We used Stella for a tour of Siena, with a focus on the history of Jewish life and the synagogue. Before I left for Italy friends told me that I did not need a tour guide, that I could see the synagogue on my own with a guide provided at the synagogue. They were right. The guide at the synagogue was knowledgeable and spend a lot of time with us. Stella was not really necessary. As I thought about our time with her, I realize that we paid a lot of money for a three hour tour, at least an hour of which was in the synagogue. I would have preferred if she would have let us know in advance that she was not needed for the synagogue, only for the rest of Siena. I feel like we got cheated out of learning about this wonderful place because first, we did not have enough time to see much, and second, because she used some of our remaining time to visit two places for the sole purpose of encouraging us to buy things. After leaving Siena I visited two other towns in Tuscany where I used tour guides who were much better. They gave us a full sense of the towns we were visiting, used our time wisely, and never brought us into any stores for the purpose of making a commission. I think Stella probably has the capacity to be a good guide- she is knowledgeable and energetic and lovely to deal with, but we just felt that we did not get full value for our investment.
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