Six of us – who were so fortunate to be enjoying the fantastic entertainment of the Garrison Keillor Prairie Home Companion cruise in August – spent a day with Guido seeing rural Tuscany and enjoying some good wine. It was an incredible experience – one of the highlights of a cruise full of highlights!
Guido is a sommelier and knows everything about wine. So, naturally, the two wineries we visited were excellent and informative. But Guido also grew up in the Chianti region and it was like having an Italian cousin personally driving us around for the day, showing us all the best the area has to offer with great enthusiasm. (His command of English, even its crazy idioms and humor, is impressive.)
He picked us up at our ship in Livorno in a very comfortable, air-conditioned van and we headed straight for the tower-spiked hill town of San Gimignano so we could visit there BEFORE all the tour buses arrived. He dropped us off at the town gate to spend 90 minutes or so on our own enjoying the medieval town before meeting him back at the van.
He also dropped us off at a great little cafe in another small town for lunch, where we appeared to be the only tourists. We enjoyed some great food and wine on an outdoor terrace with beautiful views of the countryside. The local family at the next table was celebrating a birthday and it was fun watching their two kids enjoying it all.
All the rave reviews you'll read about Guido's Tours are absolutely true. The six of us shared the cost of the tour, all established ahead of time, and for the 9 hours we spent with him, it was probably less than half of what a typical all-day cruise-line shore excursion would have cost each of us -- without the usual long stops for shopping, which not everyone enjoys :)
The friend in our group, who arranged the tour for us, said Guido replied to her advance emails promptly and answered any questions with a lot of good information. Go to his website and book Guido early so you don't miss out on this very personal and fun way to experience Tuscany. He not only is an outstanding, very professional guide and a great value -- he obviously loves Tuscany and it rubs off effortlessly on his clients.
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