Well, please note I am not writing that you should visit Venice with me as a tour guide 🙂
Instead, I am talking about a serious profession even if sometimes we look funny with our colourful umbrellas and the group following! And yes, I admit it. In case of need I also have one, now it’s red but the first umbrella I used was apple green. I remember quite well that day when my mum said, “Look at this green umbrella! Don’t you think it would be perfect for your tours? Take it, it’s a present!”… I was not surprised to find out later she had regifted it to me 😉
Here I am with my red umbrella in front of the Frari church:
In fact the day I learnt the exam to become a tour guide had been launched, I refused the idea, I could not imagine myself talking to a group of kids not listening or making fun of the tour guide! I guess it must have been some memories of me while at school doing some sightseeing… oops!
But then the very last day to apply arrived and there I was, serious and strong willed.
The exam was really hard and it took months to pass all its steps. Written exams, oral exams, compositions about the history, the art and the city in all its aspects. Its museums, churches, palaces, even the ones that no longer exist… all its narrow alleyways! And of course, that wonderful and complex environment, the Venetian lagoon. And wait, let’s not forget there’s more. Language tests, three languages spoken fluently required. University degree required.
Hundreds of people applied, only 26 got the license. And while experiencing a nervous breakdown when calling my mum to tell her I had finally passed, I heard her voice “brava!!!” that made me cry on the shoulder of somebody nearby who I didn’t know… well, Maria and I became friends afterwards 🙂
I found out I loved this job as soon as I ran my first tour and then I realised time for exams had just begun… And I am still learning, even if I started 15 years ago and I love it 🙂
So, yes, if you prefer to visit a city in the company of a tour guide, choose a licensed one and check their license that will say “guida turistica” and nothing else. Simple. Unlicensed guiding in Italy is forbidden, but many are the ones that will tell you they are allowed to offer walking tours even without a license and no red or green umbrella 🙂
Here is my licence:
by Luisella Romeo
registered tourist guide in Venice, Italy