Our Journeys

Our Team


MEET OUR TEAM

Alessandra Gardino Ranghiasci Montgomery

Born in Genoa, Italy, Alessandra was raised to be a world traveller. Her father, an active mountaineer from Piedmont, made sure that Alessandra grew up with a passion for nature, and knowledge of the Italian and French Alps. Her mother, heiress to the historical Central Italian palace Palazzo Ranghiasci, instilled in Alessandra a profound love of European arts and culture. These family traditions have allowed Alessandra to fully develop her passion for art, food, wine, archeology, and of course, adventure. During her years as a corporate executive in the Mediterranean’s competitive tourism industry, Alessandra harbored a dream of building a company that introduced curious, active travellers to diverse, fascinating cultures and art. In 2003, that dream became a reality with the creation of MG Expeditions, now Customized Journeys. Alessandra speaks Italian, French, Spanish, and English.

Benedetta Rappa Verona

Betta has been working side by side with Alessandra since 2010 and loves her job! She was born and raised in the Italian region of Piedmont. After graduating in Foreign Languages and Tourism Management from Università Cattolica in Milan, she moved to Oregon where she lived for nine years before deciding to settle back in her beautiful home country. Betta brings a bounty of knowledge to the team. She plays an active role in planning logistics for the tours all over Europe and beyond. Her love of travel and interacting with new people and cultures has also made her a coveted trip leader. Betta is passionate about sharing all the various aspects and peculiarities of her country, such as its cultural heritage and gourmet food and wine, to new and experienced travelers alike. Betta speaks Italian, English, German, and French.

Irene Squizzato

Irene was born and raised at the foothills of the Italian Alps and began traveling on her own at the age of 12, when she visited her pen pal in Paris. This ignited Irene’s passion for developing a deep understanding of different cultures and overcoming stereotypes. Since then she has lived, studied and worked in Chile, Morocco, Ireland and the US. Her travels, paired with her degrees in Political Science and International Relations, have solidified her belief that cultural exchange is among the best tools for peaceful international relations. Prior to joining Customized Journeys, Irene worked with renowned US distilleries, wineries, and restaurants as a public relations strategist and event producer. At Customized Journeys Irene’s focus is on public relations, marketing, and new client development. Irene speaks Italian, English, Spanish and some French.

Monica Vilhauer

A native of Portland, OR, avid traveler, and all-around wordsmith, Monica enjoys researching and writing about adventures to off-the-beaten-path hideaways, and learning all she can about different cultures and traditions. With a background as a philosophy professor, she is always interested in deepening the experiential learning aspect of travel and exposure to different ways of life. Monica is particularly motivated by projects that bring travel and education together. She has recently created an innovative philosophy retreats program that works to connect ideas to lived experience, and focuses on philosophy as a way of life. Ask her about it!

Laura Pagano

Now in her 7th year with Customized Journeys, Laura has become an irreplaceable member of our team. Caring, compassionate, and all around fun, everybody loves Laura. It’s not uncommon for our travelers to be in tears after their trip ends and it’s time to say goodbye to lovely Laura. Laura studied languages and literature at Rome University and later completed a master’s degree in tourism business management. Deeply passionate about her home country of Italy, Laura has a remarkable knowledge of its history and a deep love of its culture. Laura speaks Italian, English, French, and German.

Jennifer O'Brien

With deep family roots in Italy, many of Jennifer’s favorite childhood memories involve lively celebrations filled with wonderful homemade food and wine, all set to the music of her grandpa’s accordion. As an adult, Jennifer’s greatest passion has been exploring Sannicandro di Bari, Italy—the homeland of her grandparents—with her own family. This interest in her Italian heritage has fueled her love of Italian culture. She spends much of her free time mastering and enjoying Italian cooking, language, wine, and local history. Jennifer’s expertise in sales, marketing and fundraising, and her love of all things Italy, make her an indispensable member of the Customized Journeys team. In addition to her work at Customized Journeys, Jennifer also volunteers with her children's schools.