How much should I pay my private tour guide?
How much should I pay my private tour guide? Is there an average?
First things first: there are official rates, but they are, to say the least, Italian, which to say Byzantine: €123 for up to three hours for groups up to €20 (which goes up if the guide has to speak another language or works nights after 8). Cut away the nonsense and you get an average of about €40 an hour — $50/60 — for licensed guides (some can be twice that, depending on experience and expertise). Daily fees also vary, usually between €300 and €450.
Pay attention to the word licensed, since plenty of freelance guides are not licensed and vary their prices downward to increase their volume. Many of the unlicensed are native English-speakers who are trying to make a living by giving guides on the sly, which is fine for you, less fine for them, if they're caught. Many licensed guides will also give you a daily or weekly rate, usually with discounts, with wiggle room to negotiate, since it's a buyer's market. Whatever you might read about a guide online, be sure to speak to him or to her beforehand, so you're comfortable with their language skills.
If you're planning an exceptionally long day or a particular kind of excursion, or one is recommended to you, be sure to establish the going rate beforehand. The Italian saying, "Clear understandings make for long friendships..." counts a lot in this tricky business, where the relationship between camaraderie and cash can sometimes produce awkward moments. Most are avoidable if you reach deals up front. That leaves you free to pay more, or to tip generously, if you're particularly satisfied.
As for so-called unofficial tour guides, the kind you may find lurking outside a monument or tourist venue, three words: use a book (or app).
What does mannaggia mean?
I hear people exclaim what sounds like "manager" or "management" when they're agitated. What’s the meaning?
That someone's not happy. Mannaggia is a "polite" vulgarity, an interjection that qualifies as a vivid kind of "dammit." The word has southern roots (it was included in the country's famous Neapolitan-Italian dictionary of 1887) and derives from "male ne abbia," basically "plenty bad." Its literary background stems from another, now outdated interjection, malannaggia, as in "abbia il malanno," or, "May you be damned..." ("Malannaggia l'anima tua!" wrote 19th-century Sicilian author Giovanni Verga, "Damn your soul...")
Mannaggia a me, for example, literally means, "Damn me!" which can cover anything from forgetfulness (there a lot of that around) to rage over missing a plane. Mannaggia a te is what you'll hear people murmur if they're annoyed with you but don't want it to go much further.
The expression can also help defuse a situation when one person's in the wrong and doesn't want to admit it. Better to curse yourself than suffer the imprecations of others.
Child-friendly places in Rome? Ideas?
Where do I get child-friendly food in Rome?
Blogger and food writer Eleonora Baldwin has a great list in her Rome City Guide for Kids. It also lays out parks and playgrounds. Meanwhile, the Delicious Baby blog provides useful (if highly personal) hotel tips. Viator, though less comprehensive, also chips in. Rick Steves has the annoying habit of guide-book ethnocentrism, which includes apologizing for Rome because unlike the States it doesn't have whole areas dedicated to children. Parks are rare, he writes. Rare? Really? Villa Borghese covers a fifth of the city and begins above the Spanish Steps. There's Villa Pamphili (above Trastevere) and Villa Ada in north Rome, 20 minutes walk from the center. Meanwhile, on streets, parks and public place, mothers show off their kids; they can stop traffic and transcend language. You don't need parks or malls for that.
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