Our fall visit for 3 weeks to Italy was supported in its planning and execution by this travel agency. Before our departure and throughout the visit the travel agency staff were on hand to provide support and make the experience what we had hoped and expected it would be. Making arrangements for a custom travel experience this long with a company we did not know took a leap of faith. Happily, we were pleased to see them follow through with all aspects with 24x7 care and attention, including the few hiccups that occurred with hotel vendors over room issues beyond the agency's ability to foresee (in one case not heat in the room and in another a room that we felt was not up to standard). In both cases our travel agency intervened to sort things out as soon as we informed them of the problem. Our thanks in particular go out to our travel coordinators for their experience, guidance and support!
We visited Rome, Sorrento, Siena, Florence, Cinque Terra, Verona and Venice, With all the transfers we were met on time at our hotel and driven by courteous, professional drivers. Leaving the driving (and parking) to them, particularly in overcrowded Italian cities, towns and villages made travel a breeze everywhere we went. Giving absolutely no thought to roads, navigation and parking was delightful and allowed us to take whatever time we wished at every spot we visited. In between the transfers we had so many memorable experiences, it would take too long to relate here but a few that stood out as expected or were unexpected surprises; simple shopping at an historic outdoor market followed by a personal pasta making and cooking class in a unique setting on Rome's only island in the Tiber River; a visit to Santa Clement Church in Rome under which 2000 years of history beginning from Eutruscan civilization through Roman and the Middle Ages is uniquely restored; a visit to the spectacular site and fascinating walled town of Civita di Bagnoregio (think Machu Piccu) and daily breakfast on the terrace of the hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice.
We would probably make it a bit shorter in Italy, probably two weeks, as what we mapped out in our itinerary became somewhat repetitive in the sense that we revisited the same periods of history/civilizations. And, while we love Italian food... and it was truely delicious... the places we visited didn't seem to have ready alternatives to alternative cuisine. Knowing what we know now, and as enjoyable an experience as it was, as a person not that interested in shopping, I was appalled at the commercialism along the historic main streets that visitors frequent in places in the large cities. It was jarring to see how high end shopping has been shoe horned into what would otherwise be regarded as world heritage sites. Well, in the end, the show stopper for me turned out to be something very different for my wife who, I was happy to see, was able to find clothes and accessories she had not been able to find anywhere else. Sigh.
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