With less than two days in Florence, we wanted to get the most out of every minute we had there. We could have followed Rick Steve's walking tour and probably gotten something out of it, but one can easily get jostled trying to stand still in Florence streets and piazzas and, frankly, I don't get as much out of READING about a work of art as hearing about it. Having had great experience with Viator tours in the past (Normandy, Edinburgh), we went for an all-day small group tour that met at the Piazza San Marco and brought us to the Uffizi, Academia, Duomo, and the ground floor of the Medici Palace. Chiara was wonderful! She was kind, funny, very knowledgeable, and thoughtful. She has obviously read extensively and reflected a lot about Florence's treasures. Her pride in her adopted city is obvious. We did not see everything there was to see, but really studying Michelangelo's David, for example, while hearing about the context in which it was created and revealed to Florence, and how it differed from works before it, was a more worthwhile experience than wandering past many sculptures. The same is true of the paintings in the Uffizi that Chiara focused on, from Fra Filipo Lippi through Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael at the end, to show how Renaissance artists sought to give figures more substance and humanity. I have been to many a museum where I have thought that I could "get enough out of it" by walking around and reading, but, in those, instances, I have been pennywise and pound foolish. I have never regretted getting an audio tour or a personal guide. I like Viator because it keeps its groups small. Our group of 10 had a chance to get to know each other a little bit and to ask plenty of questions of our guide. Being a smaller group also gets you into the Uffizi, Accademia, and Duomo faster. I can't recommend this tour highly enough. Meeting at the Piazza San Marco was quite easy. Just look at your ticket, though, to find the name of the actual tour group that will be guiding you. There is no "Viator" group by name.
The tour and guide were very good with a couple of exceptions: it was not long enough and likely best for people cruising or visiting by bus - we were staying several days just a few blocks from everything. So the venues were overcrowded and time was limited. But our guide was outstanding and I would consider another two tours, split this in half and extend to two days. Excellent venues for sure.
My lady friend and I did five tours in Florence. We agreed that this was the best.First, the guide. Our guide was Matt (Matthias). He had an incredible passion for Florence, the galleries, and the art in them. He shared that passion with us.Second, the tour itself was the perfect degree of depth. We did not simply "breeze in and breeze out" of the Accademia and Uffizi: we were in both for quite a while. Obviously, we saw Birth of Venus (Uffizi) and David (Accademia), However, we also spent time with lesser-known works and artists. We toured parts of he city and the art in them; my lady friend (who has been to Florence five times in the past) was amazed by how much she learned.I highly recommend this for everyone interested in art, architecture, the Renaissance, or Florentine life (and if you are not interested in those things, why are you in Florence?)I do not recommend it for kids under age 12, unless they show an interest in art or architecture that is beyond their years.
Our tour guide Vanessa was simply the best. She was proud to be a Florentine and was quite the passionate expert in art and history. She took us down winding medieval streets and explained about the former ruling families and why Florence looked a particular way. The Uffizi is a jawdropper. Vanessa was animated, energetic and extremely detailed about different paintings and sculptures that she felt were most significant for us to learn about. I highly recommend Vanessa and this tour!