Name and Surname: Paola Salvatori
Qualifications: Tour guide
Languages: Italian, English and German
Tours: Classic, thematic, kids and family, schools, playful tours, (ex.: treasure hunts)
Services: Private tours, semi-private tours, groups
Topics: History, archaeology, art
Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
Being born in a city like Rome means a lot to me: this passion also reflects the habits of my family, which has been Roman for generations and has greatly influenced my personal perception of the city.
The playground of my childhood was Villa Celimontana, in Villa Borghese we used to ride our bicycles, go skating or ride a pony. We reached the park near our home, the one with the big tower around which we played hide and seek: ah yes! The Mausoleum of the Gordians.
Going to school I learned to recognize those streets, parks and squares, famous places known all over the world and familiar to me because I had grown up there. The Trevi Fountain was the place to look for the shoe shop and Campo de ‘Fiori was the location for a “pizza break”!
Over time, I added to my life experiences the ones as a schoolgirl and then as a student. Rome was therefore filled with statues, fountains, temples and churches. Each place told a story, stories of more or less famous people, artists, scientists, architects, dictators: how much history told and perceived everywhere!
It was after a trip to the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri that everything became clearer. I was 6 years old and I decided then that I would become an archaeologist.
The ancient and modern world coexisted in everyday life in an extraordinary experience. Going around the city there was always the opportunity to help a tourist who, with a map in his hand, asked for information. To give advice to those who got lost made me happy and satisfied.
Getting lost in Rome is still the best advice I can give to anyone who really wants to understand this beautiful and controversial place.
Offering the opportunity to see new corners and glimpses of this thousand-faces city makes it easy for me to work as a tour guide: I have always perceived it more as a pleasant hobby than as a real job.
Every weekend was an opportunity to walk around and so, after visiting one of the catacombs of the ancient Appian Way, one could not avoid stopping at the Fosse Ardeatine shrine, which is still a sign of that history so present, so easy to read and to perceive. So much so, that one can relive it: a powerful experience.
The increasingly specific studies in the history of art, together with a special interest for foreign languages, led me (still very young) to work as a tour guide to pay my studies. Rome, the passion for archaeological research and finally private life complete my professional growth towards an activity, the tour guide, which encompasses all these aspects and which still today stimulates the desire to share the pleasure of walking through history.
In some ways I feel privileged, so much luck must be shared!
What’s so special about Ostia Antica for you?
From an exquisitely professional point of view, and I speak as an archaeologist, how can one not appreciate a place preserved through history so well that it can be considered in all respects a sort of “manual of antiquity”?
It almost seems that our ancestors and then nature have in common agreement decided to leave us a gift, something that would remind us of our origins, their memory to be handed down to give us a tool to learn and improve!
A whole city where the signs of aging are evident, which have gradually changed its appearance by enlarging it, improving it or simply adapting it to new needs. This place is also part of my growth. In summer, we went to see the theatrical performances at the ancient Roman Theater of Ostia Antica.
Here, more than in many other places, you can enjoy the charm of discovering archaeological adventure in a broad sense …also because we know that much more than what we see is still there under the vegetation, ready to reveal itself.
The ancient city lies in a corner of flat land between the mouth of the river, the sea and the pine forest that characterizes the coast, a pine forest in the shade of which other sites have been found; ancient traces of a perfectly preserved necropolis and huge structures linked to the basins of the imperial ports of Rome: a vast system inextricably linked to the supply of the capital of the Roman Empire. A territory embellished by a Renaissance village subject to the attention of an important pope like Julius II who, in the middle of the Renaissance, built an imposing fortress right here to control the river Tiber.
The “Borgo”, in perfect state of conservation, offers the opportunity to live an incredible experience: time seems to have stopped waiting for a mass in the beautiful basilica of S. Aurea or a visit to the castle.
What are your favourite tours?
The tour itself is every time a different experience, whether with large school groups or with adults, as well as private ones, what remains fascinating for me is communication. I like thinking about “words” as a very powerful toll to reach someone who has different experience and culture.
Sharing what you know is always a way to know more, and from the questions of tourists you often get a different perspective. The experiences in comparison amplify the discussion, an original observation leads you to investigate and find new answers. In short, you never stop learning.
I must admit that for my training I prefer guided tours in open spaces and in archaeological areas! The Coliseum remains for me an experience for the soul and from there the largest open-air museum awaits us to marvel us with squares, churches and fountains!
Ostia Antica is where I live today. I seriously believe that it can enhance the experience of a classic Roman tour, enriching it and raising it to a unique dimension. Honestly, my favourite tour changes depending on who I meet, for me the journey begins when I meet people. It’s not the place itself but the experience that makes the place beautiful.