Our trip to Italy proved to be, indeed, 'fantastica'! We traveled to Venice for 2 nights; by train to Florence for 2 nights where we stayed at the luxurious Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo; by train to Siena for 2 nights. From there we speed-railed it by "TreniItalia" to Napoli where we were picked up in a private car to take us to the jaw dropping showcase Italian seacoast resort of Positano. We stayed there for 3 glorious nights at the Covo dei Saraceni with the most breath taking views of the bay and the Amalfi Coast that you could ever see. Finally, we were picked up in a private car and taken to Napoli for a train to Rome. But first...we had a 2-hour stop with guided tour of Pompeii's ruins. Finally, after training to Rome, we stayed at the quietly elegant Residenza di Ripetta hotel near the Piazza del Populo.
I've left out the most important parts which were the incredible tours that this Italy travel agency arranged for us. We must've seen everything that this trip could offer. And it was all done over two weeks. We toured Venice during the calamitous weekend of George Clooney's wedding. No, we couldn't go to the wedding but we had a fabulous time nonetheless! Our agent and her team put us up at the quaint yet convenient Hotel Georgioni in Venice quite near the Rialto Bridge. We had been picked up at the airport and water-taxied to our hotel. During our fabulous 48-hour stay, we saw every nook and cranny of central Venice anchored by the eye-popping Piazza San Marco. Included in our stay was a tour of the Doge's Palace with its art treasures galore and a tour of the markets area replete with a 30-minute gondola ride through a memory of photographs that I took that I will never forget. The Rialto Bridge at night, along with the rest of Venice, is one of the most romantic sights in the world. The lighting of this magnificent city at night is unforgettable.
From there it was on to the renaissance city and Medici capital of Florence to our luxurious hotel, the Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo right across the street from the magnificent Duomo itself. We walked and toured everything; from the Accademia Gallery and the "David" masterpiece by Michelangelo to the Uffizzi Gallery and Vasari Corridor to the Ponte Vecchio where I bought my beautiful wife a golden ring the size of Sardinia. We saw street musicians, vendors, activists and sellers of all kinds. We even saw a Brahma bull towing a wagon hauling over a 1000 bottles of Chianti up the main street into the square. The food? Indescribably memorable. Just like all of Italy.
On to Siena where the Medieval contrasts with the Renaissance of Florence beautifully. These 2 cities, once rivals, are now bastions of art and relics dating back centuries...from every genius known to man. Siena, with its massive "Campo" is the meeting point for all of Tuscany seemingly. They run their horse race there every year around the Campo. We didn't see it. But we did see a huge nighttime sports car rally featuring the finest autos made by Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa-Romeo and others.
Taking the train in Italy is a far preferable way to travel than car. We had the benefit of traveling in clean cars traveling almost 200 MPH in almost serene silence - with some of the greatest views ever. It's fun...and grabbing a panini and a water is the perfect way to relax and have lunch aboard the train.
Positano. What can we say other than it was a 3-day dream. Everything that you could possibly photograph is present in this sea coast paradise. Staying at the singular Covo dei Saraceni provided us with a view out of our bedroom window that could stop time. It was THAT beautiful! The views of villas tucked into the mountains; the roads that snake their way down to the beach, the lovely little shops that adorn the narrow streets all make for fantastic photographs so compelling that friends would envy you and your experience. From Positano, we took a day trip out to the Isle of Capri. Capri, for us, was like Italy's Catalina Island - kinda honkytonk and overpriced yet still very fun. Especially when you bus up to the top to take in the wildly sweeping and sometimes scary sights from Anacapri, the island's little town that's 'above it all.' We toured the historic Villa San Michele with its stories of Axel Munthe, the one time owner and Renaissance man in his own right.
Finally, we finished with 3 days in exciting unstoppable "Roma". Can there be any more excitement? Any more history? Any more style? We saw everything: the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navone, the Carra Calla Baths, Circus Maximus, Palatine Hill, The Arch of Constantine, The Villas of Borghese. We rowed boats, we road bicycle carts, we got lost. Moreover, we ate gelato at the 150-flavors of Della Palma. We heard stories about Roman Emperors and the various peccadilloes, their loves (and lovers!) and their battles. Both won and lost.
This whole trip will go down in our memory as arguably the greatest trip that we ever took. We've been together almost 20 years and, thanks to our agent and her team at this travel company, we enjoyed our 2nd honeymoon to the max. Not once in our 12-day itinerary did we have a hiccup. Everything that our agency arranged for us from tours, to drivers to train departures and tickets etc went off without a hitch. All the I's were dotted...all the t's were crossed. I would recommend this travel agency as a 5-star travel agency to anyone who would ask. I'd trust them completely. Indeed, I have the pictures to last a lifetime. I have memories that will last even longer.
Probably not go to the bathroom -- pay toilets in Italy are a pain in the a**! I'd also stay away from people who smoke. Hard to do in the Italian piazzas and streets teeming with tourists and excitement.
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