Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
Since I can remember it, I have always loved history and art. The ingenuity and talent of the men who preceded us, and which manifests itself in extraordinary works of art and architecture, give me a sense of security, an awareness of my identity. At school I loved art history lessons and since I was a teenager I tortured relatives visiting Rome to show them its beauty. I started law studies but my passion for history did not leave me: I chose a precise path, which led me to an international doctorate in History of law.
For almost five years I have lived in different European countries: Germany, England and France. Today I am an adjunct professor of Medieval and Modern Law History at the Roma Tre University and lecturer in the Legal Protection of Cultural Heritage course. In the meantime, I got my tour guide license to be able to express that need that I had expressed so early: to share the passion for our history and for the incredible testimonies that Rome retains of it, and not only from the point of view of art.
Rome is a great metropolis where, however, in many districts you can breathe a “country” air, where the neighbors are always ready to make a joke, the culinary traditions remain fundamental and it is always the right time to eat an ice cream in one of its spectacular parks.
What is special about Ostia Antica for you?
My love for Ostia Antica has distant roots: it certainly dates back to my childhood, when my parents took me and my brothers to the excavations on Sundays. I even went to Ostia Antica when I was still in my mother’s womb (as you can see in the photo where she is seven months pregnant)! As a child I loved getting lost in the ruins, running through the fields full of flowers in spring, imagining the lives of people who have been dead for millennia and yet so similar to us. I spent my whole childhood and adolescence in Ostia and, over time, I discovered many things about that mysterious city and many others about the history of the area over the centuries.
The Renaissance village of Ostia Antica, dominated by the Castle of Julius II, is a too often forgotten jewel, an oasis of peace where you can spend an afternoon chatting with friends over a coffee or an aperitif. And then there is the epic of land reclamation, the extraordinary stories of the Ravenna laborers who at the end of the nineteenth century tore up the swamps at the mouth of the Tiber from malaria. And we must not forget the foundation of Ostia Lido, the great visions of Paolo Orlando, the architecture of the villas overlooking the sea between Roman baroque and rationalism.
After studying and working abroad for a few years, I then returned to Ostia Antica, where I still live. Ostia Antica, however, cannot be isolated: its history can only be understood by combining it with that of the ancient imperial ports on the other bank of the Tiber River and, more generally, with the history of Rome, whose dominion over the Mediterranean would have been unthinkable without the its ports. Ostia Antica is a special place because it is steeped in history and yet timeless. In 2013, together with some friends, we thought that the historical-archaeological heritage of the Roman coast deserved to be valued and, for this reason, we founded the cultural association L’Info-active in Ostia Antica and then, in 2017, Visit Ostia Antica.
What are your favorite tours?
Without a doubt the private tours and those for school groups. Private tours create an interaction with customers that is more difficult to establish with large and very heterogeneous groups. Each tourist is different and has different notions and curiosities: it is a continuous challenge and therefore stimulating. School groups, and more generally children, give great satisfaction because they are fascinated by ancient monuments, by the stories of the past and often make very intelligent and original observations.
My favorite tours are those to the excavations of Ostia Antica and the epicenter of ancient Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Both allow you to deepen the millenary history of Rome and the sites are so rich that you never stop studying and discovering. I also like the story of the reclamation of Ostia and Maccarese: through the visit to places unrelated to mass tourism it is possible to describe the complex dynamics of the cooperative movement but also to tell many anecdotes about the men and women who, with their work, enthusiasm and spirit of sacrifice, they ensured that Ostia could be reborn in 1900. Finally, I have a weakness for tours on the history of women: I find it extremely stimulating to use the city (the ancient one as well as the modern one) to tell their long (and bumpy) journey towards parity.
- Name and surname: Stefania Gialdroni
- City: Rome
- Qualifications: Tourist guide
- Formation: Historical
- Languages: Italian, English and German
- Tour type: Classic, thematic, children and families, school tourism, recreational tours (e.g. treasure hunts and performance tours with actors)
- Services: Private tours, semi-private tours, group tours
- Themes: History, archeology, art, history of law, law and art