NEW YORK -- Ten months after the Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened
following a 12-year, $25 million restoration, the crowds that used
to jostle for a chance to scale the famously skewed, eight-story
structure have returned.
Although access to the tilted belfry is more strictly controlled
than before -- with guided groups of no more than 40 at a time
allowed -- pent-up demand has lengthened lines at the ticket
But agents can try to ensure clients speedy entrance to the
tower prior to their departure for Italy now that upscale tour and
FIT operator Select Italy has added the tower to its online advance
museum reservations and ticketing service.
Tower of Pisa tickets are just one of more than 30
advance-ticketing or reservations offerings from Wilmette,
Ill.-based Select Italy; the company also recently added
reservations for tours of the Vatican Museums and Venice Card
visitors' passes to its product roster.
Advance ticketing and reservations also available for the Uffizi
Gallery, Academy Gallery, Medici Chapel and Boboli Gardens in
Florence, and tickets and reservations for the Vatican Necropolis
and Capitoline Museums -- with reservations only for the Vatican
Garden and a papal audience -- in Rome and Vatican City.
Select Italy also arranges tickets and reservations for viewings
of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" in Milan, among other
attractions, and packages institutions together in "combo"
Of course, such convenience comes at a price, and there's a $10
booking fee incorporated in the price of each advance ticket and
for most reservations, as well as a $50 flat fee -- not including
entrance -- for reservations at the Vatican.
Thus, entrance to the Tower of Pisa, priced at $15 per person
on-site, costs about $25 when booked with Select Italy.
But many clients have been more than happy to fork over the
extra cash, said Andrea Sertoli, president of the firm, which also
specializes in luxury and personalized FIT itineraries and
special-interest escorted tours to Italy.
"When clients go to the Uffizi and skip the lines, they're very
happy," he said.
Sertoli said he developed the service in response to client
inquiries about the all-in-one discount visitor cards that are
common throughout most of Europe, but rare in Italy.
"We've had clients say they were able to get a single pass in
Paris that allowed access like a credit card does," he said. "[But]
Italy's not like that; most museums are under different
administrations, which follow different procedures."
Additional perks for clients include the walking maps, discount
coupons and event listings included in ticket packets.
And there's added incentive for travel agents to reserve tickets
ahead, as well.
Although advance museum tickets also are available from some
online ticket offices -- such as the official Tower of Pisa site,
at www.opapisa.it/boxoffice, where advance tickets cost
about $17 each -- booking through Select Italy lets agents earn
commission on otherwise nonlucrative sales.
But patience is essential; rather than write a 10% commission
check for $1.90 on each $19 ticket, the company sends agents $50
every time a block of $500 in tickets has been sold.
"It must be looked at as a long-term collaboration," said
Soleri. "Agents might not be able to buy a Ferrari with the
commission, but it contributes to their stream of income."
For more information or reservations, contact Select Italy at
(800) 877-1755 or visit www.selectitaly.com.