The year was 2007 and what began as a leisurely getaway to visit family in Lake Como and Naples, quickly transformed into something unexpected. Perhaps it was a quiet moment spent enjoying homemade pizzoccheri with an uncle while watching the setting sun across the lake, or maybe it was a moonlit evening telling old family stories over sautéed clams at a tavern in Amalfi. It was in these subtle moments that Marco and Dejou Marano came to understand that the intimate and familial experiences that they encountered during their travels could perhaps be a refreshing alternative for travelers seeking a more personal journey built upon authentic connections.
Upon their return to Los Angeles, the couple shared their frustration of mass produced travel kitsch, impersonal vacation packages, big bus tours and cardboard cut-out images of Europe, which continued to be the only options available to their friends and colleagues. Compelled by what the couple saw as a void, Marco and Dejou set-off to create a fresh and deeply experiential way to travel for those seeking something different from the norm. Leaving their Fortune 500 management positions in the Finance and Entertainment industries to follow their hearts, the ambitious couple embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Numerous research trips spent cultivating close relationships with cultural insiders and months of traveling to uncover the soul of Italy and Spain with unwavering curiosity, resulted in Marco and Dejou building a community of passionate cultural ambassadors eager to provide travelers an engaging, personal touring experience. By 2009 CountryBred was born and its vision achieved through its family of boutique hoteliers, regional ambassadors, local food and wine experts, restaurateurs, artisans and craftsmen, and dedicated transport team. Today, Marco and Dejou split their time between Los Angeles and their family homes in Northern and Southern Italy, in a never-ending pursuit of undiscovered cultural gems throughout Europe.
Practically born on a flight from Rome to Los Angeles, Marco has been an adventurer since birth. Fond memories of his family summers led Marco to study in Southern Italy during his high school years and to attend Università Bocconi in Milan during his time in college. Upon graduation from New York University’s Stern School of Business, Marco went on to work for three Fortune 500 companies at the management level working between New York and Los Angeles, before earning his M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
A never ending love for travel, culture, cuisine and wine, led Marco to leave the corporate sector in search of his dream: to bring his authentic understanding of Europe to like-minded travelers. As co-founder of CountryBred, Marco spends his time uncovering the best of hidden Europe and bringing that knowledge to travelers everywhere while continuing to develop a CountryBred community of passionate cultural ambassadors.
Born and bred to be a global citizen, Dejou’s lifelong passion for travel started at a young age and was magnified by the multi-cultural landscape of Los Angeles, California. From her early days experiencing Europe as an adventure-seeking teenager, Dejou cultivated a love for European communities and local traditions.
After graduating from Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, Dejou developed and managed the Film division for a Fortune 500 company before earning a Master of Communication Management degree from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. Putting her entrepreneurial spirit to work, Dejou sought to merge her passion for travel with her love of communication in co-founding CountryBred. Dejou is CountryBred’s creative visionary, bringing the imagination and wonder of Europe to all travelers.
In crafting the ultimate cultural travel experience for our clients, we have assembled an incredible family of professionals dedicated to immersing you in the cultural richness of their regions and leading you away from the expected toward the authentic. Our team of licensed regional ambassadors have an average of 12 years experience in guiding individuals, small groups and associations proudly through their native regions. Many of our ambassadors are also accomplished doctorates in art, music, history, archaeology or languages, and use their unique expertise to bring your travel experience to life in unexpected ways. Our passionate team of regional ambassadors is supported by local cultural experts that are fixtures in their local communities and whom enthusiastically share their experiences as chefs, winemakers, artists, academics or musicians with our travelers. Our deluxe hotels are hand-selected for their impeccable service, immeasurable charm, exclusive boutique size and engaging heritage. Our chauffeured luxury transportation ensures that you are always on time and seamlessly escorted on every leg of your trip in the utmost comfort.
Ricardo specializes in mobile software platforms and web technology. He’s launched multiple early-stage startups by developing their technology platforms from the ground up with limited resources and tight timeframes. Ricardo started EverySignal and built a real time social aggregation platform within 6 months. His latest venture, Favrit, aims to disrupt mobile recommendation technology by leveraging close social connections to find the best places for culinary experiences, entertainment, and leisure. Ricardo received a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rohan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Drum Food International and Board Member at SocioSquare, a new age digital marketing agency and the Ross Group, a private US based investment holding group . Rohan began his career in finance working for S&P’s Corporate Valuation Group (now a division of Duff & Phelps Investment Bank).
While completing his MBA at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Rohan realized he was an entrepreneur at heart and knew what he had to do. He moved to India on a one way ticket to become the CEO of Drums Food International and position Hokey Pokey as the best ice cream in India. Rohan’s passion for food is linked to his passion for travel. He has traveled to over 40 countries and has a particular obsession with how certain cultures have influenced and contributed to some of the most interesting cuisines in the world. For example, the Italian and Jewish influences on the food of New York City, Arabic influences on Spanish cuisine and Portuguese influences on Indian Goan cuisine. Rohan is also a whiskey and wine connoisseur having traveled on wine expeditions to California (Napa and Sonoma), France (Burgundy), and South Africa (Stellenbosch). He also lived and studied in Florence, Italy as an undergraduate at NYU where his love for wine began during his exploration of Tuscany.
Rohan is also an art aficionado and is particularly fascinated with Mughal Indian Art. Today he serves on the Board of the British Tate Museum’s South Asian Art Acquisition Committee.
John, a Los Angeles native, strives to bridge the gap between data and business in order to drive smarter, informed decisions. Beginning his career as a Statistical Analyst for The College Board in New York, NY, John led the development of new products and reporting packages aimed at educators and decision makers, each designed to understand and quantify test-taking behavior and the impact of economic, social and cultural factors in education.
In 2008, John joined a then-startup named Boingo Wireless, where he led the Roaming Network Integration division, dramatically expanding Boingo’s domestic and international Wi-Fi roaming coverage and strategic partnerships. Using profile data, micro and macro cellular and device trends, and numerous other inputs, he drove lucrative deals while lowering operational and capital costs associated with WiFi roaming. John currently leads the Technical Account Management team in the Small Cells division at Boingo Wireless (the market leader in carrier-neutral small cell and DAS networks) and partners with top-tier stadiums, arenas, airports, universities, health care venues and major wireless carriers in order to deliver seamless, turn-key network solutions to millions of users worldwide. John received a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from New York University.