Meet the Owners: ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours
In 2008 Monica and Maria Elena Price bought the bicycle tour company their parents began in 1972 as Bike Across Italy. After working and cycling the world as bicycle tour leaders and as daughters of two bicycle tour pioneers and travel enthusiasts they felt it was time to follow their own passion for travel, bicycles and people. In 2011 Maria Elena and Monica were honored to be named 2 of the Top 10 Guides in the world by National Geographic Traveler.
Monica is co-owner and Director of International Operations. She’s grown up living a trans-Atlantic life between the US and Europe, spending her high school years between Fort Collins, Colorado and Italy in the summer, Eugene, Oregon and Italy during her undergraduate years and Washington D.C. and Italy during her graduate school years. She’s grown up leading bike tours in the summers since the age of 15 and now lives in Faenza, Italy in north-central Italy. Other travel experiences throughout the years include, France as a post-high school exchange student, India and Ghana for a semester each during university, and numerous countries traveled (by bicycle and not). Monica has a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.S. in Development Management and, although not following her studies exactly, she’s happy to be putting all of her travels, study and work experience to use in designing, managing and operating the bicycle tour business. Indeed, Monica continues to believe that bicycle travel is the best way to see the world! You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I don’t have a favorite tour because every tour is so different—spectacular scenery and Austrian culture in the Dolomites, cloud forests and beaches in Costa Rica, fantastic food and wine in Piedmont—it depends what you want. But if you ask me why I like our Venice to Florence or Venice to Pisa tour, I have an answer. I think that tour provides a complete experience of northern Italy: while you travel through important art cities of Italy like Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Lucca and Pisa, you also see a side of rural Italy that most tourists don’t see. We bike through farmland and villages, meet local cyclists out for their afternoon ride, and all the while eat some of the best pasta that Italy produces. This tour really introduces Italy, and I never get tired of leading it!"
Write to Monica at ExperiencePlus.com
Maria Elena Malpezzi-Price
Possibly one of the most experienced bicycle tour guides on the planet (for her age), Maria Elena started her career when she was five years old, helping translate ice cream flavors on an early ExperiencePlus! tour from Venice to Pisa. Since then, "M.E." has led tours in more than 10 countries, specializing in Spain, where she has lived, studied and worked
Along with her sister, Maria Elena now co-owns ExperiencePlus! and manages the company's stateside growth and development from its headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado—although she does still manage to travel to Europe and join on tour whenever she can. Maria Elena holds an MBA from the Leeds School of Business in Boulder, Colorado and earned a dual Bachelor's degree in Psychology and International affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Together these disciplines enable her to insightfully focus her attention on day-to-day operations and user experience while maintaining a strategic vision for the business as a whole. In 2011 Maria Elena and Monica were both selected by National Geographic Traveler to be featured in their Top 10 Guides in the world. Although they do not go on tour as much as they would like, they aim to train and pass their love for guiding on to the tour leaders who work with them every year.
Active in the Adventure Travel Industry and motivated to continually improve the whole industry, in 2016 Maria Elena was honored to join the Adventure Travel Trade Association's Advisory Board.
More than anything, Maria Elena still loves to immerse herself in new places and see the world by bike. Her favorite trip—when pressured to choose—is the Camino de Santiago from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela for its extraordinary combination of everything that makes a bike trek great: history, cuisine, landscape, pilgrims, great cycling and languages galore.
"We are often asked this question, and I always say. “It depends on what you’d like to experience.” But if I had to pick one very special tour, it would be the Camino de Santiago, from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. Of all my “favorites,” this tour has just enough of everything you could possibly want in a bicycle tour: history, food, great routes and interesting people. There are few routes in the world where you bicycle or walk by 20 people speaking 5 different languages! Throughout history the Camino was a corridor that connected Europe. More recently it has become a path shared by thousands of people every year—exploring as they travel towards Santiago. You’ll find extraordinary cuisine, history, landscapes and great bicycling on many of our tours—but this particular one has just the right amount of all of these elements to make it extra special!"
Write to MariaElena at ExperiencePlus.com
Meet the Parents
Rick Price and Paola Malpezzi-Price
Rick Price and Paola Malpezzi Price founded Bike Across Italy in 1972 and Italian Specialty Tours Inc in 1985. Their passion for travel and learning led them to take customers and their family across continents and cultures by bicycle. Trained as academics, they both have a passion for travel and learning. Rick, with a Ph.D. in Cultural Geography is able to work on his "applied geography"as he continues to bicycle and travel the world. Paola retired from teaching French, Italian and Women's Literature at Colorado State University and is now enjoying retirement in the way she and Rick know best - traveling the world on two wheels and on four.