Mediterranean/Rome Shore Excursions and Private Tours

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#1
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
We will be cruising in August and are looking for your help in arranging a couple of private shore excursions. We will be six people, ages 10-80.

I have emailed the following and are looking for any recent experience anyone has had with:

Livorno/Florence:
papillonservice.com
prestigerent.com
romelimousines.com (Bob's Limousines and Tours in Rome)
florencetour.com
tuscany-trips.com

Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi Coast:
tourofitaly.com (Giancarlo Gargiulo)
aptours.it

Any other recommendations for the above cities would be appreciated, also.

We are also looking for a private driver for about 5-6 hours in Rome to pick us up (jetlagged) from the airport and then give us a city tour until it is time to check in at the hotel about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I have received one name, Antonio Baribieri, conciergeinrome, and wonder if anyone has recent experience with him or anyone else for Rome?

Thanks, CCMP
#2
Eureka, MO
992 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
I recommend Claudio of limoinrome.com. Fellow passengers onboard my cruise recommended driveamalif and seesorrento for Naples. Do a search for those and your'll get tons of info.
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#8
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
4,037 Posts
Joined May 2000
We returned last month from our 6/18 Millennium Med cruise. When we stopped in Rome we used Stefano Costantini who is with RomeCabs (www.romecabs.com) to do our all day tour of Rome. This person provided an excellent tour for our group of 6. I am in the process of writing up a more detailed review of this particular tour. But suffice it for now to say that his work was first class.
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#9
Kelseyville, California
2,065 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
Hi,

I second lieghuf's recommendation of Claudio Caponera of Rome limousine. http://www.limoinrome.com/ He knows Rome and all it's history and loves to show it to people. He is also a real gentleman and a scholar.

We went with him in 2003 and will be in his care again next spring. You won't find a better man.

John & Betty
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#10
Los Angeles
7,892 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
I plan to use the Hop on/Hop off buses in Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Naples, at a cost of about 20 EUR.

I don't see the need to pay a driver $500 ++ EUR to do a guided tour. A paid guide to the Vatican might be the only exception. I can read history books, pamphlets or maps as well as anyone.

The ship excursions I've taken on my different cruises thus far have all been reasonably priced at around $50 U.S., I don't plan to do any different just because the destination is Europe.

When my husband and I traveled Italy in '98, they didn't have all these options of guides, tours, etc., so we just walked and saw things on our own.

The cruise was around $2000, I don't plan to spend that much on land excursions too. I believe you can see and enjoy the areas you are visiting without breaking the bank. And I can't believe so many people spend that kind of money. Another poster wrote her trip cost $18,000 for two people. That just amazes me. I may be the odd person out here, but if I can't do a two week trip for $5000, then I won't be going. Maybe if people weren't so willing to spend that kind of money, the prices would come down. As long as the tours and cruises are booked full, the prices will remain high.

Just had to add my 2 cents. Hope everyone has a great vacation no matter which way you choose to do it!
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#11
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Thanks, I emailed him yesterday, but I have not heard back yet. Perhaps I will try another email. CCMP
#13
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Thanks, on our own would be my preference and that of my husband's also. But with six people going, including my 80 year old father with bad knees and a bad hip, who can't walk much, we thought a private guide might be worth it for a couple of cities, especiallly Florence, since the cruise ship's excursion to Florence doesn't go to any museums and doesn't go to the "real" David and for Rome as well. Thanks. CCMP
#14
20 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
We just used tourofitaly in July. They set up a guide for Amalfi who showed us around, and we went to Sorrento and Positano. The view driving along the amalfi coast is amazing, but the winding roads can prove to make you a little motion sick.
Giancarlo brought us to a restaurant overlooking the coast where we had the best pasta of our trip. He said his wife was the chef, but I don't know if he was joking.
I would suggest them to anyone.

Have a good trip.
#16
Midwest USA
37 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Just returned from Norwegian Jewel and here's what we did for excursions.

Messina - walked to train station and took train to Taormina/Giardino. RT for 2 people was 10E. The train was clean, A/C'ed and very efficient. Be sure to validate your ticket before you board at one of the yellow ticket machines near the tracks. Upon arrival at Giardino - we shared a cab up to Taormina for 15E for 4 (3,75E pp). Well worth the cost since the busses only run every half hour and the first bus that came filled up right away and we couldn't get on. No way you could walk up that hill!! We arranged with the taxi driver to take us back to the train station in the afternoon. Trains were very frequent and the schedules are posted in the stations. The 6E admission to the Greek Theatre is well worth it for the just the views alone. We heard several people complain about the price and drop out of line however. Had lunch at La Duca - beautiful view over the sea. Very good pizza but unless you are extremely hungry, one pizza can easily feed two. Taormina is very beautiful and a stepback in time!

Naples - took City Sights hop on/hop off bus. Family ticket was 66E and they take a credit card. Kind of pricey but IMO the only way to easily see Napoli which is not worth a private tour. We did both the red tour and the blue - the green tour is only on weekends. The blue rote was much nicer and we wished we had done that first. The red shows the "real" Napoli and while interesting, we were happy to be on the bus! The on board commentary gives a reasonably good explanation of what you will see. Driving in Napoli was horrendous...worst we've seen anywhere! Glad to be on board the bus. Lots of fake purse vendors on the way from the ship to where the bus boards - we found if we didn't make eye contact with the peddlers, then they didn't bother us. We had planned on taking the train the train to Pompeii but it was simply too hot and too crowded in the summer - plus my daughter wasn't feeling well. There is a garbage crisis in Napoli - the bins everywhere were full to overflowing.

Rome - hired Romeinlimo to pick us up in Civitavecchia. We were picked up by CARLO right on time. He was FANTASTIC!!! His English is excellent and his knowledge of Rome, extensive. He was non-smoking and the car was spotless. He helped us avoid the HUGE line at the Colosseum, by taking us to Palatine Hill to purchase our tickets (cash only). We toured the Colosseum on our own with a tour I downloaded from tourcaster.com. We drove around many of the famous sites of ancient Rome. One of our favorite spots was at the Knights of Malta where we peeked through a keyhole and saw a perfect view of St. Peter's Basilica!!! It was like being in three places at once - Malta, Italy and the Vatican!!! Stopped at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps (beware of peddlers handing women fake roses - then asking the man to pay for them - my husband told the peddler he had no idea who I was - it was very humerous!) Carlo had cold drinks for us in a cooler - very unexpected and very welcome!!! Stopped at the Pantheon before lunch. Had a tour of the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel/St. Peter's with MINDY. She was great as well! A 20 something art history major from Canada. She had wonderful report with our 16 year olds and made the Vatican very interesting even to two teens! She moved quickly - which was great for us. She wasn't shy about getting us up close to things in a VERY crowded environment! I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a fast paced yet info packed tour - especially if you have teens!!! The Vatican doesn't take credit cards so make sure you have Euros to pay the entrance fee. Mindy hooked us back up with Carlo at the end who delivered us safely back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. It was an expensive day - no doubt but we felt WELL worth the expense. We saw a LOT, heard LOTS of good info (sure we can read it on the internet or in a book but we also could ask lots of questions about any thing that ame into our heads), covered a LOT of ground in the very short time we had in Rome. I know we could not have done as much in one day on our own. Rome is a BEAUTIFUL city - so different than Napoli! We are planning to return!

Livorno/Pisa/Florence - also hired Romeinlimo. Was hoping for Carlo again but we were picked up by GIANCARLO - again, right on time. He was very good as well. His English was not as fluent but he was quite the character! Stopped in Pisa - not much there but the Tower - glad we could hop back in the car and head for Florence as soon as we had seen it. Florence was another amazing city. So beautiful! Again we covered a lot of ground that we couldn't have had we been on our own and Giancarlo took us right to the head of the line at the Academia to see David - the line was HUGE. And the tickets were cash only again. At our request, Giancarlo took has to a bar for a very quick lunch of pizza and coffee. Wish we would have done this in Rome instead of a sit down lunch...We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Florence. Traffic was very heavy to and from the port so we lost some time there. If I had it to do again, I would have taken the train from Livorno into Florence and just wandered without a guide but on the up side we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa and David...so it was all good.

Cannes - we took the tender into port and wandered about on our own - shopping and people watching and stopping at small cafes and bars. I would definitely NOT do any kind of tour in Cannes or Nice - especially after power touring in Rome and Florence. It would have been a real shame waste a beautiful day in a beautiful small port being on a BIG ship tour bus...

The bottom line in our opinion is spend the money on a private tour in Rome - it's expensive but if you only have one day in Roma - it is well worth it!!! The other ports can easily be done on your own relatively cheaply and easily. I do speak some Italian which made it easier to navigate on our own but the Italians we encountered were all very helpful and friendly!
#17
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by Ourhoneymooncruise
We just used tourofitaly in July. They set up a guide for Amalfi who showed us around, and we went to Sorrento and Positano. The view driving along the amalfi coast is amazing, but the winding roads can prove to make you a little motion sick.
Giancarlo brought us to a restaurant overlooking the coast where we had the best pasta of our trip. He said his wife was the chef, but I don't know if he was joking.
I would suggest them to anyone.

Have a good trip.
Thanks for the recommendation. I booked tourofitaly and Giancarlo about a week ago and I am so glad to hear that you were pleased with the tour. We should have a great time. Thanks for the heads up about motion sickness. We probably should be prepared. Thanks, CCMP
#18
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Thanks for all the recommendations from everyone who posted. I have now booked with private drivers in Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi Coast (tourofitaly), Rome (Stefano of Rome Cabs) and Livorno/Florence/Pisa (Unforgettable Tuscany with Paolo). CCMP
#19
California
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Thanks for all the tips, especially the tips about Rome. We will try to avoid those fake roses! CCMP