Frequently Asked Questions

About your Italy Tour

Q:  How do we meet with your driver?: Airport - Ship - Hotel - Train station
Q:  Are your prices per person?
Q:  Can we book tickets for the Vatican Museums? And for the Colosseum?
What is a Driver/Guide (DG) and an English Speaking Driver (ESD) and a City Guide (Local Guide)?
What do they do?

How do we finalize our booking? .
Do your prices include taxes?
Did you receive my e-mail?
How much should we tip?
Since we are using you in several ports, can we get a better deal?
How should we dress when we go to the Vatican?
Will you be our guide in Pompeii?
Will you be guiding us through Rome and the Vatican?
Can you assist us in other ports besides Civitavecchia?


Q:  How do we meet with your driver?  Airport, Ship, Hotel, Train Station

A:   If you are arriving by air - You'll be met at the airport upon arrival as you specified. After collecting your luggage and clearing customs, you'll be routed to the public lounge where throngs of people wait for passengers to come out. Many people will be holding signs including your driver displaying your name.  Make sure to have my phone number with you since you never know what can happen in a crowded and chaotic airport! Normally it takes about 40 minutes from the time when the plane lands until you actually get to the public lounge. If you see that it will take longer, for example if your luggage is lost or simply takes a long time to come out, please call me from on the phone or ask the custom officer to let you come out for a second to tell your driver you'll be late. We normally start getting restless after 45 minutes and we don't wait any longer than two hours from your plane's landing time. From any Italian public or cell phone you just dial 06 66 18 20 52, but if you carry a cell phone registered outside of Italy you also need to dial the country code +39 so the whole sequence should be: +39 06 66 18 20 52.

A:   If you are arriving by ship - You'll find the car (van) parked right on the pier where your ship docks. Your name will be posted on its windshield.

A:   If we are picking you up at a hotel -  It surely isn't a problem to meet my clients at their hotel, though it's easier if they're staying in a small hotel rather than a big one. The concierges of the small hotels know each and every one of their guests so when I go in and ask for my clients they have no problem directing me to them. That doesn't always work when my clients stay in a big hotel. In this case it's a lot easier for the clients to spot me than it is for me to spot them. Large hotels always have some space in front of the main entrance where I can park my car (van.)   When I get to the hotel,   I go to the concierge first and ask for my clients.   Typically,  he calls them in their room to announce me and I tell them that I'll be waiting for them outside near the car.  If they’re not in their room and the concierge can't find them I just go back outside and wait near the car.

A:   If you are arriving by train - Arriving at the station, just as you get off the train, there will be a person holding a sign with your name on it waiting for you along the platform where the train comes in. You should simply walk towards the front of the train until you see the driver.

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Q:  Are your prices per person?

A:  No, prices are per vehicle. Occupants will share the cost among themselves.

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Q:  Can we book tickets for the Vatican Museums? And for the Colosseum?

A:  Yes, we may pre-buy your tickets to the Vatican Museums (Sistine Chapel), Colosseum or any other site or monument in Italy in advance to avoid the queue.

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Q:  What is a Driver/Guide,  an English Speaking Driver and a City Guide?  What do they do?

A:  Driver Guides (DG) are fully qualified tour guides and are licensed to drive limousine service vehicles as well. While ESDs are fairly common in most ports of call, DGs are extremely rare. The difference between an ESD and a DG is the depth of intellect and knowledge. DGs are professionally trained to ensure that you get out of your excursion whatever you are looking for in the way of local color, culture, fun, historical sights and museums, landscapes and views, restaurants, etc. The amount of information provided by a DG will be more thorough and personalized to your particular interests than that offered by an ESD. However, in many European cities, a DG may not be allowed to guide tours through major churches and museum where such explanations are restricted to City Guides (see below).

A:  English Speaking Drivers (ESD) are all very experienced and used to hosting foreign tourists. They are all extremely familiar with the sights you will undoubtedly want to visit. If you have made a list of "must-sees" for any city you'll want to visit, ESDs will gladly take you wherever you may want to go. If by chance, however, you did not have the time or inclination to "do your homework" before traveling, the driver will design an itinerary that will include all the highlights. ESDs will offer only very basic information about the sights you will see. ESDs speak English, but rarely at the level of a Driver Guide (see above).

A:  City Guides are those who are specialized and licensed to guide in one specific city or limited area. Local culture, history and traditions are so different from area to area—even from city to city—that no single guide can possibly become highly knowledgeable about a whole country or region. Therefore many local governments, especially in Europe, have chosen to assure the integrity of the local culture by licensing only those guides who have had a formal education and have proved to be knowledgeable and qualified to represent their area or city. Tours conducted by City Guides are often intense and detailed.

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Q:  How do we finalize our booking?

A:  All I need to secure your booking is a Visa, MC or AMEX credit card number, exp date, holder's name (as it appears on the card) and birth date. You can send it via e- mail or fax if you wish, my fax # is 06 66  18 15 29

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Q:  Do your prices include taxes?

A:  In Italy you pay a 10% VAT tax (Value added Tax) on our services already included in my prices.

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Q:  Did you receive my e-mail?

A:  I always reply to my e-mails within 12 hours but sometimes people do not receive them. Please make sure your anti-spam program does not automatically trash my reply. Thank you!

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Q;  How much should we tip?

A:  Tips in Italy are not mandatory, but it's customary to give them in proportion to the quality of the service received. It's not a fix percentage as it is in the US, I could say it's proportional to how much the service fulfills or exceeds the expectations. 

So it's not given in case of a mediocre service, it's minimal in case of average and raises from there in a proportion the client decides. It is actually embarrassing to be asked how much tip is owed. A tip is a gift and we like to leave it to the clients to judge if we deserve it and in what measure. If asked, a waiter, porter, chamber maid, hotel concierge, driver guide or anybody else, if polite, will shyly tell you the tip is included and you don't owe them anything. Everyone is happy to receive some extra money, but to ask for a tip or saying how much it should be is considered equivalent to begging. In conclusion, everyone expect a tip but no-one will tell you how much it should be. Italians are complicated aren't they?

But I'm not going to leave you without an answer, here comes some help:
let's say at the average restaurant they will be happy with 10/15 %. The higher is the bill the smaller the tip. If the bill is 100 Euros 10/15 % 15 Euros are a good tip, but if the bill is 500 Euros would maybe be too much. Maybe 5 Euros a day for the chamber maid at the hotel would be the minimum. No, don't ask what you should tip my drivers, you would just embarrass them!

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Q:  Since we are using you in several ports, can we get a better deal?

A:  Sorry no discount, Shore excursions are already discounted packages and I cannot give you any further discounts on the prices of shore excursions.

Please consider the single prices for the transfers and the city sightseeing, the cost for the typical full day excursion to Rome from Civitavecchia. i.e. for 4 people in the minivan, would add up to € 760:

Transfer Civitavecchia/Rome for 4 people in the minivan is €180
Transfer Rome/Civitavecchia for 4 people in the minivan is €180
Full day of sightseeing for 4 people in the minivan is €400
Total €760.

I’m discounting it to €500 as a package for cruisers
In addition, if you book tours in more than one city or more than one car and driver in the same city,  you aren't giving more business/money to one company, you're always using independent driving guides.
Additionally, a lot of the money you pay me is spent on gas which is sold for more than 1 Euro per liter in Italy (converting liters to gallons and Euros to US Dollars you end up finding out we’re paying more than 6 USD per gallon!).

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Q:  How should we dress when we go to the Vatican?

A:  Vatican dress code: Please be aware that there are monitors outside St. Peter's, monitoring a very strict dress code: no skirts above the knee, no shorts, no bare shoulders (i.e., tank tops or sleeveless blouses), and you must wear shoes. You will not be permitted inside the basilica unless you are dressed appropriately. Slacks and jeans, however, are permitted. Appropriate dress is a MUST! If you are out sightseeing in shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, sleeveless blouses, etc., and wish to enter a church, you must change into more appropriate clothing. People who monitor visitors in churches have the right to refuse entrance if, in their opinion, the visitor is dressed inappropriately. One way to get around this is to carry long pants and a shirt/blouse with sleeves in a bag or backpack so that when you wish to enter a church, you can slip these garments on over your inappropriate attire before you enter. Strict dress codes are especially adhered to at St. Peter's, so I wouldn't even try to enter wearing short skirts, shorts, or sleeveless tops. You will be refused entrance. Again, no shorts, or sleeveless tops, but wearing jeans is okay.

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Q:  Will you be our guide in Pompeii?

A:  Pompeii guiding - Driving guides are not permitted to conduct guided tours of Pompeii and I really recommend you hire a local guide. They charge about 200 Euros for the tour, but they are worth it. The alternative is to hire an audio guide, but thehuman  guide is more interesting.

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Q:  Will you be guiding us through Rome and the Vatican?

A:  We drive you around and show you places. We'll be pointing out things while driving and explain what they are, stop at the places that require a visit and help you visit them. Many clients who come to Italy frequently, and have had other experiences with licensed guides and driving guides, told me that my drivers are the best guides they ever had.

I'll be around to help you whenever you'll need me, like if you go to a shop to buy something and the salesgirl there doesn't speak English, or you want to order food at restaurant but the menu is only in Italian etc. etc...

In other words, we can maybe tell you about Rome more than you want to hear about, but not necessarily will! Rome is not my only playground though, we can take you to Florence, Siena, the Tuscan countryside, Naples and its surroundings or anywhere else you'll like to go. Often they hire me to go touring all over Italy for one or two weeks. What I really enjoy is doing tours off the beaten path. Most people stay for only 2 or 3 days and that's barely long enough to see the most famous places, the ones everybody knows and talks about. Sometimes instead I have customers who stay a little longer or have been in Italy before and do not need to go back to the classical sites. They give me the opportunity to show them places not even locals know about and they have a great time!

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Q:  Can you assist us in other ports besides Civitavecchia?

A:  Other ports - I'm part of a network of driving guides operating in Rome, Florence, Naples, Sicily, Venice practically any docking port in Italy and Europe. I can help you booking your shore excursions with qualified driving guides in the most important Italian ports.

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Max 8 Small group Shared Tours
My Italy Concierge