Letter from a priest

The weird world of Rome tours

I know plenty of tour guides in Rome. All of ours, and ten times that number working for shady anonimi who possess that key to excess we all know and don't love as an illegal Rome tours website. Of these, 90% have no license. They work cash in hand and flit between the ticket booth at the Roman forum and street meeting points most days. It must be an ethereal experience, a life on the line like no other.

An acquaintance of mine who resembles the Man from Sandeman, esteemed docent with no documents to prove it, informed me that a letter from a priest would put the world, or at least his world, to rights. But how?

The story goes that if one is either unable or unwilling (read "impoverished", "unprepared") to undertake the somewhat rigorous official tour guide selection process, which involves a metric ton of reading, remembering, and final examinations, there is a way out. A way to cut corners. A way to get away with non-compliance.

Curriculum Vitae? Check. Evidence of University degree? Check. Evidence of ability to communicate? Check. Go to church and pray for favours, or rather engage in conversation about the ills of tour guide red tape, and said mystical "letter from a priest" will transpire, confirming that said abusivo now has the legal right to lead tours through the Vatican Museums regardless. Not a prayer.

One must ask if the priest letter people give a hoot about the fact that several thousand official Rome tour guides had to study damned hard to earn their spurs. Picture poker-faced security guards turning away cock-a-hoop abusivi waving letters of hope at all and sundry.

Many illegal Rome tours websites no longer offer small group Vatican tours, simply because their "guides" are banned from entering the museums. Of course they offer black market private tours at super low prices because they can't even spell tax let alone pay some, which is somewhat disappointing for fully licensed Rome tourism service providers like When In Rome Tours.

Perhaps it's just a rumour, a glimmer of hope for those who come to Rome on a wing and a prayer, taking cash for leading tourists up the garden path and disrespecting those of us who respect our city.

Published on July 21st, 2013
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Cajes.

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