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Tour group or not

I am planning on going to Italy in November with my 2 grandaughters. We will be going for 14 days and would like to see Rome, Florence, Venice, Pompei, and the countryside. I have driven in England and Ireland without any problems, but I haven't been to Italy and need some help. Should I book a tour or to be on our own like we thought would be nice. Any help would be appreciated

Posted by
22263 posts

That is a difficult questions to answer. It is mostly the trade offs you are prepared to make between a tour or independent travel. Each has the advanatges and disadvantages. Driving in Italy is a bit more demanding than England but you could combine driving with the train. Pompeii, Florence, Venice, Rome are all very reachable via train. Maybe drive between Venice and Florence if you want to see more of the country side. There is no pat answer to your question.

Posted by
7 posts

My very first trip to Italy many years ago was with a tour and it was nice; however, since then we have used trains and it's much more fun. Plus, you then have control on when you go and where and how long you stay in each place. I think, however, if your granddaughters are young a tour might be better b/c driving or dealing w/trains for the first time in a non-english speaking country can be a bit intimdating and stressful the first time. Have a great time - however you go. MPD

Posted by
1127 posts

How old are your granddaughters? If they are old enough to be able to travel without you keeping a constant eye on them I'd go for independent travel. Tours means seeing what someone else has planned on someone else's timetable.

You don't need to drive in Italy. Trains can take you to all of the cities. There is good bus & train service in Tuscany if that is where you plan on exploring the countryside. If you stick to car rental in the countryside and trains in the main city you should not have a problem.

Posted by
277 posts

Go on your own. English will not be a concern. The transportation rail system is very easy. Why be beholden to where, when, with whom, and how long you go for. Purchase a few guide books. Do some homework. Determine what sights you and your family wish to see. The only time I preferred a structured tour was my adventure to Russia, and will be again in 2008 when I visit China.

Posted by
1449 posts

all the places you mention (except the countryside) are cities well served by trains. You could take a bus tour if you want to see the countryside or rent a car for 1-2 days, do the rest by train. For Pompeii consider spending a nite or two in Sorrento and doing it as a day trip.

As to the bigger question of tour vs on your own, it takes pages to answer! To be really brief -- locale, convenience, value. With a tour you're paying someone else to figure out where to go and stay. A tour group like Rick's company has smaller groups and can stay in places more like the ones you'd stay on your own; big bus companies tend to stay on the outskirts (or farther) from town. Rick's brochure says he aims to deliver the same travel-per-dollar you'd get on your own, and I believe it. There are lots of logistical issues with travel (transport, lodging, museums, etc) that take time and I really believe you can see more on a good 14-day tour than you could in 14 days on your own.

Posted by
127 posts

i was in rome/florence/naples end of april for 2 weeks.
if i was to do it again, i would figure out a way to get a tour, esp. in rome and florence, for a day or 2..NOT the whole time..it is just that i found myself looking at things and wondering"hmm..i wonder what THIS is??"
i just wasn't prepared in that way.
:[

Posted by
340 posts

Ginny, (I also replied to your post on "travel freedom"), When we took our first trip to Europe with our young teenagers we took a tour to Italy in early December. We had never been and didn't know what to expect. It was a great decision and I would do it again. Pros: you don't have to plan any transportation in a country where you don't speak the language; all the guided tours of the important museums and sights are included; you still have a lot of time on your own to explore; young people count meeting new people at the top of the list of things to do and they definitely meet new people on a tour. Cons: you live by the tour's time schedule; if someone on the tour rubs you the wrong way you're stuck with them; not quite as much freedom. You have 2 weeks. Why not take a 1 week tour for the first part then spend the last part divided in 2 cities, maybe Rome and Sorrento or Florence, and really explore them? Some tours are aimed especially at those traveling with youth, look for those.

Posted by
1449 posts

one other thought (esp. because you've said in other posts you've decided to go w/o the tour group). Taking tours in particular towns or cities can be VERY rewarding. Even the heaviest guide book doesn't come close to the info a knowledgeable guide can give you about what you're seeing and what it means. And you can't ask the book anything, but the guide is happy to answer. The cost is usually pretty reasonable for walking tours (I'm thinking of Rome & other cities).

I hesitate to promise anything since everyone is different, but I have to mention this one: I did a twilight walking tour in Rome with one of the companies Rick lists in his book (can't remember which one). The buildings and fountains at dusk are incredible! It was a real highlight of our trip to Italy, and I bet it will be for you too!