Photo courtesy of MailOnline
When it comes to hiring a tour guide in Italy, not all guides are created equal.
Hiring a local guide can enrich your vacation experience. In a short amount of time, they can present a millenium's worth of history and anecdotes in a fascinating and fun way. Most guides are open to creating tours to fit your interests, and they love to answer your questions! Tour guides make their cities come alive!
In Italy, where tourism is one of its leading industries, tour guides are held to a high standard to ensure you, the consumer, is protected and receives the highest level of service. The Italian legislation, both at the national and local levels, defines the tourism professions and requires that everyone in the field possess a license. But before the license can be obtained, an applicant must provide proof of:
- Residency, or possession of the 'Permesso di Soggiorno' (Residence Permission) -- the Italian equivalent of the Green Card.
- A degree in Art History or Archaelogy.
Once these requirements are satisfied, the applicant must then pass an intensive exam issued by the province where the applicant wishes to work. Because each province has its own licensing, an applicant wishing to work in Rome and Pompeii, for example, would be required to pass the Provincia di Roma exam and the Provincia di Campania exam. This is also why you see the term 'escort' used a lot. For instance, while a Rome-only licensed guide may not tour a group in Pompeii, he can 'escort' the group from Rome to Pompeii where the group can then hire a Pompeii-licensed guide.
Applicants who pass the exam must then meet tax regulations in order to be an in-good-standing licensed guide.
You can easily spot a licensed guide by the credentials they wear around their neck or carry on their person. Searching the internet for a licensed guide may seem a little trickier, but in fact, a licensed guide will always advertise their credentials. They've worked hard for them and are proud of their achievement!
Walking around famous sites such as the Colosseum in Rome or St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, guides can be seen walking around and promoting tours. Most likely, these guides are considered the 'abusivo' guides, the illegal guides. You may hire one of these guides for less, and you may even find them seemingly knowledgeable. Yet, stick around long enough and watch how fast they scram if police are seen in the area! Licensed guides are found through reputable tourism agencies and websites.
Italy's historical cities and sites deserve the best, and so do you! Hire a licensed tour guide.
Planning a trip to Italy? Click here to find out how I can help make your experience a unique postcard in your travel scrapbook!