Travel doesn’t merely broaden the mind, it makes the mind. (Bruce Chatwin)
I have always been interested in different philosophies and religions and anthropology turned out to be my main interest. I like people and I like learning about the cultures they come from. When I guide someone around, I try to introduce them to the Italian and Venetian cultures, focussing on the aspects that make these unique while also underscoring the similarities among all people – and in this way moving towards an intercultural understanding. I often work with people from very different cultural backgrounds and I have learnt that nothing can be taken for granted so when I explain anything, I try to translate the concepts and ideas I am talking about culturally – not just literally. I believe that this is what makes my guests feel at ease: they get an authentic cultural experience and leave feeling like they are taking a bit of Italy and a bit of Venice back home with them.
Born and raised in Venice, when I turned 17 I left home to go and explore the world. I lived abroad for several years in the United States, Germany and Japan and once back home I realised that what I had gained during this time – above all – was a greater understanding of my own culture. I wanted to be able to share this with people coming from other places and cultures.
I have been working in tourism for about 30 years, starting off as a tour escort accompanying groups to their destinations. Fifteen years ago I became an officially licensed Tour Guide and began working mainly in Venice. After the birth of my daughter I cut back on travelling and have since been dividing my time between guiding and mothering. Seeing a child grow forces me to constantly wonder about the most effective ways of teaching and learning and I try to use this approach when guiding: putting myself in the shoes of the listener so I can understand what they will find most engaging and appealing, all the while being mindful of children’s attention spans and interests.
I love being surrounded by water (which will be helpful since Venice will soon be inundated by it!) so I swim, dive and sail. In my free time I enjoy choral singing and working with my hands doing arts and crafts, gardening and the like.
I’m also interested in Waldorf education and – of course! – in travelling.
I believe what makes my tours enjoyable for guests is my ability to tell stories, which I try to make more interesting by peppering them with a fair amount of humour and hopefully making the difficult parts easy for the listener to grasp.
In 1988, thanks to an AFS scholarship, I graduated from Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, Maryland, USA. When I returned to Italy I finished high school and then studied at the University of Ca’ Foscari in Venice, where I received my master’s degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures with a thesis on the anthropology of travel. I attended German classes in Munich – Germany and then lived in Japan for a couple of years to learn Japanese at E&E International School of Osaka. I have been volunteering for several years within AFS/Intercultura – an association that promotes cultural exchanges – and I have been a trainer organising orientation courses in Italy and abroad.
I have discovered in the course of the years that my true passion is anthropology and I read many books on the subject. This turns out to be my preferred approach to history and art and the way I explain them.
I like offering tours that allow visitors to get a real feel for the city.
Walking slowly, smelling and watching the city around us, I try to be respectful of the people who live here and bring to life the stories of people who came before us and left traces of their presence.
I like social history and whenever possible during tours I try to stop by local artisans and artists so the visitor can encounter and engage with them. I believe they are the living heritage of Venice.
One of my favourite tours unfolds through the market area of Rialto, a place where one can still witness a vibrant city shimmering all around: the market of Rialto was established here in the 11th century and, as we walk through the squares and alleys filled with voices and colours, we talk about the merchants’ lives. With a bit of imagination, one can still see the merchandise that in the old days came from the markets of the Far East. Stopping somewhere to taste the famous cicchetti – tapas, sipping a good glass of wine and chatting, we learn that Rialto was the place where ideas and goods were exchanged, economy invented, where one would go to see and be seen and get up to speed on the latest news and the most refined fashions. A visit to the nearby museum of costumes can follow, where we can smell the perfumes Venice use to produce en masse and hear the stories of famous men and women from the past and present: courtesans, libertines, writers, painters, artists, intellectuals and personalities we can still talk and learn about today. They end up sharing their lives with us, giving us insights into their motivations and thereby revealing to us how we all are similar and small in respect to the grandeur of life and history.