On the strong recommendation from my in-laws and their friends, my wife and I employed Fabio Manduca as our guide in May 2009. It was my second time in Italy and my wife's first. I had a very good idea of which cities I wanted to visit but my only issue was getting around. One of my favorite parts of my previous trip was gazing out a tour bus window at the rolling hills and vineyards in Tuscany. I greatly wanted to be there again and do just that with my wife, but that experience is not nearly the same if you are driving your own rental car focused on the roads and where you are going. My lack of an extensive Italian vocabulary also made taking public transportation intimidating, so I opted to hire a driver and guide to take us around and boy am I glad we did.
Fabio picked us up at airport in Rome and I must say that having a person on the ground waiting for you when you arrive, who has your best interests in mind, who knows the ins and outs of the country like the back of his hand, and who treats you like family is truly INVALUABLE. From the moment our wheels touched down in Rome, our trip completely lacked stress, anxiety, and confusion and we were able to sit back, get some much needed relaxation, and enjoy the splendors of Italy like we never could have imagined. Fabio immediately treated us like his brother and sister. He set us up with private tour guides in the Vatican museum and St. Peter's which was seamless, time efficient, and an amazing experience. He also personally gave us a tour of the countryside outside the city walls, took us to the Catacombs, and even dropped us off at an excellent spot for an authentic lunch at a cafe hidden away in the city. During our entire stay, he was reachable in an instant by cell phone and was glad to give us advice, answer questions, and make arrangements for us on the fly. We ate at a restaurant of his recommendation literally every single night and each was more amazing than the last.
I did extensive research for months before our trip scouring countless books, websites, videos, etc. I have to admit that all the planning in the world cannot outweigh having a local expert tailor your trip. After we arrived, Fabio made a few recommendations to alter our trip -- avoiding sights we planned on seeing, visiting others we hadn't, changing our method of transportation, etc. -- and I cannot thank him enough for making an otherwise amazing vacation the trip of a lifetime. For the next leg of our journey, we ventured away from Rome up into Tuscany to Siena (doing day trips from there to a half dozen other Tuscan cities), then to Florence, and ultimately up to Venice. Fabio set us up with drivers and guides in each city that were just as professional, kind, and helpful as he. While we had a total of 3 different drivers over our 12-day journey, it was great to have one central point of contact in Fabio. While in Siena, Fabrizio was a gentleman and treated us like gold during our 4 days in Tuscany. He took us to some amazing wineries and cities that were not on our original itinerary and also suggested we avoid some other tourist traps which saved us money and freed up more time to enjoy what we did want to do. We only we were with Max for the short leg from Siena to Florence, but he was also very professional and helpful while giving us the inside scoop of where to eat and what to see in our short stay in Florence.
My parents, Aunt, and Uncle did a very similar trip in June 2011. As soon as I knew they were going, I called Fabio and booked him to take them around. They were eternally grateful and had an equally amazing trip. It was the first time my father and uncle returned to their birthplace of Italy since they left 60 years earlier. Fabio took them to their hometown in the mountains of central eastern Italy and even found my Grandfather's house (or what's left of it) -- the house they were born in! I am eternally grateful for how well he took care of them and they came home raving about Fabio and how he was now officially a member of our family. I couldn't have said it better.
I HIGHLY recommend considering a driver during your stay in Italy and LIMOUSINE SERVICE IN ITALY is your FIRST AND ONLY call.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.