Postcards from Italy

A Note on Tour Guides in Italy

Our tour guides are not only wonderful local contacts and sources of information for our travelers but they are also our eyes and ears. We can't be everywhere at once, and they keep us in tune with the newest and greatest developments in our favorite cities.

From newly unveiled archeological sites in Rome to a once-in-a-lifetime blanket of snow covering central Florence, they are out there every day discovering the new and re-discovering the ancient.

Image © Concierge in Umbria

Italy's Stringent Tour Guide Requirements

In Italy, being a tour guide is not a seasonal occupation or something one does for a few years before moving on to a "career."

It is a licensed specialty, a lifelong occupation that requires years of study and training. Many guides have advanced degrees in art history, ancient history, and languages – often more than one. And if they are guiding our clients we work with and know them personally.

Guides must be licensed by the city or region they guide in, which not only means that they live in and frequently come from the areas they guide in, but they know their area so well that they've passed rigorous exams on the history of their geographic specialty.

Similar to our own belief that an itinerary should be developed around the traveler's needs and interests, first rate, professional tour guides adapt their knowledge to create tailored tours for each traveler they guide.

If there are children in your group for example, a good guide will include things of special interest to their age group that they wouldn't normally include for adults.

We highly recommend local tour guidesImage © Concierge in Umbria

The Guided Tour Experience

When you visit a church or a ruin or a battlefield, that's what you see – carvings, stones, or grass – unless you know what to look for.

Having a person who not only knows what there is to see, but what of those things you are interested in, how and when best to see them, and the logical order to present them in is what turns sight-seeing into a transformational experience, a confrontation with history and culture that brings you into the experience instead of leaving you outside looking in.

The first time we took a guided tour, we were stunned at the hidden stories, anecdotes, and local legends that our guide showed us. And this was a small town. That we had visited several times. And thought we knew well.

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Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers | Contact Us
Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy

Pasquetta: The National Day of R&R

While you headed back to work yesterday - Italians kept the Easter party going by celebrating Pasquetta (Easter Monday).

Pasquetta 2013Image © Concierge in Umbria The view from Brian’s Pasquetta hike.

What is Pasquetta?

The Italian suffix “etta” typically refers to something that is small and sweet, so Pasquetta is often translated to “little Easter,” or often “Easter Monday,” since it always falls on the Monday after Easter.
As a religious observance, Lunedi dell’Angelo, the holiday celebrates the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalena meeting an angel outside Jesus’s tomb. But in practice, it’s a way to add an extra day to the Easter holiday weekend - and make sure you work off some of the calories you put on eating on Easter Sunday.

How Do You Celebrate?

On Pasquetta, the main goal is to get outside. As Easter takes place after the spring equinox, it’s naturally a time when days are getting longer, plants are starting to bloom, and weather is getting better.
Italians pack a picnic and head to the nearest (or nicest) green space they can find, whether it’s a city park or the countryside. Rural towns often have organized parties with a big outdoor lunch and dancing with a live band.
Though egg rolling is a common activity, one Umbrian town takes things even further. In Panciale, the city organizes a cheese wheel-rolling racecourse.

The Real Question: What to Eat?

Easter day commonly begins with a breakfast of torta di Pasqua (see more about Easter breads in our “In Season” column) and a cured meat like capocollo.

So it’s very to natural to pack the extra leftovers in a basket for a Pasquetta picnic. Egg-based foods, whether extra hard-boiled eggs or easy make-ahead dishes like frittatas, round out the basket.

Our Favorite Pasquetta Pastimes

There’s an Italian saying, “Natale con i tuoi, pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with family, Easter with who you want).
Pasquetta is a perfect time to visit some of our favorite friends in Italy for a day of relaxing in the country with great food. This spring has not been kind to Italy on the weather front. Easter Sunday was filled with torrential downpours and even hail in central Umbria where we live. The Pasquetta forecast didn’t leave much hope for a nice day for a picnic either but the sun was shining when we woke up and it didn’t rain until the evening. Brian went for a hike with friends in the hills behind Mt. Subasio that ended with a raucous lunch of roast pork shanks, polenta, chicken stew and overflowing jugs of wine. That evening we met clients for an elegant wine tasting in Spello before (yet another) rainy drive home.

Think Spring!

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Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers | Contact Us
Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy