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Pompeii - Rick Steves was right about Gaetano Manefredi & his tours

My husband and I visited Italy in 2012, and then again last week with family, using our Rick Steves (2011) guidebook both times. On the recent visit we decided to visit Pompeii, and saw a reference by Rick Steves to a wonderful guide person – Gaetano Manfredi. On the slim chance this person might still be offering tours, we inquired. Gaetano himself wrote back and arranged a tour guide named Rosaria, who was both delightful and informative. Thanks Rick Steves and thanks to the Pompeii guide Gaetano who coordinated a wonderful and all too brief two hours with tour guide Rosaria.

Posted by
388 posts

Rick also recommended a novel entitled Pompeii by British writer Robert Harris. I gave the book five stars, a rating I rarely give, on Goodreads.

Though Pompeii is a novel, I learned more history from it than I would a dry nonfiction book or textbook. The book is eloquent, compelling, exciting and well researched. I learned more from it about ancient Rome, volcanoes, water management and workplace dynamics than I would have from any manual.

Though readers of Pompeii learn about the disaster that engulfed the famed Roman town in 79 AD, the book has more to offer than lessons on history and ancient technology. Pompeii is a pointed critique of stoicism -- a philosophical school experiencing an unexpected bit of popularity in the years following the covid pandemic.

The work tells the story of Marcus Attilius Primus, the aquarius of the Aqua Augusta, an aqueduct that serves about a dozen towns in the Bay of Naples region of southeastern Italy, including doomed Pompeii. An aquarius is a hydraulic engineer in the first century. Attilius is efficient, incorruptible, practical, terse and hard-working, but he risks his life to save a woman he has unexpectedly fallen in love with.

I enjoyed the book so much that I read another Robert Harris novel set during Ancient Rome entitled Imperium. It tells the story of Cicero, the roman orator and philosopher. It's part of a trilogy. Imperium was also excellent.

Posted by
3660 posts

Just wondering, did this tour guide give you any incentives to post a positive report?
Safe travels!

Posted by
2 posts

We had originally tried to tour with Gaetano; when this did not work, he arranged for the tour with Rosaria.
Gaetano asked us to let him know how the tour went, and we responded that the tour went very well.
He said that if we wanted to, we could leave a positive rating.
I asked Gaetano the best place to leave the rating, and he suggested Rick Steves' Forum as this is where I found the listing. I think that is fair to post on this forrum to give a positive nod to Rick Steves' information being accurate.

Posted by
385 posts

I have no experiance with Mr Manefredi, and I believe he is mentioned in the RS guides.
I do find the following a little suspicious - searching "Gaetano Manefredi" does bring up his name frequently, some mentions by established posters on these forums, but also high praise from the following:
laura 2 posts, October 2022
dilg, 3 posts , July 2022
lsietsema, 5 posts all in July 2022
pghautz, 2 posts, April 2023
wongamyr, 1 post, November 2021
evanskn, 1 post, October 2022
almuskie, 1 Post, April 2022
marysaramcglynn1, 1 post, September 2022
bob, 1 post, October 2021
happyonehb, 2 posts, August 2022
ddodds0402, 1 post, June 2022

I find it strange that so many would register on RS, post a single review, and move on. No trip report, no other information, just praise of a single tour guide.

Posted by
469 posts

Twenty years ago we were lucky enough to take a tour with Gaetano Manfredi. He is an amazing tour guide!
And I highly recommend reading Robert Harris’s book, Pompeii, before a visit.

Posted by
487 posts

We toured Pompeii with Gaetano last April, and found him to be a fabulous tour guide. He was entertaining, thorough, and had many interesting stories of life in Pompeii during the eruption. Highly recommend.

Posted by
15089 posts

I am baffled when recommendations for a guide do not include the specifics:

How many people were in your group?
For how many hours?
For how many attractions/destinations?
Did your tour include a private driver? If so, for how many hours?
Did you have to pay entrance fees separately?
How did you have to pay for the tour? Credit card, cash or other? In advance or day of the tour?
Did you end up with the guide you thought you were booking with or someone else?
Were you asked for tips?

In short, how much of the above did your tour involve, and what was the cost?

While the guide of the topic comes with good recommendations, a recent post indicates that a quoted fee for their services cost more than many travelers could afford but that can depend on the specifics; that's why including details and price is relevant when posting a positive review.

So while we get it that they do a great job, what did fees for this service run for your specific tour?

Posted by
24859 posts

Virtually no one posting comments about tours ever tells us what they paid, which to me is essential information.

Posted by
3648 posts

Me three for recommending Pompeii by Robert Harris. I'll be giving him a shout out as the reason for my trip in an upcoming Trip Report.

Posted by
10931 posts

Gaetano is the best. He also is the most costly. In 2011 we paid €250 for a 2 hour tour. Worth every centissimo. Another time we took our son and booked a “regular” guide for about half of Gaetano’s fee. She was worthless.

Posted by
15089 posts

That's not a bad price, Laurel, if just for Pompeii, and if it included entry fees? LOL, you're a trusted resource so you have my full attention when you give a thumb up! 🙂

The much higher quoted price I was referencing - which just happened to be for you, Allan - included driver services, and guide services for both Herculaneum and Pompeii so a different situation. That's what I meant by including the individual details along with the recommendation.

Posted by
3011 posts

Virtually no one posting comments about tours ever tells us what they paid, which to me is essential information.

I try to avoid saying exactly how much I paid for some good reasons:

I usually book and pay for tours months in advance. I do a lot of research and I know what guides and companies I want, and by paying in advance I can spread out the trip expenses. Some folks offer discounts for early booking. By the time I post my comments on the Forum, it's been well over a year since I paid, and prices are likely to have gone up.

Also, I typically book more than one day's worth of tours - 3 days for Pompeii-related sites - and most guides will give me a discount.

The last thing I want to do is get on the internet and tell people that this or that guide charged me X amount, when it is not likely that everybody will get the same deal that I did, thereby putting a guide that I really liked in the position of having to explain why Estimated Prophet paid less.

Posted by
117 posts

We have booked a whole day with Gaetano which includes pickup from our hotel in Sorrento, touring Pompeii and then touring Herculaneum. We are then dropped off back at our hotel in Sorrento. From pickup to drop-off, the tour is 9 hours. We had limited time to do these tours so we wanted a private driver. Plus I injured my leg and although I will walk with a little difficulty, the private driver will help save my leg for walking in Positano. We are paying $250 euros per person so $500 euros total. I know this is a splurge, but logistically it worked best for us. We have plenty of free walking tours lined up during our one-month European vacation so spending some $$$ once in awhile works out just fine for our budget. I hope my post answers some of the questions raised in this thread.

Posted by
117 posts

I forgot to mention that our tour is with three other people so that may affect the price. Last year I did a similar tour in the south of France with an excellent tour guide. I paid between $300 to $370 euros for a similar tour set-up. It turned out to be one of my favorite days on my trip. I am very fortunate that I can afford private tour guides. I don't do it all the time because I like all arrangements (except large tours). I just figured I am spending all this money to get to Europe so why not spend the money once in awhile for a driver and private tour guide. I have hear great things about Gaetano from multiple sources so I am excited for my tour. I have been posting for years on RS so I am not a one-time poster to answer a question by a previous posters.