If you’re traveling to Italy this year and it’s your very first time, you’re going to want to consider a few factors before you get stuck in the tourist traps. Tuscany is a magical place if you do it the right way, but it can be a nightmare if you get caught up in the same tourism loops as everyone else. You’ll be charged ridiculous prices for average wine and food and you’ll be having an experience that isn’t unique to you, but straight out of a holiday brochure. Here’s a few ideas that’ll help you to have the perfect Tuscan vacation.

Get a local tour guide. Getting yourself a local tour guide can be a terrible idea, but if you choose the right one, it can make your holiday the greatest adventure of your life. In the case of Tuscany, you’ll want to consider Through Eternity Tours. They know the region like the back of their hand and will provide you with a wealth of inside knowledge about the place that other guides could only dream of offering.

Avoid flying into Florence. If you’re still in the planning stages of your trip and haven’t yet booked your flight, you might want to consider flying into Rome and hiring a car from there. The reason for this is because the Florence airport is significantly quieter when it comes to incoming and outgoing flights, so they simply have to charge more for each flight that lands there. If you fly into Rome, the flight will not only be cheaper, but hiring the car will cost you less. The savings will be hard to ignore. The drive from Rome to Florence is only a few hours, and it’s a scenic one at that.

Pair up. Traveling is always a lot more fun when you have someone to share in the adventure. If you’re going it alone, all you’ll have is your camera and a few strangers that you meet along the way. So pair up with a friend and you’ll find that you’ll naturally meet more people along the way. Before you know it, you’ll have a gang of adventurers and it’ll be the holiday of a lifetime. It’s also worth considering booking a villa if you’re traveling in a small group. You’d be amazed at the savings you can make if you go down that route. Hotels and hostels in Italy tend to be quite expensive, so you’ll be saving on the accommodation expenses as well as meals and exorbitant service charges and tips.

Avoid the peak seasons. Tuscany can be pretty unbearable in the summer months. Not only is it a little too hot to do anything, but it’s also the peak tourism season and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Americans talking about the same things that you want to get away from in the first place. If you want the true Tuscan experience, without having to pay pumped up tourist prices, then you’ll want to book your tickets for Spring or Fall. You’re trip will be a whole lot more enjoyable for making this decision.