FIND A WALK
Context was founded by Paul Bennett and Lani Bevacqua. Before arriving in Rome in the fall of 2001, Lani and Paul spent a year and a half voyaging aboard Lucy, a 38-foot sailing ketch, making their way from New York City to Rome via Central America, the Atlantic Islands, and North Africa.
Paul is an award-winning writer for National Geographic and National Geographic Adventure. He holds a Master’s from St. John’s College’s “Great Books” program and has written four books for Princeton Architectural Press about architecture and landscape. When he’s not helping run Context, he lectures on architecture, and writes for several publications, on travel, architecture, and design. His article about underground Rome appeared in the July 2006 issue of National Geographic magazine and was selected for the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, October 2007). His February 2005 NG Adventure article about sailing across the Atlantic was selected for the Best American Travel Writing 2005 (Houghton Mifflin, October 2006), while his article on global warming in Greenland for the same magazine recently won a Thomas Lowell Award (October 2007).
Before embarking on their cruise, Lani was an award-winning graphic designer and art director in New York City. She worked in-house for Artforum, Dance Theater Workshop, and Gartner Group. Her agency clients included Gillette, Compaq, Computer Associates, IBM, and PeoplePC. Her specialty was digital advertising and web animation. Along with being the creative director and designer for the Context websites and publications, she co-manages Context Travel and the Context Foundation. In her spare time, she is rasing three small children and is the impetus behind Context's much-lauded Family Program.
Paul and Lani have three little girls: Stella (10), Cleo (8), and Jade (5). They were born and raised in various Context cities and currently live in Philadelphia, PA where Context has its U.S. base. They spend several months of the year traveling with their parents.
Petulia Melideo has been with Context from the start. Originally from Rome, Context's London manager and marketing director, Petulia, has always been a traveler: From rural Pakistan to New York City, she makes herself at home wherever she goes. For the past year she has been living in England, with her husband, in a 15th-century building, in a small town halfway between London and Paris.
Jessica Stewart hails from Massachusetts and earned her B.A. in art history from Boston University. She got her first taste of Italian living during a semester exchange in Padova. She holds an M.A. in Renaissance studies from University College London, where her dissertation dealt with the development of Giulio Romano's early painting style in Rome. Her main areas of interest are Renaissance and Baroque painting and sculpture. She has been working with Context since 2006 and for many years was the regional manager of our Italian programs. Currently she works as our Expansion Manager, bringing Context into new markets worldwide. In her spare time she pursues her passion for photography.
Lily Heise studied art in Italy and then in Paris as part of her Fine Arts Degree. Her love of art and culture brought her back to Europe after graduation, and she has made the City of Light her home for the last ten years. Her varied professional experience includes working in museums and art galleries in Canada and France, translating and writing projects as well as teaching at the University of Paris and the French National Film School. Lily manages our France and Spain operations and spends her free time discovering the city's latest art exhibits or even doing some art herself.
Carolyn Macuga joined Context in 2010 from the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she created cultural programming for over seven years. She is an Adjunct Instructor of Art History at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and holds a B.A. in English Literature and Art History from Colby College, and a Master's degree in Museum Studies from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Carolyn works in our Philadelphia office managing Context's programs in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as overseeing the client services team.
Born and bred in Philadelphia, Liz Roller graduated from Boston University with a BA in the love of all things Italian (officially titled 'Italian Language, Art and History"). Spending a year abroad in Padova, Italy during University, Liz caught the travel bug and has never looked back. Based in the Philadelphia office since spring of 2011, she currently is our Italy specialist within the home office. Outside of work, you will find her exploring the city, trying new foods and wines and planning her next adventure!
Originally from Philadelphia, Sara joined Context in 2011 after teaching high school English in La Rochelle, France. Prior to that she worked in arts administration at the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Hollis Taggart Galleries, both in New York. Sara holds her B.A. from NYU, having studied French, Art History, and Psychology. She is the France and Spain Specialist in our US office.
Ceylan Zere was born and raised in Istanbul and has spent much of her life wandering through its maze busy streets and alleys. With a background in engineering, she possesses a good knowledge of the city's built environment. Ceylan spent many years in the United States, and although she continues traveling back to Istanbul. She comes from a cultural tourism background and worked in travel industry for a long time. A licensed guide for Turkey, Ceylan spend much of the year leading expeditions to archeological sites along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey. She is the co-author of Turkey Guide: Confluence of Civilizations, written for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Throughout her career, Ceylan has spent extensive periods in Greece, as a study leader working with local guides on various projects. Ceylan has worked as a docent in Istanbul for many years. She manages our Istanbul and Athens programs.
Martina Dalla Riva
A native of Verona, Martina graduated in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham (UK), where she is currently completing a PhD. She has worked as an archaeologist in Italy and abroad, focussing on prehistoric technology. She has also been involved in international projects in the field of archaeological conservation and public outreach. Martina has been working in the Rome office since 2011 and is our Italian operations manager.
Natalie Holmes was born and raised in London and South East England, where she studied for her BA in Social Anthropology and MA in Environment and Development. Having worked in the travel industry for a decade, she moved to Berlin in 2009 and, inspired by her adopted hometown, has since developed her career as a writer, specializing in sustainability, science and the arts. Natalie joined us in 2013 and manages our programs across Central Europe.
Sophie hails from New York and works out of Shanghai managing our Asia programs. Four years ago she moved to China on a whim and won’t be able to leave until she’s visited every country in Asia. When she’s not working on furthering Context’s Asia programs, Sophie writes about Shanghai’s evolving nightlife, dining, and arts scene and covers the travel industry in East and Southeast Asia. She enjoys cycling and eating her way around Asia, one street stall at a time.
In our second year as a Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist