Our guide was simply wonderful: very passionate and knowledgeable about the Duomo including its history. The tour started with only the three people in my party as our guide reviewed how mosiacs are made, and then we added another three people for the remainder of it, so with a total of six people we in essence had a private tour. This was great for viewing things and asking questions of our guide, which is not always the case with guided tours. One thing I noticed is that our guide was able to take us to areas in the Baptistery and Duomo that were roped off to all the other tours going through at the time, which was quite special and allowed for some really great photographs. My family and I spent almost three weeks in Italy including stays in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Amalfi and since it was our first time there we opted for guided tours for almost all the attractions we saw. Most of the tours were great but this one was the best!
This tour was divided into 2 parts. The morning consisted of a tour of the Duomo and Baptistery with the beautiful carved bronze doorsand a visit to the Restoration Workshop. There was a short break for lunch on our own. The second tour covered some of the same information as the first these tours can be booked individually but also took us down to the Roman and early Christian ruins of Chiesa di Santa Maria Reparata. Of note here are the mosaic floors and Brunelleschi's tomb. The guide then led us up to a terrace where magnificent views of Florence could be seen. This also allowed us to see the original statues where they are stored to prevent further deterioration. After that, you can choose to continue to climb to the top 500 steps of the Duomo. It is narrow in places and strenuous, but I am 66 yrs. old and made it without needing CPR.
The negatives of this tour were that the guides' voices were often lost to background noise and the vastness of the cathedral. A lot of important info which is the point of a guide was missed. Our second guide seemed in a rush to get the tour done and be on his way. He spoke fast and moved quickly through most of the areas of interest. He often began speaking before all of the group arrived, thus we missed half of what he said at least half of the time. Still, the tour does take you on a comprehensive tour and the ticket gives you access to Giotto's Bell Tower.
This tour was in two parts. In the morning we went to the Baptistry and the workshops - I was the only one so had a private tour. My guide Cristina was very good and I really enjoyed it. I particularly liked visiting the stone masons workshop and having it to myself. The afternoon part was in the cathedral itself and at one point we had exclusive access to the terraces as well as other areas the public doesn't usually go. I was so glad I pre-booked this and didn't spend hours queueing for limited access as other people seemed to be doing.
So glad we booked this tour. There were only 4 of us for the early part so we were able to learn a lot from a very knowledgeable Monica. The special access allowed us to see things many others didn't. The terrace access was breathtaking. Both Monica and Angela were excellent guides. Highly recommend.
I highly recommend anyone to take this tour it includes so much and you have the opportunity to see everything as the tickets are valid for 48 hours. So what you don't see with the guide you can go back on day 2 and confirm what you saw , or go the museum and bell tower. I'd go again.
This tour was fabulous. My 18 year old daughter and I booked it as a splurge in an effort to get a more complete view of one of the key attractions of Florence on our first visit to the city. It exceeded our expectations in so many ways. It was structured as essentially two tours: the first 2 hours are spent with an OPA guide exploring the Baptistery and its restoration works, as well as visiting the OPA restoration workshop the second half of the tour after a break for lunch on our own was devoted to The Duomo proper, with a visit to the archeological site beneath it, a full tour of the cathedral proper, and then a very educational exploration of the dome. Both tour guides were passionate and devoted to their subjects we especially enjoyed our time spent with Christina in the Baptistery and the workshop. The workshop is one of the highlights of the entire day as we saw first hand the tools used in restoration of statues and mosaics, and gained a new appreciation for the art of restoration. After our best meal in Florence around the corner from the workshop during a quick hour's lunch on our own, we enjoyed a great afternoon in The Duomo with yet another passionate and very knowledgeable guide. She encouraged us to visit The Duomo Museum included in our ticket and we are so glad we did that as well. The entire tour felt like such a treat, and was probably the highlight of our entire nine days in Italy. Well worth the money for such insights -- and memories!