Our travel agency delivered one of the most amazing, relaxing, seamless vacation for a family of 4, including 2 pre-teens. The owner and his wife have established a superior team in Italy. The hotels/ B&Bs were straight out of movie sets, the people who guided us were engaged and thoughtful.
Our trip was 10 days in 3 regions of Italy. We flew into Rome, immediately went into Tuscany, spent 3 days touring little towns, a day in Florence with a spirited, fun tour guide. We did one activity a day, and then lounged around the villa pool. The villa/resort was a former small town surrounded by vineyards. I do now understand what it means to be 'Under the Tuscan' sun. It was perfect way to ease out of jet lag.
Onto the Amalfi region. We stayed in Sorrento, our hotel on the cliff overlooking the sea. We looked up (way up) from the sea and saw our room was the BEST room in the hotel. Our travel agency said they got us a' free upgrade' for our room, and it was the best room. 15' ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, and balconies. Sunning and shopping was the goal. We spent one day on our own boat to Capri, and that is money well spent. Especially when you have kids and it is hot.
Last couple of nights were in Roma. Our hotel was a block from the Spanish Steps, which seems to be in the heart of upscale shopping : ). We did a tour of St. Peters, and Ancient Rome, with 2 fabulous tour guides (think Tom Hanks in DaVinci Code. Professor types who were engaging.) Our hotel was boutiquey and cool.
The seamless part was we were whisked to here and there in a black Mercedes. Right when you were exhausted there was the car and a sweet driver to take us home, or on to the next thing. There was no thinking/ mental exhaustion that usually happens when traveling abroad. For instance, we had one question about our Capri boat tour, emailed our team at 1030pm and our question was answered immediatley. I told our agent we were coming into Italy as a 'hot mess'. We literally hoped for the best. We did not research one thing, we packed the night before we left, and we hoped someone would pick us up from the airport. We saw our name on a sign right when we got off the plane and we were on our way on to the most fabulous vacation!
Best parts were our B&Bs, the beauty and service. Extended conversations with our tour guides to get a real feeling about their country. Not having to think what to do next. We have been VRBO'ing and making our own itineraries. You need a vacation after the vacation because that is a lot of work. On this trip we always had good food, never lost, and learned more than the basic knowledge.
Also, moving every 3 or so days is a good idea with pre-teens. They are at the age it is easy to pack up and move on to the next thing. I would not recommend that if the kids cannot pack their own bags, and traveling becomes more work for the parents. However, I think this company could find someone to pack you up too. : )
There is nothing I would do differently. This trip made us want to come back again and again. The next time we would try to come during a time where we can see an Opera or theater etc. We were not really affected by the August European vacation season any other way.
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