Origin of Keyrow

From time to time, friends have asked me why I chose the name “Keyrow Tours” and the subsequent meaning behind my logo. The Chi-Rho (pronounced “KEE-roe”) is a Christian symbol consisting of the intersection of the capital Greek letters Chi (Χ) and Rho (Ρ), which are the first two letters of “Christ” in Greek (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, Christos). The Chi-Rho can represent either Christ or Christianity and is also known as a Christogram or labarum, which is derived from the Latin word laureum, meaning “military standard.” This is based on the emperor Constantine’s application of the Chi-Rho symbol to his military standard after receiving his famous vision before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome in the year 312. The church historian Eusebius, who spoke with the emperor about his experience, described the standard:

“On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones, and within this the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of the initial letters, the letter X intersection P at the center.”

The Chi-Rho was used by Christians well before Constantine, and continues to be widely used today in church decorations and on liturgical vestments.

As the founder of Keyrow Tours, I wanted to borrow from this rich and ancient symbolism. The “key” is central in my logo because my business is literally “Unlocking Italy” for others. Note that the key is also double edged: One side represents the individual traveler, while the other symbolizes thousands of years of travelers who have ventured into the richness of Italian history.

Overlapping the key are a pair of rowing oars. Both symbols together (the key and the rowing oars) form the word “key-row.” Rowing oars are an ancient emblem of travel, and early examples of Roman coins include oars as a symbol of the Empire’s Mediterranean conquests and sea power. Early Egyptian hieroglyphs also depict four rowing oars together, perhaps as a symbol of the four corners of the heavens. The rowing oars are included in my logo as a symbol of humanity’s traveling nature. We are homo viator, or humanity on the way.

Having two overlapping oars is significant. One represents the physical travel we experience throughout our lives, be it going to work or when we go on holidays. The second signifies something more interior and spiritual: the journey of greatest distance is between the human mind and heart. Heaven, nirvana, happiness, growing in good karma or in love are not first and foremost a change of place. They are a change of person.

Less profoundly, I also live on the shores of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. Here I enjoy rowing my canoe, swimming, splashing, and boating with friends as any good Aquarius should.

I have come to a personal understanding that unlocking Italy with Keyrow Tours is not just a physical trip or adventure. It is something interior. It is something spiritual. Italy’s art and history, its celebration of humanity and coexisting sense of the sacred profoundly touch and enrich us until we reach our final destination.

~ Paolo