Seattle native Elizabeth Weitz fell in love with Italian culture while working as an au pair in Bari, a major port city in southern Italy, from 2014 to 2015. No place is perfect, however, and when she returned to Seattle, Weitz thought about how she could find a way to spend more time in Italy while addressing a few of her concerns. The result? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (travelpymwymi.com), a crowdsource-funded start-up travel touring company with a mission.
With University of Washington grad and business partner Anna Mines, she’s supporting the struggling independent economy of the region by way of ethics-driven guided tours. Weitz collaborates with Addiopizzo—a Palermo, Sicily–based organization aiding small businesses that refuse to pay Mafia fees—to help travelers support the community rather than mobsters.
“We strive to highlight the work of community members who love where they live,” says Weitz, “and we’re fighting to bring them a stronger economic future through supporting their businesses.” With trips beginning this month, Weitz is taking guests across southern Italy to experience wine tasting in Ragusa, cheesemaking in Linguaglossa and bicycling around Mount Etna, among many other adventures. The two things she can’t wait to share with travelers? Malia Music, a small folk music group, and granita siciliana, a frozen treat she describes as “maybe even better than gelato.”