The idea of Em.Pi.Ju. was born a few months ago during an evening with friends that we spent recounting ourselves how many wonderful places we had discovered during our travels thanks to — and sometimes only — suggestions of people randomly met in the place we were visiting.

In the last years, thanks to technology the world has become smaller and smaller, so that we are now incessantly discovering how many beautiful places are hidden only a few kilometers away from the most famous tourist destinations or, sometimes, not far from our house — places of which we have always ignored their existence.
Once we used to go to a travel agency where we purchased a tourist package concerning the city or the country we wanted to visit. The result was that we paid a lot, and we saw the usual standard stuff. Then, came the low-cost flights and the detailed tour guides, which opened the era of do-it-yourself trips. Finally, to dispense advice and experiences to travelers, online groups on social networks began to provide their assistance.
But none of these solutions consider the possibility of combining in a single element the past, which embodied the competence of the agencies, with the future, which means, thanks to the web, access to offers, sharing of experiences on blogs and social networks, and a little bit of informality of the new operators.
Think of what would happen if we had a friend willing to be our guide right in the country of our journey; a friend who closely knows the area and wants to share his knowledge with us. A friend whom we might know on Em.Pi.Ju. — My Personal Universe specifically on the occasion of our trip.

There is no need to have the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge close to our house to be able to show something interesting to others. Each of us, in his small reality, has surely a natural, artistic or gastronomic beauty that deserves being recounted to others. Often, the most interesting examples are truly the unknown places, those outside the main touristic routes or not mentioned in the guides.

If you live in Brazil, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Kenya, a small Italian, French or Spanish town, or everywhere in the world, my dear friend why don’t you draft the announcement that I have prepared for you, (in English or in English + your native language) and you help us find out all the beauty that there is in the place where you live?

Also, your participation could be for you a good means to earn some money because curious travelers will always be happy to take home some unusual and unique memories of their trips, in exchange for a fair price for your offered services.

In fact, I'm not asking you to improvise yourself as a tour guide at the Louvre in Paris or to accompany people to visit the Gobi Desert in Mongolia on the back of a camel. Indeed, some things are best if left to people who do this job in a professional way.

Maybe you're a mom, a student, a worker or a person full of interest and curiosity, but it happens to every one of us to have some free time during the day. Free time that we do not know how to spend: in the morning when children are at school, in the afternoon/evening, at night, on weekends, after an exam at the university, after work and so on. I am talking of those moments of emptiness when meeting a friend could save us from boredom.

Imagine that a friend of yours is coming to your town for one day or a week. What are the special things that you want to show him, to have him taste or to have him experiencing for the first time in his life?

I think this is a great opportunity to discover many small areas — especially in Italy and Europe — places until today completely unknown to “great tourism.”

You don’t have to offer the visit to the entire city of Rome, London or New York, instead you have to show, little by little, the most beautiful views of the neighborhood where you live; the secrets of Trastevere, a neighborhood in Rome; the small waterfall of Baatara, a municipality a few kilometers from Beirut; or the medieval town of Monsaraz, in western Portugal.

Our world is full of charming hidden corners that are worth a visit.

Still, as the best of friends, you could share your experiences with those people who are new to your daily life. For instance, your usual espresso at your favorite bar in Naples, your shopping time at the souq of Amman, your cocktail-hour in Milan, your cooking empanadas in Puebla, or your walk through the lavender fields in Provence may not seem to you interesting activities, but for those who live them for the first time they are simply fascinating events.

I have compiled a small list of ideas to inspire you, but of course my imagination is limited in comparison to the concrete possibilities offered to you by the real world.


- Special districts of a city. Hamra in Beirut, Spanish Quarters in Naples, the Marais in Paris, the Village in New York.

- Minority linguistic communities located in a territory. For example, the Greek community or the Albanian community in Italy, native people in Canada, the Basque community in Spain.

- Churches and places of worship for religious minorities, possibly explaining even worship rituals or their typical architecture.

- Wine tours, if in your area there are vineyards, wine cellars or wine bars. Very interesting could be the possibility to attend the production process.

- Beaches and coves unknown to mass tourism. Often, they are mentioned by guides but finding them is not so easy.

- Theme tours of your area: historical, architectural, political, and musical tour.

- Locations where were shot movies and/or television series. In Italy, Tuscany and Umbria are full of these locations, as well as southern France, England, Scotland, and the cities of New York and Los Angeles.

- Natural parks and wooded areas of your area.

- Gorges and canyons. (Of course, if they are not too dangerous for inexperienced tourists).

- Places and beaches for nudists. They are often isolated and difficult to reach, but many people are interested in these places.

- Representative works of ancient mythologies, not necessarily just Roman and Greek mythologies.

- Mycological areas. In fact, in addition to edible ones, there are many mushrooms worthy of attention from a naturalistic point of view.

- Botanical areas where botanical experts could spread their wealth of knowledge about flowers, trees, leaves.

- Shopping areas. If you know all the shops of your city, for instance all the shops related to a certain fashion current, you could be of great help to time-constrained tourists.

- Collection objects: for instance LPs, CDs, comics, books, or prints.

- Photography. Are you a good photographer? In this case, you might offer unique photo shoots (for instance with the background of your city), or you might help professional photographers discover suggestive places outside the most popular touristic routes.

- Harbor cities. Do you live in a place where big cruise-ships dock? You might organize small tours of the port city or of very close areas. In general, docking tourists have no longer than five hours for every place where the boat docks.

- Fishing boat rides, at dawn as well as at night.

- Local religious and folklore celebrations. What is celebrated? What are the main attractions?

- Nightclubs. Are you a nightclub expert having access to the most exclusive clubs? Or do you know the trendiest places in your area? If you answer yes to this question, you could offer travelers interested in nightlife to spend together a typical evening/night in your city.

- Tours of your area by car, bike, scooter or bicycle. For instance, the several villages of the Tuscan Chianti by car; the riviera in Liguria or the Amalfi Coast by motorbike; Rome’s visit on a Vespa as in the movie Roman Holiday; or walking the mule tracks of the Cinque Terre in Liguria.

- Horse riding. Organize horseback riding, on the beach or in the pine forests. (But please, avoid absolute beginners.)

- Sports. Basketball, soccer, hockey, as well as martial arts such as judo, muay-thai, karate, or lucha libre. Watching a show with someone who knows all the secrets of a specific sport might be of interest to many tourists.

- Gastronomic tours concerning local products, especially in small villages. What is the best street-food area and what can we eat there?

- Boat trips to caves or waterfalls.

- Theme-food tours. Meals for celiacs, Florentine-steak lovers, vegetarians, vegans, special-diet followers (such as the Fast Metabolism Diet or the GIFT diet), or people curious about ancient diets (such as the Pre-Colombian diet or the ancient Rome diet).

- Sunsets and breathtaking panoramic views in your area.

- Child-friendly tours. You might help the youngest tourists discover the some attractions of your area while their parents are at the museum.

Last but not least, introductory/generic guides. In fact, many people like to travel alone, but sometimes they like to have a person, a sort of new friend, with whom spending time while learning information about the place where they are. And in exchange for your new friendship you might accept from them, as a reward of your time, even a simple coffee or a pizza.

Tourism does not mean only monuments or squares. It means, also, craftsmanship or tradition concerning certain arts handed down from generation to generation.
If you have a lab or a shop where you expose your production, or just a corner in your home where you can show what you are able to do, you could share your expertise with your guests, telling them the history of your art.

- Embroiderers or experts of crochet and knitting.

- Tailors capable of creating bespoken outfits for their clients.

- Dance teachers. For instance spending an evening dancing tango in Buenos Aires, tarantula in Lecce, flamenco in Madrid or samba in Rio de Janeiro.

- Sommeliers in Italy or France. Taste the wines while you get a little lesson about them.

- Experts of homemade pasta or sweets pertaining to the local tradition. Mini courses of just a few hours on Emilian tortellini, Calabrian lagane, Filipino siopao, the king-cake in New Orleans, or the ensaimada in Mallorca.

- Glass blowers in Murano (Venice).

- Cooks of traditional local dishes. How to prepare the best cous-cous in Marrakech, the best paella in Barcelona, or the best hummus in Beirut?

- Owners of local craft workshops (goldsmiths, majolica and porcelain workers, wood carvers, painters) or owners of small shops who want to explain how they create their products – maybe after the presentation, you might also be able to sell your merchandise.

- Housewives. Organize a tour concerning your domestic life. Show how you live in a typical house in your country, and then arranges a dinner with the dishes of your area telling their history to your guests.

- Cooking hosts. In some foreign countries, such as in Japan, there is the possibility to participate in home dinners. In fact, the simplest dish of your culinary tradition might be exquisite for a foreign visitor.

- Negotiators. Are you capable of negotiating good deals? A tourist might need your help in negotiating purchases in markets where he doesn’t speak the local language/dialect and English is not commonly used (for instance in China, Japan, Russia or Africa.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama

Photo credit: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;