Guided Trips and Tours of Italy

Sep 12th, 2007, 09:34 AM
  #1  
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Guided Trips and Tours of Italy

I need some advice, we are looking to book a trip to Italy. I'd like to do something guided. Any advice on which company to use? I have looked at Perillo, Globus and Trafalgar's websites and I am utterly confused.

Of course I'd like to go first-class, but I have champagne taste on a beer budget, so price needs to be considered, but the nicer the accomodations, the happier we'll be.

We of course want GREAT and knowledgeable guides.

I like that one of the Perrillo Tours (14 Day Italy North Continental) does not include dinners, so we can do our own thing each night and find our own restaurants.

We are also considering doing a Mediterrianian Cruise instead of just the land tour.

Any advice, has anyone used one of these companies or are there other's I should look at? Any help is appreciated.
mnekaw3 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 09:38 AM
  #2  
ira
 
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HI MN,

You have come to a place where the vast majority are independent travelers.

Italy is one of the easiest countries to arrange your own itinerary.

When are you going, for how long, what's your budget?

What has you confused about the tour agencies that you have looked at?

ira is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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We have been on two of Perillo's major tours, the last being their Tuscany and Riviera tour in 2002. Both were outstanding and could not have asked for better treatment or services, well worth the price. Others may be able to provide more recent tour experiences with Perillo, but in 2000 and 2002 they were outstanding.
LBev769375 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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The reason for the gudied tour is just convienence. We want to hit all of the major sites as my husband has never been before. I want to have good local guides at all the sites and not have to wait in any lines.

We are thinking about April.
mnekaw3 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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If you really want to experience Italy, a guided tour would be better than a cruise. Few of the major cities that most cruises claim to visit in Italy are easily accessible from their associated ports. For example, both Rome and Florence are at least an hour away from their ports. Since you usually have just one day (8 hours? 10 hours? 12 hours?), that's at least 2 precious hours eaten up with traveling from the port.
ellenem is online now  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:28 AM
  #6  
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Thanks EllenEm, I am kind of leaning away from the cruise for just that reason. I'd like to get as much time in as I can.
mnekaw3 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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Both Trafalgar and Globus offer excellent "first class" tours of Italy.

You can go to the trafalgar tours bulletin board at http://trafbb.com/groupee

There are many descriptions from the perspective of clients of some of the various tours of Italy.

Trafalgar and globus tours are a tad below perillo but as the OP noted they are somewhat cheaper and as I have posted elsewhere although globus and trafalgar tours are very very close, you get a much more international clientelle on trafalgar as opposed to globus.

No matter what some of the know nothings on this board say, few of whom have ever done a tour, many of them by reputable tour companies such as Perillo, Insight, Trafalgar, Globus are excellent values for money...and what some people always forget is that if you are doing your own thing with a car, the driver always misses out on some of the great scenery and whatever because of the necessity of keeping his or her eyes on the road.
xyz123 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:19 AM
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Thanks xyz, I appreciate the info and the feedback. I didn't know that the "cool kids" looked down on guided tours. This is my first time on this site.

A coworker of mine also suggested Tauck as a tour company. Does anyone have expereience with them?
mnekaw3 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:33 AM
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If you really want to do a tour you could look at tours.ricksteves.com/tours08/home.cfm. You do need to be reasonably fit and willing to pack light, but the the guides are excellent. The cost includes half of your dinners, so you can eat on your own as well, and ALL TIPS. No chain hotels, and no hotels on the outskirts, so you have trouble getting into the middle of town.

OTH, you do not have to drive to visit Italy, unless you want to do a villa stay in Tuscany. Connecting towns by train is easy.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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My niece and I did the Globus Italian Treasures tour and enjoyed it very much. The hotel in Venice was just a few blocks off St. Marks Square, and the one in Rome was within walking distance of St. Peter's. The only one not close in was in Florence.

Our guide and the bus driver were excellent, and you don't have to stand in all those long lines to get into museums.

We visited a castle (more like a manor house) for a wine tasting. The scenery on the whole trip was fabulous. I particularly liked Assissi.
carolyn is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Thank You, Thank You all. Rick Steve's looks like it could be a good option as well.
mnekaw3 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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I have done Globus in Germany, Italy and just finished with Greece. The guides we have had were great and told us so many things that we had not heard or found out in guidebooks or on the internet. The guides we had in Greece each had 17 yrs exp. We could never have learned as much on our own in the given amount of time we had. Also like someone else said you don't have to stand in lines for exhibits. With Globus the breakfast and evening meal were covered and we have always been pleased with the food. We have always had a good tour group also which means a lot.
gigivee is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Look at Grand Circle (GCT.com). Their tours include airfare. Not all meals are included. They schedule a "home hosted" meal on each trip where the group is divided into smaller groups of 8-10 to have a meal with a local family. They stay in each place three or more nights. They stay in nice hotels well located for exploring on your own. And all luggage is handled for you, unlike RS where you have to carry your own often several blocks and up stairs. Their tour directors and local guides are very good to excellent.

I have taken two of their tours to Central Europe and Slovenia/Croatia. I am generally not a tour person, but did go off on my own quite a bit and enjoyed these tours.

The tour directors on GCT tours are very amenable to people going off on their own and will help make it happen. Several couples on both tours had a desire to see something in the area not included and the tour director helped them by arranging a minivan with driver to pick them up. Of course they paid for it, but making the arrangements for them was helpful.
Friends of mine were on a GCT tour in Italy and wanted to go meet relatives. Their TD arranged for their rental car. When they returned at the end of the day, they could not find a gas station to fill up the tank and decided they would just swallow the surcharge you get for returning on empty, but the TD would have none of that. He called around to find a station open and then took them there himself so they could gas up.

GCT has 40-45 in a group and puts them on 56 passenger buses.

When I was in Poland with GCT, we were supposed to be in Krakow for 4 nights but there was a problem with the hotel being over booked, and so they took us for one night to a resort in Zakopane. Zakopane was supposed to be an optional from Krakow, but because we only got three nights in Krakow, they gave us the tour for free. We did not miss any of the promised intinerary in Krakow either.

Look at all the tours carefully for what is included. "See" such and such means just that: see it through the bus window as you pass by. "Visit" means you actually get to go inside. Compare what is included as well as optional add ons. Some are good value for money and some can be skipped.

Also look at tips vs no tips as RS does. Tips seem to add up fast.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know, but hope it gives you another option to consider.

Good luck and happy travels!
irishface is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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Not sure what you mean by "Also look at tips vs no tips as RS does. Tips seem to add up fast." Tips do add up fast. When RS says "no tips" that means you do not tip anyone, including the tour leader.

Both GCT and OAT are the subject of some controversy on this board. I have traveled once with OAT and wouldn't travel with them again if the trip was free. Also, GCT (the parent company) has been dropped by the Better Business Bureau.

And I wouldn't consider any tour with 40+ people, no matter how big the bus. Some small group outfits to consider are Adventures Abroad, Intrepid, Imaginative Traveler and Explore! although none of these are deluxe.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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Tauck is excellent, but very expensive.Think about doing the trip on your own and using guides as you need them.I hope this helps.
mflickermd is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 03:11 PM
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I have been to Italy 8 times, 4 times on my own and 4 times with tour companies. I have been with:

Tauck: First Trip, excellent, really highly recommend them.

Globus: Considered first class, but I thought they were expensive for what we got.

Trafalgar: I liked trafalgar, not as high end but I enjoyed the people and the Tour Director, and the experiences. My main reason for never using trafalgar a second time was that nearly all the side trips and experiences were "Optional" - we spent $1,800 a person on optional activities. In the case of Tauck, yes you pay more up front, but all that side stuff, dinner and tours etc, are included in the upfront price.

Go Ahead Tours: This is the one I would likely use again. Main reason? They include the airfare, the group was smallish, and the experience was amazing. We did the "Walking Through Tuscany" tour.

I like touring Italy both with a group and on my own.

Check out Goahead if you want a great trip and the best price for your money.

Check out Tauck if you want to be waited on hand and foot and don't want any hidden "surprises"

Check out Trafalgar if you have a limited budget but still want the experience. You can pick and choose what optional activities you are interested in and can afford.

Globus is good as well, however I think the groups are a little large for me.

Have a great time!!!

I have never tried Perillo, though I have considered them. They also are expensive IMHO considering they do not include many meals.

wanderlust5 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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A cruise is nothing whatever like a land tour in terms of what you'll see. A cruise is much ore about wining and dining and playing on the boat and seeing a couple f sights. You will see 3 or 4 times as much with a bus tour.

Have never been on any tour to italy myself so can only provide perspective from friends of my parents - older who do tours for the ease of dealing with stuff. They like Tauck - but expect first class. They took one Perillo (with relatives who insisted) and were extremely disappointed with hotels (including a substitution to Mestre rather than Venice), quality of meals, guide not being helpful (but these people WANT what they want) and overall experience.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 07:35 AM
  #18  
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Thanks so much to all of you. I will look at all suggestions.
mnekaw3 is offline  

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