The company I used was a top travel specialist partner of Zicasso. I traveled from Louisiana in the United States to Venice, then Florence and Rome.
Everything was on time and went smoothly. You really couldn’t put a trip together like this without the help of professionals who actually live in Italy. This company was the fastest and most efficient company that contacted me through Zicasso. At first I was hesitant to send a large sum of money to a company overseas that I did not know and I wasn’t sure if I could trust them to fulfill what they promised. I can tell you without a drought that they fulfilled every detail that they supplied in the contract and I am extremely satisfied with my trip. I have include portions of my itinerary so that you can see what type of services they provided. I highly recommend our agent who was always available throughout the trip and prior to the trip. I will underline my comments about the events on the itinerary .
ARRIVAL TO VENICE
Venice Airport arrival
9:00am Your English speaking driver will be waiting for you with a sign with your last name on it as you come out of arrivals. He will take you to your awaiting luxury car and transfer you to your water taxi for transfer to your hotel for check in.
All of this went very smoothly without any problems. The hotel is very nice and we had review of the canal below. The bathtub was tremendous and very enjoyable. They supply T7 coffee maker but I’m not to type of person any coffee immediately in the morning. We did not go to the booking for lunch as we were very tired and took a nap after long flight.
15:30 (3:30pm) In the afternoon your guide will come to collect you in your
hotel lobby and take you on a three hour private walking tour of Venice (entrance fees not included, to be paid onsite).
Our guide was fabulous in a great guide. She spoke perfect English very polite and we enjoy our entire time with her. She was very knowledgeable about Venice. We did not go to the wine bar but instead we dedcided to get gelato. I think we ate gelato and had espresso almost every day throughout the trip. We ended the tour at at Santa Sofia where your guide will say goodbye after helping you onto your gondola for your thirty minute private ride. The ride was very romantic and enjoyable. Then booking for dinner. The food here is very simple, but good. Mostly we just drink wine and ordered small portions.
Monday, April 4th
GRAND CANAL CRUISE AND MURANO ISLAND
Morning free to explore on your own.
14:00 (2pm) In the afternoon your guide will come to collect you for a private
boat transfer to Murano where you explore the island famous of its amazing glass and see it being made at a local artisan workshop.
Watching the glass being made was interesting. However, guest should be warned that the gallery viewing is a sales opportunity for the guide will try to several you very expensive glass pieces. Realize that these glass pieces are works of art and cost thousands of dollars. The prices are not listed on the pieces but the guide goes to look up the prices then returns with a number somewhat like when we buy cars in the United States. I’m sure there is a base price at which the guide who is really a salesman adds what he wants to make off the deal. For example if the base price is 3,000 euros he will offer it to you at 4,000 euros. When you say that is too high then he says he can give you a better price for 3,500 euros because he will still make 500 euros off the deal. I do not appreciate this type of business interaction. Then if you make it through the gallery you end up in the gift shop with cheaper items where a different lady says “you must buy something”. So you get a small swan for overpriced 150 euros.
Then with your guide you will then return to Venice with a private wooden taxi boat to cruise the Grand Canal in style for 1 hour which we really enjoyed. We were again tired so we decided to get food to bring back to the hotel. I really cant stress enough how the time change and travel really makes you tired. I am 39 years old but I felt like an old man for the first couple of days there in Italy and on the return to the United States.
TRANSFER TO FLORENCE
Check out hotel in the morning.
11:50am Your water taxi with English speaking driver will come to collect you and your
luggage at your hotel for transfer to the train station (approx. 25 minutes).
13:00 (1pm) I would recommend that people not familiar with trains in Europe/Italy note that you do not have to get an actual ticked if you have the electronic ticket code. This is not true in Rome where the security level is much higher. When they say they are leaving at 1 pm they mean it and I almost got the doors closed on me, but this was my fault. I went to the bathroom which I did not know you have to pay for. So I went to get change because all I had was larger bills. Then I went to get a sandwich and orange juice for the train ride as they do not serve anything on the train but they do have vending machines. I did not realize that you have to pay for whatever you want first then bring the receipt to the person who makes the sandwich and drink. This took longer than expected with the language and cultural differences. So returning to the train I literally got the train doors closed on my luggage as I was trying to get on.
In Florence, your driver will be waiting for you at the end of your arrival train platform with a sign with your last name on it. He will take you to the awaiting car for transfer to the hotel. There was some confusion here as the drivers cannot wait at the end of the train tracks for you but have to wait by the exits. There are three exits, one on the left and right and one central straight ahead from the tracks. We went to the central exit but the driver was at the left exit. There are also two McDonalds and two pharmacys at the left and right exit so that caused some confusion over the phone trying to find each other but this only took 10 to 15 minutes so it was really not an inconvenience.
The hotel we stayed at was definitely a 4 to 5 star hotel and splendid. The breakfast was amazing with the selection in the morning and the room/service was wonderful. The only thing I didn’t like was if you wanted Ice for your room to make coctails before bed they don’t have an ice machine and you have to go downstairs to the bar to get a bucket of ice. The last two nights I was there they ran out of buckets so I just got two glasses of ice. The rooftop pool and bar is amazing, but sometimes it was too cold to swim. The view is amazing.
19:30 (7:30pm) Booking for dinner
This was one of the best restaurant meals we had and they have a vodka martini that is the best martini I have ever had. Unfortunately we were unable to go to all the reservations that were made for us because we were so tired at night that we often ordered room service or got food to go and came back to the hotel.
Wednesday, April 6th
BEST OF FLORENCE
10:00am Your friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guide will come to collect you in the morning in your hotel lobby for a full day 6 hour getting to know Florence tour including Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, Piazza Signoria as well as skip-the-lines prebooking for the two top museums.
11:30 Accademia museum (Michaelangelo's David) #3668799
Our guide was outstanding. She induced me to macchiato which was I now always order instead of the bigger cappuccino. She treated us to both macchiato and gelato at her favorite places which were both delicious. She also ate lunch with us at one of her favorite restaurants and it was so wonderful. I loved the Accademia and Uffizi.
Thursday, April 7th
MARKET WALK, TUSCAN COOKING CLASS
8:45am Please meet your guide in front of the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapel), in
Piazza Madonna Aldobrandini. This 1-hour long small group market walk will proceed the 10am starting time for your small group cooking class. Your guide will either take you on foot or you can take a taxi (not included) to the cooking class location. We were too tired for this and slept in.
10:00 Cooking School
Tuscan hands on convivial cooking class to create a full Tuscan menu in a lovely airconditioned cooking school with English speaking chef. After the class, a delicious meal of the dishes you have created accompanied by wonderful local wines, coffee and water.
This was a tie for my favorite experience in Tuscany along with the wine tour. The chef was the best. We also met our host who was very lovely and informing us about wine. I learned a lot and enjoyed all the food. The wine and food literally put me in a coma for the afternoon nap. That night after enjoying so much Italian food I decided to go for a walk and found that there are a lot of American type restaurants very close to the hotel. There was this one place which had burgers from different parts of the U.S. that may be enjoyable for some people. I was also surprised at how many employees speak English at all of the restaurants and bars.
Friday, April 8th
CHIANTI WINE TOUR IN THE TUSCAN COUNTRYSIDE and HORSEBACK RIDING
9:15am Your private English speaking driver will come to collect you in your hotel lobby for an amazing day discovering the Tuscan countryside and Chianti wines.
I really like the driver that we had but I can’t remember his name right now. He reminded me of Jason Statham in the movie the Transporter.
10:00am 1 hour private horseback riding experience with English speaking guide in the
11:30am Private visit at an historic villa and winery to learn about Chianti wines
12:15pm Delicious tasting light lunch at the onsite restaurant - we have included a
complimentary light lunch where you can choose an appetizer, pasta dish & dessert,
accompanied by a wine tasting of the estates wines as well as espresso coffee.
The horseback riding and wine tour as well as our meal were a tie for my favorite experience in Venice along with the cooking school. Everything was fabulous.
In the afternoon your driver will take you to the town of San Gimignano. I don’t recall a lot of this as I was again in a food and wine coma from the Chianti Wine tour and lunch.
Saturday, April 9th
TRANSFER TO ROME AND PANORAMIC ROME TOUR
Check out hotel.
9:45am Pick up at your hotel with luxury car and driver for transfer to the Santa Maria
Novella train station.
12:05pm Please meet your English speaking driver at the end of your train
platform - he will be waiting for you with a sign with your last name on it and will take you to his awaiting luxury car. He will take you for a stop for lunch (meal not included) and then panoramic drive around Rome to get a feel for the town and learn hidden spots and places you would not have found on your own.
I really liked our guide. He was very knowledgeable and friendly. He brought us to a resteraunt that seved salads from around the world. I wish I could remember the name of it but it was great.
15:00 (3pm) Your driver will take you to check in 5 nights at your hotel with
breakfast included. Free entry to onsite wellness center/spa/indoor pool for the duration of your stay.
This hotel was the best hotel of the trip. Not that the other two were not good but this is a 5 star hotel in Rome. The other cities are much smaller than Rome. The breakfast in the morning was impressive. I love the spa but I wish they had a hot tub. The steam room, pool, and sauna and massage really help when your feet and back are tired from walking around so much. I think we ordered room service 3 nights here because it was so good. The room service is basically the same menu as the restaurant in the hotel but they charge you more to bring it up to your room. Also you can get ice brought up to your room anytime by calling room service.
Sunday, April 10th
CLASSIC ROME TOUR
Best to take the morning easy and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or onsite spa.
14:00 (2pm) Your English speaking guide will come to collect you in your hotel lobby for a half day Rome private walking tour to sites such as the Spanish steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain and much more - lasts three hours. Your guide is happy to take you to a great gelateria and point out good restaurants for that evening and other sites of interest you might enjoy during your time in Rome. Please note all entrance fees are to be paid onsite. Monday, April 11th
ANCIENT ROME- COLOSSEUM AND FORUM
8:20am Please take a taxi or walk 35 minutes to meet English speaking guide i. You will spend the morning (3 hours) seeing the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine hill (skip the lines tickets included, your guide will have them. Please be aware that the lines for the metal detectors can be long) with your private guide and imagining how the Romans lived thousands of years ago. Imagine the gladiator fights and spectacles and see history come to life. Your guide is happy to recommend a great local restaurant nearby if you would like.
Relax in the afternoon at your hotel and enjoy the spa services.
Tuesday, April 12th
VATICAN, SISTINE CHAPEL AND ST. PETERS
Please take a taxi (or 45 minute walk from your hotel). 8:15am Please meet your guide, she will have your 8:30am entrance voucher and take you on a private guided tour of the Vatican museums, Sistine chapel and St. Peters
These guides, like all the guides we had was marvelous. They all know so much and are so friendly and informative. I highly recommend all the guides that we had in all three cities.
Wednesday, April 13th
ROME COUNTRYSIDE, FRASCATI WINE AND GARDENS
10:00am Pick up from your hotel lobby with English speaking driver . Experience the Roman countryside and a slower pace.
11:00 Private visit and tasting light lunch with estate wines in the Frascati wine region (included)
This place was even better than the first wine tour which was hard to beat. They served us 3 different bottles of wine and a tasting menu with at least 15 different dishes. This place is the unsurpassed as far as wine and food. However I would recommend that they have this for dinner instead of lunch because after you drink and eat so much you really just want to go back to your hotel and rest.
After lunch your driver will take you to Villa d'Este gardens. Beautiful place and fountains, but I was somewhat intoxicated with food and wine after the previous experience that I really could enjoy it as much as I should have.
Return to your hotel around 18:00 (6pm).
Thusrday, April 14th
Check out hotel
9:15am Pick up with luxury car and English speaking driver in your hotel lobby for transfer to the airport.
Please see above.
Everything was on time and went smoothly. You really couldn’t put a trip together like this without the help of professionals who actually live in Italy. This company was the fastest and most efficient company that contacted me through Zicasso. At first I was hesitant to send a large sum of money to a company overseas that I did not know and I wasn’t sure if I could trust them to fulfill what they promised. I can tell you without a drought that they fulfilled every detail that they supplied in the contract and I am extremely satisfied with my trip. Some things I would recommend prior to traveling. Get Euros from your bank in the U.S. In Italy they charge you a high commission rate of 15% at these exchange kiosk. This is a rip-off, because if you give them 300 dollars you will only get 220 euros. Part of this is the exchange rate from dollars to euros but the 15% commission is much higher than what you can get at a bank in the U.S. Also get a Capital One credit card which does not charge overseas fees. Some credit cards charge 3% on all purchases and charge you 60 dollars fee to get money from ATM. Get an overseas package from your cellular phone company. At&T charges 30 dollars to get unlimited texting, a dollar per minute calls, and 150MB of data oversease. Also get an App to make free calls when on WiFi. I tried Viper Application on my phone, but it did not work as well as the one we chose to use. I really cant stress enough how the time change and travel really makes you tired. I am 39 years old but I felt like an old man for the first couple of days there in Italy and on the return to the United States. The only thing I would do differently is get more time off so that I can rest in between days during my trip.
I will definitely use this company again on my next trip to Italy.
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