The Profession of Tourist…Guide

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Several years ago, I recall how perplexed a clerk of the local Chamber of Commerce was when trying to classify my profession of tourist guide for bureaucratic reasons. “Are you a merchant? A teacher? A travel agent? Well then, tell me, what are you exactly? There’s no such thing as your profession in the commercial sector!” Finally, after months of queries (yes, that’s right, not days or weeks, but months!), I learned that tourist guides fell under the category of craftsmen/artisans. At first, this classification puzzled me and then it filled me with pride. According to the Italian encyclopedia, Treccani, the craftsman/artisan is he or she who creates, produces, and offers a quality product, often original, as opposed to those products that are industrially and mass-produced. The prefix of artisan derives from the word ‘art’. Our art, that of...

Drawings Travel To Tuscany

A precious book by Georg Christoph Martini

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I started this series of brief articles by explaining why I chose to become a tourist guide. Leaving aside sentiment and rhetoric dictated by the moment, I’d like to present to you some of the sources of my modest, yet handy, knowledge. My library for example.  Two plain sets of shelves, purchased at IKEA, similar to what you find in households everywhere.  It is packed with books stacked double file, almost all of them regarding the history and territory of Lucca. There is one that is especially dear to me and I’d like to tell you about it.  It was written by Georg Christoph Martini, an 18th-century painter and chronicler, during a trip to Tuscany. My copy is a second edition published by Maria Pacini Fazzi and is a fount of information regarding life and society in 18th-century Lucca....


A Tourist Guide Trapped at Home

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When people become professional tourist guides in Italy, some do it out of necessity, some do it as a part-time job, some do it while waiting for their ‘dream’ job to materialize. I’ve been at this profession for over thirty years for pure vocation and because I’m passionate about it. Perhaps too passionate, seeing how my family is always nagging me because I put my work ahead of household duties or personal fun. Maybe they’re right but my job is part of my life. Whenever I run into a certain old friend of mine while I’m working, he yells out, “You’re always in the streets, talking, talking, talking!!! Don’t you ever work??” And possibly, he’s right. I love my job. It’s great fun. It’s not a burden at all. In these dramatic times, when not only Italy but the...