Friday, March 20, 2015

Santa Pazienza! An Amplified Tour Guide

Amplified tour guides in the city center would certainly test the patience of even a saint--unless he was made of stone like the one above
It wasn't unusual when we lived on the outer edge of the city, not far from the lagoon, to sometimes hear the amplified voice of a guide blaring from the speakers of a passing tourist boat. But a few days ago I was surprised to hear the exact same kind of amplified racket right outside our window here in the historic center of town, booming down the narrow calli, pinballing off the bricks and stone.

Considering there was talk some months back about regulating the noise made by certain kinds of wheeled luggage as it was pulled down the city's famously narrow alleys(!), I thought that a tour guide going around the city with a loudspeaker attached to her or himself would certainly be forbidden. Typically, each member of a tour group traipses along behind the guide with a pair of headphones on, hearing everything the guide says without bothering those not on the tour. I assumed the guide with the loudspeaker was a fluke, a one-time thing.

But yesterday Sandro and I happened upon what I suspect is the same guide speaking to a large calle-clogging group of at least 70 tourists. In our apartment a few days ago, I'd only heard (very clearly) that she was speaking German, but didn't see her, so I couldn't be sure this was (and is, pictured above) the same female German-speaking guide of that first encounter. But I suspect it is.

At least I hope it is. For it's bad enough if there is one loudspeaker-wearing tour guide going around the city disrupting the quiet for which Venice has been famous quite literally for centuries. It would be much worse to think there are, or might soon be, even more.


  1. And you've managed to get a shot of them looking quite ghastly too.

    Have you tried snarling? I would.

    1. Well, the ghastly looks were entirely accidental; I only wanted to catch the guide while she was actually speaking and didn't even notice her listeners, really, until I downloaded the image at home. That not just one but two had their eyes closed seemed unfortunate timing on my part, but it's the only image I had to use.

      As for snarling, unfortunately, there are other people with far more power doing much worse things here that deserve that.

  2. Argh! And here in Florence, I encountered a tour guide with a BULLHORN!!!! I hope that tour wasn't headed for Venice next. There's no escape it seems. (Wait, back in Dismal Swamp there are zero tours ...)

    1. Oh my, Yvonne, a bullhorn makes the above guide's amplification system seem the height of restraint and good taste. Talk about making a brutta figura--and in Florance, no less! The Florentines can't happy about that.