy rather than look for a job in the US. Not a lot of planning went into the decision.

I moved to Florence where I found work as an English teacher. I enjoyed teaching English because most of my students were about my age. Many of my students became my close friends. My Italian friends taught me their Florentine accented Italian. After eight months of teaching the school was going to close for the summer and I needed work. I found a job as a bicycle tour guide. I was amazed at how beautiful the countryside was. I had spent eight months rarely leaving Florence. The first bike tours I did took me throughout central Italy. I swam in the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Sea. I visited Tuscan hill towns. I crisscrossed the countryside in a 9-passenger FIAT van. I had enough money in my pocket to pay my bills and I was staying in four-star hotels. For a young guy it was a wonderful experience.

I lead the life of an English teacher/bicycle tour guide for three years. After three years reality caught up with me. My American friends were getting married, paying mortgages, and having children. I had made some great friends and learned some Italian, but it was time to go home.

Back in the US I completed an MBA at the University of Denver. I was ready to settle down into what I described as a "real job", however I wasn't yet ready to give up on Italy. Disregarding the advice of many Italian friends, I came back to Florence determined to find a real job. Through great fortune and tenacity my real-job dream came true when I was hired by the General Electric Company. GE owns a large manufacturing plant in Florence. With more than 2,000 employees GE is the largest private employer in Florence.

I settled into my cubicle, mastered PowerPoint, and did my best to put my finance and accounting skills to work. It was tough. It was really tough. It was not the wacky, fun life that I had known before in Italy. I was stressed and unhappy with my work. I stayed with it for over three years before deciding that there had to be a better way.

That better way turned out to be Charnes Tours. My first year I did one bike tour to the beautiful Island of Elba. The tour was fantastic. Over the years Charnes Tours has changed. We now offer cycling and hiking tours. Working for myself has been a great experience. I spend eleven months of the year in Florence, returning to Denver for the holidays.

I have been in Italy for a while now and I have seen the country change dramatically over the years. I was here for the fall of the Berlin wall and the masses of Eastern Europeans who moved westward. I was here for the switch to the Euro. More recently I have seen a protracted recession and a refugee crisis. It has been an amazing ride and I look forward to what's to come.


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