To Join a Tour or Not to Join a Tour

Old Jan 13th, 2006, 09:21 PM
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To Join a Tour or Not to Join a Tour

We are planning a trip to Italy in September. We will fly from Calgary to London. Spend a couple of days with family and then fly to Rome. We're not terribly well travelled (one outstanding trip to Crete 2 years ago) and we're making the plans on our own. We would like to spend 3 or 4 days in Rome before we head to the country. We strongly suspect that we would not be fans of Tours, however, we want to get the most out of our time in Rome. Here's the question. Should we try to hook up with a tour(s) while in Rome or would we get more out of making it up as we go along? If tours are recommended, any suggestions how to proceed? We will make our own arrangements for accomodations.

We are very excited and appreciate any suggestions. Also, stay tuned for additional enquiries.

Hyggebo is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2006, 09:36 PM
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Based on the small Fodor's wars that break out over "to tour or not to tour group", I have to declare your post just plain inflammatory.

If you have a bone of independence in your body, skip the tour, get the Rick Steves Rome 2006 book from (or your local big book store) and do your own tours (his walking tours, especially of the Vatican is worth the price). If you like to follow someone around with a broken umbrella, who will point at things and lead you around in a herd, do that. There is no right or wrong answer -- some people like to have stuff planned for them and be instructed to be in the lobby at 8 a.m., others like to amble the back streets and not see a single major sights, while a few of us OCD types like to plan the living heck out of a trip, with a little time sprinkled in for "winging it." There are, I'm sure, other traveling types as well...

I also suggest that you make sure you have 4 days in Rome. I was there a couple of years ago and I could have easily spend 5-7 days there, and 4 was a bare minimum.

Rick Steves' books also have great tips for the less-than-seasoned traveler, and overall I think his information is the most accurate and comprehensive.

Happy travels.

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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 09:40 PM
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Surf right onto
Both are excellent companies, offering a variety of 1/2 day, small group or private tours of various landmarks in Rome. Perhaps you could do a couple of tours and reserve some time for just hanging out.

Anna Roz
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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 10:25 PM
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I think the 2-4-hour walking tours are just perfect for fitting into an independent trip, and if you choose right, they will be given by knowledgeable, enthusiastic guides. I think you can have the best of both worlds.
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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 10:33 PM
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I generally agree with Jules. Rick Steves' guide really helped us on our most recent trip when we went out to Ostia Antica. We also used his guide for a preview before going to the Vatican and St. Peter's.

However, I did get a private guide for our tour of the Colosseum and Forum. I wanted a guide who was good with kids to make it come more alive for them. That really worked for us.

Another thought is that it might be fun to do a "night tour" so that you see everything lit up. I did not end up calling this driver, but here is a discussion of an evening tour another couple did of Rome:

For doing your own research, look to the Sister Wendy Beckett books and videotapes. I don't think she has one just on Italy. There is one on her favorite European works of art. The few pages on Rome are worth checking it out from a library.

One book I discovered before our trip was called "A Catholic's Guide to Rome" by Frank Korn. It is on Amazon.

It is respectful of Catholicism but not religious in nature. It will tell you the histories of the various churches, which saint lived in the cell at the church you are visiting, etc.

Have fun researching!

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Old Jan 14th, 2006, 03:08 AM
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If you want to do something different, check out my friend Tony's photographic walking tours at

I did his week-long course a few years ago, my full report (and resulting photos) are on

best regards,
Deirdré Straughan (personal) (work)
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Old Jan 14th, 2006, 04:19 AM
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Do yourselves a favour and find a recent post by knoxvillecouple. It is extremely interesting and has loads of tips about their trip to Italy. In Rome they hired a guide(as well as elsewhere) and give the website address and his name.
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Old Jan 14th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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Hi H,

Hop on/off tours or 1/2 day guided tours can be very enjoyable for the independent traveler.

No reason why it has to be either/or.

ira is offline  
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