Being a tour guide in Florence: Alexandra Lawrence

Today we spoke to Alexandra Lawrence, who is originally from the states but has been living in Florence for the last 13 years. She’s a tour guide here, taking groups of tourists around the city. She told us about why she chose to become a tour guide here in Florence.

Tourism in Florence, Piazza della Signoria (Credit: Flickr / Creative Commons: eGuide Travel)

“I actually decided to become a tour guide after living here a number of years already, I had been taking people around, students, friends and family that would come and visit. But in Florence and in Tuscany you have to go through a pretty rigorous process, and 800 hour course that teaches you all the history and art history so in a way it was a gift to myself to be able to formally study the history and art history of Florence. But really in sort of an official capacity to share this type of historical and art historical knowledge with visitors, with people who come and love the city and want to learn more about it.”

Thousands of people visit the city (Credit: Flickr / Creative Commons: nheidenbluth)

We then asked Lawrence what her favorite part of the job is; along with some of the negatives that may come along with it.

My favorite thing is meeting the people, you know talking with them, being able to show them a different side of Florence something that your not going to find in the guide books, online or in pictures. Really just sharing the hidden unknown things about Florence. The worst thing about being a tour guide I think it can be trying sometimes in a city like Florence that really is in dated, just the navigational aspect of leading small groups around can be trying sometimes. Most annoying personality trait, would be the person that stands in front of you when your speaking with their book or their guide book checking your facts, or anticipating what your about to say. I mean that’s good, their curious.”

Crowded Piazza del Duomo (Credit: Flickr / Creative Commons: lesteph)

Lawrence has a few favorite spots in Florence that she thinks everyone should check out in Florence, after all she would know the best spots.

“My favorite place in Florence I have a few, one in the center of Florence is the Convent of San Marco I think it really is a unique experience that allows you to get a great overview of the art of the history in one place. It only costs 4.50 its unbelievable. Two places that I really love that are outside of the city center are the Medici villas which are free, Villa la Petraia and Villa di Castello. I’ve even introduced them even to Florentines who live here and were born here and didn’t realize how amazing they were. Somewhere inside the city, I really like Palazzo de Vansate, it is a really great example for a renaissance 14th century house, its obviously recreated but it gives a great idea of how they lived back then which can be a really nice illustration for people to learn more about that historical period. If I had to choose one place, I think it is worth it to actually go and wait in the line at the academia (Galleria dell’Academia) and see the David. We’ve got of course got copies outside but for me nothing replaces the feeling of seeing the real one. So if you can manage it and if you’ve got enough time, id say see the David at the academia absolutely.”

Convent of San Marco (Credit: Flickr / Creative Commons: ScottOldham)

There you have it, expert advice on what you have to see in Florence from someone who sees it everyday. If you have time, listen to Lawrence and go to these places in Florence.

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