We had a wonderful experience with our travel company & our agent!
I travelled with my son, daughter in-law and their 10 month old baby on a two week vacation to Florence, Rome, and Sorrento with day trips to Tuscany, Pompeii and Capri. After beginning my plans with an American tour agency, I made the decision to go with this agency, feeling that the agent’s knowledge of Italy and access to the best drivers and tour guides would be a great advantage. Also, the agent willing to arrange stays in local apartments, rather than hotels, which was perfect to meet our needs for traveling with an infant. All of our residences were excellent – beautiful, spacious and well furnished. Any time we had special needs for the baby (i.e., missing high chair or crib) it was immediately taken care of by a quick call to our agent.
We enjoyed excellent service from English speaking drivers and tour guides, who were always willing to make recommendations that would provide us with very special experiences. They were all very knowledgeable and readily adjusted the plans for the day to allow for baby needs, rest stops and chances for photos or quick shopping. It was wonderful to have private guides and “pass the line access” to the many museums, religious and historic sites. We learned so much more than we would have in a large group, especially in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and Collosseum during our stay in Rome. We travelled between cities on high-speed rail, with porter service on arrival at the train station and first class seats. Again, this was especially helpful, since we had many extras to carry, such as car seat, stroller and backpack carrier for the baby.
As we travelled from city to city, it quickly became evident that our tour agent was well known and very highly regarded by the locals. In every situation we were treated with great respect and provided very first class service. The meals and wine tasting provided on our day trips were first rate. Needless to say, this made us feel very special as we travelled through that beautiful country.
There were so many wonderful things about this trip, that it is hard to choose which experiences were the best. We certainly were blessed with wonderful apartments to relax in at the end of each day and our guides were outstanding! However, we felt the highlights of our vacation were most likely the day trips to Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Capri. Our driver to Tuscany recommended a small family-owned winery where they also produced a very fine balsamic vinegar. After learning how the vinegar was produced, we enjoyed a delicious 5 course meal with each course accompanied by a different wine. The host family was most gracious and made sure that we learned how to properly enjoy each wine and pair it with the appropriate food.
As we drove down the Amalfi Coast, our driver made an unplanned stop at an olive farm, where we learned how they harvest the olives and make the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We enjoyed a special tasting of about 15 different oils that they produced. Later in the day, we had a breathtaking experience of dining in an ancient tower in Maiori, that overlooked the Tyrrhenian Sea. The owner of the restaurant provided special service, again confirming the great respect they had for our travel agent. It was most definitely a 5 star experience! On way back to Sorrento, we enjoyed stops in Ravello and Positano, both very picturesque towns with wonderful little shops (including a Cameo Factory).
On our own, we arranged a day trip to Capri where we visited the Gardens of Augustus and then relaxed on a private two hour boat tour around the island. Even the baby got to enjoy the water in one of the grottos, thanks to the flexibility and patience of our guide. It was a perfect way to end a very busy two weeks of sightseeing.
The only thing we would do differently is spend less time in airports. Due to security concerns around the world, we arrived in both Newark and Naples 4 hours ahead of scheduled departure, which was unnecessary. This was especially true in Naples, which is a small airport and rotates check-in desks throughout the day. We were unable to check in and rid ourselves of extra baggage until about two hours prior to boarding, which made for a long and uncomfortable wait in the outer lobby area. Even in Newark three hours would have been adequate.
All other aspects of our trip were wonderful and we would highly recommend this travel company and our tour agent!!
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