On the road with a Tour Director

Alessandro Guidici has been a Tour Director for nine years. Originally from Sorrento in Italy, he leads Cosmos tours around Scandinavia and Europe.

What drew you to travel?

To seek different places and different cultures. And I’m also very much into food and wine, it’s always been a part of my culture. Europe is very diverse. One of the things I always say at the start of the panorama tours is that we are not the United States of Europe. You can travel through Belgium and experience different cultures: there is Flanders and there is Wallonia. You can be in Britain, but the Scottish, the Irish and the Welsh all have their own language and culture.

What do you love about being on tour?

Seeing different places, and meeting different people. When you first look at your group, you’re thinking, ok who needs a little bit more help? The person who meets you and comes straight over and says ‘Hi! I’m so glad to meet you!’ is happy. But the person who stands at the back and is shy, or is overwhelmed by the group – that’s who I look for. I say okay, come to the front. Where are you from, what is your name? Come and talk to me, don’t be scared. What do you like, what don’t you like, how can I help you? That’s one of the things that I focus on mainly, the people. And I’m a pretty good judge of character.

"There are always sceptics - but you make a few jokes and try to bring the group together. And after a few days, you see them listening to everything you say."

"There are always sceptics – but you approach them and present yourself: ‘Hi, I’m Alessandro, I am your tour guide.’ You make a few jokes and try to bring the group together. After a few days, you see these people who were distant from you now listening to everything you say. Then when you leave them, you see them crying because they had such a good time and they’re going to miss you. That’s really satisfying."

And what do you think is the best thing for them, being on tour?

It’s the fact that you are actually taking care of them, organising all the bits and pieces. And very occasionally you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like being a leader, but you put a hat on and say, Andiamo! Let’s go! And you go for it.

Is it in your nature to be a ‘people person’?

You see, I’m from Sorrento. In Sorrento, we are born into tourism: we have been dealing with tourists for generations and generations. The first job you do may be bar work or assisting at an information centre. People ask you questions even if you’re not in the tourism industry, and you will know how to accommodate them.

What’s been your best tour?

The first tour I ever did. When I started this business I was 40. I sat on the bus, and I was in control of a group for the first time ever, and I thought, this is a job I should have started doing 20 years ago. At the end of the tour, the comments said stuff like, ‘Alessandro was so knowledgeable, so experienced’. It was a real buzz.

What do you love about Scandinavia?

Well, the fresh air, the fjords – especially in Norway. I love that everything works perfectly. It’s very efficient. And then maybe that’s what I dislike as well. In the south of Italy, nothing works perfectly.