A tour guide is a local expert on a given area, someone who lives there permanently. This is not to be confused with a tour manager, someone who travels from their home country to Italy with a tour group. Becoming a tour guide in Italy is most feasible either for Italians or citizens of other countries who are eligible for Italian passports. With its stunning scenery, mouthwatering food and unbeatable history, Italy is a perpetual tourist draw. Where there are tourists, there are inevitably tour guides, a highly competitive profession in Italy, where tourism is a leading industry.
Learn Italian. Depending on the company you work for, complete fluency may not be necessary, but basic competency in the language is a must. As a tour guide, you will need to resolve conflicts and gain information from Italian-speaking locals.
Become an expert on the region in which you wish to act as a guide. If you want to specialize in Tuscany, get to know everything about the area, including food, history, art, museums, religious institutions and geography.
Consider enrolling in the tour guide course at the International Guide Academy, where you will learn how to manage tour groups and increase your chances of being hired by a licensed tour operator. The courses offered will give you an in-depth understanding of the industry and how you fit in.
Get licensed. Contact the national or local tourist board for the province in which you wish to lead tours. You must pass a rigorous series of exams, both written and oral, in order to become a licensed tour guide in Italy. This is a very difficult process, with approximately one in 10 applicants passing the examinations.
Apply for a position as a guide with various tour operators in Italy. Alternatively, go into business for yourself, advertising in tourist guides and online. See Resources for a list of licensed companies in the United States that run tours of Italy.
It is illegal to run tours in Italy without a license. If you attempt to do so, be prepared to face legal consequences when stopped by the Italian police.