Fantastic Florence 10th Anniversary: How to Become a Tour Guide in Florence

How to become a tour guide in Florence: the exam day

Francesca Papi: Tour Guide ProfessionOften people ask me how to become a tour guide in Florence. Lot of study, hard work, great communication skills and a big passion is my answer! It was the morning of July 21, 2008. It was really hot, as it always is in July. After a long study year, the day of the exam had finally arrived! I was about to become a tour guide in Florence, a dream had finally become reality after a long time! After the written exam, it was now time for the oral–the most difficult. We were tested by university professors and expert tour guides. I remember the first question was about the statues in the Loggia of the Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria. Then they asked what a possible itinerary would be of Michelangelo’s works. Afterwards, it was time for the questions in a foreign language–English, German, and Spanish. Here I made a mistake: I confused the two Spanish verbs for bring and take. Anyway, in the end, I graduated with the highest marks and was congratulated by the commission. I did it! I was officially a Florence tour guide!

How to become a tour guide in Florence: I studied so much…

Shiny happy people on tour!

Shiny happy people on tour!

That year was one of the most exciting and intense times of my life. It had always been my dream to share the beauty of my city with people from all over the world. I had studied foreign languages and history at university. I had lived abroad and worked on cruise ships. Comparing cultures had always been fascinating to me. I remember the hours I spent studying in the library with my classmates who later became my close friends. We would play a sort of quiz show game to get ready for the exam. The harder the questions, the more fun it was! How many children did Cosimo de’ Medici have? A bunch! How many circles of walls were there around Florence over the centuries? The nightmare of every one of us. How many chapels are there in Santa Croce? Uncountable. How many bees are the in the base of the Ferdinand I monument in Piazza Santissima Annunziata? Tried to count them all thousand of time but not succeeding. And that was just the beginning. I always say that I spend my life studying because it’s true that you never stop learning!

Why I love my job

How to become a tour guide in Florence

Me maaanny years ago, when I was a baby!

From 2008 to now I have been a tour guide to thousands of people from every continent. I’m still in contact with many of them, we exchange holiday greetings and many even sent gifts when my son Gabriele was born. Actually, a long-lasting friendship began with many others. I love my job and I’m very lucky to have chosen to do what I like. I get very emotional every time I walk into Piazza della Signoria and I climb Palazzo Vecchio’s steep tower. I get goosebumps every time I see the veins in the David’s right hand. When I talk about the Medici family it’s like they’re family.

Thanks to all of you!

The greatest satisfaction for me is when I see a spark of interest in the eyes of a teenager when they look at a painting, or when I see a child’s curious face in front of a statue. I like helping my guests discover the most hidden places of Florence, the real markets, the Florence that I like. Ten years have flown by. In the meantime I’ve had a beautiful baby and I‘ve widened the Fantastic Florence team. Isabella, Letizia, Jessica, Valentina, Daniela, Cristiano and Giacomo work with me and help me make your visit to Florence unforgettable. I’ve refreshed my website with a new graphic and a new logo (which I think is amazing!). I’m grateful to all the people who have helped me grow in these first ten years of Fantastic Florence. I’d like to thank you one by one, but that would be impossible! Oh, almost forgot….for those of you who were curious, the answers are: 12, 6, 16, 91.