How did you first hear of Rick Steves?
I don't remember how I first learned about Rick Steves — maybe I had seen the television series or the book. I am from the Seattle area so I think I just knew about him. I bought a rail pass and a sleep sack from Rick Steves' Europe for my first trip to Europe in 1993.
How long have you been working as a Rick Steves tour guide?
I have been working for Rick since 1999, and I love it. I really stumbled into this job when I meet Steve Smith (co-author of Rick's France books and head of Europe Through the Back Door's Tour Operations department) through a shoestring cousin of mine. I was in Seattle for nine months thinking about whether I wanted to marry an Italian or not. We started talking and I had already decided at that point that I was going back to Italy. I sent in my resume, interviewed with Rick Steves' Europe, and started my new career. Guiding is nothing I had ever imagined doing but when it all came together, everyone who knows me said it fit. I enjoy my colleagues, although I don't get to see them much, and I like the type of traveler Rick seems to attract. Rick Steves tour members are interesting, open-minded and fun to be around. I love sharing what I know with a willing audience.
You're an American, but you live in Italy and are married to an Italian. How did this come about?
I came to live in Italy in 1997 which I thought was a temporary move. I had been managing a restaurant in the Seattle area and decided it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. I sold my car, put the money in the bank and moved to Italy to teach English. I did not speak Italian, and I did not have a job, but found one easily. I met my husband while teaching (I only taught adults) and that was it. We have been married four years and have a two-year-old son named Filippo.
It has been an adventure, especially living next door to my mother-in-law...but people have to come on tour with me to get more details.
What tours are you leading?
I am doing Venice and Village Italy tours this year and have done the Best of Italy tour in the past. Since Filippo was born I haven't been able to work as much but am hoping to do a little more next year when he starts school.
What is your favorite country in Europe?
My favorite country is Italy but France rates a close second. I really enjoy the lifestyle and the mentality of the people. One of the things I like most in Italy is that most people — even the most provincial — are very accepting. Your ways might be very different and they want to share their point of view, but in the end you are free to choose without judgment.