We're just exploring the idea of visiting Italy. I've heard it's a long wait to get into some of the museums, Vatican, etc. How do we go about making appointments? Can we get into a group tour? Thanks!
It really depends on when you go. Summer is a problem. All kinds of private tours are available. Google Rome and you will have days of work. We used Angel Tours with young art students. We thought they did a good job for the price. You hotel will also help you with reservations.
I used Angel tours too and thought they were great. What I liked was the poor guide gets in the queue while you go off and have a coffee or gelati and tells you what time to rejoin him or her. By the time you get back there is very little time to wait. Their site is www.angletoursrome.com.
For Vatican, be sure to read previous posts--Vatican Museums Queue, Vatican-Skipping the Line, etc.
In Florence, we took the Walking Tour of Florence that Rick Steves mentions in his book. It really helped us get a feel for the history and layout of the city.
We just scheduled a tour with the Vatican itself at http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/z-Info/MV_Info_Servizi_Visite.html
- seemed to be the least expensive tour. We just faxed the dates and times we were available and had a response back (via faz only) from the Vatican in 1 day.