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Florence, Tuscany & Rome - hotel & tour company opinions?

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Good morning Fodorites! As mentioned on a previous thread I am planning a trip to Florence, Tuscany & Rome in early October and have four full days in Florence and five full days in Rome.

Hotels: I'm trying to get the hotels secured now and would appreciate your opinions. There are two of us, I'd like to stay under 200 EUR/night, with a decent breakfast and in an area that requires as minimal a need for public transportation as possible. Right now I'm leaning towards Hotel Casci for Florence, but I did notice it's not a non-smoking hotel. You can request a non-smoking room, but has anyone stayed recently and can you still smell smoke throughout the hotel? I honestly don't mind, but my companion is very sensitive to it. What about Hotel Europa? In Rome I'm thinking the Relais Teatro Argentina but can't find anything anywhere on it (was a Rick Steve's rec). Could also do Hotel Portoghesi or Hotel Due Torri but the Relais just seems (seems being the key word since I can't find anything) to have everything I want. Help?

Tour companies: I'd like to do a few guided tours as well (one of the things I've learned is that I enjoy sites much more when I know what I'm looking at). Has anyone used ArtViva tours or Walks Of Italy? ArtViva is a better price, but Walks of Italy has smaller groups. I know I want to use a guide/tour group for the Uffizi and Vatican at minimum. Also day trip to Tuscany (wine & hill town focus) which I'm looking at Hills & Roads for, as well as a day trip to Pompeii with Visit Pompeii (Giusseppe seems great). Has anyone had experiences with any of the above, suggestions for an alternative?

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