Today we start with a new section that will take us to interview the Licensed tour guides of the Regione Campania, pratictioners that have the important role to accompany visitors to the discovery of our territory.
Through these articles, thanks to our guests, we want to continue to provide useful information and advices to tourists to visit Pompeii and the surroundings.
In this first meeting, I introduce you our dear friend Ciro Ruocco, tour guide since over 10 years, that kept me glued to the chair for over two hours in a pleasant chat in which he managed to convey the passion for his work and for these magical places that every day he is lucky to tell, to know and appreciate.
For this he feels privileged and defines himself “a small ambassador”.
Before we start the interview, Ciro tells me, proudly, an episode that saw as protagonist his daughter Martina who at just eight years has led a small battle against the institutions. 🙂 Martina infact, unable to visit one of the houses inside the archaeological site because it was closed to the public, decided to write to the Minister Bray she but could never imagine that his father met him shortly after in the ruins of Pompeii and asking the number of the child to call her.
Martina flatly admonishes him even on the phone and the Minister could not do anything but apologize for the inconvenience.
Tell us who are you?
My name Ruocco Ciro, I was born in Vico Equense and I’m 40 years old. I’ve been married 10 years with Agnes, we have 2 girls, 9 years old and Martina Giorgia almost 4 years.
I am from Pompeii, grew in front of the excavations since my grandfather’s house is right at the entrance of the excavation site.
Not graduated, unlike many of my colleagues, I wrote at the Faculty of Cultural Heritage in Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples, but after two years for personal events I left the university, but the link to this world was never broken. I know well 2 second foreign languages, Spanish and English that I learned by attending private courses and I studied with several trips abroad for long periods. I do the tourist guide for the Campania region since 2004.
I am an independent guide, collaborating with several tour operators.
I accompany tourists of various nationalities in the most beautiful places of our region, of course, Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, the Palace of Caserta and Naples.
Why have you chosen to be a tour guide?
No son of art, no one has routed, I got there for the passion, for the opportunity that I was offered to be a great ambassador of the small places in which I live, which I love telling positively.
Unfortunately there is a lot of foreclosure about Naples, and many stereotypes that only those who know it more deeply can completely wipe out . One of the most important roles of the guides is just to convey the beauty of our land.
I give you an example: in Pompeii every day arrive hundreds of tourists, most are accompanied by guides, and you can not underestimate that, if tourists are delighted by a small part of the Old Town is also about the guides, especially if we make a good job.
What do you like of your job and what not?
I like the dynamism and the surprises that this job allows me to get daily.
Today for example, I was contacted by an agency for a tour in English, I found myself with 24 Filipinos, and I can say that I came home with a satisfied heart to have met some lovely people that were very happy after the visit.
I like to get feedback daily, to see people happy for what I can transmit. And for that, I feel privileged.
What I do not like is the sad end to which this profession is going through, not by our own will, but for political will. We have been fighting since many years against the will imposed by Europe and endorsed by our politicians, to liberalize our profession.
Why should tourists visit Pompeii guided by a tour guide? And why should they choose you?
I would make mandatory the use of the tour guide, because in addition to being a media content, explanations, suggestions, it is also a real logistical support, and especially in Pompeii you need someone with you that takes you by the hand .
There are other places in the world where the visit takes place in a large city, you get lost in a modern city, think how it can be in an ancient one!
I see many tourists who wander and maybe always turn around the same point. Well if they choose me …they’ll make me happy because I do work … joke! The compliment that I get often and that gratifies me so much: it is the passion that I put into my work.
When there is passion .. working with the heart and with the aim to make the best and avoid the worst. This passion was born from my origins, that I grew up here, and as a child I used to play with other children in the excavations, my mom felt calmer when she knew I was there.
What are the tips you give to tourists that are going to visit Pompeii?
The first thing I recommend is to not to wear the heels J, to dress comfortable shoes.
Then I recommend you to do some research and prepare a bit before coming, it is easier to work with people who already know what they’re going to see. With totally unprepared tourists I have to spend a lot of time to introduce Pompeii and its history, subtracting time to show what I would like to.
The thing that excites you about Ancient Pompeii?
The thing that excites me the most is Pompeii its self! If I have to pick something in particular .. I tell megalography of the Villa of the Mysteries, which recently reopened after the last restoration, and I can tell you that I have never seen so many people interested in visiting it.
Villa dei Misteri is a suburban villa, you have to go outside the walls and cross a necropolis to reach it, so it’s a bit far from the usual route. I like to describe the painting of the Room of Mysteries as the first film of the story, the first images deliberately not mounted.
They called it Villa of the Mysteries because who saw it at the beginning knew nothing about it and then it became the mystery linked to Dionysus and Baccus: the introduction of a young virgin to the cult, to the Dionysian mysteries. It ‘a world of women, the male figures are all gods or demi, removed these only remain female figures.
It ‘a place where women would gather, the day before the wedding of the girl. Nowhere Pompeii you can live such intimacy. The megalography is a painting of 18 meters, with 28 figures: when I say that it is a film it’s because you seem to live a story; It shows you a world that no longer exists, but it is here that you can see that the world has existed. I go there often alone to contemplate, looking for answers.
The thing you don’t like of Pompeii?
Large projects. When I met Vendola I said to him, “If you don’t want the walls to fall, do not send more money in Pompeii.” I say stop to these big projects that are coveted by many. Pompeii needs an honest daily maintenance, if a stone falls you collect it and put it back in place with mortar. First of Major Projects in Pompeii there was a specialized team of masons, who had acquired over time the techniques of the old archaeological as Della Corte and Maiuri.
They sent them all in retire, they removed the internal team to promote the game of contract. Pompeii is a goose that lays golden eggs and is tempting to many, but when there are problems, the politicians give it in meal to the public guides, guardians, even the dogs … defining them the causes of the problems.
How long do you take to a satisfactory visit and which path do you suggest?
The standard visit with the guidance lasts 2 hours, and this time is enough to make a good presentation of the archaeological site. The guides are good at optimizing this time and provide information as possible.
Yes, but in your opinion, over the guided visit, how long should a tourist stay in Pompeii ruins?
In my opinion, if the visitor dedicates an entire life in Pompeii, it can not hurt! There is a French scholar, who has retired and came to live here, near the excavations because he wants to spend his remaining years in Pompeii.
The path that I prefer to do … to start the visit from Porta Anfiteatro, the path is more comprehensive, more in two hours provided, although if I always exceed.
Do you suggest personalized tour and tracks for all different kinds of tourists? As for example for schools?
Sometimes it happens, especially for visitors who return to Pompeii and in this case I prefer to impute a visit different and personalized.
There are many interesting routes, like the one that shows you the relationship that Pompeii had with its territory, botany, paths over the walls.
Even for children, you can set the visit fit their language and interests explaining what the domus was, how the school worked and the sport.
Tell us some curiousity that we won’t find in the school books
I can tell you about graffiti, representing the testimonies of citizens of Pompeii. There are some very nice, some even a little daring.
Like that of a prostitute who signed calling Panta, which means all: a prostitute who calls Panta makes you think that she is a specialist who can do everything. But also what is written in the basilica, in the former palace of justice, as a graffiti written probably by those who had read all the sentences written on that wall and ironically writes “How can you wall not to collapse under the weight of many silly things?”.
Most of these graffiti are now lost, but they are important to understand the personality of Pompeii.
What do you suggest to visit in the new town and around?
I suggest a few days to settle in Pompeii also to explore the area: we are 18 km from Naples, 30 to Salerno, with a chance thanks to the proximity of the highway to get to Sorrento, then there are the stations and the Circumvesuviana train.
Nearby I really like the Civita Giuliana, we can define it the Ancient Pompeii in the modern sense, here there was a community of shepherds and there are some very interesting places.
Then, in another fraction of the new city, in Sant’Abbondio, there is the Temple of Dionysus, which is located outside the walls because the Roman senate imposed on those who worshiped the cult of the god of wine, to make it out of the city, and then the temples like this were built just outside the city.
A typical dish and the best restaurant where to eat it…
would suggest to eat what my grandfather ate every day: cabbage, broccoli , local products, those of the earth. Cato called Pompeians “grass eaters”, the Pompeian diet was in relation to the products of the earth and it is still like this for the Pompeians Doc, as my grandfather Vincenzo who is 95 years old.
In my opinion, the restaurants should offer what our magic fertile ground gives, the excellence of Vesuvius. Where can you eat? … In my grandfather’s house!
Our interview ends here, thanks Ciro for your time and for the many information that you shared with us .. we leave here your contacts so that if any of our readers are looking for a guided tour of Pompeii may contact you.