Best Escorted Tour Co. for Italy

Oct 9th, 2005, 08:49 AM
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Best Escorted Tour Co. for Italy

We plan to go it Italy in May for our 25th wedding anniversary. First trip to Italy for my husband, 2nd time for me. Which escorted tour company is the best and is it usually cheaper to arrange for our own flights or pay the air inclusive price?
norahs98 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Usually the prices they have for air is less.

On the otherhand, its usually less expensive to do a trip on your own and not on a tour.

Decide on what all you wish to see, how fast you want to travel, and then decide if and which tour matches your wants the best.

On most tours, you have very little free time, are on their schedule, moving ever 1-2 days, eating where & what they want you to eat.
JSLee is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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The tours that I have taken did not include airfare (exception: tour to Turkey last year). We simply met a a certain specified location. I traveled on my own before and after the tours, which were generally small group (around 8 people) walking tours covering a very limited area of one region for about one week. The tours enabled me to go to places that i would not otherwise have been able to reach by public transportation. Specialized, limited area, walking tours are an extremely slow way to travel, and very different from traveling great distances every day by car. If I were NOT going to out-of-the-way places and instead just wanted to see some major cities and larger towns, I would not take a tour, but would just get around on my own by train or bus.
cmt is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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P.S. I can't answer for Italy, but the tour I took to Turkey last october, which included airfare between Turkey and the USA and also some flights within Turkey, cost much less than I would have paid had I made the arrangements independently. I have seen some British tours (e.g., ATG-Oxford) that can include optional transportation from London to and from the start and end points of the tours. In those, I think it would cost more for an American to take the included transportation, since we'd have to fly first to London, stop, probably stay ovenight, and then join the tour's flight to the destination.
cmt is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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Tauck has very good tours with excellent dining. They stay in upscale hotels and dining is generally on your own at a specified location with your choice of anything on the menu.

Rick Steves' also has very good tours with smaller groups 26-28. Some meals are provided and some are on your own. They stay in 3* hotels which are centrally located. They allow more free time than most to do what interests you. Also, if you wish to do something else instead of the planned activity, they are not unhappy that you took the initiative to do so. They do not encourage shopping but realize that most people will do some. If they receive any kickbacks, that amount will be spent on a group activity in addition to what is planned. THe driver and the guide are not allowed to accept tips.

There are other good tour companies too. Get several guidebooks out of the library and make of list of what is most important to you. Make a spread sheet to see which is the best fit. Also check to see what is included and what is optional and therefore extra. Some tours, for instance, only do a drive by the Eiffel Tour or the Coloseum in Rome. Other tours employ a local guide which greatly enhances the experience.

If you have lots of time, going on your own and slowly is the best.

If your time is limited and your husband is unsure about doing it on his own, a tour can be a very efficient way to see most of what you want. You can return to your favorite places, on your own, on your 30th anniversary.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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We've travelled to Italy with Perillo tours twice, once in 1998 and then 2001. Both trips were good. It's great to have someone driving and taking your bags. The dinners can get a little repetitious. You can venture out on your own for some dinners if you want. We included the air with ours since we were flying from LAX and it was cheaper with the package. If you book with them tell them it is for your 25th anniversary. This will probably get you some better rooms along the tour. The guides are very good. My friend is taking a Globus tour leaving on Wed. I will post how she liked Globus when she gets back.
Lauricelli is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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See my post - Perillo Tours - Bad Experience.
lynnre is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 01:37 PM
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Lauricelli, did your friend return from the Globus tour? Any info as of yet. I would be curious to know how she liked it. Thanks.
diann is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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My mom and dad are taking a trip to Italy in March, and they are using Trafalgar. I have used Trafalgar twice and have had great experiences. They offer prices with and without airfare. Also, they have different priced trips: ie, cost saver or if you want to splurge. The hotels have been nice, with included breakfast. The two guides I've had have been wonderful. Very knowledgable, and very personable. I highly recommend them for tours. They have a website, but I'm not exactly sure what it is. If you google Trafalgar tours, it should come up. Definetely worth a look at.
StLgrrl is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 02:25 PM
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I could recommend Insight Tours for a standard tour (maybe up to 40 people) and Odysseys Unlimited for a small group tour (12 to 24 people). Odysseys has 17 day trip, Portrait of Italy, which looks very nice. I will be taking their Pearls of Dalmatia tour next May. Took their Norway trip last May. A small group is definitely a better experience.

I would not recommend Perillo. See my comments and others on other threads
Margo is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 05:12 PM
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Hi Norah,

Just a comment from a travel agent perspective as to what's been posted regarding tours --

Barbara was spot on with a recommendation of Tauck -- that would be a number one choice, and especially for an important event like a 25th wedding anniversary - splurge if you can! I've never heard ONE complaint about them, and you can't say that about many tour companies!

Globus is the moderate arm of Trafalgar and they tend to have less central locations for their hotels (so then you're spending time and money to get to where you really want to go).

I used to book Trafalgar for years with no problem until I put a client on them a few years back who apparently had a bad experience -- I'd tell you what it was but apparently it was so awful that they refused to speak to me again despite several phone calls and email!

After Lynn's post, I think I'd forget about Perillo! I saw your trip report Lynn, and if helps any, I once asked to see 4 different hotel rooms in Mexico !


wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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WE've taken a few tours with Tauck and have been very happy. Did one with Abercrombie and Kent and feel they are a cut above anyone else in sheer luxury (what else for a 25th anniversary?), but you do pay for it!
Rhardy5554 is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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I will check how my friend liked Globus. I totally spaced on asking her about the tour company. She and the people she was travelling with had an incredible time. I will get the particulars and post 'em.
Lauricelli is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 07:03 PM
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WE went to Italy last Sept. with Collette Tours and were very satisfied. The hotels were very nice, older traditional hotels and all located in the historic centers so we were able to get around easily on our own when we had free time. We did the 13 day tour --Rome, Venice, Florence, Amalfie Coast and lake Magiore. They were very well organized and we saw a great deal. Most, but not all meals were included. We had them handle the airfare because they gave us a better price than if we did it on our own. Also, If you plan to get trip insurance the airfare is included. The price was fairly good. Give their catalog a look. Good luck
evyce is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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Which is the best escorted tour company depends on what you want. If you want good hotels, better food and money is not a problem - take Tauck.

After that you are making compromises - how much money vs how much convenience, how pleasant/unpleasant are the hotels/inconvenient their locations, how mediocre the food and how much time sitting on a bus vs actually doing something.

IMHO unless you are quite timid or have special needs you would be much better off doing the trip on your own - but if you do take a tour read the brochure VERY carefully. And learn the meaning of the language - unless it says "visit" you won't spend time anywhere. "Stop" means photo op of the sight - otherwise you see it out of the window of the moving bus.

Remember, you will never get more than promised and often less.

nytraveler is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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Another vote for Trafalgar Tours.
jjrod is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 09:54 PM
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re: abercrombie/kent..I went on an African safari Kenya & Tanzania in June of 1994 with Brendan Tours..we
were virtually traveling side by side
with Abercrombie/kent, I think we split up for a stay in Nairobi, we stayed at an Intercontinental, so we were not exactly slumming..they rode in jeeps, we were in a chop-top van.
aside from that, and a few thousand dollars, it was, in my opinion, the same trip. most of them pretty much are.
Some friends of ours recently took an
Italy tour with Insight, and enjoyed it. I like to plan destinations such as Europe on my own (places like Africa and China you are pretty much locked in) I compared prices/hotel/benefits of on our own vs.
Gate 1 (pretty decent deal) and a coworker went with his wife on Perillo
(similar tour to the above companies,
but for WAAAAAY much money, and who really cares about some ballroom dancing?)
Anyway, we have clearly decided on an independant itinerary, but if I was to
go with a tour, I think I would chose Gate1.
daisy58 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:05 PM
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I am curious when you go to a country such as Italy how do you get around from town to town? I hear much about the trains. Do you haul your luggage all around and use the trains? Also I think the tours all go go to the same places I think the hotel and quality of food would differ from different tour companies.
diann is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:23 PM
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I have used Tauck for several tours in the U.S. and Canada - and they are excellent. I am sure their European tours would be great also. I have used Maupintour for 2 European tours some years ago, and they were excellent too.
Maupintour limits their group to 30, and sometimes there aren't that many, while Tauck limits to 40, I think. On the Maupintour tour I took to Great Britain, we stayed in wonderful hotels, (like Gleneagles in Scotland). Anyway, I would highly recommend both these tour companies - but both are on the expensive side.
Sue4 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 10:45 AM
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I have to say, I have taken 2 Perillo tours and they were the best I have ever been on. I thing it is all who you are and the people you travel with (others on the tour) and what you make it. I WILL go with Perillo again
amberz is offline  

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