Name and surname: Stefania Gialdroni
Qualifications: Tour guide
Languages: Italian, English and German
Tours: Classic tours, thematic tours, children and families, school tourism, recreational tours (e.g. treasure hunts and performative tours)
Services: Private tours, semi-private tours, group tours
Topics: History, archeology, art, history of law, law and art
Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
Ever since I can remember, I have always loved history and art. The inventiveness and creativity of our ancestors, made manifest by means of extraordinary works of art and architecture, give me a sense of security, an awareness of my identity. When I was at school, I loved art history classes and I tortured my relatives visiting Rome as I wanted to show them the beauties of the Eternal City.
I graduated in Law but my passion for history did not abandon me: I chose a specific path, which led me to an international PhD in Legal History. For almost five years I lived in several European countries: Germany, England and France. Today I am Adjunct Professor of Medieval and Modern Legal History the Roma Tre University and Instructor of a course on The Legal Protection of Cultural Heritage. In the meantime, I obtained my license as a tourist guide in order to express that very need that I had revealed so soon: to share with others the passion for our history and for the incredible testimonies that Rome preserves (and not only from the point of view of art!).
Rome is a big metropolis, there is no doubt about that. However, many neighborhoods maintain the atmosphere of a village, where the neighbors are always ready to make a joke, the culinary traditions remain fundamental and it is always the right time to eat an ice cream in one of its spectacular parks.
What’s so special about Ostia Antica for you?
My love for Ostia Antica has deep roots: it certainly dates back to my childhood, when my parents took me and my brothers to the excavations on Sundays. I even wandered around Ostia Antica when I was still in my mother’s tummy (as you can see in the picture, where she is seven months pregnant)! As a child I liked getting lost amidst the ruins, running through the fields full of flowers in Spring, imagining the lives of people so distant in time yet so similar to us. I spent all my childhood and adolescence in Ostia and, over time, I discovered many things about that mysterious city and many others about the history of the area over the centuries.
The Renaissance village of Ostia Antica, dominated by the Castle of Pope Julius II, is a too often forgotten jewel, an oasis of peace where you can spend an afternoon chatting with friends drinking a coffee or a glass of wine. And then there is the epic history of the 19th century land reclamation, when laborers from Ravenna came to fight against malaria at the mouth of the river Tiber. And we must not forget the foundation of modern Ostia (Ostia Lido), the leisure “garden-city” with its villas overlooking the sea. Therefore, after studying and working abroad for a few years, I decided to come back to Ostia Antica, where I still live today. Ostia Antica, however, cannot be isolated: its history can only be understood by combining it with that of the ancient imperial ports on the other bank of the river Tiber and, of course, with the history of Rome, whose dominion over the Mediterranean Sea would have been unthinkable without its ports. Ostia Antica is a special place because it is steeped in history yet timeless. In 2013, together with some friends, we thought that the historical-archaeological heritage of the Roman coast deserved to be enhanced and, for this reason, we founded the cultural association L’Info-Attiva in Ostia Antica and then, in 2017, Visit Ostia Antica.
Which are your favorite tours?
Without any doubt, private tours and school tours are my favorite ones. Private tours allow an interaction that is more difficult to establish with large and very heterogeneous groups. Each tourist is different and has different notions and curiosities: this job is an ongoing challenge and is therefore stimulating. School groups, and more generally children, give great satisfaction not only because they are fascinated by ancient monuments and by the great stories of the past but also because they often make very clever and original observations.
I like very much doing tours at the excavations of Ostia Antica and at the epicenter of ancient Rome, i.e. Coliseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Both tours allow me to delve into the thousand-year history of Rome and the sites are so rich that one never stops studying and discovering. I also like the history of the land reclamation of Ostia and Maccarese because I can deepen the issue of the cooperative movement as well as tell anecdotes about the men and women who made the 20th century reborn of Ostia possible. Finally, I have a thing for tours on the history of women: I use the city as a tool to bring them back to life and describe their long (and difficult) path towards equality.