Tuscany, Italy is worth a month of your time. At least. I didn’t believe it either, but as soon as I started to plan our 2-week trip, I quickly realized just how much there is to see, do, eat, and drink. As an American, there’s something that draws us to Tuscany. How do you really and truly experience this ridiculously beautiful and special region? That’s easy. For part of your visit, take a small group tour of Tuscany.
Why? Why take a small group tour (or private if you prefer that!) instead of renting a car and going at it yourself? Well, I went through the pros and cons in this post but I’m going to spell it all out for you here.
Keep in mind that we all have different travel personalities, but if you clicked on this article, I’m guessing you and I may be similar in this respect!
This article is specifically about KM Zero Tours — a company we’ve recently worked with. We were invited by Arianna and Alessio, so this tour was complimentary so that we can share our experiences with you.
1 | No driving necessary
There are a few reasons why I highlight this first. Car rentals can be expensive, especially if you’re like me and need a car with an automatic transmission. The price also goes up if you add a second driver and of course if you want to add insurance. Extra costs will be gas, tolls, and parking, so keep that in mind.
Most of the roads were fine to drive on but once you get on the smaller roads, things can get very scary. They may be super windy or just incredibly narrow with no room on either side. And parking, oh geez. That is such a nightmare that people don’t mention with these ancient hilltop towns. Good luck finding parking! And the roads start to get really weird close to these towns. We encountered a 6-way intersection and a round-about that didn’t make much sense because some had the right of way whereas others had the yield (I’m used to everyone going into the round-about having the yield!).
For me, there is a lot of stress involved in car rentals. I feel like I’m definitely going to scratch the vehicle or something will happen to it. That is not relaxing!
Ok, I think I’ve made my point!
2 | It’s all-inclusive
This is a big one for me (and is specific to KM Zero Tours. There are no surprises! They’ll pick you up when you arrive in the region, drive you around, provide all the activities, book the agriturismo, and include all meals. Obviously, the agriturismo is if you choose a multi-day adventure, which I HIGHLY recommend. But they also offer day trips.
One price covers it all, with no surprises. Like this cooking class. It was the best cooking class I’ve experienced. While it was included, the smiles were free! lol! Yes, I was going for cheesy on that one 😉 You can even watch part of our cooking class in our YouTube video.
Sure, you could rent a car, price it all out, book everything yourself, try to not get lost, keep to a schedule while trying to find a parking spot, or you can have the luxury of not worrying about a thing and only need to enjoy your glass of Chianti Classico with an epic view of the rolling hills.
3 | Experience Tuscany like nobody else
Seriously, I had no idea I could have the kinds of experiences I had in Tuscany. I literally didn’t think it was possible. There are things you can do on this tour that you just can’t do on your own, at the very least, you wouldn’t know they were possible. Take our Florentine steak evening at the home of a Olive Oil farmer and winemaker with the most epic sunset view I’ve ever seen, for example. While I knew we’d be having dinner with Tobias, I didn’t know it was a full-on family meal, with an outdoor antipasto table, a deck built for sunset views, with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Oh, and a massive Florentine steak cooked on the outdoor grill.
Because you travel with locals who have relationships around the region, you aren’t just doing traditional “tour stops”. These aren’t touristy places. They are small businesses with a passion that is seen in their products.
If you watch our foodie Tuscany video, just listen to Michele talk about his products. I actually teared up. These are the products and souvenirs you want to take home. For reference, we bought 7 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of olive oil, and 3 jars of honey.
You meet real people, not just tour guides, or marketing people. You meet the families and you build relationships. That’s much more difficult on your own.
4 | Drink without fear of driving
You don’t have to worry about the amount of wine you drink because YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE! Ok, I’m not saying you should get drunk. I’m just saying that you don’t have to think about if you’ve had too much at a tasting to drive. That’s important in a region famous for wine!
When we were traveling independently after our small group tour, I let Sean order wine and I would have a sip. We ate at a restaurant with a Michelin star and I did not get the wine pairing. Cue tears streaming down my face Not only is it not smart to drive after drinking, but the road to get there was scary. Having next to zero wine in my system was the best option. Just wish I could’ve enjoyed it more.
5 | Less to think about
I’m a planner. I like to know things are taken care of and therefore tend to do it myself. (yes, I’m a bit of a control freak)
Booking a tour so you don’t have to worry if everything is taken care of is so freeing for someone like me. Of course, if you take a private tour, you’ll do some work ahead of time trying to pick out which of the awesome offerings you want to do, but if you book a pre-scheduled small group tour, then you have ZERO to worry about. Get yourself there and you’re basically done.
Staying on schedule is another biggie for me. I’ve already mentioned my frustration with finding parking when visiting the hilltop towns, well, I didn’t have to think about that at all…or how long it would take to walk to-and-from the parking lots. Normally, we were dropped off and picked up close to the center of town or we were able to park close to the towns we explored. We also had built-in tour guides, so we didn’t waste time getting lost or meeting up with a tour.
The timing of leaving one place to get to another wasn’t on us. And we were never pushed to leave somewhere. Somehow Arianna and Alessio kept us on track with subtle clues instead of “you have 5 minutes and then we need to go”. There’s always so much pressure involved in that kind of timing.
If you can’t tell, I really, REALLY liked not having to think.
6 | It’s actually a small group
For a small group tour in Tuscany with KM Zero Tours, it’s a very small group with a max of 8-10 people. This means that there aren’t 25-50 people trying to talk to the guide. You can make a few new friends and know that you aren’t infiltrating a town with a massive bus and a hoard of people that collect stares from everyone else. Instead, you’re hanging out with your Tuscan friends.
This makes it much nicer when you meet these small business owners because you can really get to know them and they can get to know you. It’s all about connect which is so important.
Of course, you can keep it a SUPER small group and do a private tour! It’s completely up to you.
Everyone travels differently and has a different idea of their dream vacation. This is it for us. Is it for you?
How do you like to travel? I’d really love to know, so leave me a comment below.
Wishing you joy and travels!