Find an exceptional tour guide in Sicily
Knowledge is the most important element in the magical mix that makes a good guide exceptional. But the best guides are far
more than lecturers or "teachers" - though you can expect to learn something on a tour with a good guide. They're passionate
about making your discovery of Sicily a rewarding one. And they're passionate about the place. Expertise? Experience? Absolutely. Some
guides are experts in their own right, acting as Sicily-based consultants for CNN or the BBC, or writing books and articles about Sicily. But it's the
passion that makes an interesting, informative visit an enlightening, enjoyable one. Use this page to find an exceptional tour
guide, tour leader or interpreter. (Hiring a guide - and important information about rates and conditions - is discussed below.) Guides are listed based on
general historical and cultural knowledge, linguistic competence and ability. It is also presumed that they work in a professional
manner and are polite and cooperative. For rates, based on a full or half day, please email the guide. Best of Sicily recommends these guides
but does not represent them commercially. More comprehensive services
(including drivers for shore excursions, week-long tours, etc.) are listed on our Sicily tours and travel services pages, while the consulting page describes
such services as lectures, research and photography. Some of these guides are native speakers of English. Guides are licensed
for the entire island but, in practice, are usually experts in a specific region and here they are listed in
the West and (in the section following that) the East of Sicily. So if you're looking for a private tour of Palermo or Siracusa, you've come to the right page. After the list of guides
by province or sites of interest, we also list specialists in Malta and other areas (such as family history guides). There is a special
page of travel agent resources.
Palermo, Monreale, Cefalù, Segesta, Erice
Jackie Alio (email@example.com) has worked
in this field for over a decade. A leading historian, she has authored a book and written articles for this site.
Jackie has worked with, among other media, The Discovery Channel, and lectured university classes. In addition to her exceptional insights
into the histories of the Fatimids and Normans in Sicily, her knowledge of Palermo's Jewish history reflects the kind of arcane
scholarly (original) research that fosters an exceptional expertise. Jackie specializes in personalized tours as well as tours for larger groups. Visit her Palermo tour site for more information.
Francesca Lombardo (firstname.lastname@example.org), a native of
Palermo, has worked in tourism for over twenty years, and has been a licenced guide for most of that time. At university she majored in foreign languages and literature, with a concentration in art
history. As a professional educator, Francesca brings a special talent to her profession as a guide. She speaks German and French as well as
English. Francesca is the kind of guide familiar with all kinds of fascinating details, and a "go to" expert for highly specialized tours like "winemaking and the
English families of Marsala." Indeed, she is an expert in Sicilian wine and cuisine.
Siracusa, Catania, Piazza Armerina, Messina, Taormina, Ragusa
Rosa Rizza (email@example.com), who also works in the Taormina area, was raised and educated in
Italy and in the United States. Over the last two decades, her vast experience as a guide and group leader has made the "Sicily experience" of thousands of visitors memorable and interesting but
also extremely informative - and highly educational. In addition to her work as a guide, Rosa's experience includes organizing weddings and
events in Sicily. The depth and breadth of Rosa's knowledge is remarkable, and as she explains the history
of ancient Syracuse you sense that Plato and Archimedes were people she actually knew. It's almost as if they had come back
to life and were speaking to you themselves.
Tour Guides in Malta (Malta on Best of Sicily)
Joan Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) has many years of experience as
a licenced guide on the Maltese islands which, like Sicily, boast a multicultural heritage necessitating a guide's highly-refined knowledge of peoples, cultures and faiths.
Family History Tours (Genealogy on Best of Sicily)
Rosy Bartolotta (email@example.com), who was educated in the United States, is a specialist in
19th-century vital statistics records in Sicily. Her expertise is discovering family history in ancestral localities around Sicily, something she has been doing for over ten years.
How to Hire a Private Tour Guide:
• Whether you find the name of a guide on this list or another, determine which languages the guide speaks. If you actually
speak to him/her you'll be able to get some idea about fluency
in your language. The guides listed on this page all speak foreign languages well; sometimes the advantage of native ("mother-tongue")
speakers is that, being from (for example), the United States or Japan, they better understand the culture, interests and
"touring style" of foreigners (non-Italians) visiting Italy.
• Try, either via email correspondence or a telephone
conversation, to get a feel for what there is to see; there are plenty of ideas on this site. A good tour guide will try to
determine what you (or your tour group) want to see and do. For example, if your Sicilian
visit has a culinary theme you'll want to see the street markets of Palermo or Catania.
• Inquire about rates and the guide's availability on a certain day. It's important that you feel comfortable with the guide you hire. If you get a guide's name from this page, mention that you found it on Best of Sicily.
• Do not confuse this page with those popular travel sites that list private tour guides around the world and include a section for
Palermo, Segesta, Siracusa, etc. Displaying photographs of each guide, those sites bill you in advance for a "deposit" which is
actually their commission (usually 20% or more) and then claim to put you in "direct" contact with the guide when, in fact, all correspondence is through the site. On this page you are
provided "real" contact information via the guide's own email address. There is no "middle man" (commercial intermediary).
• Guides are, by nature, specialists in a particular aspect of travel. If you require lodging, transportation or itinerary planning, the right service is a competent travel agent, tour operator or
"travel concierge" with staff based at your destination. Several are listed on our travel page. A tour guide may be able to
arrange a walking tour of Palermo, for example, but visiting Monreale (outside the city) requires transportation, either by car or bus. Discuss these logistics with the guide.
• Here in Italy, people are too often inclined to rely almost exclusively on paper "credentials" rather than actual quality of service, and some travel professionals use "certifications" as a substitute for listening to, and then meeting, your
needs as a traveler. Scheduling, for example, is important because your time in a certain destination may be limited and Sicily's historic and archeological sites have fickle open-hours, so concentrate on the practical elements of your visit.
• Rates may vary based on factors such as the season, but (speaking very generally) the cost of a guide service is typically slightly over 100 euros for a half-day (4-5 hours) "walking tour," and slightly more than
200 euros for a full-day (7-8 hours), not including transportation, which could easily double this rate. As a point of reference, this is the minimum you should expect to pay. However, we seriously question the approach and pricing of agencies, organisations, websites or other
"middle men" who publish rates much higher than this; we know of two that charge double! The advantage of this page is that you can contact a guide directly instead of using an intermediary.
Tipping is always welcome, but especially appropriate with a "larger" group of at least six adults.
• Travel Agents: Some tour guides may occasionally require a non-refundable deposit of at least 30% from travel
agents reserving shore excursions for cruise passengers because, unfortunately, last minute cancellations (or "no-shows") are
becoming increasingly frequent.
• Remember that even if the focus of your trip is primarily cultural and historical, you're coming to Sicily to have a good time. Enjoy your discovery of the world's most fascinating island!
• A few travel agents and tour operators, and dozens of "independent travelers," have told us that this page alone makes visiting Best of Sicily
worthwhile. Contact us to suggest a guide, indicating your daytime telephone number.
• The editors wish to acknowledge that this page was suggested by a travel agent's experience with tour guides
in Italy. He brought to our attention the vast differences between great guides and mediocre ones.
Last updated in December 2013.