Nicola Guariglia is an official sightseeing guide for Campania, a region of southern Italy that includes Cilento. He lives in Castellabate, a small town in the province of Salerno. In 2007, a love of his homeland led to the development of a series of itineraries that allowed Guariglia to share with guests the hidden treasures of Campania and of the still little known Cilento. Along with his wife, Sonia, and their children, Nicole and Gianvincenzo, the family weaves together a unique blend of emotions, knowledge and experiences for their guests. The business has expanded and thrived thanks to a passion to share the traditions, natural beauty, cultural history, culinary excellence and the secrets of Cilento.
How do the experiences you offer at Masaniello Tourist give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region of Italy?
I like to position my services not as “tours” but as “experiences”. My goal is to have guests experience the sights but also the culture, the traditions, and the flavors of this still relatively unknown area.
How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
The activity started as a hobby. I am strongly connected to the place where I spent all of my life and I found out that it gave me pleasure to accompany visitors around my village or the surrounding area with my car. The feedback went beyond my expectations. I invested on a mini bus, than on a small boat with the objective to take a growing number of guests to new locations and to offer them new experiences. I now offer thematic tours inspired by cooking, history, crystal clear waters and, more recently, cooking lessons in the kitchen with a local family.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
I tend to introduce the program of the day in a low key manner almost to the point that guests doubt that what they read or learnt from other happy testimonials is actually true. I enjoy to see the wow effect on their faces when they realize that every stop and sight is associated to a palpable cultural experience…just like they heard from testimonials.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?
I like my guests to know that their guide is someone that they can trust, someone who has a strong connection with the area. I want them to expect a professional that values their holiday time and that his main objective is to make the experience unique and memorable.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
The trend that motivates me the most is the desire of my guests to be part of the local culture. I thrive in presenting our traditions, the food and the stories of everyday life. All of this contributes to make my guests members part of an extended “virtual” local family.
What sets Masaniello Tourist apart from other tour companies in the area?
We offer thematic tours at competitive prices that combine classic sightseeing with a full immersion experience in the local traditions and with elements of surprise along the tour. This offer is combined with the passion and high standard of professionalism that come with the love I have for the territory. I strive to abide to these principles from the moment we pick up the visitor to the “arrivederci” or see you again. One of our objectives, in fact, is to make the visitor come back and to become an ambassador for the area to others.
What is one Strategy that has helped your business to grow?
More than a strategy it is a philosophy. Every time I plan a tour I ask myself: what if I was the tourist? What would make me satisfied of the experience within a reasonable budget? Being a native of the area my expectations tend to be high, but, once I find the answer, I plan the experience knowing that my guests will be thrilled too.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
What brought positive reviews to my service is the relationship that is established between guests and myself. I don’t follow any set of rules. I am simply myself: the passion for the region, the desire to share emotions, experiences and secrets of my land, stories about my family and my activity are part of my personality and contribute to establishing a good relationship with guests. More often than not, in fact, guests comment on their social networks that “they have a new friend in Italy.”
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
One of the highlights of my experience with guests is when I invited a family from the USA to join me in visiting my family so that they could take a look at how my mother was making homemade pasta, pizza and local specialties. It was supposed to be a short visit, not planned but I knew that it would have cemented the already positive experience of this family. What was supposed to be a brief visit became an evening in which everybody made pasta and pizza, my mother showed photos from the family albums and my father his collection of hunting rifles. We all sat for dinner, chatted mixing up languages, laughed and sang together. The American family arrived as a guest, but they all left the house as family members and in tears. From that experience the pasta making class has been included in my thematic tours.