“From the very first email we received from her, Ludovica Giuriati’s energy and enthusiasm about our visit to Rome was palpable. We were first time visitors to Italy and Rome was our first stop. We were anxious to experience as much as possible without killing ourselves and overloading our senses. What resulted from our day and a half with Ludovica was an amalgam of awe, inspiration and sheer joy. At the outset we expressed a desire to tour ancient Rome, the Vatican including St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel as well as the museum, and the Borghese museum. We accepted on faith Ludovica’s suggestion that we hire a car and driver to maximize the efficiency of getting around a busy city. Money very well spent and an integral factor in the success of the touring.
Ludovica met us in our hotel lobby promptly the first day and we began our touring at the Sistine Chapel. Ludovica had purchased our tickets in advance. Ludovica’s knowledge of the Sistine Chapel goes deep and notwithstanding my prior reading, her insights greatly enhanced our experience. I requested a tour of certain sculpture and though it was not on her immediate agenda, Ludovica was able to work it in and do a fine job of educating us on them. Throughout our time together, Ludovica was very respectful of my photography and actually helped me get positioned when sites were crowded. She is not shy.
Next we were off to the Forum, the Capitol and the Colosseum. Her knowledge of the architecture and history goes deep as well and helped us put in proper context a lot of random information we had stored from school and movies. Her pride in her city is always in evidence. She welcomes dialogue and questions and the interpersonal dynamic was suffused with humor and lots of laughing. Ludovica suggested for lunch a wonderful “mom and pop” or “grandma and grandpa” restaurant (depending on your age) where the kitchen was roughly the same size as the dining room which felt like their own house. The walls had their son’s and granddaughter’s pictures all around. Beautiful fresh abundant food, wonderful hosts who made us feel like family.
After lunch we toured St. Peter’s Basilica from the engineering to the architecture to the artwork to the history of Roman Catholicism. Ludovica never missed a beat and her energy never flagged even though we began at 7:30 am and it was now going on 5:00 pm.
The next morning Ludovica and our driver picked us up at our hotel and we were off to the Borghese museum to see what I was most looking forward to, the Bernini sculptures. Pure enchantment– and Ludovica knew the mythology behind them and told us the stories with passion. She also escorted us to important paintings on the upper floors and was fully versed in the context of their creation and the biographies of the artists. One thing to mention here is that Ludovica is excellent on timing the visits against the crowd. She reserved the museum tickets in advance for us as well and moved us around so that we were viewing things with little if any crowding.
It was a Wednesday and Ludovica made sure we made it to St. Peter’s next to see the Pope when he makes a public appearance and gives a blessing. It was very moving. Another thing to mention here is that wherever we went–and I mean wherever–Ludovica knew the people at the desks, security personnel, store owners, other guides, Romans in the street. It was like being with the mayor of Rome. The faces of everyone we met lit up when they saw Ludovica and it is not hard to figure out why.
Next we went a bit out of the center of the city to visit the Catacombs at Domitilla. I hadn’t known anything about them in advance and was fascinated by her description of their genesis. My respect for the ancient Romans was greatly enhanced, too. Although we didn’t walk around the Baths of Caracalla, Ludovica gave a good description of them while we stopped for a bit alongside in the car. We visited the vast expanse of the Circus Maximus and Ludovica helped us to appreciate what had been there in ancient Rome and why it was now all gone.
We ended our guided touring at the Pantheon. We spent a good amount of time there and Ludovica gave us powerful insights into the engineering and sheer force of manpower that went into its creation.
It was very tough to say arrivederci to Ludovica (and to our car and driver!). We cannot say enough good things about her and and our experiences with her in Rome to do her justice. She is one of a kind and we feel richer for knowing her.”
Caroline and Bruce Mellusi
New York, NY