Guide Spotlight: Giada

August 1, 2023

In this blog series, we get up close and personal with some of Walks’ guides around the world, showcasing some of the amazing people who take Walks with us from Rome to New York. We hope this blog series will add another bit of travel inspiration to your life – hearing from the men and women who inspire us and Walks guests around the world!

Today, we’re joined by one of our Florence guides, Giada Papini, who shares her tips for the city including her favorite neighborhood, a hidden gem in Florence, along with some places around the world that should inspire our travel bucket list! We’ll let Giada take it from here.

Guide Spotlight: Giada Papini - Florence
Hi! I’m Giada, tour guide in Florence. I was born and raised in this beautiful city and I’ve always been captured by art and history. My mom used to take me to museums when I was a child and I still vividly remember every experience. I graduated at the University of Florence with a major in foreign languages, in particular, Spanish and English and I obtained my tour guide license shortly after.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in Florence?
I love wandering around the city center, in particular the district of Oltrarno. It’s a less crowded area where you can find florentines living and working and it feels like a different city compared to the busy areas. A must-see is for sure the garden of the Iris, opened only in May and the famous Piazzale Michelangelo, from which you can admire the entire city.

Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence
Is there a hidden gem in Florence that you would recommend to guests?
The tower of Palazzo Vecchio -the city hall-. Palazzo Vecchio is a wonderful museum and its tower is the perfect opportunity to get the famous bird’s eye view of the city when other locations like the Dome of Brunelleschi are fully booked.

Do you have a favorite piece of art?
Artemisia Gentileschi was a great paintress of the 17th century. In an era when women had few opportunities to pursue artistic training or work as professional artists, she was the first woman to become a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. In “Judith slaying Holofernes” you can see the attitude of Judith while beheading the enemy, she is so fierce and strong and it’s impossible not to be captivated.

“Judith slaying Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi
We’d love to hear your favorite story.
During his visit to Florence in 1817, the famous writer Stendhal felt sick when visiting the Basilica of Santa Croce. That sickness became the syndrome which he described as:

“I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty…I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations … Everything spoke so vividly to my soul.”

Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence
Outside of your home city, what is your favorite place in the world to visit?
I really love Japan, in fact, I grew up reading comics and I’ve also studied Japanese at University. I traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima during the cherry blossoms and I will never forget the emotions and the beauty of that country.

Where would you love to travel to next?
I’d love to visit the US one more time. Right before the lockdown, I was spending a week in NYC but I was forced to book a last minute flight to go back home because of the outbreak of Covid-19. Next time I would like to visit Maine.

What city or place in the world do you think is the most underrated, and would you urge people to visit?
I would definitely recommend people to visit Sicily, one of the two main Italian islands. Most of the time clients from abroad tend to skip the southern cities of Italy but Sicily is a must! Also, it is one of the best places to eat if you love food.

In which city have you tried the best food and what was it?
My first answer would be at home, here in Florence, where I often eat the delicious T-bone steak but I loved the Swedish Kanelbulle, the famous cinnamon roll. I tried it in Gothenburg a few years ago and it was as big as my hand!

Update notice: This article was updated on April 9, 2023.

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