Scottish-born Evan Evans guide Sheila Urbani spends her days living in Greater London. Sheila became a tour guide in the capital after a period of escorting tours around Italy – visiting popular tourist spots like Rome, Naples, Venice and Florence – and she has now been a London Blue Badge Guide for 23 years.
From these years of experience, Sheila has acquired a wealth of knowledge about the country’s historic sites and cultural hotspots, which she now shares with London’s visitors. We caught up with Sheila to find out about her UK highlights and the one place people should all go during their time in the capital.
What made you want to become a tour guide, and what do you find most satisfying now?
Originally, I wanted to become a tour guide because I wanted to travel and meet lots of different types of people. But now I actually enjoy the history and culture that is a part of this job, too.
Where do you lead tours?
I lead tours in London to sites like Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, and The Tower of London, as well as various art galleries and museums. I also guide outside London, taking people to Windsor Castle, Leeds Castle, Oxford, The Cotswolds, and many other places around England.
Do you have a favourite place to take tourists?
That’s a very difficult question, but I’d probably have to say The Cotswolds. Within the region, there are many quaint little towns and villages lying alongside great historical sites. Blenheim Palace is one of the most impressive.
Tell us something we might not know about a site you lead tours to.
Something is always coming up that makes history more interesting. For example, a tennis ball that dates to the time of Henry VIII was found in the Great Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament, making historians believe that the king actually used the great hall as a tennis court.
What should people experience in London and its surroundings before leaving the country?
The UK has something for everyone. There are so many pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants of all different ethnicities. But I’d recommend everyone who comes to London to visit the Houses of Parliament. Even British tourists find the whole history of this site and the building itself absolutely fascinating.
Join Sheila on a tour of the historic sites in London and beyond with Evan Evans.