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Context Rome tour of Borghese Gallery

Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Context Rome tour of Borghese Gallery

Hello,
I've heard many good things about Context Rome and their Roman Way and Vatican tours. Has anyone had experience with their Borghese Gallery tour? Would you recommend that over the Gallery's own audiotape or English language tour?
Also, has anyone had experience with Context Rome's tours in Florence?
Thanks,
Branton
Corona, California
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Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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Branton, we took the Context Rome tour of the Borghese last November and it was simply fantastic. With only 2 hours allowed in the Gallery our time was maximized by our guide for our small group. We were able to skirt around the milling people to discover so many fascinating aspects of the paintings and sculptures. I fell in love with Bernini's work thanks to our Context Rome guide. It was one of the highlights of my visit to Rome. Deborah
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Old Jun 25th, 2006, 10:07 PM
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Hi Deborah. Thanks for the advice. May I ask who was your docent? Did you take other Context Rome tours? If so, were you equally pleased with all the docents? When I check the schedule for the Borghese Gallery tour between June through September, it seems that the date I would take the tour is assigned to a docent for whom this would be their only Borghese Gallery tour in those five months. Perhaps it is their first and only time for this tour? The docent specializes in 20th century architecture, but does teach art history at the American University in Rome (an undergraduate foreign exchange student institution) and is also scheduled for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican tours. Any thoughts?
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 05:35 AM
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Branton, our guide was Frank DaBell, he was fabulous. As well as the Borghese tour, we also took the Vatican tour and Underground Rome with Context Rome

John Boyden led the Vatican tour, another incredible guide. We could have spent all day with him.

The Underground Rome tour was excellent also. We had toured that morning with Through Eternity (which was an excellent tour for the money) and went immediately into the Underground tour so we started the tour already exhausted. I did not include the name of our guide in my notes but she was exceptional also.

I would certainly use Context Rome again but I would recommend only doing one tour a day. Two 4+ hour tours in a day was about two hours too much

I hope this helps with your touring decisions. I think I spent hours searching for the best tour combinations for our week in Rome. Deborah
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Hi Branton,

Just for another option: I used the audioguide and was perfectly happy with the level of detail. I had a 9am Sunday entrance and there were only about 100 people in our time slot rather than the full 200. Made for a very nice experience.

I also used Context Rome for the Antica Rome and Arte Vatican tours and was extremely happy with both of those.

Buon viaggio!
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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Hi Deborah and Dayle. Thanks for the good advice. I'm still in a muddle, though, and would like a little more of your wisdom and experience. Here are all the details.

I have an Aug 13 Sunday 9 a.m. reservation at the Borghese - the gallery's own English tour starts then or I could use the audioguide. I could instead book the Context Rome tour, on the same day, Aug 13, but at 2:45 p.m. with Flavia Marcello as the docent.

Advantages of Context Rome might be that Flavia would be able to skirt around the crowds, as Deborah stated, and should have both an in-depth knowledge on the regular Borghese stuff plus knowledge on the Raphael exhibit (according to Context Rome).

Disadvantages might be that this appears to be the only Borghese Gallery tour Flavia is doing for the season (familiarity?) and the afternoon could be much more crowded, as Dayle said. (Dayle, do you think mid-August would reflect the same low crowd on a Sunday morning as when you went?)

Do-it-myself would be Euro 19.50 per person (E 39.00 total for two) vs. Euro 52.50 (E 105.00 total) with Context Rome. I have been to the Borghese Gallery in 2002. My wife hasn't and I would like to give her the best experience. So, balancing crowds, docent, audioguide, Rapheal exhibit, etc., what would the two of you (and any other forum readers) do?

Thanks. Branton
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Just last Friday we took the Borghese Gallery tour in english at 11:00 AM. The tour guide was a young Italian woman who spoke very good english. She was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and well educated in art history. The group was about 15 to 20, so at times it was a little hard to hear her. The cost is an extra 5 euro (in addition to the cost of your admission ticket). The tour lasted almost 2 hours. An outstanding value!
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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Blachman-I wouldn't overthink this one.I've taken practically every one of the Context Rome tours with many different docents,and I've never been less than impressed.It will be great.They have very high standards.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Someone is going to have to explain to me why the Context Rome tour of the gallery is worth 95 euro more (for 2 people) than the english language tour that the Galleria itself provides? I thought the Galleria in house tour was terrific.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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I haven't taken the tour given by the G.B.Could you provide some details? Who gives it-what level of education do they have? How many people in the group? It may or may not be just as good.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Our GB guide had a thorough knowledge of sculpture from ancient times to the Renaissance. She knew her Raphael too, pointing out all of the symbolism in his paintings. Level of education, I don't know. But she impressed me and I go on a lot of Museum docent lead tours at the Met. The tour I was on last Friday had maybe 15?? Best tour I ever got for 5 euro (except at the Met in NY, where they're free!)
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Sounds like a good deal.For one of the benefits of CR is the small group size.I believe the Galleria Borghese tour has no more than six participants,which really encourages a lot of interaction.I think for someone who is happy to just walk and listen,the Galleria's own tour would be more than adequate.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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When I said the Galleria Borghese tour has no more than six participants,I meant the Context Rome tour of the GB.(just for clarity's sake.)
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Pwem, I think choosing the right tour depends on so many different issues.

I've only been to the Borghese Gallery once and thought it best to maximize the two hours alloted. I don't think the English tour worked with our schedule and I knew I wanted something more than an audio guide. I came to Italy disinterested in the Italian Masters, Caravaggio just doesn't "draw" me in. Our guide didn't change my opinion of Caravaggio but I sure did fall heavy for Bernini I then went around Rome and St. Peter's seeing and enjoying works by Bernini that I didn't catch the first time. For me the Context Rome tour was worth the expense.

Our group with Context was only 6 people giving each of us lots of opportunities to ask questions, hear the guide clearly and linger as long as we needed. In November, with less crowds than summer I would imagine, we still needed to move around larger groups that were clustered around a single guide.

My husband and I took several tours with different companies while in Rome for the week. Context was the most expensive but we never had a problem with any of their tours or guides. In contrast, one of the less expensive tour companies I had arranged to tour the Vatican DIDN'T SHOW UP at our agreed upon time and place.

I am probably biased toward Context Rome as they came to our "rescue" with a tour the next day of the Vatican. I can't tell you how disappointed my DH would have been to not tour the Vatican.

There are many tour choices in Rome as I did discover. With plenty of research we can all find the ones that works for us.

Like myself in doing my Rome research last year, Branton was looking for opinions on Context Rome. This was my experience, my opinion. I am always interested in other viewpoints as it helps me make the best travel decisions. Deborah
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Hi Deborah, Pwem, and Massagediva.
Thanks again for the advice. I am leaning towards booking the Context Rome tour because I like the idea of having a tour guide that will go at our pace (even if a group of 6) rather than a large group pace, but I'm still thinking about the money value and logistics.

Here's my latest question: I'd like to see the National Museum, Diocletian Baths/Octagonal Hall and the Borghese on the same day, Sunday Aug. 13. (or, I can try to do the Natl. Museum the Saturday evening before. It's open then from 9pm to 11:45 p.m.

If I book the Context Rome Borghese at 2:45, then I suppose I'd go to the National Museum in the morning at 9 a.m., leave by 1 to get to the Borghese, finish the Borghese at 5 p.m., and then have about 2 hours (after travel) for the Diocletian Baths/Octagonal house.

Or, do you think that 4 hours Sunday morning would be enough time to see the Natl Museum/Diocletian/Ocatagonal so that I wouldn't have to come back after the Borghese.

On the other hand, if I forgo the Context Rome Borghese, I'd see it on my own at 9 a.m., which would leave the rest of the afternoon for the Natl Museum/Diocletian/Octagonal.

If you think both itinerary choices are feasible (or feasible only if I do the Saturday evening Natl. Museum) then I just need to make a final decision on the value of the Context Rome tour.

Massagediva - I admit I have a tendency to overthink things. In this case, though, I really want this to be the very best experience for my wife. I've been to most of these places already.

Thanks, everyone, for your wise comments.
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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HI again Branton,

If it were me I would take the GB tour at 9am. I went in May, 9am Sunday. This was the Sunday morning following the 3rd annual Note Bianca celebration in Rome (all night city wide party). Maybe lots of people were sleeping in.

I would fully expect August to be more crowded. I would also expect afternoon to be more crowded than 9am.

I would expect the GB docent to be very knowledgeable.

Remember, Context Rome guides also expect a tip per person. How much is up to you.
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 02:34 PM
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Word to the wise. If you go on the CR tour, make sure you know exactly where the meeting point is. When we took it in May '05, one couple missed the tour through no fault of their own. CR gave 2 different meeting places in their literature. I presume/hope they corrected that problem long ago. We enjoyed the tour very much. It can get noisy in the B Gallery with all the people and groups so we decided the CR small group format was worth the splurge. Certainly not necessary though.

We did the Sun 2:45 tour and spent the morning touring Travestere. I think you may want to seriously consider whether you want to hit 2 museums in one day. Sensory overload, etc. The park where the B Gallery is located is huge and would be nice to stroll around in if you had time beforehand. The big air balloon that goes up and down with passengers is there and would give an impressive view of the city. Unfortunately, my DW vetoed that one. There's also a very nice garden adjacent to the Gallery that is worth visiting.
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