“Ciao Matteo! So glad to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. Our entire trip was fantastic from start to finish. Every driver and every tour guide were either on time or more often arrived earlier than scheduled. All meals and activities we set up through your company were marvelous and that goes for the food and the views! We were impressed with each tour we went on. We had thought that maybe one of the tours or guides could be a dud or not interesting. Instead, every guide went above and beyond expectations to show us both historical buildings/artifacts and local, hidden away places where many true Italians spend their time.
It was great having you readily available via the cell phone we were provided throughout the trip. It was so nice of you to call to ensure we made it in ok after our flight out of Tampa was delayed causing us to miss our connection in Germany. And you even called to wish me a happy birthday! That phone was a life saver at times when we got turned around in areas unknown to us. Using the map for guidance back to our hotel or to wherever we were trying to go while out on our own was a big incentive.
A memorable part of the trip was definitely the full day tours to Tuscan wine country from our hotel in Florence. Our driver and host was Giancarlo for both days and he was an absolute treat to be in the van with all day. He was knowledgeable of the area and suggested great places when we wanted to eat or snack. The wineries we went to were fantastic. Giancarlo used his personal connection to set us up with a friend of his to tour his winery and cellar which was deep inside a mountain in Montepulciano. It was an unbelievable experience and we really cherish the memories and pictures taken on this part of the tour! We even bought wine to drink in Florence and to bring back home with us for family.
The other most memorable part of the trip was the 1/2 day vespa tour! Alexander and Roberto were our drivers and they were both great guys that we had so much fun with riding around Rome and chatting with. They even took us out for coffee in a very historic location that we would not have known anything about without them. They were jovial and funny when offering to take our pictures or be in the pictures with us! I was very impressed with Alexander’s knowledge of the history of the city considering he told us he did tours because he enjoys them (and not as his regular full time job).
Honestly, we have nothing to complain about. We wished we had more time, but the time we did have there was great. The tours being set up ahead of time and tickets already being reserved for us (this is a HUGE plus to have tickets already waiting for you) really relieved the stress required to plan things while you are already out on vacation. It also ensured that we got up out of bed early and didn’t waste half the day away after late night drinking! The only thing I might do differently in the future is book a longer trip time. We thought this might be a once in a lifetime trip, but after going we are already talking about going back in 2-3 years. We started in Venice and headed south throughout the trip, eventually making it to Rome. For the next trip we might just start in Rome and head further south to places like Naples and Sicily.
Hotel Arcadia in Venice – amazing location. Very nice room overlooking the front of the hotel which has an open air market in front of it. The morning breakfast with this hotel was among our favorite! They had a wonderful selection and a beautiful dining room.
Palazzo Alfani in Florence – convenient location and literally across the street from the Academia. Literally we stumbled out of the the museum and crossed the street and unlocked the door the the apartments. The suite was very large, full kitchen and gave us space to spread out after a smaller room in Venice. The owner was very attentive and very kind. She offered us bubbly and an Italian holiday cake which we dug into quickly. The view was of the courtyard which was nice. Definitely an older building that has been restored (17th century, I think) so it had a few imperfections but to us that just drove home the experience which was very unique. Our breakfast was a very short walk down the street to a local restaurant where we were given vouchers for. It was a very clean and updated restaurant. The waiter we had each morning was very kind. The food was cooked fresh and tasted perfect. It really was a great way to start the morning! Very nice place to go for food and coffee.
Hotel 47 Rome – The room and hotel was very clean and it was a very nice large room. Very nice and elegant hotel. Our room service the first night we were there was a delayed and for our inconvenience they bought a beer and a glass of wine for us which was nice. The burger I had was OK not wonderful. The club sandwich Rico had was certainly just OK. We stayed away from room service after this experience. We knew we could find better food out.
We did have a nice piece of cake and some fruit decorating it waiting for us in the room on the 3rd. It was a day late but that’s OK it was a nice gesture by the hotel and appreciated when I asked what they could do for him for his bday.
The breakfast in the morning was downstairs in the cafe and it was a nice set up. The wait staff was attentive. It was a bit bland compared to the Venice experience. It felt a little cold and did not have any nice decorations or flowers. Although that’s just an observation for me not like it impacted our experience. (We enjoyed Venice and Florence much better from a taste perspective)
The one thing we both agree on and this had nothing to do with your services but we will always save for business class again for the long haul from Tampa to Germany. Even though it is very expensive the flight back home was miserable. Cramped and full plane and I had a guy reclining the entire time – so I had little to no space to move. I was in a horrible mood when we landed at home. Again nothing you guys can do but if you do suggest items for guests tell them to learn from us and save a little longer for an upgraded flight experience.
Quick run down of our guides: Stefania in Venice – Wonderful experience with her. Honestly I felt like she was family when we left her. She took us to some really neat and out of the way places that we would never have experienced without her. I have her on my facebook and have been keeping up with her and enjoying her pictures she is posting from current tours. I really like how warm and personable she was and she made us quickly have a sense of feeling welcomed to the city.
Katty in Venice – Katty was young and also very nice. Easy to hold a conversation with. She took us to 2 local places that she actually said that she attends as a local for happy hour and appetizers. Katty dropped us off at a really amazing wine bar that was very close to the Rilato bridge so we were able to walk to that and take more pics after a few more glasses of wine. ;o)
Anna Maria in Florence – Walking tour in Florence was a lot of fun. Again Anna Maria was very knowledgeable of Florence and Medici family and really shared so much valuable information that we were on overload at the end of the night. She even went into the Academia with us and spent time viewing the iconic David figure and shared history on the statues we saw all around us while viewing this amazing piece if history. She was so very nice as well and had traveled from Pisa to be with us so we were able to talk to her about Pisa as well. She was very personable again and we enjoyed our time with her immensely.
Giancarlo in Florence (driver that took us to Tuscany region) – Much like Stefania in Venice, GianCarlo was an amazing experience for us. He made us feel at home in his beautiful and spotless Mercedes van. We were late for almost everything we did with Giancarlo because there was so much to look at and we stopped at lots of shops. Giancarlo’s patience was amazing and he kept telling us not to worry about the time we were taking and to enjoy ourselves. So nice of him! He also took some time to take us to Michelangelo square which was not part of our agenda but on the way out of town – and we were able to take lots of wonderful pictures here! The 2nd morning he met us at the restaurant we were eating at instead of the hotel just so we didn’t have to walk 2 blocks in the cold! As mentioned above we spent 2 days with him and enjoyed every minute of the views, his stories and the comfortable vehicle we were able to ride in with lots of cold water.
Vespa Tour in Rome – Alexander and Roberto – As Rico mentioned above this was one of the best parts of the trip. We LOVED seeing the city from this perspective and I tell you thank goodness someone else was driving! The people of Rome drive CRAZY. Alexander was an exciting and funny guy and Roberto was very personable and I enjoyed the conversations I had with him while zipping through the streets of Rome.
Elyssa – Vatican tour in Rome- Elyssa spent half the day with us showing us the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. She was young and energetic and you could tell she loves what she does. She spent time with us in the courtyard really going over in detail what we would see in the Sistine chapel (since you cannot speak) and this was a tremendous help in really being able to take in the amazing wonders of artwork and many details that we certainly would not have appreciated without the explanation and friendly and knowledgeable information she provided.
Monica in Rome – Cooking class- This was a lot of fun! I would certainly want to do this again for our next trip! We picked out fresh ingredients with Monica straight from the vegetable stand, meat market and bakery. The apartment that the chef owns for these tours is UNBELIEVABLE! It is hidden away for sure and just stunning views and a wonderful commercial kitchen. The wine was flowing and the food was so filling and I learned so much and will be putting the lessons into use in my own kitchen here in the US! I was impressed with everything that Monica taught us – even Rico has some cooking skills he can put into place here at home with a fresh and tasty veal saltimbocca.
I would love to do a cooking class in Naples and Sicily on our next vacation! This was so much fun for both of us!
Thank you Matteo – you made us feel like we were having a first class experience with everything we did! All drivers with the exception of one had very fancy, clean and newer model cars or vans and the tour guides were so accommodating. The lodging was really different in each city and I really enjoyed the apartment and having a full size fridge (for wine of course) and lots of space to stretch out in the middle of the trip.
We’ll get some pictures over to you soon. Thank you!!”
Rico Borzelleri & Angie Villarosa (Tampa, FL) – DECEMBER 2016