As any of my compatriots will tell you, our concept of self begins with our birthplace and expands outward. I am first passionately Sienese, then deeply Tuscan, then emphatically Italian (European? I'm working on that!). My family has lived in various zones of Siena, a walled town dating back to the middle ages, for hundreds of years. When I resided for brief periods of time in other countries, homesickness for Tuscan sights, sounds and smells was like a physical ache. Like most Italians, I am deeply attached to our landscape, architecture, art, cuisine and customs -- and to enjoying life to the fullest.
I'm not your guide, although my clients toss that word around - I would say I'm your professional driver and the heart and soul of your stay in Tuscany - My wife would say I'm a "charming know-it-all" always ready with an anecdote or a joke, sometimes both! I've always been a history buff -- wherever I am, I want to know more about those who previously inhabited the space around me. A convenient obsession for someone who spends his life helping tourists, this keeps my enthusiasm for the job constant and means that when my customers return to Tuscany, I have discovered or rediscovered new corners of the region to explore with them. Of course, I enjoy reading about the archeology, history and art of Tuscany, but I often learn the most intriguing facts and legends about a given area from long talks with the locals in the piazza.
In my former life as a restaurant owner, I loved meeting and getting to know visitors from all over the world. It frequently seemed to me, though, that tourists, Americans in particular, came to the area on "package tours," with hurried and stressful schedules: they never stayed in a single town for more than three consecutive days, and spent more time in souvenir shops than meeting local residents. Eventually, after marrying Patti, one of the Americans I had met, and living abroad with her, it occurred to both of us that a collaboration with her organization could turn my gift of gab, love and knowledge of my region into a career -- and I've never looked back!