Great day with Stefano!
We were picked up right at the cruise port, literally at the disembarkation point. The driver was 5 minutes late but he explained that he had to pick up the other 4 people on our tour at the other boat in town and one of the pairs had been a few minutes late (a recurring theme of the day). The six of us (two couples and a pair of older women) were comfortably seated in a van and we headed off to Pisa. We were able to make an extra stop at a historic square before arriving at the Leaning Tower site. Stefano parked behind the site and was very close for us to walk over. Because we were a small group we were able to agree that we wanted to take the time to climb the tower. Being there in October, we were able to book tickets only 15-20 minutes from our arrival. Climbing the tower was amazing, a total bucket list item, although certainly not an easy trek. We then had less than half an hour to see the rest of the site. We got back to the car right on time but then ended up waiting for almost a half-hour for the two women in our group. We stopped at a gorgeous overlook for a 10-minute photo break, half an hour later, the two older ladies wandered back. The rest of us made a couple of pointed comments about waiting for them and when we made a quick stop to see Michelangelo's David, we kept them on a short leash and stayed together as a group to keep them from wasting time. Then we had a brief break to grab lunch and do a little sightseeing on our own. Stefano brought those of us who were interested in his favorite pizza place, yum. My husband and I took off and saw the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo. Then Stefano offered to bring us to his favorite church Santa Croce, where many of the most famous residents of Florence were buried including Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and many others. Stefano was an amazing driver, keeping up a running patter of information interspersed with funny anecdotes all while whipping through tiny city streets and pulling into minuscule parking spots. Having a semi-private tour really allowed it to be customized for what we were all interested in doing while still being significantly cheaper than a private tour or the ship excursion.