Trip was very good. Everything was well coordinated and only a couple of hiccups.
Overall comments:Rome: 4 days in room was perfect, wouldn't want to do more. Can't trust taxis so happy we had drivers and guides. The private guides are the only way to go. We saved hours in lines, had personal feedback and was very cordial and polite. Rome itself is great but it is disappointing to see how much better it could be if the city invested in a few things (toilets!). Again - I'll mention that taxis were there to steal your money. No issues at all with the travel plans and the plans made by zicasso were very good. The boutique hotel was a great choice. Location was excellent, rooms very clean and new. Breakfast was excellent there. In general, all of the hotels we stayed at had a very good breakfast, this is the only way to go as it just takes that meal out of your schedule and starts the day out right. Our biggest snafu was the car rental, we were supposed to have an Audi A3 or equivalent and all the car rental could offer was a ford fiesta... it really took away from our experience in Tuscany to have such a poor automobile on those roads. Again - not zicasso's fault - car rentals are terrible everywhere and in Rome it was very poor service. Our drive and trip to Tuscany was great, we stopped in Orvieto as zicasso recommended and had lunch there - one of the best restaurants during our whole trip. We stayed at the hotel and it was excellent, the food and wine there was excellent - worth staying just for that. It was a little difficult to get to - and a bit of a drive to anywhere from there - but no real complaints and it was worth it to stay there. In all of Tuscany we enjoyed San Gimignano and Pienza the best. We found Siena great but overcrowded, Pienza and San Gimagnano were just as (more) scenic and less hectic. The day trip and guide in Florence was very good but we were glad we only spent 1 day in Florence. This is a personal thing as I understand most people prefer more time in Florence. We really enjoyed Bologna - the food tour was probably the highlight of our trip (the downside is we can no longer eat Parmigiano, Balsamic Vinegar or Prosciutto from any other place, it was THAT much better than anywhere else). We took a day to go to Modena, see the Duomo there (best in all of Italy in our opinion), and we enjoyed the Ferrari museum. I would highly recommend adding Bologna, the food tour and Modena to everyone's trip suggestions.. It is less crowded than the main touristy cities - and just as enjoyable... Loved this part of the trip. The hotel in Bologna was perfectly placed and very very nice, excellent choice.The train to Venice was perfect. The pickup and ride to the hotel was good also. The hotel was ok - but probably the least nice of all the places we stayed. It was very good, just not as nice, more cramped and the breakfast was by far the worst. I equate this to Venice as everything was more expensive and more cramped in Venice. We loved Venice - more than I thought we would. I could see 1 more day in Venice and 1 day less in Rome. Just walking the streets - wonderful!Getting from hotel to airport was good - though it was much further than we'd thought. The airline we used sucks... no way around that - not Zicasso's problem - but flight was 1.5 hours delayed and well - as an airline it isn't very good. I'm still not so sure that taking a full day train ride to get to Puglia wouldn't have been better? (Venice to Naples to Puglia?) Pick up at airport in Puglia was good. The driving service was good - same driver for all our trips in Puglia - but he didn't speak a word of English so that was a challenge. Thank goodness for Google Translate! We had a mix up where we interpreted the itinerary as us having a guide in Alberobello (see itinerary - says private tour - so we were confused). The driver had a friend who gave us a personal private tour of the Trullo homes and some history - that was very nice he arranged that. But it was a little embarrassing and confusing. It could have all been avoided if the driver spoke English as well as the itinerary being more clear.Ostuni and the guide were great. We loved Ostuni as well as Alberobello and the caves. We probably enjoyed those areas more than the renaissance areas of Florence, but that is just us. Note: once we got to Ostuni we told our guide no more going inside churches... at some point - its just another beautiful church - but there is one on every corner in Italy! The Hotel in Puglia is awesome. Seriously this place is amazing. The food was amazing the spa was amazing the service was over the top. What a beautiful part of Italy... We changed our schedule to spend the morning in Bari before catching the train to Rome - we could have easily spent more time there. I probably liked the food in Puglia the best. The focaccia is amazing (just like Grandma made!). In general we loved Puglia though we'd probably have been better served to have a rental car as we were a long way from anything and it would likely have been less expensive than a dedicated driver. We would have had much more flexibility in our schedule and planning if we had our own car. Train back to the Rome train station and pickup was very good - though the Rome train station and driving out of Rome - is never a good experience. The hotel we stayed at our last night was very nice but probably overkill since all we needed was a bed before we caught a flight out. All in all - highly recommend zicasso, they did a great job for this trip. Having guides and drivers on our first trip to Italy - priceless!
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