"Municipal" tour guides in Lecce amid selections and disorientation

There is puzzlement among insiders over a notice issued by the Lecce City Council aimed at drawing up a shortlist of tour guides: the problem is that the invitation was aimed only at residents of the province, and after publication the names have only initials.

On February 22, a notice aimed at drawing up a “Tourist Guides” shortlist was published on the official website of the Municipality of Lecce. The deadline for submission of applications was by March 18. Last April 28 on the same site the publication of the list. These are the facts. Good news, one could and would like to say, because as far as it has been possible to verify this would be the first time of a shortlist for that purpose for the Salento capital, where, however, the selection/call for tourist guides in recent times has followed procedures that have raised more than a few perplexities among many people in the sector. In other cities such as Brindisi, for example, a more than virtuous model has already been followed for years, which will be discussed at the end.

To generate strong perplexity are already the first lines of the notice where the municipality: [...] “INVITES the holders of qualification to carry out the activity of tourist guide with card issued by the Region of Puglia residing in the province of Lecce.” In essence, and we note this for dramatic, necessary clarity, only residents in the province of Lecce and with a card issued by the Apulia Region could respond to this call from a public body. We contacted experts in the field, and those two criteria appeared discriminatory: could candidates from other Italian provinces (or European Union states) be excluded, or those who, to stay with the text of the notice alone, had qualified in other regions of our country? The laws seem to say no and even more in this regard.

Add to that, then, as well, common sense and the very idea of Culture that does not allow limits of that kind. For our Constitutional Charter, in particular, the following applies: “All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinion, personal and social conditions. It is the duty of the Republic to remove obstacles of an economic and social order, which, by effectively limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, prevent the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic and social organization of the country.”Another law, moreover, goes into even more detail precisely about the exercise of the profession of tourist guide: “The qualification for the profession of tourist guide shall be valid throughout the national territory. For the purpose of the stable exercise in Italy of the activity of tourist guide, the recognition pursuant to Legislative Decree No. 206 of November 9, 2007, of the professional qualification obtained by a citizen of the European Union in another member state is effective throughout the national territory (Provisions relating to the free provision and stable exercise of the activity of tourist guide by citizens of the European Union. EU Pilot Case 4277/12/MARK).”

Lecce, Piazza Duomo. Foto Wikimedia/Iacopetta
Lecce, Piazza Duomo. Photo Wikimedia/Iacopetta

There are, in addition, other curious aspects that deserve attention. The notice was published on February 22, as mentioned, and closed on March 18: not even, therefore, a month. Why such a hurry, especially bearing in mind that the same notice makes no reference to conditions of urgency? And then again: the criteria by which the guides included in the list to be formed will be selected for individual events are not even indicated; on the contrary, it is even written about “possible selective procedures.” In essence, selective procedures are still in the mists of eventuality. This is a dangerous condition, because in it might lurk the temptation that the same people will be called again and again: a contingency that seems really untimely at a general moment characterized by great difficulties in finding work for everyone.

This way of doing things in Lecce appears in all its limitations even more if one compares it with a similar example in purpose. In Brindisi, the Municipality, in 2019, acted with the Teatro Verdi Foundation; the latter, by decision of its president Katiuscia Di Rocco, also director of the Archbishop’s Library "Annibale de Leo," published on July 22, 2019 (deadline the following September 30) a notice for the formation of a shortlist of tour guides. Applicants, unlike in the Lecce case, had more than two months to submit applications, and the Municipality of Brindisi and the Foundation demonstrated with such timing that they had every interest in making the notice known to everyone as much as possible. Finally, in this case, the criterion for the selection of guides included in the approved list was set, namely that of rotation.

Another, final difference between the two cases: in the Brindisi case the list of guides, final and approved, can still be consulted today with extreme transparency, while in the Lecce case the names were made illegible, with only the initials being published. This curious secrecy becomes singular when one consults another shortlist published on the same website of the Lecce Municipality (last updated on April 2, 2021) where the names of the professionals (architects, etc.) admitted, but also those not admitted, are readable. Why, then, that anonymity in the list of tour guides? Transparency is essential everywhere, especially where the duty to open wide the windows of the political buildings has been invoked. Some windows unfortunately still remain closed, unless the terms of this shortlist are reopened to all.