We enjoyed a very memorable (and long anticipated) trip with our 'tween son to Italy: Positano, Naples (Pompeii and Herculaneum), Rome, the Cinque Terre, and Florence. Our travel agency helped make every day memorable, with boat trips and hikes when we were on the coast and the best art/architecture historians and archeologists when we were in Rome, Florence, and Naples. A real strength of this company is the contacts with excellent local guides/experts and drivers, which made our trip stress free and permitted us to use our time very efficiently.
This agency is very familiar with options for active holidays, cooking classes and tours, exploration of history and art, and they will make lots of suggestions for how you might spend your time. The company is also sensitive to the fact that you may just want a relaxation holiday with little or nothing planned. In short, you call the shots--just be clear on what you want. We gave our travel agency carte blanche to recommend "the best" hotels in each city, and we were generally very pleased with the choices made. The one exception was in the Cinque Terre, where we did not think the hotel was good value for money. In short, we thought it was overpriced and showy. However, if we had paid more attention during the planning stage, we would likely have discovered that. In Rome, we identified a rental flat we thought would suit us well, and our travel agency booked it. The flat was great except that the air conditioning was not working well. Our travel agency negotiated the situation with the owner on our behalf, which was extremely helpful. The detailed itinerary was super helpful; we knew what to expect each day and where to go and whom to meet (guide-wise), and our travel agency also made a number of restaurant reservations in advance, while also providing additional restaurant recommendations.
I would not hesitate to use this company again. The company is very professional, and they will work with you to plan the sort of holiday you want in the price range you designate. They have superior local contacts and will be engaged from start to finish to ensure that all goes well.
We enjoyed our hike in the Cinque Terre and our boat ride there, too. We also were very impressed with the cycling trip our travel company planned in Rome--well, stating in Rome, but riding along the Appian Way. These events were very memorable (and favorites) of our pre-teen son--and his parents! In addition, I cannot say enough great things about the the art historians/guides that our travel agency hired for us. Superb--and able to pitch the information to suit a range of ages and interests. I have been to Italy many times, but in terms of learning about art and the arc of history, this will prove the most memorable trip.
I would choose a different hotel in the Cinque Terre. We found our hotel to be "overdone" and overpriced--too gimmicky for us and not good value for money. We loved our other accommodations.
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