It’s time to get badged again! After much thought and procrastination I have decided at this ripe (old) age to get another badge as an Italian historian tourist guide. Which means a year course and lots of art history studies, starting next week. So blog posts may become erratic or worse still I may take you all along with my studies, bit by bit, to the most beautiful monuments and art of Florence!
You may well ask, do you need a badge, or more appropriately, do you need a license? In fact it’s true and any time you have had an art historian guide in a city like Florence you may have noticed their badge dangling conspicuously around their necks. For those who have travelled on tour with me may remember my badge, but if you looked closely it was a Tourist Escort (Accompagnatrice Turistica) badge easily gained for anyone who has an Arts/ Humanities degree (like me) and for those that don’t attendance on the Tourist Escort course.
In classic Italian style, loads of jobs require a license and justifiably so, to show you have a minimum of skill and expertise in the area. Although I always felt my Social work background was a bonus in being a good ‘Mother Hen’ of my delightful ‘chics’
A Tourist guide is usually quite jealous of their license and ever on the look out to defend their status against unlicensed intruders or even against Tour Escorts.
I have vivid memories of a Tourist guide in Padua shouting at me for being a ‘guide’ and threatening police intervention when she saw me with my group. All of which could have meant a hefty fine if I was ‘guiding‘ but then I was just doing my usual Tourist Escort job – pointing out the toilets and where we would meet again after the group’s free time. So no risk of any fine but she was adamant, as well as very flashy, parading around with an enormous flower as her guide banner. An unpleasant incident which ended in a shouting match.
The badgering did not impress my group who were so protective that they made me a ‘new badge’ and at the end of the tour gave me this beautiful whirly whirly to use in future! Wow, what a lovely group that was!
My whirly whirly unfortunately has never left the house as I know how much groups, especially Aussies, hate to be herded, and I forever tried to be discreet when we were out and about. At best…or worst I made do with one of my colorful umbrellas that I have not lost and continue to use.
Still the gift was much appreciated as was their ‘official tourist guide’ badge which sticks in my cork board, yellowing a little with age now.
I will be honest and say I am not sure if I am going to get this badge, but I will be giving it my best shot and have already been doing preliminary studies. Naturally it’s going to be all in Italian so after 30+ years here, it will be good to brush up on my Italian and boost my vocabulary!
Tourist guides have always fascinated me, they are true story tellers, making ancient monuments come alive, bringing the past into our laps.Such an art in story telling and not something that everyone can do. Many of my Tourist guides (chosen personally) have kept my groups spellbound and entertained without being overwhelming.
And when on holidays I always use a local tourist guide – from Darwin to Cuba to Matera, my last experience! At the same time I never regret my Tourist Escort time as that really is another job altogether, which Tourist guides experience rarely. Spending days and weeks together with people is another art in itself and keeping that large family happy not always an easy task.
So wish me luck…and I will keep you posted on my progress!