Although I loved this job so much, I decided I needed to make a change to pursue other interests, take care of my personal life (which had been widely neglected by a life spent on the road), and get to know other areas of the tourism industry. I accepted a job in Florence, Italy, where I had been living for the last few years, as a tour leader for a much smaller company, doing bus tours. Yup, I was the girl in the front of the bus with the microphone
Never in a million years would I have seen myself in that role. After experiencing a life as an adventure tour guide, leading bus tours seemed tedious and lame. But as most travel stories do, I learned somethings about myself. I learned that I love telling stories as much as I love riding a bike or hiking up a mountain, and entertaining people with fascinating and even funny stories about the wars between Florence and Siena, or about why the wine in Tuscany has certain flavors. I learned that I absolutely LOVE working for a small company. I learned that Florence, the city that had enchanted and absorbed me for so long, was really my home and I was actually getting to become a part of it, a real community member, by working in this role and getting to know it more intimately. Whereas in my previous job leading bike tours, which I loved and still cherish, I was constantly running around, sometimes not getting to know an area as well as I would like because one minute I was in Tuscany and the next in Sicily. Or Amalfi. Or Spain or France. I was able to slow down and take it all in. I found a new appreciation and new knowledge of my adopted home that I hadn’t had before, and I was loving it. I finally felt like a Tuscan!
I no longer live in Tuscany nor am I working as a guide, but maybe one day I will again. One thing that stands out in my memory and that I will always cherish is how I felt whenever I took my tour groups to the Piazza del Campo in Siena. It was always my favorite part of the tour. The Piazza del Campo in Siena is a huge, open, seashell-shaped and concaved piazza in Siena, an amazing and fascinating medieval city in Tuscany. There is no main road to enter this piazza. Instead, you approach the piazza by walking through any number of narrow covered alleyways, almost tunnels, in the dark… and then you walk out into the piazza, and BOOM. You’re unexpectedly standing in this massive majestic looking square, with the enormous Torre del Mangia towering over you.