Guiding tours in Florence
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This page is here to help give you a starting point to find out about some of the obligations that may apply to you if you decide to host Trips or Experiences on Airbnb. It’s for your information only and includes summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to official resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the law has not changed recently.*
What is a tour guide?
Tour guiding is a licensed profession in Italy. The relevant regional legislation for Florence regulates the following:
Tour Guides are professionals who guide individuals or groups through museums, monuments and other sites of artistic relevance in Italy. They have a specific education that helps them illustrate and provide detailed information about the cultural, technical and artistic characteristics of an artistic venue. For example, tour guides can provide you with information about a listed building: who is the architect, when it was built and completed, what style or art movement it relates to.
Tour managers: are professionals whose job is to take care of the practical aspects of an organised trip and ensure that it runs smoothly (e.g. taking care of documents and formalities and assisting members of the tour).
Environmental guides: are professionals who provided guided tours of natural attractions such as parks, natural reserves or natural museums. They know and explain the scientific and ecological aspects of the territory, plants, animals and their habits and behavior. They explain the connection between the environment and local history and they also work with schools to educate students to sustainability. They are normally not allowed to guide tours that require use of special tools e.g. ski or climbing equipment.
When am I likely to be considered a tour guide?
Here are some examples of when you are likely to be considered to be acting as a tour guide:
- I take someone to a historic quarter explaining the art movement it was inspired by - we go to an antiques market or auction, and then follow up with a guided visit to a museum or art gallery.
- I take someone on a guided foraging hike through through a protected natural reserve (for example, the Oasi del Gabbianello), during which I provide detailed ecological explanations about the plants and a scientific description of animals species we encounter and their habits.
Here are some examples of when you are not likely to be considered to be acting as a tour guide:
- I walk a guest through the neighbour where I was born and raised, we meet my local friends and then we have a meal together in my favourite local restaurant. I focus on showing people what it’s like to live in my area and introducing them to great locals. (Note: The position is less clear if you also intend to explain the history of local tourist attractions or buildings of architectural or historical merit.)
- I take someone to yoga and fitness classes, and then we run together by the river or around an interesting part of the city centre. (Note: the position is less clear if you also provide detailed explanations about the historical or artistic buildings you come across during your run.)
- I love music and football, so from time to time, I take guests to a local music gig, then to the stadium to watch the game and meet some players I know.
What if I am considered to be a tour guide: do I need to get a license?
How do I get a license? What are the requirements?
This depends on whether you want to operate as a tour guide or as a tour manager, or whether you are a qualified guide in another EU Country. In Tuscany, the following rules apply:
In order to operate as a tour guide, you need to meet the following requirements:
You need to hold a secondary school degree ("scuola media superiore") (this is compulsory in Italy, so everyone is likely to have this degree) or a university degree in which you studied art history (this is a 3 years or 5 years university degree): you can check out here the list of university degrees that meet the academic requirements for tour guides; or complete the relevant course at one of the accredited schools in your Region.
- Regional exam
You need to pass a vocational exam to become a tour guide;
- Prior notice to the Municipality
Provided you meet the educational criteria, you can submit a SCIA notification at the local Municipality and obtain the necessary authorization in this way. A registration fee of 30 EUR applies in Florence.
- Additional License
Note that an additional license is required to guide tours in listed venues and buildings identified in a dedicated decree by the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage. More information issued by the Florence Province on tour guides qualification can be found here.
In order to operate as a tour manager, you need to meet the following requirements:
You need to hold or obtain one of the relevant high school diploma or university degrees listed in this page. Academic and licensing requirements are less stringent than the ones applicable to Tour Guides: in fact, if you hold an eligible diploma or degree, you are not obliged to pass any exam. However, if you don’t hold the relevant diploma/degree, you can complete a Regional course dedicated to tour managers and pass the relevant exam.
- Prior notice to the Municipality
Subject to the above, you can submit a SCIA notification at the local Municipality and this way obtain the necessary authorization.
EU Citizens who carry out tour guiding activities in Italy on a temporary basis can be authorized to do so to the extent they are qualified in their home Country. If you are an EU Citizen and you hold a license in your home Country, you will have to file a specific notice before the Competent Ministry. On the Italian business portal there is a dedicated FAQ about this.What authority do you need to contact?
You need to contact the Tuscany Region. You can do this by calling the toll-free number 800 860070 or via chat. Further information can be found on the page published by Florence municipality about licensed tourism professions, or on this page relating to how to get a license.How long does it take to get a license?
It can take 8 months to a year to obtain the relevant qualifications required to be a tour guide. This can cost around 2000 €.
Once you have passed the relevant exam, you can start your as soon as you submit a SCIA to your local SUAP office. This step costs 30 €.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).
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