My husband and I are going to Florence for our 25th anniversary. We plan on doing the normal sites, but also wanted to visit some towns/villages outside Florence. I don't want to do the tour bus routes, so we were thinking of looking into a private or semiprivate driver/tour guide. Does anyone have recommendations that are reasonably priced? (I realize it will cost more than the bus tours, but am not sure what is reasonable)
Rent a car and drive around yourself. It's easy to navigate in Italy. Just like at home with different signs, but they're easy to follow. If you get hopelessly, happily lost, just ask a local. They are really friendly. Rent your car stateside, it's MUCH cheaper. Get a good map and you're off! Do visit San Gimignano. It's a wonderful hill town - beautiful with plenty to do and eat. Stay at Hotel Antico Pozzo - centrally located with very nice clean rooms and breakfast. Make your reservation directly with the hotel, not a giant booking company. You' do better. I'm jealous!
We stayed in Florence and then took 1 night (2 days) to rent a car and drive through Tuscany. We stayed at Castello del Nero Hotel & Spa (Castello del Nero) for the night, with day trips to Siena and San Gimignano. There were several car rental companies in downtown Florence, so it was very easy to pick up a car.
I would recommend driving - the signs are easy to understand and it is one of the best driving experiences I have ever had. Skip the bus and rent a car!
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I have lived in Italy for 11 years and often work with couples and groups in Italy. A driver that I absolutely love and trust with reasonable prices is Emanuele with Tuscany Transfer. He is a native Tuscan who speaks fluent English and can also tell you loads about anywhere you visit.
I think having a private driver can make your travel experience much more relaxing and enjoyable. Have a great trip!
You can move by train from airport or rent a car by airport, the prices are reasonable, europcar.it, hertz.it and you can move everywhere, in the countryside and small cities is a easy navigate, in Florence you don't need a car. Contact your hotel i'm very sure they can give a good local company for a driver.
Have a nice time in Italy
Why not take the train to Siena for the day? It's really beautiful and possible to walk around in an afternoon. A long lunch in Piazza del Campo followed by a walk up to the cathedral is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I also recommend Modeano, Parma and Bologna. All can be reached easily by train and then foot from Florence, no tour buses needed.
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We also decided to book a car for our Tuscany trip. We rented a car at RentalCars24H Italy and we were very glad we did it. We visit different interesting and picturesque places. We had an unforgettable trip.
My friend and I used hills and roads. They got great reviews on the internet, but they were just ok. It ended up costing almost $600 and change for one day. We did get to go to several hill towns and visit a couple of wineries. The woman that drove us around was nice enough, but not very interested and not informative and seemed to have set wineries that she worked with. Just be careful because I think these companies get kickbacks from whatever local vendors they take you to and you don't usually get to experience different places that you pick out.
In hindsight, we wished that we had set aside a couple of days to visit the charming towns outside of Florence, rented a car, and just landed in a quaint B&B somewhere along the way. It would have been more of an authentic experience. If you have just one day and can afford it, it's better than a big tour bus and you will be able to see two or three small hill towns.