FANTASTIC FLORENCE TOURS – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
I thought about creating this section because I’ve noticed that there are some recurring questions in e-mails from my clients. I hope it can be of some use to you!
1. Why should I take get a local tourist guide and what does it mean?
A tourist guide is a true profession in Italy. You need certification, which means passing a hard exam in history, art, touristic legislation and foreign languages. To be a certified tourist guide you need to show your linguistic skills in at list one foreign language, in addition to your native language of course (I’m a certified tourist guide in Italian, English, Spanish and German -but, I don’t give specialised tours in German, because I still have to perfect it!). Certification is issued by the Italian government. Choosing a local tourist guide is synonymous with high quality education and professional skills. Look for the official tourist guide badge, I always show it while I’m at work!
2. Why should I take a private tour of Florence?
With a private tour of Florence you are investing your money and time in the best way: in 3-4 hours (or 6-7, depending on the length of the tour you decide to do) you will get to know Florence and its vary aspects, from ancient history to present day, from art to gourmet, in one word the city’s real character. All this thanks to a tour by a local guide of Florence. Don’t be just a number in a big group tour, but be a traveller that wants a special and personal experience in Florence!
3. Can you give tours only in Florence?
I am an expert tourist guide of Florence and its surroundings. To maintain top-quality I prefer to give tours only in my city, where I was born and raised. I know Florence like the back of my hand, but I can’t say the same for the rest of Italy’s or Tuscany’s cities. Since my aim is to guarantee the best quality, I have decided to focus and specialise on Florence and its artistic heritage (that, by the way, is really immense and maybe one lifetime is not even enough to study everything!). I have created a network of official tourist guides of Tuscany and Italy with guides just like me who share the same professional mindset, so if you look for a guide somewhere else, ask me to help you!
4. We want to tour Tuscany, can you help us? Can you give us some tips on planning our trip?
Sure, I can. Let me just remind you that I am not a tour operator and I don’t have any license to sell more than my guiding services in the city of Florence. Anyhow, I am in contact with many excellent guides in Tuscany and Italy, as well as in other European countries. I am always pleased to recommend good colleagues from other cities and to put you in contact with them. You can check the links section on my website.
I can book the tickets for the museums for you, give you suggestions for the best restaurants or gelaterias, put you in contact with rental car agencies, but I cannot make hotel reservations or sell you entire excursions. It matters a lot to me to say that whatever advice I may give you about a restaurant, a guide in another city, a private driver or a store has been “tested” by me. I know all my associates and collaborators personally; they are top-level experts to whom I give my utmost trust.
I have tried all the restaurants, bars, bakeries, gelaterias that I suggest to my clients (and this is one of the best parts of my job!).
5. Are your tours private or can we join one of your groups?
I am an independent private guide of Florence and not a tour operator, so I’m not able to ‘create’ groups. When you book a tour with me it’s just for you, personal, custom-made and completely organised for and around you and your wishes. To be sincere, so far two clients have never booked the same tour on the same day, but if it happens one day, I will be the first to suggest a small group tour!
6. We have just one day in Florence: can we do a Florence sightseeing walk plus the two main galleries, The Uffizi and Accademia?
Yes, this is the most requested tour. It’s absolutely doable in a full day tour of 6 hours. However, Florence offers many other beautiful museums, please don’t forget! Depending on your schedule and your interests I will be happy to propose other itineraries, off of the most beaten tracks (there’s a wide selection of them on my web site), that will keep us away from the crowds and give us a different flavour of Florence.
7. Can you make a reservation for the museums so we don’t have to stay in line?
Of course! Reservations for Uffizi and Accademia are highly recommended in high season. It’s not strictly necessary for the other museums. The reservation costs 4€. In spite of this, paying this additional fee does not guarantee that you will skip a long line and automatically get inside. Sometimes, the museums are very crowded and fully booked, so you may have to wait in line. Also museums do overbookings like airlines! So, in case there are long lines, just keep calm and remember you are on holiday! You can check the official website of Florence museums here.
8. Is there any discount for seniors or children in the museums of Florence?
It depends on the museum, but they usually apply discounts. The government’s museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello, Medici Chapels, etc.) don’t give discounts to seniors. Bring your child’s ID , you may be asked to show it at the entrance.
9. Is there any dress code to visit churches?
Yes, you need to have your shoulders covered as well as your legs covered to the knee. Just take with you a couple of scarfs and wrap them around you sarong-style — it’s very glamourous and extremely practical!
10. What exactly is the Firenze card?
It’s a pass that you can buy in Florence or online (but you still have to pick it up in Florence, so you don’t save much time buying it online) that gives you priority entrance to all the museums and churches of Florence, it’s valid for 72 hours from the first use and it costs 72€. Tickets for local transport and public wi-fi are also included. Is it worth it? It depends on your plans. If you stay in Florence only two days or if you don’t intend to visit a lot of museums and churches, don’t buy it. For example, if you just want to see Uffizi and Accademia, the entrance fees are 33€ each person with a reservation, so it’s not even half the price of the card. On the other hand, if you plan on seeing as much as possible, the Firenze card might be very convenient. Attention: you won’t be the only one who knows about it, so don’t be surprised if you find people waiting in line at the front door of a museum with the same pass! Be patient, please!
11. Why do you come to pick us up at our hotel?
When we have decided the details of the tour in Florence, I will ask where you are accommodated. I usually come to meet you at your hotel in Florence because I don’t want you out looking for me. However, if I see that your hotel is far from where we want to visit or that you are staying outside of the city, I may ask you to meet me directly at the tour site.
12. We are not big art and history lovers. Will your guided tour of Florence be too heavy and bore everyone?
Noooo!! I perfectly understand that you are on holiday in Florence and you are not looking for a teaching lecture, so don’t worry at all! My tours are tailored around you, and my aim is to show you my city in the best way in the time that you have available, so that you go back home with the feeling that you really got in touch with Florence, her culture, her spirit and her centuries-long life. I am in favour of stopping for a cappuccino or a gelato to break up the tour if needed. Whereas if you want a specially themed visit, I will be glad to offer you an in-depth tour.
13. How do we pay you, Francesca?
I usually ask for a little down payment to secure the tour. The rest of the amount has to be paid in cash on the same day of the tour. I don’t accept credit cards simply because I don’t have any POS device. Taking money in cash is easier for me. If you take multiple tours I may ask to leave a bigger deposit via PayPal.
14. Why do we have to pay a deposit via PayPal? Can we pay the total via PayPal?
I ask for a down payment only to give more security to both parts, you and me. As you know, PayPal applies commissions on every transaction; they can be higher or lower depending on the country where you make the payment. I have decided to cover the expense of the down payments because the fee is moderated; however, if you wish to pay the total of the tour via PayPal I may ask you to add a 4% to the tour price.
15. If I need to cancel the tour, what shall I do?
In case you need to cancel the tour, please let me know by e-mail as soon as possible. If you cancel within 14 days before the date of the tour, I will refund you the deposit on Paypal. Otherwise, if your cancellation is made less than 14 days before the date of the tour, I will keep it.
16. When can we take your tours, Francesca?
I am available seven days per week. However, always check with me about the exact date of the tour you want to book because it’s possible that some museums or churches are closed. There are some museums, like Bargello, Medici Chapels or San Marco, that rotate their closing days. Furthermore, most state museums are closed on Monday and churches are always closed on Sunday morning due to Mass, etc.
17. Which is the best way to reach you, Francesca?
By email. I constantly check my account from my phone, which is always with me. However, please consider that my answer may be a little delayed because I’m working or… sleeping (we probably have a different time zone!). If you like, we could make an appointment to Skype or talk by phone. Please add my email address to your contacts’ list on your email account so my messages are not blocked.