This tour fully lived up to my expectations. Our guide, Claudia, was prepared, knowledgeable and well able to keep control of our group which was, certainly now easy with the crowded conditions. Rome was hosting a marathon the day we toured and thus the Colosseum area even more tourist-filled than usual. The tour of the underground was eye-opening and deeply moving, allowing an even greater touch with history than one can get from the areas normally open to the public alone.
Time constraints due to travel distance from Florence gave less time at Siena than I had hoped, but I enjoyed the tour there. The trip to Pisa was OK but, frankly, the cathedral area is all the town has to offer and that location (except for the tower - which can be appreciated in a very short period of time) does not stand up to the Duomo or the Siena Cathedral in beauty or magnificence. Cutting the tour to Pisa out and substituting more time in Siena would make for a better experience of Tuscany.
The highlight of this tour was the time spent at Machiavelli's home and the lunch at the tavern he used to frequent. The home is beautifully situated and as a museum to the man, gives one a real touch with history. It was poignant to see the Duomo in the distance and appreciate that during his exile he could see it every day and know he could not enter the city he loved. To be in his study and see his desk (at which the claim is he wrote "The Prince") was awe-inspiring. The wine tasting was wonderful ( and not just a 'tasting' - more like 'drinking') and the food at the leisurely lunch abundant and a real taste of Tuscany.
Accademia tour was very good but the Uffizi tour a disappointment. The tour guide at the Uffizi spent almost the entire first hour talking about very early works of art from the 11th - 13th century century which seemed to bore the group after a while. We had to rush through the rest of the tour and missed seeing much of the later, more significant art the Gallery has to offer. I expect this may be due to his own interests but if so, certainly limited the experience.
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