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Help!! which tour company is the best for group tours in Italy?

Help!! which tour company is the best for group tours in Italy?

Old Dec 19th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Help!! which tour company is the best for group tours in Italy?

Hi there!
My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy (Or Europe for that matter!) in Sept. 2015 and I wanted to take a motor tour group type of holiday as this is our first time there and I wanted to be able to relax a bit more vs. renting a car and parking and driving everywhere which I hear is challenging in Italy.
We wanted to spend 3 days in Venice and 3 in Florence then onto Rome for 3 more.
I have done a little research and liked the tours offered by Gate 1 and Insight Tours. I spoke with Globus but they did not seem to have what I was looking for.
What I was hoping to find on the site was a little help or advice from anyone out there who has done any of these types of tours in Italy and their thoughts and experiences!!
Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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I have done the Rick Steves Venice, Florence, Rome in 10 days tour and enjoyed it. My trip was in November, and I spent time on my own traveling to Christmas markets in Innsbruck and Munich after.

Steves' tours offer quite a bit of time on your own at locations so that in addition to, say, a group tour of the Uffizi, you also have time to visit the Pitti on your own - or anywhere else you might choose. The detailed itinerary is available on Steves' site.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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Tours are not necessarily relaxing. Some have very early starts and lots of bus time. I'm guessing this is the tour you're looking at. It help to give links to tours if you want people to comment on them.

http://www.discovery-tours.com/small...1ditldv15.aspx

Have you called Gate 1 and asked what time they start in the morning. Have you looked at hotel locations? The Florence hotel is not in Florence but in the hills above, in Fiesole. It's a pretty town but it's not Florence. If you want to walk around Florence in the evening you will need to arrange for transportation.

Did you read the daily itinerary? You don't have 3 days in Venice, you have 2 full days. You have 1 day in Florence for sightseeing. If you don't take the cooking class you have 2 days. You have 2 days in Rome. The Gate 1 tour is not giving you what you want - 3 days in each city.

If you only want to visit Venice, Florence, and Rome there would be no need to rent a car. There are no roads in Venice so you can't drive there and the central part of Florence does not allow private cars. You would definitely not want to drive in Rome. You're not the first person to think about renting a car to visit cities and I'm not sure why people think this is a good idea or the only idea. The best way to get to these 3 cities is by train.

Most people on this board do not take tours. They make their own arrangements so you won't get a lot of feed back on these tours.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 02:45 PM
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The few tours we have been on, it's luggage outside the door at 7am and breakfast at 7:30am. Then on the bus at 8:30am.

So it is a consideration, but if you decide on a group tour and after getting the best price, try pavlus.com for an additional discount.\

We did and were satisfied with the customer service and the discount.

Adrienne is right about people on this site, but we know a little having been on 33 trips to Europe and only 6 on tour.

All others were driving.

We did enjoy our tours. but the tours have specified stops and things you may have wanted to see, is just a ride bye.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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I think there are several unrealistic assumptions.

For some reason, you have determined
no car = group tour.

As the previous poster mentioned,
no car = group tour OR <b>train</b>

Also, you have imagined; tours = relaxed. But in reality:

<b>Tour</b> = relax before the trip, but hectic once the tour starts
<b>Doing on you own</b> = busy defining itinerary, but you decide how to allocate much time you plan the trip at home. Once the trip starts, you go at the pace <b>YOU</b> decided, not some tour companies. How can this be not relaxing the way you have defined it? <b>You</b> decide where you care to spend time and where to skip.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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Stay on your own in those locations, arrange for private guides prior to arrival if you want their help, travel via train between cities. Dine is small restaurants you prefer, ordering food you want, when you want to eat, wander those cities,explore on your own, not dictated by a tour guide. Get a good guide book, research on this site and you'll find names of guides, airport pick up drivers, restaurants, etc. It will be easy and enjoyable.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 03:39 PM
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Wow, thanks for some great information already!
I guess in my initial question of which tour group was the best, I should have mentioned that my husband is a complete home body who is not a huge traveller and pretty much ready to go home after ANY trip we have been on within about 4-5 days and it is me, who is so anxious to cross of Italy off my #1 bucket list and go on my dream trip to Italy and planning this trip and trying to make it the easiest as possible for him. We live in Canada and have done many trips within Canada and the US and he always get stuck doing all the driving and organising and he does not get to enjoy the trip like the rest of us do. It just wears him out.
I am just excited he actually agreed to go on this trip~ knowing how many days it entails.
This is the reason I thought a bus tour vs. the train would be better for him as they pick us up at the airport, get us to all the right hotels and get us to the touristy sights we would like to see etc. I guess having a forum gives me more insight into travelling throughout Italy.
I have heard it is a very early start and I have already viewed the hotels offered by both tour groups. I understand that one of them is not directly in Florence.
This is just such a major trip VS. a Disneyland trip etc. and I appreciate all of your help! Thanks
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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Hi

We have done several tours and can happily recommend Insight. Your tour is rated as "Leisurely" so you will not be rushed. You will be staying at some pretty nice hotels hence the price tag!
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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You can very easily organize this yourselves - getting as many days in each city as you want - and not have ti get up at 6:30 am every day.

People here can help you plan a trip that includes a number of tours in each city - that fit your needs and schedule - but allow you to have more central hotels, better food and travel wasily be train from city center to city center.

BUT, you need to be wiling to do the work - guided by people here.

Tours are NOT relaxed - they are typically very rushed - and include a lot of stops for "shopping" that most people don;t want but get the guide and driver a commission on whatever is bought.

You can se much more on your own - assuming you really allow for 3 days in each city - plus time to travel between them.

Open jaw tickets - for instance into Rome and out of Venice - are not more expensive than RT.

If you wan to explore this option - let people here know.

If you decide to go with a tour so you have less responsibility - realize what you are giving up to get it. Also - look VERY carefully to see what is included versus what is optional on each tour - since that can signficantly change the final price.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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>>> the central part of Florence does not allow private cars.<<<

Neither does Rome (or many Italian cities/towns).

You could easily book a flight to Venice, stay a few days, catch the train to Florence (the fast train takes 2 hours), spend a few nights, take the train to Rome (fast train takes 90 minutes), spend a few nights, fly home from Rome.

For each of these cities, you could select any local guided tours that meet your interests although tours for many places are unnecessary. Many historic centers are very compact and have pedestrian only areas. The historic center of Florence is only a 20-30 minute walk side-to-side and a short walk from the train station.

If possible, add some days to your trip. Three hotel nights = 2 sightseeing days. You will also be jetlagged the first day after your overnight flight so day 1 in Europe (you typically arrive early morning) can be a blur to many people and not much should be planned.

Before booking any hotels, ask about them here first. It's much more efficient to book central hotels on such a short trip.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 04:11 PM
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You could easily do a lot of things on your own, but after your last post about your husband, do a tour.

For al the drawbacks, there are positives.

It is up early and out early, but it is relaxing, regardless of what others say.

We have been on 6 tours and I can only speak from my experience.

You don't need an unhappy travel companion.

Good luck
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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Thanks again all!!
You are right Iris 1745!!I certainly need to have a happy travel companion!!
can I ask what tours you did take, with whom and where??
and yes, I am in a bit of a pickle considering my travelling partner!! haha
He works away from home and when he gets home, he is not happy to go anywhere, just a small town boy!
I travelled to New York with my best friend as my hubby would be so miserable with all the people, noise, walking etc! We walked for MILES and saw and did a ton of things I never would have been able to do with him.
Also did a trip to San Francisco and Seattle with my daughter this summer as my husband was not up to it!
This is certainly not a trip I would like to go alone on(but I will if I have to!) or with a friend and I want to experience it with him as we are both half Italian and turning 50 in 2015!
Heck....I could find fun anywhere I go and be happy learning and seeing new things and so he has agreed to go which in itself, is a thrill so this is why I am trying to appease him!
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 05:07 PM
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>>certainly need to have a happy travel companion!! <<

Will he be happy being totally regimented, and dressed and out the door at 0700 or 0730 every morning?

If so - take a tour. But do not think you will be 'seeing Italy' or doing any relaxing. Most days will be spent sitting on the coach or rushing from point to point and gawking at the outsides of sites - actually going inside relatively few.

I also wouldn't want to drive on my first trip to Italy . . . I am TOTALLY w/ you on that.

But a few days in Venice, an easy train ride to Florence, an easy train ride to Rome -- and doing as much or as little as you want in each city could not be easier. Just walking around every day soaking up the atmosphere - and not having to answer to anybody. IMO that is easier than a regimented coach tour. You can arrange private transfers in from /out to the airports -- but otherwise be totally unscheduled - or you can take day tours in each city.

If your hubby wants to leave early from most of your trips . . . what on earth will he do stuck on a bus w/ 40 others - mostly elderly and some very annoying.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Hi Erin; We have taken a tour in Ireland. Everything arranged.

2. Sicily. Everything arranged.

3. Independent tour from Prague to Budapest.

4. A cruise up the Rhine

5. An independent tour in Spain

6. Scandinavian tour for our 50th. Everything arranged.

On the independent tours, hotels, train arrangements, breakfast and sometime half day city tours are all in the package. Then you are on your own.

This is the tour we used beginning in Prague.

tradescotours.com

Rhine cruise was KD Cruise line and I think they were taken over by Viking.

Forget the other.

I will tell you this, on the all inclusive tours, we have had great tour directors.
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 06:15 PM
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Well after reading through these replies, it is making me more confused!! lol
I am not keen at getting up at 6am to eat and be out the door everyday. This does not sound relaxing at all.
I guess I was worried about getting from place to place and not speaking Italian and having to stand in mile long lineups to get into attraction as well as how to find the proper trains etc to get through Italy as I have read that some locals are not friendly and willing to help out lost or confused tourists!!
I will look into private tours in each city and see what that entails and decide from there!
Thanks again!
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 07:01 PM
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Not all tours are the same.

I generally travel independently, but I have taken a few tours. In Europe I have used Rick Steves. I was not required to be ready to leave at 7:30. The hotels were central. Half the meals were included and the food was good. There were no or minimal shopping ops (depending on the tour). There was plenty of free time. The tour guides were excellent. You are required to handle your own luggage, and be willing to do some walking.

I was just reading a scrapbook by someone who took the Venice-Florence-Rome tour this year. See http://goingsolowithricksteves.weebly.com or the official tour description here: http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/ital...-florence-rome

Are you sure it wouldn't be better for both you and your husband it you go on your own?

No reason to worry about the trains if you go independently, though. But for all the info you need on Italian trains, go here: http://www.seat61.com/Italy.htm#.VJT0HEAAIA
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 08:14 PM
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>>>and having to stand in mile long lineups to get into attraction<<<

Many attractions can be booked online in advance which allows you to bypass the lines. If you decide to do that, we can list the official sites to book (there are lots of reseller sites that mark up prices). Most sites, such as the Colosseum or Vatican Museums, offer their own tours or you can book with a local company (higher priced, but often smaller groups).
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 08:25 PM
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You know, some people just don't enjoy travel and trying to force a square peg into a round hole doesn't work.

Many couples have differing interests. I know a guy that would rather spend all day Saturday washing his car while his wife would rather go hiking in the woods. So that's exactly what they do.

The more you write about your husband the more it sounds to me like he probably has zero interest in this trip and is only going to 'keep the peace'. Personally, I'd tell you NO, I'm not going, go with your girlfriend or daughter.

Forcing someone to do something the person doesn't want to do just results in neither of you getting what you want. If you wanted to travel you should have married someone else. That may sound harsh but it's reality. Nothing you do is actually going to 'appease him' as you put it.

I'll make a suggestion. Figure out the cost of this trip. Tell him you plan to take half that money and go and he can decide what to do with his half of the money. See what he does. My bet is he will find something BETTER to spend his half on. You just won't agree with his idea of what is better.

Read what YOU wrote:

"I should have mentioned that my husband is a complete home body who is not a huge traveller and pretty much ready to go home after ANY trip we have been on within about 4-5 days"

" He works away from home and when he gets home, he is not happy to go anywhere,"

"I travelled to New York with my best friend as my hubby would be so miserable with all the people, noise, walking etc!"

"as my husband was not up to it!"

If this were a phone call I'd say put HIM on the phone. Let us hear what HE has to say. My bet is he would say, 'I DON'T WANT TO GO.'
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 10:24 PM
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Guess this forum has officially turned into a counselling appt!
and I get it.....Sojourntraveller....I totally get what you are saying and thank you....and I have given him the out....many times...but he says he wants to go...
We are different people but compliment each other so well.
But yes,,,,, I am the travel fiend and he is not....
but do you continue to have adventures without your partner at your side?
Perhaps it will end up a solo trip and if so,,,then I would certainly do a tour (mainly for safety and convenience)
I do like the Rick Steves site and the Insight sight and will go from there!
Thanks for the advice
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Old Dec 19th, 2014, 10:29 PM
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Erin.. please check out the links provided by Thursdaysd.. Rick Steves tours are not as some have described what they THINK a tour is ( usually people dissing tours have never taken one.. lol)

Go on the Rick STeves website you can watch videos of the the tour experience.. plus they have some new type of tour call a "My Way " tour .. its just hotels arranged and bus between cities but then you do your own thing.. no need to get up unless you want to or on transit days.

I like to travel independently and have done so since the 70s.. BUT.. I also took one RS tour with my daughter when she was 11,, and it was nothing like I see some people saying tours are like.We had only 26 people in the group.. we had lots of free time.. and while some mornings we were on our way by 8.30.. sometimes it was 9, and of course on our free days it was whenever we chose to get up..
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