Connie Torbert



I will try to not make this overly lengthy.  All travel plans were impeccable.  The hotels were great and service was top notch.  I will have to say that the Sorento hotel was my favorite and Rome my least favorite.  We were all glad to see the Vatican, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but would probably not go back to Rome as it had the feeling of being in a large city here such as Boston or New York.  Having said that, there was no place in Italy that we felt unsafe as we do sometimes in large cities here. 
Our guides and drivers were outstanding and all adaptable to our wants and needs.  One example of a change is when Francesco from Tuscan Travelers, picked us up for Siena and San Gemignano, he took us to Piazzale Michelangelo on the way out of town and by the WWII memorial, which we all loved.  We stopped at a small fort type of community (can’t remember the name) and then to Siena.  After that we went to a winery for lunch and a tasting (Sant Appicino) and it was fabulous!!!!!  He said we were scheduled for another place but it was about an hour out of the way.  We were glad because it gave us more time in San Gemignano.  He was Great!!!!  I would recommend this experience to anyone.  Also he was familiar with the weaving place I wanted to see and took us directly there.  The next day when Laura and the driver picked us up we told her that we had been to Piazzale Michelangelo the day before and she actually took us to San Miniato Al Monte.  Oh my!  This view, in my opinion, beats Piazzale Michelangelo by thousands and was so very quiet and peaceful and we treasured the story behind it.  Also, Laura got us figured out very quickly on what types of things we liked as far as artisans and tailored that perfectly.  We went to the Rialto Bridge and I found a bracelet I really liked, but had already asked her about an artisan made piece.  She had given me info on another piece and we went by there on our way back to get the other bracelet and found the perfect piece there instead of on the bridge.

I skipped this, but Renato took us to a fabulous place for lunch (3 hours) between Positano and Amalfi.  What a way to start the trip!  We didn’t make it to the Paper Museum in time but did find some stationary.  We were not upset over that as the restaurant was on the mountain side overlooking Sophia Loren’s home and the experience  was fabulous.  We fell in love with Sorento and the Amalfi Coast.  I would recommend that anyone explore Anacapri.  We liked it much better than Capri.  Just a note that the hike in Cinque Terre took us 3 hours.  It was grueling and we were all glad we had done it, as the views were spectacular.  We were proud of ourselves for finishing but Tim and I wouldn’t do that again.  It is difficult.  We were slower than others but sweet Saura, told us to not worry and take our time.  It was really interesting to hear her talk about that area.  We learned so much and would definitely go back again, but I think we would take the boat from town to town.  

Monica was fabulous and everyone was thrilled that we went to Burano first on the day we did those islands.  She told us that most people do Murano first so it is really crowded in the morning and so we went to Burano first.  This was Tim and Billy’s favorite place.  We all loved it.  She had done the research on the lace and knew exactly where to take us.  Also, she “got it” after one or two stops on the shopping tour as to what we were looking for in artisan shops.  I guess you could say that shopping is regular shopping for us, it is finding the artisans to purchase from.  We talked with several people that day and the next who had done both and they all loved Burano but had been there in the afternoon and didn’t have enough time there.  We felt fortunate to have such a knowledgeable guide.

Overall, there was NOTHING that we were disappointed in.  This trip was so very special and when we left, we felt as if we had just gotten there and didn’t want to go.  I could absolutely make Italy home and your expertise and attention to detail made that possible.  We have recommended you and Cultural Italy to everyone.

We love our drivers and guides!  We have also already started talking about going back in a couple of years.

Before we left, we had given our grandchildren a map to track our adventure.  I think both sets of “grands” enjoyed that and it was a learning experience for them.  Please know that you have given me a gift that cannot be matched and that I will never forget and because of our excitement over this trip, it has encouraged my daughter and granddaughters to explore their heritage and hopefully make the trip back with us.  I would like to have your address, as the Torberts and Hargroves want to send you a little something special from Alabama.

Ciao, my friend.  Have a nice holiday and please feel free to use us as a reference at any time.