According to the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations a tourist guide is “a person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area, who normally possesses an area-specific qualification usually issued and recognized by the appropriate authority”.
It is usually a “tour leader”, not a “tourist guide”, who accompanies tourists all over Italy, Europe, or the world. A “tour leader” and a “tourist guide” are totally different jobs which complement each other. I seldom work as a licensed tour leader. When I accompany my visitors as a “tour leader” my duties are: acting on-site for the travel agency, taking care of the practical aspects of the tour and making sure everything follows a schedule. I must also be ready to resolve problems, if there are any. I collaborate with meet-on-site local expert tourist guides hired by the same travel agency which hired me. It's impossible to take on the role of an expert tourist guide in Italy, Europe, or the World, if you want to offer a good service. An expert tourist guide must always pass an examination to certify their knowledge of the city they want to work in. The expert tourist guide has many contacts through which to find clients, knows other expert tourist guides like them, operating in other Italian regions and abroad.
Working as an expert tourist guide doesn't mean being an Art History graduate. Of course my Art historian background is a bonus for my job, but an expert Florence guide's aim and duty is to give their clients an unforgettable experience. Thanks to my expertise, visitors will be able to “live” the city, to feel part of it, through a path using their five senses. The expert Florence guide can complete this task only if they’re aware that tours are not simply outdoor Art History lessons. My knowledge as a tourist guide extends also to food, wine, and local customs. The best quality a tourist guide can have is sympathy with their clients.
Tours are tailor-made depending on visitors' demands, so much so that they can have different durations. and different levels of cultural analysis.
Of course not..! An expert Florence guide can customize every tour to their clients’ needs.
It's totally up to visitors and the time they have available.
An expert Florence guide actually works all year long. During peak season, they work with tourists, while during the off-season they study, keep themselves updated and also attend courses.
An expert tourist guide is freelance, and can decide independently if they would like to collaborate with public or private authorities, travel agencies or tour operators, cultural associations or private customers.