I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Italy and I would certainly recommend this agency, who advised me before and during my journey, if your travels might take you there as well.
This travel agency was an engaged partner. Looking back, my agents and I exchanged 58 emails, and both of them found time to spend with me on the trip, which as a solo traveler I really appreciated. One of my agents took me on two remarkable private tastings in Barolo and my other agent showed me around Lake Como, including the astounding Villa del Balbianello. They quickly established what I was most interested in--food, wine, culture and history--and built an itinerary which included many extraordinary places and experiences.
My agent really knows wine. This company is related to Autoctono, an organization he founded which entertains and educates people and groups about Italian wine, in particular those made from native grapes. He must be well-connected and well-liked in the Italian wine community because to say I was treated well on my various wine tastings and visits would be a big understatement. Both Barolo tastings were at wineries which are not normally open to visitors, and at winery after winery I felt like a much more important person than I in fact am.
Similarly, my other agent is an expert on Italian art and culture. She is an art historian and writer. If you want to know what you really need to see in Italy and how to see it, this agent is your woman. She helped me prioritize in the sea of cultural treasures that is Florence and reminded me about the lovely little town of Pienza with its harmonious main square and spectacular setting.
Both of my agents worked hard to find me superb hotels and restaurants. The hotels had what was for me the right combination of friendly (not stuffy) service, well-appointed rooms, and marvelous views. Italian food can reach unbelievable heights if you are guided to the right places, and I was. I've never eaten so well and so consistenly as I did on this trip.
Again, I highly recommend this company. Thank you to my agents!
Tastings at Aldo Conterno, Villa Sparina, Castello di Ama and Enoteca la Fortezza in Montalcino.
Meals at the osteria in Piemonte, Ristorante la Gallina, Le Volpi e L'Uva, Enoteca ai Pinchiorri, and Ristorante PorriOne.
The views from my hotel rooms in Bellagio and Florence and the apartment in Siena.
Driving through the Val d'Orcia, Montalcino and Pienza.
The Palazzo Pubblico.
Get a phone plan so I had a backup source of information and navigation. The most stressful parts of the trip were all related to GPS failures.
Spend more time in Bellagio. Truly relaxing; most beautiful place I've been since Santorini.
In general, move around less. It was an action-packed vacation, which was great, but I could have used more time to unwind.
Mentally prepare for the driving. Do less driving.
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