We are planning a trip to Rome and Tuscany in November, staying at Marriott hotels. Looking for advice and tips on finding a local private tour guide in both places who can plan an itinerary for us and show us around.
I'm sure there are many here who have thoughts on tour guides....but if you're staying at the wonderful Lucca, Tuscany Luxury Hotel | Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa I'm sure the Georges the GM of the resort would be able to provide you with the best possible tour guides in both locations as I believe he still lives in Roma.
fschumpert do you still happen to have his email address so clearstrings might be able to contact him?
Thanks to iahflyr for referencing me regarding possible travel help in Italy. There are quite a number of tour guides for Italy - as well as each area of the country - posted on the internet. However, I believe, with "Insiders'" travel experiences you can probably gain just as much information (without costs) via correspondences here.
I have never used a travel guide, or tour company; always researched my own and made reservations accordingly. So, generally speaking, here are a few of my suggestions:
1. Decide places you want to visit in a general location and begin your search/inquiry. Don't be too broad in your plans - narrow your search/travel to a particular location. For instance, Rome and Tuscany, as you mentioned. Go to Barnes & Noble (or comparable book store) and buy maps (Italy and also particular regions, such as Tuscany, Veneto, etc.) to narrow your focus, and to take with you on your trip (even though you might have auto GPS system).
2. Regarding travel to/inside Italy: It's less expensive - most of the time - to fly into/out of the same airport. From there, you can either rent an auto, and/or arrange for train transportation. I generally use Rail Europe to search and book travel plans:
Rail Europe - Rail travel planner Europe - Train travel in Europe (Eurostar – TGV – Eurail – Eurorail)
Train connections in some cities, such as Milan, Rome and Florence, are accessible from the airport; however, you have to take a bus to either Mestre, or Venice, to catch train from Venice Marco Polo Airport.
If you are able to travel by auto (your own rental), driving in Italy is quite easy, but particularly if you use Google Maps on your Iphone, or arrange for GPS in your rental car. Having your own auto will allow you more flexibility, especially if you want to experience the countryside, and smaller towns. Otherwise, train, bus and taxi service might be sufficient for your needs. If you do rent an auto, suggest you check with agency to determine hours of operation - particularly for Sunday's. Theft insurance is mandatory in Italy, and observe speed limits in all areas, especially the motorways!
The Renaissance in Tuscany, where we have enjoyed several stays, was mentioned, and you cannot get to the resort via train. I think the closest town for train travel would be either Lucca, possibly Gallicano. However, if you took train or plane into Florence you could most likely arrange with Renaissance Ciocco to reserve travel to the resort by contacting either Antonia Cavani - firstname.lastname@example.org , or general manager, Georges Midleje - email@example.com - (* Tell them I recommended you contact them for assistance)
Renaissance Tuscany il Ciocco Resort e Spa - Toscana - Barga - Wonderful place to spend the weekend, or entire week!
3. Hotels - There are several Marriott hotels here in the city and near airport. If you're leaving out of Rome Airport, I'd suggest booking Courtyard here, rather than in city. My favorite in Rome is the Grand Flora, but the Autograph is also especially nice. For seeing Rome, the concierge manager can book a "Hop on, Hop Off" bus, near the hotel, and this is the best way to visit most of the sites at your leisure. Here is a map of the city, with travel suggestions: Map of Rome Italy: Things to do, top attractions & points of interest
If you also plan to visit Florence, I'd recommend the Marriott AC Hotel, a 15 minute tram ride (outside the train station) - Marriott 4 star hotel in Florence near Santa Maria Novella station. Free Wifi.
B&B - We usually stay at the La Mandragola in San Gimignano (Tuscany), - Hotel San Gimignano Hotels in San Gimignano Italy Hotel San Gimignano Italy Hotels San Gimignano Tuscany which is somewhat central to other Tuscan areas of interest: Siena, Arezzo, Montepulchiano, Pienza, Montalcino, Cortona, etc. You can either drive one hour south of Florence, or take a bus, but you'll have to change buses in Ponggibonsi - Room rate is less than 100 Euros (double), and you'll love San Gimignano! Or, if you'd prefer nearby villa - http://www.pietrefolcale.com , or La Mangiatoia Ristorante - *One of our favorite restaurants here, 5 minutes from LaMandragola, is Calzature Alessio. Photo of our room at La Mandragola:
If you'd prefer another suggestion, you might contact our friend, Patassini Stefania, in Cortona, regarding her apartment Stefy - http://appartamentostefi.it - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, hope this has been helpful. I'm sure others might want to contribute to this. If you have other specific questions, feel free to post them.
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