Thanks to Rick for listing out trusted local guides in his Italy Guidebook. I’ve always just searched TripAdvisor for group tours and joined in with the herd. This time, as I planned my trip to Rome, I decided to try a private local guide for my party of 4. I contacted all of the guides listed in Rick’s book and they were all very responsive. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them, but something about Carla Zaia (CarlaRomeGuide), clicked with me. We crafted a perfect itinerary over two days that worked so well for us. You don’t have to go on a tour at the crack of dawn to have a good experience. We actually did a 1:30 pm tour of the Vatican (including the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter’s Basilica within 4 hours. It was not crowded and it allowed us to have the freedom to enjoy a leisurely stroll around town in the morning hours. On the second day we met at 3:00 pm for a tour of the Colosseum (including the Arena). BTW - I’ve done the Underground tour on a previous visit and I highly recommend it. My Colosseum ticket included the Roman Forum, but because I’ve done that before, I asked Carla to customize the second portion of our afternoon. She suggested we cut through the Forum for a speedy review and then we popped out right at the Vittorio Emanuele Monument in Piazza Venezia. After some very informative explanations of the monument and the area, we swung by the Jewish Ghetto. All of this felt very off the beaten path but still very iconic Rome. A ton of information and sites packed into just 3 hours. None of this would have been possible without a private guide. It was not super expensive and the value was beyond compare. You set your own pace, ask as many questions as you like, spend as little or as much time exploring the sites. I highly recommend trying it at least once.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a little more about Carla herself. She is passionate about Rome, knows the City inside and out, knows history and art, and describes it all to you in a very engaging way. She is generous with her time and suggestions. Even before I booked her, she shared a lot of great tips. If you’re visiting Rome, she’s the guide I’d use for sure!
Happy to share more of my experiences if anyone is interested. I visited Milan, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast over the past two weeks in August.