Hi, I'm Paola Barbanera!
I grew up in this wonderful city, Rome. I spent my childhood trekking its back-streets and lanes, and in my teenage years became fascinated by its amazing art and history.
I went to a specialist school for art history and archeology, then graduated university with honours in Science Tourism. I was a professional licensed tour leader for ten years (leading groups to Africa, America, Europe and Asia)
Then did further study to become a professional licensed tour guide in 1999 for Rome and Vatican city.
I have been sharing my love of Rome ever since. Whereas my technical specialty is in the art and history of Rome (in particular the Vatican and ancient Rome), my real passion is helping you love this place the way I do.
I feel equally comfortable wandering with you through the charming back lanes away from the beaten tourist tracks as I do showing you around the Coliseum or any of the untold number of exquisite museums, art galleries and churches. I also feel equally as comfortable with groups of one or two as with groups of 40 or 50.
I speak fluent, clear English; I have lived in England, and have spent extended periods in the USA and Australia. My clients tell me I’m a pleasure to listen to.
For many years I have been actively involved in the official union representing licensed tour guides, working to protect the professionalism of the industry and improve services for tourists in my city.
What is a “licensed” Rome tour guide?
A licensed tour guide is one who has tertiary qualifications in a related field (e.g. tourism, history, art or archeology), has passed the relevant government exam, and is licensed by the Province of Rome to provide guided tours.
This is to ensure that you don’t have a “bad experience” – the government wants you to enjoy your visit and come back.
I am a licensed Rome tour guide
In contrast, there are people who come to Rome (usually to study for a brief period) and work as illegal guides for some extra cash. They figure that by the time they get caught and have to pay the fine they’ll have fled back home, so they are often very bold and work quite openly. There are also some hotels, travel agencies and individual operators who are prepared to take the risk for the extra profits (they pay the illegal guides poorly and pocket the difference).
Licensed tour guides are professionals and are required to wear their registration card when they are working. Insist on seeing it. Don’t take the risk.