I’ve read in a few places on this forum that English isn’t prominent once you get to the smaller Italian towns. If we want to explore some smaller towns, would it be a good idea to hire a personal tour guide who can speak both languages? Would that be worth the money? We’ve also been considering getting a driver because we’re not sure how comfortable we’d be driving in Italy. I know that traffic can be a little wild in the cities, but is it nerve-racking in less populated areas as well?
I think it comes down to personal taste. Most tour guides have an agenda and may not be very flexible. For language purposes there are superb translation apps if you have a smartphone.
As for hiring a driver, if you are not confident driving in a foreign country it might be the way for you. Maybe you could find a company with drivers who are also tour guides.
There are tour-operators specialized in incoming services to Italy that offer the opportunity to book a personal “accompagnatore”, someone who guides you around your chosen itinerary. Obviously you have to consider this kind of service will cost you more.
The traffic in the smaller towns is not as crazy as in the big cities. The streets are generally narrow, though, because many towns have Medieval origins.
Booking a personal “accompagnatore” sounds right up my alley. It makes sense that it would be the more expensive option. That’s okay with me when it also sounds like the most ideal option. I’ll have to check them out and see if they’re within my budget.
Narrow roads can be a bit scary to me. I’m used to having a lot of space on the road. Of course, Italian cars are a lot smaller than ours. I’ll have to give it some more thought.
Thanks for the help you two!
How to find a licensed private guide in Italy
You can get a list of officially sanctioned and licensed guides from the local tourist office—but that’s all you get: a list. Some travel guidebooks will recommend a local guide or two (someone who often doubles as the local stringer the publisher uses to update the information in the book).
Aside from a direct recommendation from a friend who’s been there before and used a guide, your best bet for finding a local guide is to book one via a third party:
English and French are spoken in the tourism industry almost everywhere.
Yes, many Italians do not know English (the absolute majority), but you can orient, read inscriptions and even listen to ads in the metro.
Take a well-detailed guidebook and a small phrasebook, you can hire a car with a driver (he will be your guide as well) for the whole trip.
Weill I think it’s normal to have a tour guide if you want to visit some certain places, but just for the language, the technology right now doing a great job specially by translating some English words to the language you preferred. If you want to hire driver, it should be your tour guide at the same time.
I don’t think I would be hiring a personal tour guide unless I could find a very affordable one. I think I would likely stick to group tours. I think to tour certain historical sites a tour guide would be in order though.