The young Italian entrepreneur welcomes me from his living room, bent over his laptop. Despite his busy schedule, he has arrived at our Google Meet call on time, but the connection is weak and we spend the first two minutes trying to improve it in the best way we can think of. Pietro Ienca has a kind smile, one of those that exude confidence, and the short beard that covers his face provides him with an air of maturity. His long black hair tied back at the nape and his restless gaze, however, reveals the adventurer who loves to spend time in nature. “If you want, we can talk in Spanish,” he suggests with almost no trace of an Italian accent. I accept, but we agree to speak at all times in the language that is most comfortable for us or makes it easier to understand each other well.
“I have been to Spain several times,” he mentions next. “You have beautiful hiking trails there, and wonderful food.” With a few words, he has already earned my sympathy. Pietro’s ability to speak easily and convincingly is also very important to his work. Tripinyourshoes is a non-profit organization, and personal connections with public and private partners are essential to carry out its activity.
I ask Pietro how, in a world in which low-cost air travel and weekend getaways have set the trend in the sector in the last two decades, it occurred to him to focus on something like outdoor experiences in rural areas. “I’ve always liked hiking,” he says without hesitation. “If I have to think of a specific event, I think there are two that come easily to mind. The first would be when I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2012, when I was just a kid. I travelled hundreds of kilometres across Spain on foot and felt better than ever.” His eyes light up as he remembers. “The trigger was in a second journey, six years ago, when Luigi Chiurchi and I graduated and decided to take a trip from Genoa to the highest peak of the Apennines, in Abruzzo. As we covered 650 km in a month, we began to know a little more about our own country… It was a revealing experience. We knew that these topics (hiking, ecology, geography) interested us and we wanted to carry out a project in this regard, so we created a blog.”