Some riders on an overseas motorcycle tour prefer a guide from their native country while others prefer a tour guide from the country in which they are travelling.
I can understand the attraction of a tour guide from your own country as you share the same language, culture, interests, sense of humour, tastes in food, etc.
It provides you with a comfort zone which is handy when riding in remote, extreme or exotic locations.
However, there are so many extra benefits with a local tour guide, such as Enrico Grassi who runs Hear the Road Motorcycle Tours in Italy.
We have been riding with the Roman guide on his Tuscany and Umbria Tour along with five Americans, a Kuwaiti and a Russian. No other Aussies!
Not only is it great to mix with riders from other countries and hear their fascinating stories along the route, but it is also a boon to have a local tour guide with as great a sense of humour as Enrico.
As a local rider, he knows the roads so well he doesn’t even need to use a GPS, although he does have one with him as a back-up.
He hasn’t mapped out the route based on Google Maps, either. These are the roads he knows intimately and he loves to ride on his BMW R 1200 GS Triple Black.
As an Italian rider, he also knows the intricate and sometimes confusing road rules (or lack thereof).
He knows where the speed cameras are, where police are likely to patrol and what is the acceptable pace to ride these roads.
Language no barrier
Of course, there is also the fact that he speaks the language and would be able to help you talk to police should you run foul of the law!
He also encourages and helps you speak Italian with the locals.
Language also comes in handy when ordering food and wine, which is pretty important when touring Tuscany, the “bread basket” of the Italian nation.
He also knows the best restaurants in each location that offer authentic food and produce of the region, not Western tourist variations.
Over dinner, Enrico provides vivid tales of colourful Italian life, the nation-building Giuseppe Garibaldi whose name and face is everywhere and the rich history of the town, region and nation
It’s not just straight out of a tourist guide, either.
It’s personal, passionate and relevant.
On one day, we even visited Trequanda where he was married in the library (bibliotheque) and on the way back to Roma we will be dropping into his house for a special home-cooked pasta picnic to end the week-long trip.
A local guide like Enrico will also provide handy advice on attractions and even ensure you don’t get ripped off by tourist operators or taxi drivers.
Yes, we understand the comfort and ease of having a professional tour guide from your country take you on tour, especially in remote or exotic locations.
However, there is so much you can gain from an Italian guide in Italy where food, language and wine are such an important part of the journey!