Tuscany - rent car or guide?

Old Jul 1st, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Tuscany - rent car or guide?

We fly into Milan the beginning of August, then go to Tuscany (staying at Villa Pitiana) for 5 nights before going to Rome. The cost of a rental car (actually minivan, since there are 6 of us and I am the only one that can drive), is $1500 from autoeurope.

The other option is going via train to Tuscany and paying a guide to take us out for day trips. I saw some postings for guides, which will run about 40 euro/hr, so for 4 days and 5 hrs/day is about 800 euros. Factoring in EuroStar train for 6 of us will make it about equal to the price of the minivan rental.

I want to make sure I'm not missing any other options or if I've miscalculated something, as both of these are higher than I was hoping just for transportation for 5 days of a 2.5 week vacation. I think having the flexibility of a car in Tuscany will be beneficial.

Any recommendations, advice or alternatives from anyone? Thanks for your help.
robgel is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2006, 11:32 AM
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The thing that I can recommend to you is a tour guide if you choose to go that route. We used Luca Garapa of www.hillsandroads.com for 2 separate touring days in Tuscany last March and we extremely happy with him. He is a young, very intelligent man, with varied interests and a great person to spend the day with. He drives a new mini-van with certainly enough room for you all and he charges about 35 Euros per hour as far as I remember. This includes everything including his meal for lunch, even though we insisted on paying it on our second day. He will make suggestions for you on where to go and what to see if you are not sure. But will take you where you want to go if you know. We mostly left it up to him since this was our first foray into Tuscany and enjoyed both our days. There are many others on this board who have used him and enjoyed it. I hope they will give their opinions as well. Enjoy and good luck.
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 05:20 PM
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My only comment is that a 5 hour da seems awfully short for touring. If it takes an hour to get to the town and an hour to return and 1.5 hours for lunch you only have 1.5 hours to see anything. I would assume a touring day to be at least 8 or 9 hours to really see much of anything - and including a stop for lunch and a brief stop in the pm for a drink or a gelato.

On that basis the tour/guide would be about the same as renting a vehicle. And have you determined if that cost covers 7 people - 6 passengers plus driver?
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 07:13 PM
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We did several day trips with Luca Garapa of Hillsandroads.com two years ago, and are still in contact with him. I very highly recommend him- he's a Siena native who seems to know every little backroad and trattoria in Tuscany. And on top of that, he's an incredibly nice guy and very reasonably priced.

Two years ago, he charged the four of us just around $30/hour for guided day trips. We typically spent a half day with him, sometimes more, visiting a vineyard or hill town, than having lunch in the countryside.

I know that others will swear that a car is necessary in Tuscany, but if the price for Luca or another driver is only as much as the rental, I'd definitely go for it.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2006, 12:04 PM
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For a group your size, a driver guide might make sense, especially if it turns out you will not be touring every day - in which case a rental car would still be costing money while parked. If you're planning on tasting wine - or even drinking it . . . maybe a driver would be a very good idea. I can heartily recommend Giovanni Sirabella www.sunflower-tours.com - his minibuses are airconditioned. He was the purser on the Achille Lauro for a long time but eventually decided to stay on dry land. He's a good guy - ask him for a quote.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Hi robgel, I too was thinking if you plan on doing any wine tasting having a hired driver would sure be nice. That is a problem when one has a car, although having a car does give one a lot of freedom, but not for doing much wine tasting. Also you as a passenger could really enjoy the scenery which is sometime difficult to do when you are the driver. Best wishes regarding your decision. And have fun!!
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 08:04 AM
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Thanks for the reco's on guides and thoughts on wine tasting. We'll check on guide/driver availability, but may have problems since it's late in the game. If we can't find a guide available, any better websites or ways to get a more reasonably priced van rental?
robgel is offline  
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