FAQs and Tips
Some of the questions I’m frequently asked and relative answers.
I’m hoping to give you all the possible information to help you get acquainted with my country, my tours, my transfers and me. I’ll keep adding up to the contents of this page…
Some thought about private driver and shore excursion business based on my fifteenth experience’s years:
Tours organized by cruise lines always include shops stops so you won’t even pay them the tour but they also expect to earn extras. I guess any fair private driver would never propose or attempt at that, what he agreed as tour rate is what he could expect to earn that day without any extra. I would always ask for a complete itinerary before to book. I’ll never propose shop’s stop except when is the customer to require it.
How should be made a good tour
A tour by the Amalfi Coast must always be done having the cliff on the van’s right side, this is because that’s the best way to give the most amazing view to the passengers that will be able to look down by the road having an easy way to get photos or/and to admire the breathtaking view. Some private drivers and most of taxi drivers like to follow the reverse direction but is my opinion that anyone is proposing or/and giving an itinerary by that direction isn’t doing a good job and is unfair to his customers.
Is my personal opinion that Pompeii is to tour in the morning, this is because the light is better to take photos and the temperature is much more pleasant. If you never been in Pompeii can imagine it like a basin and you can also imagine what happen when the sun is perpendicular on it. The heat can be really horrible and temperatures can reach 100°F easily. So I always propose to tour Pompeii in the morning.
How do we meet with your driver? Airport – Ship – Hotel – Train station
You’ll be met at the airport upon arrival of aircraft as you specified. After collecting your luggage and clearing customs, you’ll be routed to the public lounge where throngs of people wait for passengers to come out. Many people will be holding signs and also your driver will be there posting your name. That’s how you identify your driver. Make sure to have my phone number with you, you never know what can happen in a crowded and chaotic airport! Normally it takes about 40 minutes from the time when the plane lands until you actually get to the public lounge. If you see that it will take longer, for example if your luggage is lost or simply takes it a long time to come out, please call me from on the phone or ask the custom officer to let you come out for a second to tell your driver you’ll be late. We normally start getting restless after 45 minutes and we don’t wait any longer than two hours from planes landing time. From any Italian public or cell phone you just dial 3391718140, but if you carry a cell phone registered outside of Italy you also need to dial the country code +39 so the whole sequence should be: 00393391718140.
You’ll find the car (van) parked right on the pier where your ship docks at the time you set. Jack the Driver will hold a sign with your name on.
It surely isn’t a problem to meet my clients at their hotel, though it’s easier if they’re staying in a small hotel rather than a big one. The concierges of the small hotels know each and everyone of their guests so when I go in and ask for my clients they have no problem addressing me to them. That doesn’t always work when my clients stay in a big hotel. In this case it’s a lot easier for the clients to spot me than it is for me to spot them. The big hotel always have some space outside the door where I can park my car (van) so when I get to the hotel first I go to the concierge and ask for my clients and he calls them in their room to announce me and I tell them that I’ll be waiting for them outside near the car, but if they’re not in their room and the concierge can’t find them I just go back outside and wait near the car.
Arriving at the station, just as you come down from the train, you’ll see a person with a sign with your name right on the platform where the train pulls in. You should simply come down from your car and walk towards the head of the train until they see this person.
Are your prices per person?
Prices are per vehicle. Participants will share the cost between themselves, but will be your “homework” to find partners, I don’t do sharing service.
What is a Driver/Guide (DG) and a City Guide (Local Guide)? What do they do?
English Speaking Driver (ESD)
English Speaking Drivers (ESD) are all very experienced and used to hosting foreign tourists. They are all extremely familiar with the sights you will undoubtedly want to visit. If you have made a list of “must-sees” for any city you’ll want to visit, ESD’s will gladly take you wherever you may want to go. If by chance, however, you did not have the time or inclination to “do your homework” before traveling, the driver will design an itinerary that will include all the highlights. ESD’s will offer only very good information about the sights you will see. ESD’s speak very good English.
City Guide (Local Guide)
City Guides are those who are specialized and licensed to guide in one specific city or limited area. Local culture, history and traditions are so different from area to area – even from city to city – that no single guide can possibly become highly knowledgeable about a whole country or region. Therefore many local governments, especially in Europe, have chosen to assure the integrity of the local culture by licensing only those guides who have had a formal education and have proved to be knowledgeable and qualified to represent their area or city. Tours conducted by City Guides are often intense and detailed.
How do we finalize our booking? All I need to secure your booking…
I offer three different options to secure your booking, you can choose the one you feel more comfortable with:
You can pay or send a deposit using PayPal, you can find the button on “Services” page on this web site;
You can pay or send a deposit thru a PayPal form, I’ll forward it by email and you can fill it from home;
You can forward your credit card info by fax using my number +3908136177793. The credit card won’t be used as it is just for guarantee.
In case you send a deposit, it will be deducted from the amount at the time of your total payment.
PayPal is worldwide know as a reliable and secure way to make payments online and to send credit card info by separated emails never caused any damage to my customers.
If you need further clarifications on the payment, please give me a call, you are more than welcome to call me on my phone which is almost always on, from the US please dial my mobile 011-39-339-1718140.
Please, don’t forget the hourly difference before call, thanks!
Cancellation policy expect nothing to pay till 48 hours before the scheduled day/hour, while a full payment is required for no show.
Do your prices include taxes?
In Italy you pay a 10 % VAT tax (Value added Tax) on our services, it is already included in my prices.
Did you receive my e-mail? I maybe did, but are you sure your computer is enabled to receive my reply?
I always reply to my e-mails within 12 hours but sometimes people do not receive them. Please make sure your anti-spam program does not automatically trash my reply. Thank you!
How much should we tip?
Tips in Italy are not mandatory, but it’s customary to give them in proportion to the quality of the service received. It’s not a fix percentage as it is in the US, I could say it’s proportional to how much the service fulfils or exceeds the expectations.
So it’s not given in case of a mediocre service, it’s minimal in case of average and raises from there in a proportion the client decides. It is actually embarrassing to be asked how much tip is owed. A tip is a gift and we like to leave it to the client’s to judge if we deserve it and in what measure. If asked a waiter, porter, chamber maid, hotel concierge, driver guide or anybody else, if polite, will shyly tell you tip included and you don’t owe them anything. Everyone is happy to receive some extra money, but to ask for a tip or saying how much it should be is considered equivalent to begging. In conclusion, everyone expect a tip but no-one will tell you how much it should be. Italians are complicated aren’t they? But I’m not going to leave you without an answer, here comes some help:
let’s say at the average restaurant they will be happy with 10/15 %. The higher is the bill the smaller the tip. If the bill is 100 Euros 10/15 %, 15 Euros, are a good tip, but if the bill is 500 Euros would maybe be too much. Maybe 5 Euros a day for the chamber maid at the hotel would be the minimum.
Since we are using you in several ports or booking go & back transfers, can we get a better deal?
Sorry no discount, Shore excursions are already discounted packages and I cannot give you any further discounts on the prices of shore excursions.
In addition, if you book tours in more than one city or more than one car and driver in the same city your aren’t giving more business/money to one company, you’re always using independent driving guides.
I would also like to inform you that a lot of the money you pay me I have to spend on gas which is sold at 1,40 Euro per litre in Italy (converting litres to gallons and Euros to US Dollars you end up finding out we’re paying more than 7 USD per gallon!). Insurance, taxes, VAT, vehicle’s maintenance are most of the other expenses that made to form a price.
How should we dress when we go to the Vatican? Vatican dress code
Vatican dress code: Please be aware that there are monitors outside St. Peter’s, which has a very strict dress code: no skirts above the knee, no shorts, no bare shoulders (i.e., tank tops or sleeveless blouses), and you must wear shoes. You will not be permitted inside the basilica unless you are dressed appropriately. Slacks and jeans, however, are permitted. Appropriate Dress is a MUST! If you are out sightseeing in shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, sleeveless blouses, etc., and wish to enter a church, you must be dressed appropriately. People who monitor visitors in churches have the right to refuse entrance if in their opinion the visitor is dressed inappropriate to enter. One way to get around this is to carry long pants and a shirt/blouse with sleeves in a bag or backpack so that when you wish to enter a church, you can slip these garments on over your inappropriate attire before you enter. Strict dress codes are especially adhered to at St. Peter’s, so I wouldn’t even try to enter wearing short skirts, shorts, or sleeveless tops. You will be refused entrance. Again, no shorts, or sleeveless tops, but wearing jeans is okay.
Will you be our guide in Pompeii?
Pompeii guiding – Driving guides are not permitted to conduct guided tours of Pompeii/Herculaneum and Museums in general and I really recommend you hire a local guide. They charge about 120 Euros for two hours tour, but they are worth it. The alternative is to hire an audio guide, but the person guide is more interesting and interactive.
We drive you around and show you places. We’ll be pointing out things while driving and explain what they are, stop at the places that require a visit and help you visit them. Many clients who come to Italy frequently, and have had other experiences with licensed guides and driving guides, told me that I have a very good acknowledgement of my country.
I’ll be around to help you whenever you’ll need me, like if you go to a shop to buy something and the salesgirl there doesn’t speak English, or you want to order food at restaurant but the menu is only in Italian etc. etc.
In other words, I can maybe tell you about Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi Coast more than you want to hear about, but not necessarily will! But Amalfi Coast is not my only playground though, I can take you to Rome, Florence, Naples and its surroundings or anywhere else you’ll like to go. Often they hire me to go touring all-over Italy for one or two weeks. What I really enjoy is doing tours off the beaten path. Most people stay for only 2 or 3 days and that’s barely long enough to see the most famous places, the ones everybody knows and talks about. Sometimes instead I have customers who stay a little longer or have been in Italy before and do not need to go back to the classical sites. They give and they have a great time!
Can you assist us in other ports besides Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano?
Other ports – I’m part of a network of driving guides operating in Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Florence, Naples, Messina/Sicily. I can help you booking your shore excursions with qualified driving guides in the most important Italian ports.