Maria Gabriella Landers (Owner)
Maria Gabriella was born in Frankfurt, Germany and grew up in Springfield, Il. She has a background in art history (Barnard College, Columbia University) and studied opera performance at The Juilliard School. With winnings from a vocal competition, she studied the Italian language in Perugia, Umbria and has been in love with Italy ever since. In 2009, Maria Gabriella was named an Ambassador of Italian Culture by Perugia’s Università per Stranieri. She loves handmade papers, old books, vintage fabrics and painting of all kinds. With a little extra time in 2020, she initiated a long-time dream of creating her own mixed media collages.
Maria Gabriella’s 2020 Dream Trip
Brian Dore (Owner)
Brian studied American History and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Music Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, and Italian at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia. He cooked professionally in New York restaurants for several years before embarking upon a career as an operatic baritone. From 2007-2011, he was a principal baritone at Theater Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany, singing 200 performances of 17 roles. In addition to the usual ownership duties at CIU Travel, Brian draws on his experience in the kitchen to evaluate food and wine experiences for our clients. An avid tennis player and skier, he took up paddle tennis during the pandemic and won a club championship in his first year. With his love of food, wine and music, it was only natural that he became an ardent Italophile and chief product tester for our new e-commerce venture, Cantina Direct.
Brian’s 2020 Dream Trip
Cristina Tili (Operations Manager)
Cristina was born and bred in Umbria, Italy. She studied at the University of Perugia where she obtained a degree as Interpreter in English and French, then she studied at the University of Camerino where she obtained a degree in Political Science. Her working career began as the medical secretary to a plastic surgeon, but she soon found her real passion when she entered the world of tourism. Her first experiences helping travelers showed that she could express her love for her region and country by providing them with unique private experiences that brought them in close contact with local people. When she met Brian and Maria and the newly opened CIU Travel she fell in love with their travel philosophy which she shares, and gladly accepted their offer to work with them. Cristina is an excellent cook, loves food and wine, and everything that revolves around it. She is always on the lookout for small artisan producers, family run farms and vineyards to share with CIU guests – and she is more than willing to try them out first!
Cristina’s 2020 Dream Trip
Matthew Greenbaum (Operations Associate)
Matthew was born and raised in Connecticut. While studying Advertising at Suffolk University, Matthew was bit by the travel bug in spring of his junior year during a semester abroad in Madrid. Because hiking, skiing, paddleboarding, photography, and a true love for the outdoors are among Matthew’s interests, it’s no wonder that most of his trips involve visiting a national park, or a mountain village. On his recent honeymoon to Italy and Switzerland, some of Matthew’s favorite moments were hiking in the Dolomites, touring Villa Balbianello in Lake Como, and paragliding in Lauterbrunnen.
Matthew’s 2020 Dream Trip
Sarah Blaze (Operations Associate)
Sarah was born in Buffalo, NY, raised in Northern California, and then moved to Southern California to attend UCLA where she received her BA in music with an emphasis in vocal performance. She moved to NY with her husband, John Bellemer, an operatic tenor, where she continued the pursuit of her operatic career, a path that included performances with companies throughout the US as well as cabaret, musical theater, and independent films. Her work as a singer was interspersed with 15 years in the restaurant industry in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Working with CIU Travel is a wonderful and logical step for Sarah whose love of music, food, and wine combines well with her love of travel which started as a child when she tent-camped for months at a time with her family who traveled throughout the US in a Checker Marathon (the more familiar Checker cab) and toured Europe in a small camper. Sarah lives in Brooklyn, NY, ideal for her cycling hobby, with John and their two Parson Russel Terriers.
Sarah’s 2020 Dream Trip
Rebecca Winke (Writer)
Rebecca’s first visit to Italy was a coup de foudre and her affection for the Bel Paese has only grown over almost 30 years of living here, during which time she has mastered the art of navigating the sampietrini cobblestones in heels but has yet to come away from a plate of bucatini all’amatriciana with an unsullied blouse. In addition to writing CIU Travel’s Postcards, she covers Italy travel, culture, and cuisine for a number of print and online publications from The Telegraph to Italy Magazine.
Linda Dore (Administrative Assistant)
Linda has been with CIU Travel since the beginning, literally. She is Brian’s mom. She helps keep track of things in the background and was an essential part of the team when Brian and Maria lived full-time in Germany. She’s a retired pediatric nurse who loves to travel. Her favorite vacations include a three week family vacation to England in the 80’s, a walking tour of the Cinque Terre, and a bucket list hike to Machu Picchu.
Linda’s 2020 Dream Trip