David was born in the Italian hill town of Orvieto, and still happily lives there today. He's been leading tours all over Italy for Rick Steves, and making plenty of music as well. When's he's not leading tours, David offers Italian culture classes and language lessons, walking tours of Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio, and live Zoom concerts with his acoustic guitar trio, Bartender. Let's get to know him!
David, what's special about growing up where you did?
I am from Umbria — the green heart of Italy. Growing up in Italy was the best thing that could possibly happen to me. Orvieto, my hometown, is a perfect place for raising your kids. Very quiet, safe, top-level quality of living and lots of beautiful corners for kids to get together and play. Social life in Italy is very important. From the very start as a little kid, the society around you makes sure you are a part of it.
What was your path to becoming a tour guide?
I lived in Boston for four years — and my wife, Darya, is American — so I'm very comfortable interacting with people from all over the states. It felt very natural to welcome people to my corner of Italy, show them around, and help make their experiences more meaningful. I met Rick Steves in 2006 when he first stopped by Teseotur, my then brand-new travel agency near the Orvieto train station. He wasn't looking for me — he wanted to write about our luggage storage services in his guidebook! After that, I met him a few more times when he'd pass through Orvieto. At the same time, my nearby friend, Cecilia Bottai, was leading tours for Rick Steves' Europe. Cecilia called me one day to ask if I would be interested in guiding tours for Rick. She believed I could be a good fit for the company. And here I am now!
What are your favorite Rick Steves tours?
I love all of the itineraries I guide. However, if I had to choose, I would say Rick's Best of Sicily tour and Village Italy tour are my favorite ones! I love the pace, the level, the culture, the people you meet. Each day is incredible on these two tours! My favorite experiences to share with tour members are playing Italian and American music for them with my guitar and — when possible — with my band, called "Bartender." I also love teaching them about my home culture and traditions, and in particular how our food is such an essential part of who we are.
Tell us about your passion for music.
Music is a huge part of my daily life. It's also a very important element of my tours and guiding, as it expresses local cultures all over the world in a poetic and charming way. I started playing piano when I was six, but soon switched for good to the guitar. I have always loved music and languages. That love is what motivated me to teach myself how to play the guitar. It opened the door to speaking English as well, as I learned how to play and sing the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, and hundreds of other top artists. On YouTube you can watch me perform with my band.
What would tour members never guess about you?
When I was younger, I competed in chess tournaments all over Italy. I still play chess, listen to vinyl records, and watch movies in an actual theater. And would you believe, I do not like olives. Ha!
Here's what David won't tell you…but his tour members will:
"David was the best guide I could ever have imagined. Not only did he have all of the skills and attributes you'd expect, but he brought his personal experience into the trip in a completely professional way. His genuine love for his country and culture were conveyed constantly. He was articulate, caring, and funny! I think David provided the WOW factor to the whole experience, in a non-assuming, relaxed way."
— Lansing in Palo Alto, CA