Well, it was pretty much great))) My girlfriend and I liked it very much)
I was taking my daughter to NYC for her sixteenth birthday and wanted a truly memorable experience. I found the Vayable site by accident and found Giovanni. She is interested in photojournalism and this looked like a great fit. I contacted Giovanni and he worked with our schedule to find a time that would work (which wasn't easy). He took the time to find out her interests and geared our tour in that direction. We saw parts of the city we would never have ventured on our own. Saw things in a different way than the usual tourist type photos. This was the New York we were looking to experience and Giovanni made it happen. My daughter got some amazing pictures. He gave her a lot of tips to help her in her photography. Knowing her interest he brought an old camera to show her how it had been done in the past. He then showed her how to use it and then he took some amazing photos of her with that camera. We really enjoyed learning about the city and how it is constantly evolving. Having an interest in photojournalism we were very interested in hearing about his career and enjoyed his stories. Very personable and enjoyable tour guide. Best part of our vacation!
The day we spent with Giovanni was one of the best days we had on our entire trip. Giovanni understands the city like no other. He took us to places that we could never go to on our own. He helped us to get to know the people in the city and the city itself. Giovanni opened our eyes to the TRUE New York. His love for the city was truly inspiring. Giovanni is not only an incredible photographer but he is kind, caring, and interested in the world around him. He is one of a kind and there is no other tour guide like him. He makes you feel as though you are from New York rather than a tourist. Giovanni speaks the way his photographs do.
Giovanni Savino gave my group of seven students from Southern California exactly what we were seeking: a gritty, colorful, real-life glimpse of the city from the inside. He walked us through a street fair in little Italy where the owner of one booth lovingly pressed custom-filled Cannoli’s into the hands of my delighted students. That was breakfast. Periodically, Giovanni stopped and shared an anecdote from his own experience behind the camera in the city's trenches. Instead of imparting dates and names that we would inevitably forget, he explained how little Italy's demographics have changed since it was first settled and how now many of the chefs are actually from Mexico! My students witnessed firsthand how the city's neighborhoods constantly morph from one culture into another, sometimes gradually and sometimes radically, just from crossing an avenue. Although they had already travelled to several parts of China, they were stunned when only minutes later, Giovanni led us up an escalator into the ultimate Dim Sum restaurant of all time in an obscure Chinese mall one would never know existed. They observed the intriguing global phenomenon that there seemed to be less American cultural influence in Chinatown than in many areas of Beijing. Having then hopped an A train, we walked crosstown on 125th street, savoring shaved ice in little cones and mingling with families enjoying their Sunday afternoons. Later we travelled further North into the Bronx, and trekked along the Grand Concourse, standing to admire its faded glory in the facade of the old Lowe's theater, or in gargoyles and ornate architectural touches at the tops of certain prewar buildings. On or way to the cross town bus, Giovanni wordlessly guided us past the shop windows that told their tales of rapacious commerce. We got off the bus way uptown in the cooling breeze from Inwood Park and collapsed on Giovanni’s living room floor. Only a story as seamless and inspiring a Giovanni’s could have held my students’ attention at that point. Although hot and thirsty, they listened raptly as he narrated a slideshow of his stunning photographs and challenged them to pursue their passion for the arts.
When I was in NYC with a group from my school, Giovanni was kind enough to take us around Harlem, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Bronx for a day. He showed us a Chinese restaurant, tucked away in a Chinese mall (one that you had to know was there in order to find it), a Italian pastery stand that had the best Cannolli in town, different parks, the Apollo Theater, and the different shops in Harlem. He gave us a concise history of New York City and explained why things were the way they were. After a long day of walking, (we were hot and our feet were tired), he graciously took us back to his home too cool off and to view his impressive and beautiful photo gallery. Giovanni was absolutely incredible, we would have been totally lost without him. He captured beautiful pictures of everyday people, doing everyday things, and turned them into something special. He took us to the "inside" of New York City, places that we would have never thought to go, and because of this we are truely greatful to have had the pleasure of meeting him.
When we travel to a new destination and plan to discover its treasures and enjoy the best it has to offer, we can either fall into the touristy tour traps (overpriced and not always that good), we can attempt to fly solo with the help of travel guides, books and online recommendations (which can get intimidating and a bit exhausting). Or we can try to find an expert local resident who will give you the real deal and provide you with unique opportunities to explore what few would probably see during their trip. You won't find a better expert, a more flavorful experience, a more vibrant tour of New York streets, than next to Giovanni Savino. It takes a person who has traveled and seen the best (and often the worst) in many cities around the planet in decades of seeing the world through a journalist's eye, to truly appreciate, know and love the city they call a home. With Giovanni, you'll learn nostalgic stories from a long-gone New York glory, while experiencing what still makes today this city one of the best in the world. A charming gentleman and a crafty storyteller, Giovanni's personality is so magnetic indeed that half way through your tour you may realize you have even stopped paying attention to what's around you, so focused you were listening to his anecdotes and tales. And, as per a good tourist experience, you'll probably want to document what you're seeing with your cameras or cellphones taking photographs or video. Trust me, no one I have ever met will be more helpful and insightful when it comes to solving any photography-related doubt you have or giving you priceless tips to make your images better. So you'll probably leave this tour with great memories to last for a lifetime, and great photos to remember it by!
I've been lucky to accompany Giovanni several times while exploring NYC, and each time has been an incredible learning experience for me not only as a photographer, but as a New Yorker exploring my own city. Giovanni is extremely knowledgable about the absolute best places to go for the most visually stunning photos, but also HOW to take the best pics in these environments. He has a truly unique eye that sees beautiful things that other people don't see, and a remarkable vision and professional focus to his shooting that is absolutely awe-inspiring to witness. He will make you see NYC in a way you never thought you'd witness -- even if you lived here for years! Not only that, but Giovanni, the man, is one of the most charming and lovable characters you'll meet in the city -- and always has amazing tales of his incredible 30-year experience as a photojournalist/documentarian. Taking a tour with him is the ULTIMATE New York experience for amateur or professional photographers!