Some of the best English speaking driving-guides in Italy for tours, shore excursions, day trips, journeys through Italy. Private tours by car or minivan. Narrated tours for small groups.

Some of the best driving guides in Rome and Italy
Paolo Apolloni; Paolo Fanti; Francesco Bartalini; Sergio Astarita; Emilo Mentrasti; Roberto Contursi; Michael "Zorba" Agostino; Rotilio "Rudy" Grimaccia; Gianni (Johnny) Musella; Vincenzo (Vince) Macrž; Pietro (15 places) Frezza; Daniele Melaragno; Paolo Di Gregorio.
   
No way, I cannot do all the tours myself. This business is such that one day three different groups of tourists want to go on a tour with you and the following day no one needs you. And it's for my colleagues also. The good season for us is generally from May to October, and we need to work as much as possible while it's on to be sure we can pay our bills in the winter. When what I described above happens, you don't like it, but it happens all the time! That's why we all need our friends to help. Your friends can give you business when you don't have any and be sure you'll return them the favor at the first opportunity. This page introduces the friends who could be be doing the tours for you if I should be to busy to take care of you personally. It goes without saying that I'd love my motto to be: "If you book with me it's me you get!". But I'm more realistic than the English colleague who put that motto on his website, I need my friends!                                                                                            paolo@drivinguide.com Paolo Apolloni
 

Paolo Fanti is naturally the first one that I want to introduce, where would I be without him? He and my other good friend Francesco Bartalini live in Florence and do tours in that area. They do the tours in the Tuscany region for me and you'd meet one of the two of them, or one of their associates, if you book with me for a shore excursion from Livorno or a tour of Tuscany. They do a great job and they assist the clients in many ways, from booking their visits to the museums to suggesting great restaurants. They also provide walking guides for tours of the city of Florence on foot, which is the best way to see it. Our friendship is such that often I stay at his place when I'm in Florence and we go on vacation together whenever we can. The fact that we are both named Paolo confused a lot of people in the past, so we an agreed that only after a booking is finalized we pass it on to the other. We tried to do it differently in the past and it was a mess! That's why carefully avoided putting his e-mail or URL here. www.drivingguidetours.com

Paolo Fanti's interview with Melanie Cole part1

Paolo Fanti's interview with Melanie Cole part2

Paolo Fanti
Francesco Bartalini (yes, that's really his picture, not a painting by Michelangelo) is Paolo Fanti's partner in business and works as a driving guide but is also licensed to operate as local guide for the city of Florence. He has a deeper knowledge of the city of Florence than most driving guides have and he can take his clients inside churches, museums etcetera. Florence is a rather small city and it's considered "walkable" by most tourists who therefore hire a local guide to walk its streets. Some people prefer to drive though and hiring Francesco they can save money and time hiring one person to do the job of two. In fact, wanting to do a tour of Florence without having to walk it, he alternative is to hire a driver and a guide. But of course is likes to work as a driving guide and show visitors the lovely countryside outside of Florence, that's what driving guides who operate in Tuscany mostly do, and especially that gives him the chance to often return to his beloved native Sienna. Francesco Bartalini
Emilo Mentrasti is the most courteous and kind person I know. Being courteous and kind obviously helps in this business, but it takes a lot more than that to be successful, and he is. He drives a beautiful Mercedes, and a Volkswagen minivan when he has larger groups. Emilio is somewhere in his 50's and has been in this business for about 15 years (I think, I've always seen him around, but I never asked him when he started) and had acquired the necessary experience to become a real good driving guide. Obviously speaks good English, but also Spanish and Portuguese. He has a Brazilian clientele that keeps him busy even in the winter. Lucky guy! Emilio Mentrasti
Roberto Contursi, who everyone calls "Robertino" because of his size (Robertino means "tiny Roberto") is the nicest guy. He always has a smile for you (except for when you want to take his picture at 7 am at the port of Civitavecchia) and all the ladies think he's really cute. Though he's rather young, he's in his late 30's, he has more experience than most in this business. Just like my brother and I he's in it by trade, his father and my father collaborated just like we do now. Speaks excellent English and knows Rome and Italy really well. He's one of the few who can get you anywhere in the Vatican any time you like, as long as you're willing to pay the price! He has a few things in common with my brother: they where both born on November 10, they're both single, they both love to take time off, they're both good looking and now they also both have lousy pictures on this page! Roberto Contursi
Rotilio "Rudy" Grimaccia - Is a great driving guide and a good friend. He's just the person the picture shows you, a very good character, always smiling and laughing. He's anxious to learn all there is to learn about Rome and Italy and reads any book he can lay his hands on. He wants to tell you everything he knows about this country, and since timeis always short, he talks fast. Slow him down!  He likes art, philosophy, politics, history ...and shooting! Yes, that's his hobby. Whenever he has time he grabs his gun and rides his scooter to a shooting range. This hobby comes from having served 5 years in the Italian police (Carabinieri) as a sniper. All the clients that toured with him loved him.

Michael "Zorba" Agostino has always been around. He was friends with my father and my brother calls him "uncle Zorba" Everybody called him "Zorba the Greek" when he was younger because he was dark skinned, tall, beefy and quarrelsome just like Anthony Quinn in the movie. He spends most of his time working as a guide at the Vatican Museums, but also drives a beautiful Volkswagen minivan and loves to take people in it and show them his beloved Rome. Loves to play chess. On summer you can find him sitting on the steps of St. Peter's Square playing his favored game after a day's work. Don't challenge him. Speaks excellent English, German, French and Spanish. Loves Opera and knows all about it.

Michele "Zorba" Agostino

Gianni (Johnny) Musella is a good friend, a really nice guy and, obviously, a really good driving guide. He spent several years of his life in the USA when he served in the Italian Navy and was stationed in Washington D.C.. Speaks good English and has good sense of humor. He knows his history, though sometimes after hearing his clients calling St. Peter's Basilica  "the Cathedral" he calls it that too, but he knows well it isn't a cathedral! He knows the territory really well and can plan your tour with military precision. He loves going to Tuscany and he's really familiar with that area. Just like me he drives either a Mercedes sedan or a minivan. The minivan he's driving right now he a FIAT, but he'll replacing it with the new Mercedes "Viano" in June. When I think of him the adjective that comes to my mind to describe him is "jolly". I guarantee you'll like him.

Gianni "Johnny" Musella

Vincenzo (Vince) Macrž is "new" in this business. He's been doing it for about ten years, but loves it. Speaks good English and has a very good sense of humor. His family moved to the States when he was little and he did his schools there. Then they came back, and now that I'm thinking of it I realize I never asked him why. He loves Rome, keeps reading books about it and them coming to me for clarifications. He knows Rome really well though he thinks of himself that he's ignorant, but that's the effect this city has on you: the more you learn about it the more you realize how much there is to learn! He' a little overweight but surprisingly agile, he moves faster than people who weigh 50 pounds less then him.

Vincenzo is in a better world now, but I'll not remove him from my website.

Vincenzo Macrž

Pietro (15 places) Frezza is the biggest guy in the group. He's only about 5 foot tall, but he's got the biggest van! We call him "Pietro-15-places". He's in his 50's and he's practically always been a driving guide, but he's only been self-employed for the last 5 years or so. They wouldn't give him a license to operate with a car, but they gave him one for a bus. He's a nice little guy who speaks good English and Spanish, knows Rome and Italy well and is quite funny. The biggest van a driving guide uses has maximum eight seats so Pietro and his minibus come in really handy for larger groups. He's a rarity, usually those who drive these larger vehicles don't speak any English and you're forced to hire a guide to go along.

Pietro "15 places" Frezza
Paolo Di Gregorio is the taxi driver I use in Capri. His great grand father had a horse and carriage, his grand-father and his father drove taxis and so do his brother and his son. Always in Capri. Would you think he knows the place? Until a few years ago the taxis in Capri were all FIAT cars from the 50's and 60's, stretched, to get an extra row of seats in them, and convertible. Little by little they all did away with them except for Paolo who still drives the same car his father drove. You must to see it! Paolo Di Gregorio
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