Giuliana of this Italy travel company guided us every step of the way and created one of our most memorable vacations. The most impressive thing at the outset was how quickly she responded to our initial inquiry. We had never been to Italy, had not done a great deal of research, and had only a general idea of what we wanted beyond the dates (mid-May) and the cities we wanted to visit (Florence and Rome). Within a day, Giuliana submitted a detailed proposed itinerary based on a recent client request similar to ours. The proposal included various options that provided a great starting point for further discussion. She asked many questions, including our hotel preferences (small boutique, high-rise, how many stars, etc.) and suggested a number of venues that would expose us to Italy’s remarkable history and culture. The result was a vacation specifically suited to our personal tastes and interests.
We spent four days in Florence and three in Rome. In Florence, we stayed at the Hotel Lungarno on the Arno River, a lovely small hotel in the heart of the city within walking distance to everything of interest, including the Uffizi and Academy museums, and the famous Duomo. It rained two nights, but we didn’t have far to go for a great dinner. The hotel restaurant was superb. One of the highlights of the Florence leg of the trip was a day tour of the Tuscany wine region that included a stopover in the historic town of Siena. We had lunch at the Osteria di Passignano, a restaurant at the Antinori vineyards where we were treated to a four course lunch and wine tasting and a tour of the winery. Fabulous.
In Rome, we stayed at the Hotel Saint George. Another small, well appointed, boutique hotel, centrally located near the Tiber River, it provided access to all the essential venues, including the Vatican, Coliseum, Spanish Steps, etc. As in Florence, everything was in walking distance, including fine dining restaurants, pizzerias, espresso bars, and gelateria—and lots of places to shop. The hotel was comfortable, attractive, with a friendly and efficient staff, but we would not recommend the hotel restaurant. It was nice enough (although too brightly lit) but was virtually empty the night we were there and the food was just O.K. That wasn’t Giuliana’s fault since the hotel restaurant was not on her recommended list. We were just tired (it was our first night) and thought we’d give it a try. The hotel concierge made up for it, however, by recommending two great nearby restaurants for the remaining two nights. Neither was on Guiliana’s list, but they were terrific.
A word about the logistical aspects of the trip: we viewed this as critical to the success of a customized tour with multiple venues and connections. We couldn’t have been more pleased. On arriving at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, we were greeted by Aldo who drove us to the high-speed train to Florence. After sharing an espresso with us in the station café, he made sure we got on the right train, helped us with our bags, and took us to our seats. Similar service greeted us at every connection point during the trip. Our personal tour guides, Enza (Florence), Andrea (Tuscany), and Sylvia (Rome), were exceptionally knowledgeable, personable, and fluent in English. Giuliana telephoned us at several points during the trip to confirm that we had arrived at our destination, that the drivers were on time, and that the accommodations met our expectations. Very reassuring to know she was keeping such close tabs on things. In short, all elements of transportation and personal service were impeccable.
Would we visit Italy again? Without doubt. The trip simply whetted our appetites. Would we use this company? We wouldn’t consider any other service. Next time, however, we’ll make more of an effort to visit the restaurants recommended by Giuliana.
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