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Smith, Russell, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Dr Andrea D'Ercole launched Italyabroad.com in Newcastle upon Tyne in early 2005 (www.italyabroad.com; 0191 226 8524).
Dr Andrea D'Ercole, 32, has an impressive career history in blue- chip companies that spans from finance to pharmaceuticals. But he decided to opt out of big business and take on a new challenge - as a "merchant". The traditional merchant model mixes know-how, travel and trade and D'Ercole's business, Italyabroad.com, offers the finest regional foods and wines from small producers in his native Italy. "We supply the real Italian products," he says, "not those simply labelled as Italian and, quite often, unrecognisable to Italians."
What started as a part-time idea in 2003 grew so quickly that D'Ercole took the plunge full-time in early 2005. "The amount of e- mails I got asking questions about Italy was amazing," he says. "I realised that there was a huge demand for what I could offer." And what he can offer stems from a lifetime's passion for food, cooking and wine. In fact, D'Ercole knows exactly when that passion started. "I was two-years-old," he says."My grandfather introduced me to wine as I sat on his knee and I can remember the moment like yesterday. …