This was our first European trip and my first time utilizing a travel agency. This was an anniversary trip for me and my husband. Our travel agent is ABSOLUTELY wonderful. She's incredibly detailed and very friendly. I asked a LOT of questions and she was patient, understanding, kind, and knowledgeable. While it was very easy to work via email, she also made sure to have phone communication, to avoid any misunderstanding/miscommunication.
So for me, my trip definitely starts with our agent. She worked off of my thoughts and added her wonderful insight into the area. It's a valuable bonus that she has also enjoyed a trip to Italy and has firsthand experience with her proposed suggestions. The whole trip was incredible and memorable. Our tour guide selections were phenomenal!!! We would want to use all of them, all over again! They were that great, informative, friendly, and enjoyable. Our trip destination included Venice, Florence, and Rome. Each location ended up spectacular for many different reasons.
In Venice - Our hotel had a great staff, was nice, and a very lovely anniversary surprise waiting for us when we arrived. The food was ok but the customer service was wonderful. We had a nice gondola ride and then a wonderful guided of Doge's Palace and the Basilica of San Marco. I'm upset with not currently remembering our guides name because she was AMAZING! We had an evening at an Opera which included a room movement experience. One I think everyone should try out.
In Florence - Our hotel was another nice selection. I'd say the tinyness of the bathtub/odd place of the showerhead, was the worst part about the hotel. Everything else about the selection was absolutely delightful...especially the location. There wasn't a place we could go that didn't have "to die for" food in Florence. Oh my goodness, that food and wine! It's true, just ask for the house wine at any destination and you will NOT be disappointed. Hilary also had restaurant reservations made for our trip. The restaurant in Florence was La Giostra Restaurant...OOOHHHHH so wonderful!!!! Don't miss out on this restaurant. If we make it to Florence again, we'll be going to La Giostra again as well. However, make sure you visit the countryside of Florence - there's nothing that compares to that specific experience. We were out in Chianti and Siena with a home-cooked lunch at a family owned wine farm...amazing!
In Rome - Our hotel was good but probably a very unexpected slight less awe feeling than the other locations. I couldn't really say why. All-in-all it is a very nice hotel and the location is also wonderful. Rome is absolutely amazing. I just do not have the words to describe the complexity of Rome. It is something that should be experienced firsthand. The food in Rome is also amazing! We had a food tour and a Vatican tour, both wonderful additions to the trip. The one suggestion made on our itinerary that didn't pan out was a trip to the Piazza Testaccio (to visit the market). On that specific day we went, which was going to be my morning shopping day plan (and was 25-35 minute walk in the opposite direction of our other plans) it wasn't open. There wasn't one bit of a market scene to be seen.
Most enjoyable and/or memorable parts:
In Venice - we experienced an Agua Alta. Which is a high tide from one side of the island and a high tide from the other side of the island (neither had a chance to withdraw). Really it's a very fancy way of saying a massive flood and it was such a once in a lifetime moment. I would want to take someone to experience that moment and how crazy it was to see Venice's adjustment to this phenomenon.
In Florence - It's the people, the wine, and the food!
In Rome - It's the levels of a city, on top of another city, on top of another city!
Plus all of the above had so much amazingly mindblowing art! I just do not have the words to truly describe the art, structures, and history lessons.
If I did the trip over. I would spend less time in Venice and more time in the Tuscany region.
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