Meet the Team

Samantha Sly – Managing Director

Samantha is the much-respected owner of Travel Avenue and Italia Mia and has travelled extensively over the past thirty-plus years in her role as the company Managing Director. Sam’s total love of travel has endeared her to clients who trust her expertise and product knowledge and repeatedly return each year for their next trip. Sam’s top 5 countries of choice to travel to are Italy, Croatia, Africa, Canada and Spain. Sam’s in-depth knowledge in quality hotels around the world provides great insight for clients choosing where to stay. Sam also specialises in select cruise travel, frequently experiencing small ship cruising including river cruising in Europe. Her cruise knowledge is exceptional which she loves to share with clients.

Samantha is a true travel industry expert, matching her knowledge of destination excellence with the very best flight options for all corners of the world. Speak with Sam today and receive the very best advice and travel options for your next international adventure.




       Cosima Bagala – Manager 

‘Ciao, comu si’ is generally how I like to greet you. I’m from Calabrese heritage and Italian through and through.

I spent over three weeks in Calabria on my first trip venturing to the undiscovered part of Italy, or the boot as some may call it. It was a real experience, and when I say real, I mean one full of small rustic villages where it was hard to spot another tourist, locals who invited me in for coffee and a chat, local eateries serving ‘cucina povera’ literally translating to kitchen of the poor, although far from it, the cuisine is honest, fresh, simple and home cooked. Move forward 20 years and I still have this same experience each time I visit. A few years ago, I hosted a multigenerational family trip to the region where the family wanted to reconnect with their roots, we arranged visits to their home towns, reunions with family and all their arrangements so they didn’t need to worry about anything except enjoying ‘their’ time. Speak to me if this is of interest, I’d love to help.

Away from Calabria, I have travelled to many places in Italy, from North to South and over the strait to Sicily. I have definitely enjoyed classic Piedmont cuisine in the hills around Turin, sampled cicchetti in Venice, sipped my way through prosecco country, cooked like a pro in Tuscany, followed the slow road around Puglia and befriended the Sicilians.

Outside of Italy, the Christmas markets of Germany was one of my favourite trips, just remember to bring extra luggage for all the beautiful hand-made decorations! In France my hunt for the best baguette shop didn’t last long, the boulangeries shops of St. Germain are heaven-sent. I enjoyed wandering the Marais and searching for the perfect box of chocolates made by 3rd generation chocolatiers Mazet de Montargis or a secret fast track to the Mona Lisa is always helpful.

As you can gather by now, travel, food, discovery and literally anything Italian, are me. If I could help you arrange a holiday to fulfil your travel dreams, I would love too, please drop me a line and let’s chat.



Fiona Ganci – Travel Specialist

Growing up with a Sicilian heritage, Italy was always going to be my first love. Having travelled extensively throughout Italy I appreciate all things Italian but I would have to say my favourite place in all of Italy is Florence. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Florence. What is it about the best-preserved Renaissance city in the world that I like, well I could go on forever but would be happy to have a chat and share my experiences with you.

Besides my love for Italy, I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling to other parts of the world. Egypt comes to mind as one of the most awe-inspiring places I have been to, and I can highly recommend a visit. I’m short in stature, but really felt like a speck amongst ancient towering structures adorned with the language of the ancient world. Another ancient relic in Egypt is the train system, speaking from experience, I survived it but don’t take this route of travel unless you want a good story to tell. I’d rather be on a sun boat travelling down the Nile any day!

For those who haven’t been to Switzerland, the land of hills, mountains, and cows I can tell you now, it’s a destination everyone should experience. I was overwhelmed by the grandeur of the mountains, waking up in the beautiful town of Grindelwald on a clear blue sunny day surrounded by snow covered mountains, coffee in hand I could not have asked for anything better (besides an espresso at my favourite coffee shop in Florence). My next trip here will be with my family, as I’m an expert in all things related to travelling with a family.

I’ve also travelled far and wide to the United States, Japan, China, throughout Asia and New Zealand, stayed at some great hotels and resorts which I can highly recommend. I have also travelled with children in tow and can create the perfect travel itinerary for your family holiday needs, just ask and I’ll be happy to help.



Rad Rusin – Travel Specialist

What excites me is travel, anywhere and everywhere. I get excited talking about anything off the beaten track having travelled to some wonderful and adventurous places like Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. For those who love open spaces and an urge to ground themselves to a rich nomadic culture, I can highly recommend Mongolia. I enjoyed meeting the Eagle Hunters in far West Mongolia and discovering rich cultures in the Gobi Desert.

I was awe struck by the beauty of the Lofoten Islands, Norway where I ate the freshest seafood, and stayed at quaint (but luxurious) fisherman cabins along the coast line. The islands dotted along the coast line are picturesque and awe inspiring.  Since we are talking about the Nordics, Iceland should be on everyone’s travel list. Besides the Viking Saga tales, there is plenty of volcanoes, some which you can snow mobile on, thundering waterfalls, glacier lagoons and the most beautiful black sand beaches I have seen. Iceland is for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and anyone who wants to be inspired by landscapes.

Now when I’m not travelling off the beaten track, my love for Italy and France come first to mind. Having worked in travel as a Product Manager for many years I have had wonderful opportunities to travel far and wide in these countries. What I love about Italy is that you can travel any time of the year, these is always somewhere new to visit or something new to experience. Having family in the North near Venice I’m well acquainted with this area, and the lesser tourist-centric areas for those who appreciate Prosecco and prosciutto! The same goes for France, further afield from the main cities I’d recommend a luxurious barge cruise for endless food, cheese, champagne and slow life on the river.




Raema Friedman – Travel Specialist

Raema has worked in the travel industry for many years and enjoys every day. Raema’s main philosophy is to offer service to clients and information so the trip is absolutely stress free. Raema has enjoyed travelling to many countries and loves, in particular, France, Italy and Israel and extensively in Australia and still yearns for more. Raema’s passion is walking in different destinations. Raema has discovered a vast array of hotels and restaurants around the world which are absolute gems and enjoys sharing this knowledge with her clients.