Hiring a private guide
How to hire a private tour guide in Italy
Mario Bernardi was a tour guide for the Italian Ministry of Culture from 1999 to 2008 and has university degrees in Aestetics and the Philosophy of Art—who better to show you around the artistic wonders of Rome?Sometimes you want something that goes beyond the pages in your guidebook or the audio tour at the museum.
Though they aren't cheap (see box below on the right), private local guides can be the keys to the most rewarding Italian vacation—and if you're already spending a few grand on the trip itself, what's an extra couple of hundred bucks to make sure all that effort of getting over there was worth it?
How much does a guide cost? The rates charged by private tour guides varies widely based on the guide's experience, the popularity of their destination, and, frankly, however much they want to charge. For a ballpark:
• $35–$90 per hour
• $200–$650 per day
Many guides will offer a "first hour free" sampler of their services.A tour guide can help you tailor your days of sightseeing and shopping to your own tastes, and give you the utmost depth of information about any subject that catches your fancy:
- A simple private sightseeing tour of Florence
- A private viewing of the Sistine Chapel in Rome
- A private walking tour of Venice
- A private half-day shopping tour of the Milan outlets
- A private wine-tasting tour of the Chianti outside Florence
- A wine tour of Piemonte's Barolo region
- A private trip down the Amalfi Coast from Naples to Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello
- An excursion to admire the design of Italy's super fast cars and bikes by Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Ducati around Bologna.
Local guides know the hidden corners and amazing anecdotes that can help make their city and its history come alive, and can answer all your questions. Yes, with enough guidebooks, history tomes, and Googling you could probably uncover much of this on your own, but it would take a phenomenal amount of time and research whereas a guide can spoon-feed it all to you at the drop of a hat.
If you've never toured with a private guide before, treat yourself to one for a day—or even just a few hours in the morning —in one of the major cities. Trust me; you won't be disappointed. Just make sure it's a licensed tour guide.
How to find a licensed private guide in Italy
You can get a list of officially sanctioned and licensed guides from the local tourist office—but that's all you get: a list. Some travel guidebooks will recommend a local guide or two (someone who often doubles as the local stringer the publisher uses to update the information in the book).
Aside from a direct recommendation from a friend who's been there before and used a guide, your best bet for finding a local guide is to book one via a third party:
- Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast
- Microtours - Small group tours of individual sights, neighborhoods, or cities
- Guided day trips - To outlying destinations
- Escorted tours - In case you want a guided tour for your entire vacation
- Travel guidebooks - Be your own guide
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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