Mateo, was our driver, guide and sommelier. His knowledge of the area, the wine industry, and wine in general was superb and made for a fantastic experience. The weather was gorgeous, the Tuscan countryside more beautiful than pictures or paintings can convey, and the wines (varieties of Chianti) were excellent. Our lunch at Castello Sonnino (the first winery) was wonderful, one of our best meals we had during our trip. The small group, (seven of us excluding Mateo) was just the right size for this kind of experience. My recommendation? TAKE THIS TOUR! You will not regret it.
The hiking trip at Cinque Terre provided some of the most amazing scenery to view and photograph. I mean, how often do you get to photograph from hundreds of feet above the Mediterranean? Our guides split the group into two of about 25 people each. Big group, but we could move at our own pace. This is not an easy stroll however, for those of us over 50. Expect a solid workout, starting with a 282 step climb up the first hill. Lunch awaited at the top in Corneglia, featuring fresh seafood appetizers and an amazing pasta in pesto sauce dish. More rugged climbing and descending after lunch, and each of the 5 towns we visited were lovely. Vernazza and Monterosso both have been nearly fully restored after a devastating flood last October 2011. Our guides Julien and Katie were knowledgeable and fun.
Skip the line? Maybe not, because tours form their own lines and during busy days, like the day we took the tour, a 1/2 hour wait should be expected. Tours do clearly allow more immediate entry however.
Clearly David is the focus of the Accademia, and our guide Francesca did a good job of describing the history of this amazing work, only completed by Michelangelo.
William, our guide for the tour of the Uffizi Gallery had a bit more to work with and did a great job of showing and discussing the evolution of painting during the Renaissance period.
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