Wine Tours in Tuscany
General Information about my Tuscan Wine Tours
TUSCAN COUNTRYSIDE AND SCENIC TOURS, TRANSFERS
My Tuscan wine tours are strictly private which means you will be my only customers for the day. You will not share the minivan or my services with anyone outside of your party. Of course this costs more than a group or bus tour, but here are the advantages:
• A private driver means peace of mind, as your host I'll guarantee your enjoyment without stress.
• We'll tour at your own pace, the only appointments we have to keep are for extra activities such as wine tasting, and other events if they have been booked.
• Maximum flexibility. The tour has an itinerary, but you're free to make changes within reason.
• Personal attention. You are my only clients for the day, everything is just for you.
• Doorstep service. I'll pick you up on the doorstep of your accommodation wherever that may be.
• We'll maximize time. Your time on holiday is limited and precious. My knowledge of Tuscany allows me to deliver more fun per hour than any other form of travel. You'll see what you came to see with no "down time".
• We'll get out of the crowds. I'll keep you well away from places that cater for bus tours, making each visit a personal one to one experience.
• I'll drop you off in front of the sights and not a half hour's walk away. Mi license allows me access to otherwise restricted areas.
MY LEGAL CERTIFICATION
I'm the holder of an official license as a state-registered chauffeur. In Italy, this license is called N.C.C. This gives me access to off-limit city centres otherwise banned to private vehicles, and means I can save you a lot of walking.
WHAT I AM NOT
I'm not a travel agency, I don't organize any form of accommodation, travel or services for third parties. Neither am I a historical guide. In fact by Italian law, driver guides are not allowed to do historical guiding of museums, monuments and city sights. Therefore: city visits are to be considered free tours.
WINE TASTING IN TUSCANY
Wine tasting in Tuscany is a much slower than what it is in the US. Only the larger wineries have the capacity to deal with walk-up tours. Most wineries are small concerns with limited staff, and prefer or require advance booking. Also consider that wineries are not conveniently lined up along the road, but scattered around a large mountainous area, so moving from one to another takes some time. Above all, taking a quick drink then moving on is something wineries don't accept. Wineries will want to present their products while relating to the customer. So, Wine tasting in Tuscany will take from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It's good if you don't choose more than three wineries; and frankly, even better if you "only" visit two. I suggest you relax and enjoy the experience, they're not in a hurry to throw you out. I will take you directly to estates that I believe offer the highest price/quality ratio, and also differ in the style of their wines and presentation.
WINE AND SIGHTSEEING TOUR PRICING
The prices of the excursions on this site are inclusive of all travel costs. Most tours have wine tastings included, others are quoted sepertely on a per person basis. I have tried to be very clear about this in the tour descriptions. Meals are not included unless otherwise stated. I have a policy of no hidden extras.
The prices you see on this site are what you will be asked on the day...no more.
WINE TASTING AND SIGHTSEEING TOUR TIMES
Consider all times for your guidance only. Actual times may well vary and you are free to make changes within reason to the planned itinerary. However, appointments for reserved visits do have to be kept or the fee must be paid if you decide to forego the visit. The pickup time direct from your hotel, is usually about 9.30 am and the return is about 5.30pm.
TUSCANY TOUR GUIDING
I will comment the scenery as we travel, and also provide you with a host of basic information regarding the places we visit. As I state on my home page, "you will learn about Tuscany fom a Tuscan's point of view," and this is often enough. However, in Italy chauffeurs are not allowed to do historical guiding of museums, churches and city sights. So please consider city visits as free tours. If you require in-depth commentary for such places, Italian law reqiuires you hire a registered historian/guide. I suggest you hire a guide for the main sights and museums. They are very knowledgeable and have facilitated access to museums. The fee is about €130 for about three hours. Of course this is not mandatory and you may browse around by yourself with guide book in hand.
TIPPING IN ITALY
Restaurants: Tips are not mandatory, but any tip you leave will be truly appreciated by underpaid staff.
Hotels: it's customary to tip for bell boy's and room service.
Guides: it’s customary to tip your guide, about 5 Euro per person for group tours.
Drivers: it’s customary to tip your driver. Starting at 10 Euro for transfers lasting about an hour and at least 10% of the fee for a full days touring.
CREDIT CARDS & ATM'S
All major credit cards are accepted in Italy, though American Express isn't popular due to high commission charges. ATM's are to be found almost everywhere, so obtaining cash is not problem. Be sure to inform your bank at home that you will be travelling in Italy, otherwise the card might be refused if the system identifies it as stolen.
UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES & TRAVEL INSURANCE
I endeavour to foresee all possible problems before suggesting an excursion. However, itineraries, events and activities may change at any time due to circumstances beyond my control (traffic hold ups, accidents, strikes etc.). I will make every effort to maintain the tour as planned. If this should prove impossible, I will suggest comparable alternatives. In the event of problems arising with my vehicle or my inability to drive, I will find you a substitute driver and refund any sums already paid. I wish to point out that my insurance cover for passengers is €2,500,000 (two million five hundred thousand euro). This sum is divided between the number of passengers: three passengers would be €833,000; five passengers €500,000. This figure is already higher than the Italian legal requirement, and this is the only web site where you will read how much insurance cover you actually have. If you require further cover, please take out travel insurance at home, which is advisable in all circumstances.
MEDICAL ASSISTANCE & INSURANCE
Italy is a country with affordable health care and excellent standards of medical assistance. Italian doctors are well trained and very passionate about their profession, and state hospitals in Tuscany are very efficient. In the unfortunate event that you should fall seriously ill, it's good to know that under Italian law emergency medical assistance cannot be refused to anyone. Do take out extra health insurance because they will ask you for payment.
MORE ON TIPPING IN ITALY
There are no rules on tips but despite information to the contrary, you will make the average worker very happy if you do tip. Wages are low in Italy, and believe me, tips are more than welcome. However do so only if you receive great service, and not automatically. All restaurants add an extra charge to the bill called "COPERTO" which is a seating charge, but this goes to the owner and not the staff. If you feel that you have had good service and want to leave someone a tip, offer a sum in the same percentage as you would do back home. If you had bad service...don't leave anything. Also don't leave anything if you see the word "SERVIZIO" as this is in fact a mandatory tip.
Unfortunately, public rest rooms are not always where you would want them, and often the condition in which some people leave them isn't inspiring. Deli's and cafes offer rest room services to customers. My suggestion is: buy something first......any drink is sufficient, then ask to use the rest room. Don't walk straight in as this is badly tolerated.
SAFETY & CRIME
Most towns in Tuscany are very safe. The risk is a little higher in Florence, but no worse than in many other parts of the world. Just be prudent as you would in any major city. The Chianti region and Val d'Orcia regions are generally considered very safe.