Denise Fiore

The trip went very well from start to finish thanks to Roberta Albert and Cultural Italy.  My sister, my niece and I had a wonderful time.  Any glitches (very minor) were due to the fault of the travelers.  Here is our feedback - First the accommodations. The Hotel J & J in Florence was elegant and the staff professional, friendly and accommodating.  Hotel Violino D'Oro in Florence was just as elegant though smaller.  The staff also professional, friendly and accommodating. Second the excursions. The walking tour of Florence was an outstanding experience because of Elvira our guide.  Her passion for Florence was contagious.  Not to mention her extensive knowledge and attention to detail to all things Florentine. The cooking class was great fun.  Our Chefs Davide and Andrea were knowledgeable, patient and funny.  Maybe it was all the wine they gave us. Lunch was delicious so they taught us well. The trip to Siena, San Gimignano, Monterrigioni and Pisa captivated our senses.  Adding to this was our well informed driver Julian who also did not hesitate to make a phone call to find an answer to a question someone asked.  After being in Siena we realized that we needed a few more days in there.  Just lovely. Aside- Compliments to our guides and instructors.  They were professionals who shared their knowledge modestly and not in a condescending way.  We loved that and thought you should know. Third Italy. It is hard to say what our favorite place or highlight was.  The Duomo is a given.  Siena is next.  And as mentioned before we should have spent more time in Siena.  We just touched the surface. The art, sculptures buildings, culture, people in Florence and Venice just go on and on.  Each one beautiful in its own right.  You can not appreciate all of it in one week. Venice is very interesting the way in which the Venetians live surrounded by water.  Doesn't look real although it is.  It's a wonder.  Not to mention the incredible architecture. We were pleasantly surprised by the evening concert at the Scuola grande San Teodoro.  The music and soloists were phenomenal.  We could have listened for another hour.  One thing we wanted to mention.  Most of the audience was not dressed up which we thought was required. The gondola ride was very calming and peaceful.  A must do in Venice. As we process our vacation we will think of other places, experiences and people that made this vacation a memorable experience for us and we will let you know. Please do not hesitate to contact me.  Now back to the real world.