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Walking tours in Venice, Sienna & Orvieto?

Walking tours in Venice, Sienna & Orvieto?

Old Jan 20th, 2000, 05:51 AM
  #1  
the turnip
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Walking tours in Venice, Sienna & Orvieto?

Greetings fellow Fodorites,

We found Scala Reale for what sounds like great tours in Rome. Has anyone had any other good experiences in other cities?

We like to travel independently but still really enjoy the added depth a tour guide can often offer. We're trying to avoid the "35 tourists from 4 different countries on a bus with really cheap loudspeakers" type tours, if you know what I mean.

We did find one tour company in Venice that was kind of like a sister company to Scala Reale but their prices were extremely high.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have!
 
Old Jan 20th, 2000, 09:37 AM
  #2  
Marija
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In Orvieto we took a great tour of the underground. There's a lot of stuff underneath that city! The tour left from the tourist information center I believe. The guide was excellent and conveyed a lot of information well.
 
Old Jan 20th, 2000, 10:47 AM
  #3  
Mary
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We went out on a walking tour booked at American Express in Venice and had a wonderful tour. The tour guide was a very sophisticated ex-pat who has lived in Venice for many years and gave wonderful insights into living in a city that is crumbling and floods. We took the afternoon tour which ended with a gondola ride--my husband and I ended up in our own gondola and it was great. Our tour group was mostly well-traveled Americans who asked good questions; there were two French and our guide would speak in English, then translate for them. We were a bit afraid that this would be very touristy but it was terrific and I highly recommend it. Another couple on the tour had been with the same guide in the morning at the Doge's Palace and had liked her so much that they went on her afternoon tour.

The American Express office is just off the Piazzo San Marco. I think it was $20-25/pp.

Hope this helps.

Mary
 
Old Jan 20th, 2000, 10:57 AM
  #4  
Beth
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We used Scala Reale in Rome, but like you found the equivalent type of tours in Venice to be very expensive. We used Rick Steve's book "Mona Winks, A guide to the great museums of Europe" when we were in Venice for its tours through the Doges Palace, St Marks Basilica, and the Accademia. I really enjoyed using this book. Particularly in the Accademia he is slightly irreverent but still gives much useful info.

We also went on the underground tour in Orvieto. In Orvieto you can buy a ticket at the tourist center at the parking lot by the train station. The single ticket gets you a round trip ride on the funiculare, use of any of the buses in town, entry into the chapel with the Signorelli fresco's at the duomo, and the underground tour which does leave from the tourist office near the duomo. We did all of these things, it was great. Oh yes, it also gives you admission to the Museo Civico and the Campanile which you can ride and climb to the top for fabulous views.

In Siena I highly recommend Paulo's walking tour . I'm sure he'll e-mail it to you if you ask.
 
Old Jan 20th, 2000, 01:57 PM
  #5  
Paulo
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Personally, I think that in Siena and specially in Venice one should do one's own "walking tours". Of course, if one's lazy and don't want to make some "homework" and/or don't want to read while visiting a monument, one may hire somebody to guide (relatively ok with Piazza San Marco monuments and perhaps the Accademia). In Venice, though, one will have lost it almost completely if one's not able "to get lost" in at least a couple of its sestieri. I can't see how one can get lost with a guide and quite a few people leading the way . Let it be an Amex tour in San Marco, but do the rest on your own. Get yourself a copy of the Blue Guide - Venice ... if you're interested in history and monument description (who did what when) I doubt there's a guide that can come even close to the content of the guide! The same with Siena. Buy a guide book locally for the details of the monuments you'll be visiting and do it on your own.
Paulo

 
Old Jan 22nd, 2000, 04:00 AM
  #6  
the turnip
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Thanks all for the great ideas!

Mary, you don't happen to remember the name of the great guide in Venice by chance do you? Or even a brief description so that we can ask for her when we visit?

Paulo, Personally I do TONS of research before each trip. However, from time to time I still enjoy the "personal touch" that a guide can give. Thanks for all your great posts. I have many of them already printed out and in my travel folder that I take with on holiday. So in a sense we'll be taking you with us this year!
 
Old Jan 22nd, 2000, 06:39 PM
  #7  
celeste
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Beth, how many hours all in all did the Orvieto tour take? Thanks.
 
Old Jan 22nd, 2000, 08:05 PM
  #8  
Beth
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Celeste,
It was pretty short, just about an hour.
 
Old Jan 22nd, 2000, 08:07 PM
  #9  
Beth
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my message may not have been clear... the underground tour takes about an hour. we spent most of a day in the town visiting the museum, duomo, and climbing the bell tower.
 
Old Jan 24th, 2000, 08:45 AM
  #10  
Mary
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Hi Turnip--the guide looked like our realtor (which we realize does you no good at all!); to the best of our memory, she was mid-fifties; brunette--short styled cut; multilingual--we think she was French (we seem to recall she was not Italian; she was on the short side, 5'3"; have lived in Venice for many years; was very well-versed in art history.

Hope this helps!

Mary
 
Old Jan 24th, 2000, 12:42 PM
  #11  
Paulo
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Excuse me, folks ... just testing if this thread is still "contaminated"!
Paulo

 
Old Jan 24th, 2000, 12:50 PM
  #12  
Paulo
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It appears ok ...

I think I understand exactly how you feel about the guide issue, Turnip. I feel the same way. The problem is that, in my experience, only one guide out of 5 (more or less) is really worth it ... It's therefore a question of luck. There are sites that you may not visit without a guide. That's the case of the undergroung in Orvieto, for instance. It's also the case if you're interested in visiting the sinagogues in Venice's Ghetto which we visited last time there. At first, I joined my mother in the Italian spoken tour (my wife and girls went with the English speaking group). The Italian speaking guide was outstanding. I shortly left the Italian speaking group to join my family and I
realized that the English speaking guide was very poor ... and the group was 4
times as big. We quickly switched groups and the experience was worthwhile (my wife and children also realized that they were able to understand Italian quite well).
Many years ago, I toured the Doge's Palace and the Accademia with my mother and her "old" Art Professor who happened to be in town ... It was a ball! The first time my brother's wife visited Venice, though, she wanted to take a walking tour in Spanish (she didn't understand English at the time). I just happened to be with them and went along
... All of us concluded we just had lost our time. I'm almost certain I would be
able to do a much better job
If you indeed take a tour in Siena and/or Venice, Turnip, I sincerely
hope you get a good guide ... you may then feel as if you had won a lottery
Paulo
 

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