Tuscany Wine Tours FAQ

Tuscany Wine Tours FAQ

Are your tours private?
Yes, 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. Then, you can choose between wine tastings where other guests may be present, or go totally private.

Of course this costs more than a group or bus tour, but here are the advantages:

• Doorstep service. Pick up is from your doorstep not from a meeting point as offered with group tours.
• Personal attention: You are my only guests for the day, everything is just for you.
• The pace is relaxed. I don’t fill the day with too many appointments, my tours are not check lists.
• Maximum flexibility. The tour has an itinerary, but you’re free to make changes within reason.
• We’ll maximize time. I know Tuscany well, you’ll see what you came to see with no down time.
• Get out of the crowds. Rest assured I’ll keep you well away from places that cater for bus tours.

Will we be the only customers at wineries?
As stated above, there may be a few other people at the wineries, but not crowds. Your tastings will be seated, you’ll have you own a private table and receive individual attention. If you’d prefer something even more exclusive, look up my Extra Private Premium Wines of Tuscany Tour.

Do I need to tip?
There is no truth in the information all over the internet that you never tip in Italy. Of course you can tip, it’s just that Italians don’t tip as often as in the States. No one will be offended if you don’t, but it’s appreciated if you do. We generally don’t tip short services like a quick coffee etc. But if you have continued service involving hours or days (hotel staff, waiters, drivers), then I assure you it’s appreciated. The sum is up to you, but if you tip like back home you won’t go wrong.

Tuscany wine tours FAQ logo

Tipping in restaurants.
Restaurants add an extra to the bill called “COPERTO” which is a seating & bread charge. It’s done throughout Italy and is applied to everyone, not just tourists. The money goes goes to the ownership not the staff. So, if you want to leave the  waiter a tip it will be welcome.

To a lesser extent you could find the word “SERVIZIO.” This is in fact a mandatory gratuity, so obviously no tip here. Finally never tip for poor or rude service. It can happen, but it’s all about bad manners, and not because you’re a tourist.

Is your business certified in any way?
Yes, I’m the holder of an official license as a state-registered chauffeur. The license is called N.C.C. To obtain it you have to take practical and theoretical exams and also have a record of good conduct. The license gives me access to off-limit city centers otherwise banned to private vehicles. This is why I can pick you from your doorstep anywhere in the city, and not from a meeting point as offered by some companies.

Are you a travel agency?
No, I’m not a travel agency. I don’t organize any form of accommodation, travel or services for third parties.

Are you a guide for cities and museums?
No, I’m not 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. I will on the other hand give you full guidance during our drives in the countryside and at wine tastings. However I do offer a walking tour of Florence but this is carried out by my partner Maurizio who is a fully qualified Florence historian.

How many wineries can we visit?
Usually it’s two. Winery visits and tastings in Italy have a different time scale and etiquette than the US, and this is particularly the case with my tours. They’re not over the counter tastings but seated and personalized, and take between one and one and a half hours.

The wineries we’ll be visiting take care to make a personal connection with their visitors, and you’ll be given the opportunity to discuss things in a leisurely manner with the staff, and in some cases the owners themselves. This doesn’t mean that over the counter tastings don’t exist, they certainly do. They’re offered by corporate wineries who fit you in between one bus tour and the next…you take a quick drink and leave. This isn’t the type of venue I propose. My aim is to do less, but do it well.

Also estates are not conveniently lined up along a fast highway. Tuscany is a vast hilly area of slow winding roads, and wineries are scattered. It can and does take time to get from one to the other and my tours aren’t “just” about wine. We will be travelling through one of the world’s most beautiful rural areas, and you’ll surely want to do some sightseeing and take a few photos. Consequently I will make a number of stops, and give you ample time to do this, but of course this will take up part of our day.

I’ve chosen wineries that differ in size and style. One will be of medium size, while the other will be a smaller family estate. Though they are “just two,” I assure you a representative experience of both Chianti and Super Tuscan wines. I care to add that all Chianti wines are made from minimum 80% of the Sangiovese grape varietal, so ultimately the differences between one winery and the other are subtle not huge. I’ve selected my wineries carefully over the years, and I privilege those that offer quality wines at reasonable prices. My philosophy is; it’s not wise to pay too much, and neither to pay too little.

Are there extras to pay on the day?
I have a policy of no surprise extras on the day. The prices of all my tours are clearly stated at the bottom of each page, and they include all travel costs and wine tastings. Just pay attention that some tours include lunch, while in others it’s a separate fee to be paid to the winery. The amount is again written at the bottom of the page. I will also declare all costs in my proposal and reservation emails. The prices you see, are what you will be asked on the day…no more.

Are times and itineraries flexible?
To some extent, yes. 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 is usually about 9.15 am and the return about 5.15pm.

What happens if the tour is cancelled?
In seventeen years of activity it’s only happened once. My van broke down on the highway while on my way to pick up my guests for the day. It was the height of the season, and despite making many phone calls, I couldn’t find a last second replacement. So, I guess it’s possible, but a very rare event. If I fall ill or come down with a cold or Covid, I will send one of my partners Myriam Buzzi & Maurizio Bellini who do many of my tours anyway. I endeavor to foresee all possible problems before suggesting an excursion. However, itineraries, events and activities may change at any time due to circumstances beyond my/our control (traffic hold ups, accidents, weather etc.). I will make every effort to maintain the tour as planned. Should this prove to be impossible, I will refund the entire sum of the tour if it’s been paid.

Are you insured?
Yes. 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.

What happens if I need health care in Italy?
Italy is a country with affordable health care and excellent standards of medical assistance, though better in northern and central Italy. Doctors are well trained and very passionate about their profession, and state hospitals in Tuscany are efficient in case of emergencies. 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. However, I suggest you take out extra health insurance because they may (or may not) ask for payment.

Where do we find rest rooms?
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, but only 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.

Is Tuscany safe?
Most towns in Tuscany are very safe. The risk is a little higher in Florence, but only by a little. Just be prudent, don’t walk around with valuables on show and stick to illuminated streets at night. Do however beware of pickpockets, when in crowded places, buses and lines. Keep bags and phones where you can see and feel them. The pickpockets are very good at their “craft.” The Chianti region and Val d’Orcia regions where my tours take place are generally very safe.

If your questions aren’t covered in this Tuscany wine tours FAQ, contact me.

Our Custom Ford Minivans

Tour van in Tuscany

The Roomy Interior

The roomy interior of our vans

This Is Me

Sergio Tuscany Private Wine Tour Driver

My Partner Myriam

Myriam Buzzi Tuscan wine tour guide

My Partner Maurizio


Our Tuscany Wine Tastings

Larry Woods 02 375

The Scenery of Chianti

Our Tuscany wine tour with Sergio

Wine Tasting at Tenuta degli Dei

Wine tasting in Chianti

Spring Poppies in Tuscany

Poppies in Tuscany spring 2019

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