LOCAL TOUR GUIDE
I am Antonella, a Licensed Local Tour Guide for Siena and Tuscany but also Wine Expert, Official Cheese and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Taster. I love my job, meeting new people and share my passion for this beautiful part of the world.
Come with me and discover this paradise!
The following are a selection of ideas for possible guided tours but please contact me if you wish to create a personalized tour combining art, history, scenery, cheese, extra virgin olive oil and wine. I would be happy to satisfy all of your requests.
Antonella was a golden highlight of our trip to Italy. She is knowledgable, passionate about her work, has a fantastic sense of humor, gracious, warm, and beautiful in every way. You will feel as though you have been adopted by a lovely Italian woman who shows you what only the locals know. Our three hours went by too quickly it was so entertaining and fabulous.
Antonella is simply one of the best tour guides you will ever meet. In fact she has changed the way we travel— because after a tour with her we realized how richer a travel experience can be when you do it with someone who knows an area so intimately. Antonella is funny, warm and any moment spent in her company will be a joy for everyone. Her knowledge of Sienna, of art and history is impressive but never overbearing. I can’t recommend her tours enough!
We were lucky enough to connect with Antonella prior to our Cortona wedding in September 2018 and she arranged a 50 person bus, driver, and two spectacular winery tours and beautiful outdoor lunch for us and our guests in Montalcino. Antonella is knowledgeable, stylish, and hilarious. The men wanted to kiss her and the women wanted to be her (or at least be her best friend). You will be in the best hands with Antonella and I definitely would recommend her for any Tuscan adventure.
My husband and I were referred to Antonella by very well-traveled friends, and I am so glad we took them up on it. Antonella picked us up at our hotel in the morning and took us with a driver through some of the greatest towns in nearby in Tuscany. Antonella planned a perfect day for us: a wine tasting, tours through the towns, a perfect lunch at a delicious local spot, followed by the best gelato we’ve ever had, and led us to some fantastic boutiques and beautiful vistas. Antonella is incredibly knowledgeable, funny, and a pleasure to get to know and to spend the day with. She knows all the history of the area, the best spots, and is friends with many proprietors and people in the towns.
We booked Antonella to tour the Chianti region. Her selection of wineries were excellent. We visited four wineries with Antonella. It was an exceptional day. The hosts at the wineries were friendly and gracious. The people at the winery were eager to help and we sampled numerous wines. At our midday winery visit we had a fantastic Tuscan lunch. It was one of the best meals of our trip. Antonella is very knowledgeable not only of the Chianti region but all of Tuscany. She explained the history of the wineries and talked about the wines that we were drinking. She has a great personality and is easy to talk with. By the end of our tour, my wife and two daughters felt like we were part of her family.
It is always a good idea to book your local tour guide in advance, especially when you are visiting during high season (May through September). However, I may have had a cancellation in which case I would be able to accommodate you. If it is not possible for me to be your local tour guide, I would be happy to recommend a colleague with whom I collaborate regularly. The tour is normally paid in advance with WISE or credit card (commission on these payments to be paid by the client) or occasionally at the end of the tour with credit card or cash. Entrance fees, tastings and transport are not included, I am happy to accompany you in your own vehicle. If, however, you would like to completely relax and enjoy the experience fully I can organize a quote for a driver and car. For a lot of the tours (like Siena) a car is not necessary.
Every season has its charm in Tuscany. The majority of tourists prefer to come in high season from April through to October. However, November is also a fantastic time with the new Olive Oil, white truffles, chestnuts, and also the peace and tranquility of fewer tourists and a very pleasant climate. The summer months can be very hot and as such we recommend that you stay in a villa with a pool. A large part of our music festivals and village fairs take place from June through to September.
The closest airports to my area are Pisa and Florence. Rome is approximately 2,5 hours by car.
Driving in this part of Tuscany is pleasant and easy. I’m afraid public transport is rather limited therefore the best solution is to have a car. If you require a private driver I would be happy to put you in contact with some colleagues. This way you get to completely relax and also drink during the wine tours. If on the other hand you prefer to drive your own car, I will supply you with all the necessary information, directions, parking places and meeting places. In the town centers it is important not to enter the areas known as ZTL, limited traffic areas, where you will be fined for doing so.
It would be best to bring credit cards (Visa or Mastercard) which are accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops. Not many shops accept American Express. Lots of items are still paid for in cash so I recommend that you also withdraw a certain amount of cash from an ATM every day. Your own bank usually offers the best exchange rates and commission and the daily limit is Euro 250,00. I would strongly advise NOT to bring Travellers Cheques as the exchange rate is very high or to carry too much cash for security reasons.
Certainly! Children are always welcome and as a local tour guide, I can tell them lots of interesting anecdotes and fun stories to keep them amused. A stop at the Gelateria (Ice Cream Shop) is absolutely essential!
If you are traveling during the hotter season (May through to September) I recommend that you bring a sun screen lotion, a bottle of water and a scarf to cover your shoulders when visiting churches and chapels.
Yes! Rain or shine I conduct my guided tours. On rare occasions, if there is a particularly bad day, some of the outdoor activities may be cancelled (for example Truffle Hunting). In this instance we can discuss alternative options.
Yes of course. Most of my guided tours are suitable for buggies/prams. However, there are certain activities that may prove too difficult, for example truffle hunting in the open countryside or steep cobblestoned streets in some of the town centers.
It is not necessary to book any of the museums that we cover on my tours, also, as a local tour guide I have access to a special Fast Track entrance lane. The only place where it is necessary to book in advance is at the Cathedral in Siena for the “Gate of Heaven”.
When visiting churches during the summer months, both men and women should have their shoulders and knees covered. So even if it is 40o outside, once inside you must NOT have bare shoulders. Shorts and skirts must be knee length (bare shoulders seem to be more important). Sleeveless shirts or short sleeved shirts are acceptable. If you are in any doubt it is always wise to bring a light shawl or scarf in your bag just in case. Men must remove their hats when entering a church. A lot of the smaller churches do not have the personnel to check that visitors are dressed appropriately therefore it is appreciated if one complies. At the Siena Cathedral there are staff members to check the dress code and if they notice that someone has not complied or is unaware of the rules they will supply a single use cloth to cover shoulders, knees or other exposed areas so as to allow access to the church.
One of the most beautiful books is “War in the Val d’Orcia” by Iris Origo. A classic, about the second world war. Written like a diary it recounts the daily life of Iris Origo at La Foce, today a stunning example of formal gardens which are open to the public. The Decameron (by Giovanni Boccaccio 1348). A collection of 100 short stories ranging from the erotic to the tragic. A true italian masterpiece which inspired Chaucer, Keats and Shakespeare. The Prince by Machiavelli. The Italians by Luigi Barzini – In this full portrait of the italian population, this best selling author, editor, journalist and politician, Luigi Barzini , delves deep into the italian soul discovering its most precious qualities but also its imperfections. Under the Tuscan sun? I would say NO! If you come on my tour I will explain why. 🙂
Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972) by Franco Zeffirelli. Scenes shot in San Gimignano. Tea with Mussolini (1999). Franco Zeffirelli’s look at pre-war Florence which involves an English woman, a rich American jew and the son of a local businessman all concerned about the rise of fascism. Filmed in San Gimignano. The English Patient by Anthony Minghella, filmed in Pienza and the Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprenna. Gladiator by Ridley Scott. All of the country scenes were shot in the Val d’Orcia including those of the villa. Nostalghia by Tarkovsky 1983 filmed between Bagno Vignoni and San Galgano. Quantum of Solace (James Bond). In the first part of the film James Bond uses the Palio as a backdrop for a chase scene. Romeo and Juliet (1968) Franco Zeffirelli chooses Pienza rather than Verona to shoot his masterpiece. Under the Tuscan Sun. Again NO! I will explain why if you take my tour. 🙂