Any opinion about Road Scholar tours, especially in Italy?

I want to see Florence before I die, and would like to spend about a week there, probably in mid-autumn, with a small group that looks after us (travel arrangements, a decent room, most meals, good museum tours, etc.), while allowing everyone some independence. Getting there on one's own is not that easy, and my Italian is rusty. Including air fare from SFO, plus ground transportation, Road Scholar comes to about $1,000 for each full day in the city. I really don't want the sort of tour that rushes from town to town, which is what attracts me to Road Scholar. Any advice/recommendations, apart from Rick Steves?

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I haven't been on a Road Scholar trip but I've made a lot of trips in Europe, including Florence for a week as part of a longer Italy trip. Usually I make all the plans myself because I'm picky and I don't like going around in tour groups. But I would totally do a Road Scholar "Independent" trip where you stay in one city for a week and have a lot of freedom to do what you want.  The trip I looked at on their website was Florence for 8 days (6 nights).  They figure out the hotel for you, which is a headache to do on your own, and give you a Firenzecard which you'd want to get anyway.   There is an activity every morning, the major stuff, such as a trip to the Uffizi, or the Accademia, or the Duomo, or a lecture at the hotel about the city's history. The lectures are a big plus in my book. Then in the afternoon you do what you want - they give suggestions. On the Uffuzi day, I personally would stay at the museum all day since there would be no one bugging me that it's time to go. Then I'd take a leisurely walk back to the hotel, stopping somewhere along the way for food!  Florence is very walkable and of course it is a very beautiful city with all sorts of hidden delights. Not being in a big tour group would be the perfect way to see it. Some of my best memories from Florence were little things like happening upon a cafe in a side street and hanging out there with my friend for an hour, or trying out different gelato places.  This Road Scholar trip is not that expensive - you have to arrange the airfare yourself but it looks like maybe 5 grand for 8 days including the airfare. I think that's a pretty good deal and I would do it in heartbeat whether I were traveling solo or with a couple of friends.

I heartily recommend Roadscholar, especially for Italy.  The guides are great, the curriculum is well developed and appropriate for travelers.  You will feel "taken care of" and yet you can usually take a day or part of day on your own.  Best of all, the other travelers are usually very interesting and interested in learning.  We have made lasting friendships on all of our trips. DM if you want to know more.

Recently I received a postcard from a company called "Collette:  Explore the World".  I have not used their services, but it looked plausible.