Our agent at this Italy travel company was amazing! She listened to what we wanted to experience and was "spot on" with all our requests.
Our 13 day trip to Italy covered 3 days in Rome, with private tours of Vatican City, Heart of the City Tour, Coliseum and Forum, and a walking food tour of Testaverde. The small group tours were well worth the cost. For all but the walking food tour, and another couple on the Coliseum/Forum tour, it was just the two of us. The history and the insight provided us was phenomenal. Each guide was extremely knowledgeable, professional and friendly. (We saw many other 25-40 group tours where people were rushed from one sight to another and couldn't hear what was being said.) Next, we spent 4 days in Sorrento as our base. We had a fun personal gelato making class. We took an 8 hour boat excursion to Capri (10 people on board) which showed beautiful scenery of the island (not a big fan of Capri - too many tourists, and we aren't interested in high end shopping), took a bus to beautiful, romantic POSITANO which was one of our favorite cities. The bus experience was exciting on its own. Also we found an Opera which we attended in Sorrento. Great planning too, because we took a great personal tour of Pompeii on our way from the Naples train to Sorrento. We had great transfers through out, which helped ease stress for us traveling alone. Next we traveled to Montepulciano for 3 nights. Wonderful fast speed train experience from Rome-Naples and return. In Rome we rented a car for Tuscany, and while in town traffic was a challenge, we loved exploring the countryside. In Tuscany, we took a personal cooking class with Chef Mimmo at Villa Cicolino. He's an excellent chef, and with his assistant, Lia, we learned a lot while having fun. We drove to our other favorite city, PIENZA, which was charming, beautiful, clean, full of friendly people and pride everywhere. We also traveled to Siena, which unlike many other travelers, was not one of our favorites.
Our agent's selection of special hotels for us was perfect. We stayed at a hotel in Rome five minutes from the Colliseum. It is a small boutique hotel with a European flair - old turned into modern with padded linen fabric walls, hardwood floors, and a granite bathroom with modern fixtures. Breakfast is to die for, with outstanding personal service, fruit filled croissants, coffee cakes, prosciutto and ham, fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh cut fruits, and made to order cappuccino. In Sorrento we had a balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples, and breezes throughout the night. It's history includes guests such as Keats, Scott, Longfellow, and buffet breakfasts were plentiful. In Tuscany we stayed at Villa Cicolina which was as beautiful as it sounds. Old country charm, infinity pool and hot tub, wonderful breakfast buffets and an outstanding chef. Quaint atmosphere surrounded by breathtaking views, and close to many little towns to explore.
We loved getting a taste of life in Italy in each of these three regions and have many wonderful memories of our trip.
There were many -- Each personal tour was special. In Sorrento we had the personal gelato tour, then walked to a museum where we listened to opera, with excellent instrumentalists, and ended our night at an indoor/outdoor bar/restaurant that featured a live band playing music from our era in English. Such an extreme switch in activities right after another.
Cooking class with Chef Mimmo and Assistant chef/interpreter Lia was amazing. Driving into Pienza and discovering such a beautiful town was exhilarating.
Bus ride to Positano was quite an experience, and walking through the town exploring shops and grabbing food there was very fun.
Boat tour around Capri was enjoyable.
Best thing we did was listen to advice of a previous traveler who said to take only carry ons. We each took a carry on, and had a bag that unfolded to a small duffel for gifts on our flight back. It was so exhilarating to travel light, and something I've never done. If you plan, you can do it! It was especially comforting because our flights were changed twice due to weather going to Europe, and our suitcases wouldn't have made it with us. What a relief!!!
I wouldn't go to Siena or Capri. We loved the boating experience, so it could be along the Amalfi coast anywhere. Although we did a lot in Sorrento, I'd stay in Positano instead and use that as a base (Our agent had recommended that - I should have listened!)
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