There were many things we missed during our 12-month-plus hiatus from travel to Italy, but not being able to connect in person with our select group of professional guides—most of whom we have worked with for years and who have become more friends than colleagues over time—was a particularly weighty sacrifice.
In some cases, we were able to meet again during our recent trip in July and catch up with personal news and professional plans for the future. In one case, however, we will never get that chance to make up for lost time.
We are deeply saddened to announce that the wonderful guide and scholar Alessandro Celani, our long-standing expert in Rome, lost his battle with cancer last week. In addition to being one of the most dedicated and informed guides in Italy’s capital city, Alessandro funneled his knowledge of Italian history in culture into a number of published books and photography projects.
Though he earned degrees in ancient art and archaeology in Perugia and Athens, Alessandro’s interests and studies also led him to explore the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Maria Gabriella notes, “He was a great guide, but also a scholar and artist. If a traveler told me they didn’t like too many details or were not really interested in history, I did not assign Alessandro to them! He was prolific in so many areas: writer, poet, photographer. He took the time to get favorite works framed to give to us as gifts and we are so happy to have purchased a large photograph that was exhibited in Rome at the Palazzo Altemps. It is now hung in a place of honor in our home in Italy. We are also proud to have helped sponsor the publication of his book, Aura Viaggio in Italia – Voyage to Italy, that we gave as gifts to many of our travelers.”
“Alessandro was with us from the beginning,” adds Brian. “He was an excellent guide and a good friend. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Tours he gave us of the Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano and the Villa Farnesina stand out among our most memorable experiences in Rome.” He jokes, “I would like to ask his forgiveness for insisting that the only explanation for the construction of the Pantheon was aliens.”
One of our most beloved guides, Alessandro introduced dozens of our clients to the glories of Rome past and present over the years and we would often receive thank you notes and rave reviews about his tours and experiences. We thought the best way to honor his passion and commitment would be to share with readers (many of whom probably remember Alessandro from a past trip to Rome) some of these delightful notes.
To Alessandro, sit tibi terra levis.
“Alessandro was excellent. He guided us through the sights of ancient Rome, Villa Farnesina, Villa Borghese, and other sites. His knowledge and enthusiasm was apparent and he ably tailored his information for our group with greatly varying interests in art, keeping all of us engaged even on a full day of touring. He noted that we had an interest in Caravaggio and led us to additional sites to see more of his works. His narration allowed us to have a greater appreciation of the works we were seeing, especially the Bernini sculptures.”
“Another highlight was the tour of the Forum and Colosseum with Alessandro. He is such a gentleman and a wonderful guide. We really enjoyed this experience.”
“Alessandro proceeded to fill our heads with more history and information than we can or will ever remember. But it was a fantastic experience and it was a pleasure to spend the day with him. We saw the Colosseum, the Forum, ruins throughout the city, the Vatican, the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica, several local churches, and I am sure we are missing something. This tour left us in absolute awe of not just Italians but the incredible history of Italy that has lead to the current time. We started the tour as your average stupid American and ended the tour with incredible insight and understanding of all that took place in Italy, and especially Rome over the past thousands of years, ultimately creating the country that now exists.”
“We were so incredibly impressed with his knowledge on our tour of ancient Rome. We would have loved to spend much more time with him. He pointed out things that the “normal” tourists were walking right by and his tour was one we have talked many times about already.”
“This was our 5th trip to Rome so had visited many of the wonderful sites previously but our guide Alessandro was able to help us find new gems.”
“Please give our regards to Alessandro! We proudly display one of his books in our living room!”
“Alessandro was superb, clearly very experienced and knowledgeable. We were still talking about Alessandro days after our trip.”
“Alessandro … absolutely brilliant guide and it was a pleasure to spend time with him during our explorations of the ruins and Vatican. We hope that Alessandro will be able to visit New Haven in the fall as he hopes.” (Note: this was from 2019, and unfortunately Alessandro was never able to make the trip.)
“Ancient Rome with Alessandro went so quickly. He is so knowledgeable and engaging – we left wanting more.”
“The day of our private guided tour of Rome was a rainy one, but in spite of it, we walked for more than 5 hours with the charming and well-informed Alessandro and enjoyed lunch with him.”