Using tour guides or DIY in Italy?

Old Jun 1st, 2015, 10:27 AM
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Using tour guides or DIY in Italy?

Hello,
Newbie here and have a quick question - I am planning a trip to Rome/Florence and Venice for October and am booking it myself as opposed to with a tour company (which is what I was initially going to do).

I will book for transportation from Rome airport TO the apartment that is booked. And will prob take public transportation from apartment/Hotels to train stations.

So all that is left is touring. Can anyone suggest which locations would be more beneficial in using a private tour guide and opposed to other must see places that I can see by myself.

Thanks for any advise.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 10:34 AM
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We used a private guide in Rome on our 3rd trip there. She took us through the Vatican Museum, Christmas Walk and Gallery Borghese. We did use tour guides in the colosseum for the lower level tour as well as the forum. As for a 'tour compmany", it would make me crazy. However, for specific sites that can use some background, intimate knowledge and understanding, get a guide.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 10:49 AM
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The only tours we used were the New Rome Free walking tour www.newromefreetour.com, which is a tip-based, guided tour around Rome's historic center, and a tip-based guided walking tour of Renaissance Florence with www.florencefreetour.com. Otherwise, we read about places we wanted to go so we had some basic information.

We used a couple of Rick Steves' audio tours, which I had downloaded to my phone before leaving home. We thought the Colosseum one was pretty cheesy, but we both enjoyed his Accademia guide.

If you're planning to visit the Vatican Museums, Uffizi, Accademia, or the like, book those ahead of time so you can skip the long ticket lines.

Lee Ann
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 11:06 AM
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I think you've misunderstood a couple of things, but most people on this board plan their own trips.

Depending on where your apartment is, it might be possible to take public transport from the airport (or at least into Rome) to your apartment.

>>>Can anyone suggest which locations would be more beneficial in using a private tour guide and opposed to other must see places that I can see by myself.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 11:22 AM
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And there is still the good old guidebook that you can use for preparation and to look up background information. You can also buy excellent illustrated guidebooks in various languages about everywhere in Italy.

The trouble of being with a guide, apart from not being free to go where you want and at the speed you want, is that you will spend more time looking the guide into the face listening to what s/he is saying, than actually looking at things. And you will not remember much of the overload of information that you hear just once. I prefer being well prepared and then going by myself and exploring by myself.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 11:33 AM
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I'm going to skip the public transportation from airport to apartment due to the long flight. Every where else is fine.

Yes, a private guide for myself and family. I plan to get as much info as I can about the sites we are going to visit but I'm thinking that private guides can get you after hour tours and so on? Have some titbits that won't be on paper and so on.

Iahawk - would you mind giving me the name/company of your tour guide?
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 11:47 AM
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Certainly, her name is Guia Bargigli and can be emailed at [email protected]. She is an art history major, licensed tour guide and was recognized by many of the other guides and museum personnel. For our family of 4, she charged a flat rate/hour for the group. What worked well for us is that she 'read' our family and knew when we'd had enough, needed a rest, etc. She also targeted works that were special - I don't think I'd have been able to see the Borghese in the time allotted without her help. Here is my desccription of our time together:

Tours: we engaged Guia (and I'll send anyone who's intereted her contact info) for three private tours. The first was a Christmas Walk that began at the spanish steps, to the 100 Presepi exhibit in Piazza Poppolo and then to some really neat, off the beaten path churches with unique presecpi. The entire walk was three hours - began at 2:30pm and ended at 5:30 when all the lights were on. Our boys returned to the hotel before the tour was officially over since one had a phone call interview so Guia treated my husband and I to espresso with a dollop of liquor infused gelatto. Very tasty indeed!

The second tour we did the Guia was the Vatican Museum; she suggested we get our tickets for a 2:30 entrance and it was perfect. No lines at all!! Guia's background is art history so she not only gave us the basic info on the works of art but the back story, social environment, acceptance by society, relationship of the artist to the patron, pope, etc. She also was very good at reading out family's degree of interest and when we needed breaks. We were probably the last people out at 6pm (good thing she knew the back route back to the coat check!).

Our last tour with Guia was the Borghese Gallery and again, her knowledge of art history made the works come alive. Since we only had 2 hours, she picked things that were 1)extremely key in the collection, 2)had really important historical or technical significance and 3)would be interesting to the family. By this time, we were getting 'madonna and child'ed" out so keeping the mood light and moving along was really great.

She does work with a tour company as well and we saw her in the colosseum and forum on other days. Most places will have tours available but if you are looking for more personalized time, this is the way to go. Just let her know that Carol from Chicago says Hello!
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 01:07 PM
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Thank you so much! And I will certainly let her know that you referred her.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 04:27 PM
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>>>> I plan to get as much info as I can about the sites we are going to visit but I'm thinking that private guides can get you after hour tours and so on?
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