Cathy M

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Cathy M

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Mar132013

Tour/Activity

Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip from Florence

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We took this tour in March, with CAF Tours in Florence. The logistics were fairly good, with meeting place easier to find than I expected. The bus was comfortable for the ride. The tour was in English, though the guide on the bus had limited fluency and a very heavy accent; I had to concentrate very hard to understand her. The guide in Sienna was much better, more fluent and very knowledgeable (a Sienna native). I enjoyed the tour of Sienna very much. It covered the highlights (cathedral or Duomo and the Campo), then we had a little free time to walk around and eat lunch. It was market day the day we were there and I would have liked a few minutes to see the market but we did not have time. San Gimignano is very impressive, wonderful architecture and great views (with lots of shops). We did not have a guide in San Gimignano but the CAF guide told us a little about the town on the bus as we were driving there. We took this tour because we were staying in Florence and wanted to see more of Tuscany without driving, and it served that purpose.

Mar112013

Tour/Activity

Florence Cheese and Wine Tasting

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This was a good way to taste some of the local wines and cheeses (and olive oil) rather than ordering blind in restaurants. We tried three wines, three cheeses, and two olive oils. The location is a wine and cheese shop near the Ponte Vecchio, very easy to reach, and the sommelier who lead the tasting was very good.

Mar082013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Walking Tour including Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms and St Peter's

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Be forewarned - the Vatican is super crowded! We visited in the off season and still felt like cattle going through the chute. It is hard to see things and you cannot linger over any particular work of art. And all of the significant pieces are surrounded by many second rate works.

Given this set-up, I think a guided tour is a necessity if you want to visit the Vatican. The guide can draw your attention to works of signifcance and tell you the stories of note. We could not see the Sistine Chapel during our visit because of the Conclave but Sabrina, our guide from Dark Rome tours, took us to see the papal carriages and cars which were rather interesting (and not crowded). Within the main part of the museum, I particularly enjoyed the tapestries. On the downside, Sabrina's English was not very strong and she had difficulty handling questions.

After the guided tour, we went to St. Peter's - the line looked long but moved quickly and the visit was well worth the short wait.

Mar062013

Tour/Activity

Ancient Ostia Small Group Day Trip from Rome

Rome, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Ostia was the highlight of our trip for my daugher and Massimo (our guide from Dark Rome tours) made it special. He was extremely knowledgeable and made Ostia accessible for us in way it would not have been had we visited on our own because there is such limited signage. Our knowledge of ancient Rome was much enhanced by this tour.

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