Our 12 day trip to Italy was beyond our expectations, from the initial planning, the details throughout the trip, and the follow-up post trip. Our travel agent was patient and thoughtful during the planning of the itinerary, as I had little time to research ahead of time. He helped by making suggestions for us to start customizing to meet our needs (even when we didn't know what those were!). He was always very responsive and timely in providing information, answers to questions, recommendations, and revisions to the itinerary. Incredibly helpful! The trip itself was spot on, the travel company had everything taken care of, to the point I stopped really following the itinerary, and just knew that a travel company representative would magically show up in a car, in the lobby, on the sidewalk when and where they were supposed to and ensure we got to our next destination. It was incredible. The guides were phenomenal, more 'local experts' vs. tourist tamers, each providing us with the perfect balance of seeing the main attractions/exhibits/sites and local hidden spots/parks/fountains, etc. The private guides were one of the best parts of the trip! Each knowing how to navigate around the sea of visitors, particularly in Rome and Venice. Available/Supportive/Responsive are words I would use to describe the support along the journey. When we realized we had our fill of the heat and crowds in Rome, the travel team helped make arrangements to change our itinerary mid-trip to leave Rome early, adding an extra day onto Tuscany. They quickly re-arranged the car transport, and hotel accommodations with no fuss, being particularly considerate about any cost differential, which was very much appreciated. This attention to detail carried throughout the trip, and took all stress off of my husband or I having to navigate any of the travel details along the way - we were truly able to relax, have fun, and enjoy an incredible tour of Italy!
Rome - Our private guide made our 3 days in Rome exactly what we needed, even when we didn't know what that was when we arrived. He was personal, fun, and incredibly knowledgable! He always was calling ahead to connect the dots with the next host we were to meet or driver to pick us up. Not to mention, his ability to navigate the crowds at the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi fountain, etc. Breakfast at the Vatican, and our private tour prior to it opening to the public was one of our most memorable experiences in Rome. Our guide was thoughtful in making sure we took advantage of the time and gave us the history and details about what was most important for us to see before the doors were open, so we could maximize our experience. Just incredible! And to add some touristy flavor, we ended our visit to Rome with Gladiator School which was perfect for our 12 and 15 year old children, with some good laughs and education as well!
Tuscany - the travel team helped select the perfect resort, where the peace and serenity of the gorgeous property and kind staff quickly allowed us to relax. Perfect balance once again of relaxation on light activity! Favorite things were the e-bike tour with a private guide for 3-hours where the guide took us through small villages and through the countryside. We even stopped in his village at his families restaurant for an espresso and snack :). Our travel agent also helped arrange a beautiful private picnic in the vineyard after our bike ride to relax - it was perfect! And a true highlight was our private cooking class where the chef taught our family to make ravioli and pomodoro, later hosting us for dinner in the restaurant. Spectacular!
Venice - After our car transport to Venice, a guide magically showed up at the water taxi station and ensured that we and our luggage got onto a taxi and safely checked into our hotel. This was a theme we became to particularly rely upon and enjoy, that every logistical detail was taken care of and they were ALWAYS on time. Incredible. Our private guide was a special part of our experience. She was very particular to take us to true Venetian shops and cafe's along our walking tour. She was a slow and methodical walker, but cut through the crowd with stealth precision, she was spectacular! We made our trip to Venice just 2 nights as we more so enjoyed the quieter side of Italy. But, a highlight to cap of the segment of the trip was a private gondola ride along the Grand Canal and smaller canals with champagne and appetizers, very nice!
Santa Margherita Ligure - oh my, we felt like we stepped into a 1950's movie set which was perfectly situated on the sea, the hotel the crown jewel. Our agent had arranged a beautiful upgrade for our room, with a large balcony from where we enjoyed morning coffee and evening meals overlooking the beautiful sea and landscape. We truly were able to unwind and relax in a beautiful setting with cafes and shops just a short walk into the village. The grand finale of our trip, and possibly our favorite adventure of all was the full-day private boat tour along the coast of Cinque Terre. Our local guide and the captain of the ship took us to local spots to snorkel into caves, and some cliff jumping where our agent had grown up. He had arranged lunch for us in one of the villages, where he clearly knew everybody with light and lively conversation, great laughs and local flavor! Spectacular!
Nothing really, as even when we did realize we wanted to do something differently once we were in Italy, Our agent quickly helped adjust our course!
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