Our travel company was very good and we have no concerns highly recommending them. We would definitley use them again. We had private drivers and guides during our entire 21 day trip. Every one of them was on time and professional. We only had one issue with one driver. All the rest were fantastic. The driver in question did not know the roads and had to turn around twice and bacially start over from our hotel. Then we got lost when we finally arrived (45 minutes late) at our destination. But he was so nice and apologetic, that we felt bad for him.
We loved the all the hotels except the one in the Piedmonte wine region. It was a very nice room but the location was too isolated and no real view. We had to eat at the hotel or take a long and pricey cab ride to Alba. The food was delicious but the main restaruant did not change their menu in spite of them telling us it would be another menu. And it was somewhat limited menu. But they did serve us so many extra intriguing small bites (like French Laundry in Napa but at a much better price).
The other hotel rooms were just spectacular. Especially our hotels in Stresa, Lake Como, and Santa Margarita. The hotels in Paris and Milan were very good with great locations but cannot compare to the others.
We took 3 private boats tours. All were fantastic. And all the private tours and guides were amazing except the day in Lugano. We should have been told that everything is closed on Sunday but the churches. We could have easily changed days. And also we had a 8 hour tour but the guide was only with us 2 hours and that was the confused driver so we had no idea how to fill the rest of our time. Luckily the guide decided to go back to Como with us and told us what to do and see so that worked out. However, if we would have know, we would not have gone to Lugano. We hate to waste time in a car. That is another reason we did not like the hotel in Piedmonte wine area. We had to drive an hour or so to get to our winery tours or towns.
The Effiel tower dinner was fantastic but we had no view. That was very disapointing as we were celbrating our 50th wedding anniversary.
And lastly in Milan, we were expecting to see the "Last Supper" painting. The guide told us that day we did not have tickets. The two things I said I wanted to see there was the Dumo and the painting. And I told them that early on in our planning. Somehow that information was not gicen to us. Our guide was extremly knowledgeable of her city. We did not know that we had to catch a cab back to our hotel. Since it was our last day, we had just enough euros left for the guide's tip. So she received a smaller one than we plannedbecuase we had to pay for the cab. At no other time on the trip, we were responsible for getting back to the hotel on our own.
Overall, we loved the trip. In fact, we think it was our best trip yet. And we travel a lot. We had fantastic and helpful staff in the hotels, the food and wine was awesome, the views even better. The wine tasting was amazing. We ordered 3 1/2 cases. And every tasting gave us so much food we never needed lunch.
The private tour of Giverney was great. Also we loved all the boat tours. We took a 8 hour boat tour in Lake Maggioire and Lake Como amd a 2 hour tour of Cinque Terra. Definitely do those. Just wonderful. Our guide in Lake Maggiore, the skipper in Lake Como and the skipper on the sea in Monterresso were the best. Our lunch and breakfast at Lake Como, the lunch we had on the fisherman's island near Stresa, and the dinner at a wonderful restaurant in Stresa were the highlights for food. But the late afternoon picnics in our rooms with the most georgeous views on our balconies are also memorable. And the fun tuffle hunter with his 2 little dogs was so much fun. What an interesting man. Our young driver in the wine area for two days was great. He was also like a guide. He even told us we tipped him too much! And I will never forget the driver in Cinque Terra. He was excellent. The roads are so steep and narrow with many reckless drivers but he was amazing.
Out two favorite places were Stresa and Santa Margarita. The water was so clear everywere and we really lucked out on the weather. We walked to Portofino in a gentle rain and had a wonderful lunch. I could go on and on.
When I was critical is so that others don't make our mistakes and for the agency to correct the few errors they made for future clients.
Eat somewhere else with a view of the Eiffel tower and then just go up the Eiffel Tower and have champagne. The agency acutally had that as a suggestion. We should have taken it.
We would stay in Stresa longer than 3 days and take the public ferry to lots of the little villages. Thank you to our agent for suggesting Lake Maggoire in the first place! Same for the wine area. Stay longer in a town and go to new wineries. We loved all the ones we went to but want to taste more. Also, go see and stay at Lake Orta. Heard it is amazing.
After the boat tour in Cinque Terra with the fun skipper who knew his history and geology, we should have stayed in Monterosso. My DUMB idea to have the driver take us to Vernassa. Two hours drive of extremely steep road and not much there anyway. Monterosso bigger, better and more shops and eateries.
Eat more Italian pastries and and drink more Italian wine. Surprisingly, they were better than French pastries and wine. Which really shocked us. We have been to both countries before a number of times but this trip Italy stole our hearts and our stomachs!
Don't wait so long to return!
Travel Company Comments
Thank you very much for taking the time to write us such a detailed and heartfelt review. I know you had a long trip and many details to share, and we are always happy to receive a feedback like yours, which is not only appreciated for recognizing a job well done, but especially to allow us to analyze and improve our performance in the future. I am so glad to hear you and your husband enjoyed your trip to Paris and Italy; and most of all that we could be part of such a special celebration.
I took some time to talk to all the partners that were involved in your itinerary and they were all very happy to learn of your enthusiasm for the French and Italian culture, art and food. Thank you for the thorough feedback both on your accommodations and your itinerary.
The Hotels we booked for you in Stresa, Tremezzo and Santa Margherita Ligure were definitely the most scenic ones and this, coupled with an excellent and hospitable team, always makes them stand out among others. I wanted to spare a few words on your accommodation in Piedmont. I must say most of the best properties in the area are scattered across the beautiful Langhe hills, and not very close to major towns or cities, but closer to the famous Barolo wineries, so that is why we recommend them. The idea is to spend the entire time relaxing and enjoying the stunning local landscapes,however I do understand one can feel a bit secluded since the closest towns are a bit far.
The wineries we were able to take you to are some of the best of the area and in Italy, and we are happy to learn you enjoyed the wines to the point of making an order. Furthermore, the truffle hunter and his dogs really enjoyed meeting you and showing you how the hunt works. He sends his best regards.
The properties we booked for you in Paris and Milan, while always top quality, have the disadvantage to be located in the city center of two of the busiest cities in Europe, where spaces, noises and renovations can impact the quality of your stay much more than some "easier locations". However we value them especially for the level of service they are able to provide in terms of price/quality ratio, food&beverage, location and overall hospitality level. It is also true that Hotels serve a very generous breakfast, and I appreciate your note on the time we allocated for meals during your tours. We are always flexible to modify the schedule of each tour and activity based on each traveller's preferences and needs.
I wish we received some of your comments earlier, so we could have taken immediate action. What we can definitely do is to note down your feedback for our performance review, so we can keep improving the quality of our services for the future, and I thank you for giving us this opportunity. I am sorry to hear the Eiffel tower dinner did not meet your expectations fully. While the food is really good, I believe that the fact that the top tier restaurant was closed for renovations and we had to reserve your anniversary dinner at the 2nd tier restaurant, had an impact on the atmosphere of the dinner itself. I remember discussing this at length and I know you evaluated the alternative options we suggested. I still think that having dinner inside a landmark such as the Eiffel tower is an amazing way to celebrate. This also considering the fact that many other Parisian restaurants with a view lack instead of a unique setting like that of the tower.
We are so glad you appreciated your boat tours in Stresa, Lake Como and Cinque Terre. Italy is a country where sealife and water activities have always been part of the local history and culture, so it is very important to include some during a vacation in Italy.
I would also like to dig deeper on your very constructive criticism regarding the tour in Lugano and the Last Supper tickets in Milan. I see that because the Lugano experience was scheduled on a Sunday, most shops in the city were closed. Looking at your itinerary, it would not have been possible to schedule the tour on a different date, as we only tour Lugano from Lake Como. We thought that the town was worth exploring nonetheless, but after reviewing the day with your driver, I agree that perhaps spending a longer part of the day in Como, maybe keeping your guide, could have worked better for you and your husband, especially after learning that a 30 minutes break was all you needed during your daily schedule. Regarding the Last Supper, as I mentioned before, sometimes, no matter how early we request the tickets, they are so rare we cannot guarantee them. I truly regret not informing you earlier, and of course we will refund you for the cost of the 2 tickets.
I hope we will be able to see you again in Italy in the future, to offer you the opportunity of visiting this beautiful site. Hopefully by then, we will earn the last star in your next review! Please feel free to contact us any time, whether to further discuss this trip, or the next one.
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