We just returned from a week long trip to Naples and the Amalfi coast. There were five of us - my husband, recovering from ACL surgery, my father, 71, my seven year old son and my five year old daughter, and of course myself.
This was the first family trip we had taken overseas as such a big group. Normally we rent a car ourselves and in the past my husband and I would try to huff it on foot or use public transport. Given the spread of ages and the fact that hubby was post surgery we decided to "splurge" and book Francesco for two days. We visited Positano, the green grotto, Amalfi and Ravello the first day. The second day we went to Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum and Pompeii. Francesco also took us to a bonus organic vineyard for lunch. Fantastic.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions of our trip. Not having to worry about parking, bus schedules or driving along all those crazy winding roads along the coast allowed us to really relax. And the fact that we could go directly from one thing to another meant that we were using the limited time we had that much more efficiently. When you consider how much you spent just to get there, booking a driver makes that much more sense. Also, with kids in tow not having to negotiate all the transitions and schedules and lines for buses was a godsend.
Francesco himself is a lovely man. He is considerate, thoughtful, and has a delightful sense of humor. He explains a lot and is very observant about whether you feel chatty or not so you never feel like you need to talk if you are just enjoying the view. But he always answers questions honestly and immediately.
My favorite part of his expertise was a random supermarket mall he took us to where I had some of the best coffee of the trip (and we were based in Naples so I had some really good coffee). He also gave us a really good pizzeria recommendation that was not in the guidebooks, along with his favorite pizza. He did not steer us wrong (pun intended).
He was lovely with our kids and my dad and when I took an interest in learning more Italian he was kind enough to oblige me with funny words and gave me a new nickname for my hubby in Italian.
We didn't have any doubt that a Rick Steve's recommendation would be top notch. Francesco lived up to every expectation.