Praise for All Around Italy

By Patrick L. Wikstrom
This item appears on page 26 of the January 2019 issue.

My wife and I highly recommend the private touring and transfer services of All Around Italy (Cerveteri, Rome; phone +39 334 334 6131,, which we used in Rome following a Mediterranean cruise. I found the company online and made reservations with them by email on Nov. 6. The contact person, Mary, was prompt, efficient and knowledgeable.

At 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2017, we were picked up in a private van by our driver, Valentino, at the disembarkation point in Civitavecchia. It took him about an hour to drive us into Rome, after which he took us on a prearranged driving tour of several sites in the city.

These included the Circus Maximus, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter-in-Chains Church, with its massive statue of Moses by Michelangelo), Spanish Steps, Pantheon and the Knights of Malta keyhole view of St. Peter's. In many locations, he had to let us out and drive off, as there was no immediate parking nearby.

We also did "drive-bys" of the Mussolini Balcony and the Vittoriano Monument.

Although not a licensed guide, Valentino gave us a running commentary about the places we visited, including their history and relevance, and answered our many questions.

He recommended we eat lunch at one of the several outdoor cafés in the Piazza della Rotonda, with views of the Pantheon. Then, at an agreed-upon time, he picked us up and we headed to Vatican City.

We also had arranged for a private tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. It's my understanding that guides at the Vatican are separately licensed, so AAI contracted with someone with those credentials for that part of the trip.

The gal knew exactly how to skip the lines so we could see everything we'd wanted to see, with shortcuts between the museum and the basilica.

Afterward, Valentino picked us up and took us to our boutique hotel, Residenza Maritti (Via Tor dé Conti; phone +39 06 67 88 233,, which overlooked the Forum.

The cost for our 8-hour private driving tour, including tolls, was 400 (near $456), which we paid in cash at the end of the day. We added a tip of 50-60. The private Vatican guide cost an additional 140, and we tipped her as well.

The whole day was a wonderful, whirlwind "bucket list" experience for my wife and me, and it was worth every penny.

All Around Italy is a fairly small, family company, but they have late-model vehicles, speak multiple languages, are exceedingly friendly and will design custom tours. They also were less expensive than several other pickup and tour businesses I contacted. I would rate the company 5 stars.

ITN readers who would like more info can email me at or contact me through ITN.

Warne, NC