HELP-Florence Tours & Guides

Trying to decide if a personal tour guide is really necessary for these sights or can be seen & UNDERSTOOD on our own: Bargello Museum of San Marco Medici Chapels Palazzo Vecchio Santa Croce Church Pitti Palace Already have guides for the main sights. Thank you!

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Personally, I wouldn't feel the need to hire a guide for any of the sites you listed. A good guidebook supplemented with additional research provides adequate information for me. I often prefer to focus all my energy on using my eyes, vs. my ears, when in museums, etc. If I see something that I don't understand or want to learn more about, I photograph it - along with any labels or identifying characteristics - and research it afterwards. And I always begin my travels having done a thorough amount of research in advance. That's my art historian alter-ego popping up, and it does frequently in Europe.

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
425 posts

I did not get a personal guide, but took 2 Art Viva tours there. One was to the huge Museum that I cannot recall the name of. It was sooooo packed, I was glad to be in a small group and taken to some highlights and told of the history by the guide. The second tour included a wine tasting which I also enjoyed, it included some history and a walking tour too. I used the same company in Rome. In both cities, I did use Rick's audio guides for the museum with David, and the Colosseum, and some walking tours. I though they were great, but Rick's humour gets a bit old for me, but hey, free is free!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6888 posts

Tammie, you really don't need a tour guide for any of these sites although an audio guide might be helpful in a couple of them if available. I would also suggest adding the Opera del Duomo Museum (museum of il Duomo) to your list. It has all of the treasures of il Duomo including the original Gates to Paradise plates on the doors of the bapistry. I would suggest signing up for a tour group for the Uffizi and possibly the Vasari Corridor. I have booked such a tour for my wife and daughter for both for an upcoming trip to Italy. We've been to the Uffizi before but there is really a lot of art there that needs some explaining and interpretation.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1692 posts

I'd suggest checking out some art history books from your library and reading about these places / some artworks before the trip, so you can appreciate the artistic or architectural significance while you're there. Marilyn Stokstad has written an excellent, easy-to-read history of art.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5563 posts

I had a complimentary tour from my hotel and my guide was great. I asked her about private tours, she said the going rate (1.5 years ago) was €150 for 3 hours. If you are interested, send me a PM and I'll give you her contact info.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1851 posts

I think it depends on how much you know and why you are going to those sites. I've used Context Florence multiple times and been very happy with them (not so happy with ArtViva). If you enjoy time with beautiful art, then you're fine on your own. If you'd appreciate it more with the context, then suggest you get a guide.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5563 posts

Before you commit to a private guide, call him or her and talk for a few minutes about the tour plans. This will give you a feel for the guide's fluency in English (and accent) and if s/he is flexible and if you are likely to be compatible. You will be paying a lot for the tour, it's worth a few dollars for the phone call. Whether or not to have a private guide depends partly on your budget and more on your interest in the sights, how much you really want to know about the artistic styles, the history of Florence, the lives of the artists, etc. A guide will always enhance your visit, but sometimes you may not really want to know quite that much.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
1205 posts

...And I always begin my travels having done a thorough amount of research in advance..... I am in total agreement with Rose's comments that lead off this thread , so there is no need to rehash them . I do quote her about this for another reason . Whether you are going to Florence , with its great repository of fine art or to visit the remains of the tin mines in Cornwall , or the manifestation of culture and the foment of twentieth century society in Vienna , you will always benefit in a deeper and more meaningful way by doing as much of your own " homework " as you can . Learning about anything in greater depth prior to personally experiencing it , whether a painting or anything else imparts a richness to your experience , that no tour can match . That doesn't mean that tours and guides never serve a purpose , but there is no substitute for as much self involvement as one can muster . Enjoy Florence , it is beyond your wildest dreams !!