Interview with Piero Armenti, tour operator in Manhattan and star of social media: the American dream, the secrets and curiosities of the Big Apple.
He was born in Sorrento (Italy), but ten years ago he moved to New York, favoring his innate desire to travel and learn about the world, and there he opened a tourist agency near Times Square.
So far, we could say “almost” completely normal … but the definition of tour operator for Piero Armenti is, in our opinion, totally reductive, because he is above all a real social “phenomenon”. In fact, through his Facebook page “Il Mio Vaggio a New York“, Piero lives in close contact with almost a million affectionate and very active followers, showing them New York from the daily point of view of those who live there and know it a lot well.
In fact, Piero publishes images and videos every day, continually revealing the different faces of New York: from the trustworthy shop where to find specific products, to the “gem” of a particular panorama, to the little restaurant that is trendy at that time, to the tourist icon that everyone already knows, but maybe seen from a different point of view.
Thus a continuous exchange was born between those who talk about the metropolis and their everyday life, and those who are about to organize the next trip and who, simply sick of “newyorkite” has at least the impression of living in the city of their dreams. A vast virtual comunity, which pulsates daily with its own life and which grows more and more every day.
At this point, it seemed logical to interview the Deus ex Machina of such success, to hear the storyand that of “his” Journey to New York from his live voice!
Q) How did the idea of My Journey to New York come about?
A) A little by chance. I always had the passion of the story, and New York is a city that loves to be told. When you move to America people have a strong curiosity about what life is like in New York, and then I started telling this New York life for friends and relatives, but I immediately saw that these stories were hugely successful, with over three thousand new followers every week.
Q) Do you want to tell us how you managed to enter the tourism business of the Big Apple?
A) I did it naturally because I already had some experience in the field, gained here in New York by working with a tour operator. In a city where 60 million tourists arrive every year, it is quite easy to find one’s own dimension. I focused on organizing the tours especially in Italian, German and Spanish. But our strong point is the office in Times Square, which allows us to provide unique assistance to our customers.
Q) What difficulties, if any, did you encounter?
A) I have not encountered any particular difficulties, but the construction of a team that is in love with the project and can communicate its enthusiasm is central. I’m happy with the team I built.
Q) New York is unique, can you tell us what you love most about this metropolis and if there is something you don’t like? In your opinion what are the reasons why NewYork is one of the most loved cities in the world?
A) I would talk about the myth of Manhattan, this long and narrow island full of skyscrapers, which give it a charm and a sense of unique grandeur. The myth of Manhattan is not only the myth of skyscrapers, which are now everywhere, but also of the story of some distant relative who had found America here, or the myth that is communicated to us by the movies and TV series that bombard us with the images of this city. In the end Manhattan and New York represent that freedom and that opportunity for redemption which is an ambition and a desire that everyone cultivates within himself.
Q) She is a true urban explorer, her direct fb at all hours of the day and night, with all the weather are known and much appreciated by her followers, she manages to involve thousands of people whenever she tries a restaurant, taste a different pizza, have breakfast at Tiffany’s or buy an Italian product from Rosario, his trusted store. All this with extreme naturalness and desire to experiment, is this the secret of the ever growing success of My trip to New York?
A) Success depends on a particular narrative mode, very realistic. I don’t use filters, I tell myself and my life in New York. I do not pretend to educate, but to show what my eyes see. All this is clearly very appreciated because it gives you the way to experience New York while staying thousands of miles away, and you begin to enjoy the journey in the Big Apple.
Q) Can you tell us about your free day, go running in Central Park? Have you ever met any sacred movie monster, like Robert De Niro..Tom Hanks..A Pacino ..?
A) I never ran in Central Park, maybe once. When I run I go to the Astoria Park. For the rest you can easily meet VIPs here in Manhattan, often on the subway. I have often met Leonardo di Caprio. An urban explorer’s day is done with feet, walking, observing, telling new things. I do this almost every day.
Q) In New York you can’t get bored, your agency located near Times Square suggests many tours, do you want to name a few in particular?
A) I would like to mention two in particular, the rooftop tour through which you go on the panoramic terraces of Mahattan, and the tour of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn which allows you to visit three of the most fascinating districts of New York.
Q) How much do you feel New Yorker..and how much Italian? And what kind of relationship do you have with New Yorkers?
A) I feel very Italian, because I arrived in the United States late over thirty years. If I had come as a kid, it would be different. I also feel like a New Yorker for an open mind and a desire to experiment. I do not know if we can generalize and put the “New Yorkers” in a single category, in any case, to stay on this extremely generic level, I would say that I have an excellent relationship.
Q) Question of obligation: Do you miss something of Italy? Where do you see yourself in many years?
A) After so many years of living abroad, you no longer know what you are missing. I often wonder how my life would be there, if I had never come to New York, I might have stayed in Italy in some northern city. I honestly don’t know. Now I can say that I don’t miss anything in particular, I’m fine in New York.
Q) The myth of the American Dream never seems to run out, and she embodies it having made a successful choice in the USA. One of the most frequent questions of his followers is what to do to try to turn in America. What advice can you give to young people who have this dream?
A) The American dream has many enemies, many will be discouraged. Family, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend will do it. The American dream is often a dream of breaking and rebirth, like climbing a mountain. It is a solitary gesture above all yours. You must therefore find the strength in you to try and take risks.
Q) She manages to involve her fans also by posting videos and live from other places she visits, so it is her personal success. Recently you created Jerryamerica.com, a site where you can shop, do you want to tell us what you can find?
A) When I make travel videos, there is a lot of interest and curiosity because we all love to travel. Jerry America is a project related to American food, especially the snacks that maybe are not found in Italy, but which are a treat once in a while. It is an ambitious project, we have over 500 products in the catalog.
Q) Why did you choose New York? A dream when he was a child?
A) I chose New York because besides having brought it inside me since I was a child, I consider it the most open city in the world, a real human laboratory, with a dynamic economy that creates opportunities for everyone.
Q) Because of the impact New York has on those who visit it, I believe there may be one before having been in NY and one after having been to NY in the life of a traveler. Agree?
A) I am 100% convinced, those who visit New York are different, in one way or another this city whispers something to us, says something to each of us. And this thing we carry with us forever.
Thanks Piero for this interview!
Texts & Interview © iBESTmag / Daniela Barone – Pictures of Piero Armenti courtesy of the same – Pictures of New York by Various Authors attrib. Cc0 – Total or partial reproduction prohibited, except for Cc0 images.