'Invisible' citizen: Entrepreneur fights stigma of ageing

LAST month Seniors News spoke with the effervescent 70-year-old Isabella Dusi of Noosa. While our conversation aimed at gathering information on her current business -  Footsteps in Italy - we found out there was plenty more to talk about.

In her own words, Isabella has shared further events from her colourful past and, for a bit more entertainment and inspiration, we filmed Seniors Newspaper Group editor Gail Forrer interviewing Isabella.

We hope you enjoy.

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"Go quietly, become invisible; that's the advice I was offered in 2017 from a financial advisor," Isabella said.

"Transitioning from a successful career to retirement just because a milestone birthday is reached, is not a scenario that brings joy to everyone. Becoming an invisible elderly citizen sounded like an unstimulating prospect to me."

Why would she after living such as an extraordinary life and with so much to share in the future.

"In my previous life I worked in design studios, talk-back radio and operated with my Italian/Australian husband, Luigi, a furniture business which built and sent Japanese futons all over Australia and beyond.

"In the early 1990's my design world became entangled in the unfolding Christopher Skase debacle. Like many small businesses, Luigi and I were left with a couple of suitcases and not much more. It was then we decided to re-discover Luigi's family roots in Italy.

"Luigi and I stayed in Italy for 24 years and built a successful boutique tour business, escorting hundreds of tours to Italy, France, Morocco, Malta, the Greek isles and Croatia.

"I became fluent in Italian with the help from my friends in our village of Montalcino. I also studied Italian renaissance art and history and became an excellent storyteller. These talents became a hallmark of the hundreds of tours I hosted."

She followed this with three books about Italy - Vanilla Beans & Brodo, Bel Vino and The Terracotta Madonna - which led Isabella to touring America to raise funds for a community project to save a 1000-year-old Italian neighbourhood church. That experience then opened the way for her to take on professional speaking engagements which continues to do back in Australia.

"After my husband Luigi died I found myself back in Queensland and this is when a financial advisor suggested that, at my age, there is no incentive for me to stay in business," she said.

"In Italy, I was accepted into the community of a small village in Tuscany. I was a signora of a certain eta, and along with that eta came respect for my expertise and my experience. I never, ever, felt old and had never been referred to as an old person.

"It has been hard returning to Australia and finding myself categorised as an old person and, unfortunately, along with that, a less than valuable citizen, and one advised to go quietly and accept invisibility.

"We have so many skills and talents, so much knowledge and experience within us.

Isabella is a fine example of not going quietly into retirement and not becoming invisible. The beautifully spoken and classically presented businesswoman continues to design her own tours to Italy and France, and is personally operating and guiding three Footsteps in Italy tours in 2018.

Interested in travelling with Isabella? You can contact her travel group at

Topics:  encore careers travel willing to work

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