Eng-Ciechoski Group

Our trip was fantastic and was enjoyed by all of us. Although we were exhausted at the end, it was absolutely worth every moment, and the memories on this trip will stay with all of us forever. 

We would like to pay special compliment to Alessia Moro for her patience, her recommended itinerary, and her follow through on every change and every special request. We appreciate all her efforts and all her attentiveness.

May 16, 2015
VENICE:  Arrived at Hotel Bauer @ 11:00 A.M.  All went smoothly.  Not allowed to have room until 3:00 P.M.  Not good.  So exhausted.  Hotel Manager did arrange for us to register at 2:00 P.M. and gave us a suite to compensate for long delay.  The staff very knowledgeable and courteous.  Gondola ride OK.

May 17
Breakfast @ Hotel had a very good selection.  Wait staff  attentive.
Our tour guide, Nadia arrived and we visited Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and Piambi Prison. She was knowledgeable and had a great personality.  Our tour of St Mark’s Square had an added highlight of seeing the St. Mark’s Square Clock Tower doors open and the statues of a Golden Angel and the Three Magi come out at 12 Noon.  We were told this happens only twice a year.

May 18
Nadia told us that our tickets were valid for a visit to Museum in St. Mark’s Square and we did take it in.  Was interesting and worth an hour of one’s time.
Evening Opera “La Traviata” was spectacular.  Was a highlight of our Venice visit.  Highly recommend for any visitor to Venice. 
Had dinner at  Trattoria Da Remigio and Taverna San Trovoso.  Both very good.
Note:  Hotel not soundproof.  Can be very noisy in morning when carts can be heard rolling down the streets to the docks.

May 19
Como:  2 Train Rides.  Arrived at Palace Hotel @ 3:20 P.M.  Rooms small but very  nice.  Spectacular views of Lake Como.  Ate at the Hotel because of rain.  Recommend their dining to all visitors.  Will not disappoint.  The Head Waiter, Michelangelo, was the best and the food excellent.

May 20
Despite the pouring rain, our tour guide, Ector, was able to have us all enjoy the tour.  Stopped for aperitif at ‘Vintage Jazz Food & Wine Bar.”  It was excellent.  We had an assortment of Cheeses, Dried Meats, Red Wine, Prosecco, and Cappuccino. 
Ate dinner again at the Hotel because of persistent rain and they did not disappoint. Breakfast Buffet also very good.

May 21
Rapallo:  Train rides to Rapallo and arrival @ “Excelsior Palace” about3 P.M.  Gorgeous views from our room overlooking “Mar Ligure Sea.”  Doreen and I scouted out the town and found  “Hostaria Vecchia Rapallo Ristorante Wine & Cocktail Bar” that had been recommended by the Hotel for evening meal.
It was excellent.  Felt like a resident of the town.  All the food was very fresh and owner and staff  accommodating

May 22
Took train from Rapallo to Manarola were we met with our Tour Guide, Serena.  We toured all five Cinque Terre Villages.  Serena made arrangements for Lunch in Monterossa in a Fort with breathtaking views.  Food was excellent.  Serena was very knowledgeable, personable and accommodating. Long day but very enjoyable.

May 23
Tuscany:  Private Drive from Rapallo to “Hotel Villa Le Barone” in Tuscany very pleasant.  Villa is beautiful.  Landscaped with over 100 varieties of Roses, Lemon and Apricot trees, etc.  Endless views of terraced mountains with Olive and Grape Groves. Cloister Abbey in walkable distance and worth a look.  Ate dinner at Villa and it was Very Good.

May 24
Did tour of Siena and San Gimignamo with Yaris.  He was very knowledgeable, professional, and enjoyable.  He selected lunch at “Ristorante in Agriturismo Taverne di Bibbiano.”  Beautiful setting in valley of mountains.  Food good.

May 25
Toured Leaning Tower of Pisa and Cathedral at Duomo Campanile.  We all climbed the marble steps to top of Tower.  Quite a workout.  Had a light lunch at Allosteria Café.  Very good day.

May 26
Yaris drove us from Tuscany to “Hotel de Laurus”in Florence.  Most uncomfortable beds.  Do not  recommend this hotel because of beds and service.  Pouring rain before start of tour to Ufuzzi Gallery and the Hotel does not provide umbrellas. 
Our guide, Antonella, tried her best to make our tour pleasant despite the pouring rain.  So miserable after tour, that we just ate in our room that evening.

May 27
Did tour of Academia Museum and weather was good.  Antonella helped us through our search for Stephen and was very calm and reassuring. 
The Galliker’s and Ray and I dined at “Ristorante Parione” as recommended by our Hotel.  It was excellent.  The hostess who  spoke very little English was delightful. Great recommendation on the wine by our waiter.  Highly recommend this place for dining and especially the Florentine Steak.

May 28
Tour of Fieosole archaeological site and a Medici Villa.  Our guide today is Yaris.  We all enjoy his presentations.  The Medici Villa put the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island, U.S.A. to shame.  Very posh beyond words. Yaris again selected a great place for lunch called “Trattoria B Gobbi.”  Excellent.  

May 29
Sorrento: Train from Florence to Naples and then private driver to “Grand Hotel de La Ville in Sorrento.  Our Driver stopped for our tour of Pompei.  Our guide there was an archaeologist, Lily, who takes a couple months of the year to do these tours.  She was phenomenal.  Her expertise showed through with her knowledge of all aspects of the site.  Beautiful room @ Hotel with Sea View.  Our driver, Renato, recommended dining at “Donna Sofia Ristorante.”  We were picked up by driver from the restaurant and returned to our hotel after dinner.  Delightful.  Beautiful setting on an open air Patio.

May 30
Cooking class was another highlight of our trip.  So enjoyable.  Made Tiramisu, Sauce, Eggplant Rolls, Courgette (zucchini), Ravioli.  We ate so much and it was all delicious.  Our chef instructor was delightful.  Fattoria Terranova located at top of mountain is a very relaxing setting and I highly recommend this for future travelers. Even if you don’t cook, you will enjoy this experience.

May 31
This was the only disappointing day of our trip.  Felt like we wasted a whole day. 
We were not brought to the dock for the boat ride but had to descend numerous steep steps from a cliff of the Hotel Villa la Terrazza.
Our boat captain said that Lunch was included with our Tour fee.  He then chose our sandwich and we had to pay for our beverage.  Normally, a lunch does include one’s beverage.
Isle of Capri was a Tourist Trap. Small rocky beach, shoulder to shoulder visitors, overpriced stores.  Basically, we felt like we had a boat ride.  Not a good day.
Dinner at Hotel disappointing. 

June 1
Rome:  Private drive from Sorrento to Rome very pleasant.  Driver stopped twice so we could stretch our legs.  St.Regis is gorgeous.  Felt great after previous day fiasco.  Dinner at Osteria Dell’Antiquario Piazzetta.

June 2
Our tour guide, Luca is knowledgeable and professional.  We toured the Vatican, St. Peter’s Square, and Basilica.  It was very hot and humid and Luca chose a good pace so that we would all survive.
Had a fantastic Anniversary Dinner at “Osteria dell’Antiquario” as recommended by the Concierge, Georgia.  She did not stir us wrong.  The owner surprised us with a special dessert to celebrate our 53rd Anniversary.  It consisted of several flavors of Gelato, Whipped Cream, Fresh Strawberries all over thin slices of fresh Pineapple.  We were so full.
Our only trouble was the cab driver who drove all around pretending he was lost and tried to charge us more.  We had checked what the cab drive should cost with Hotel before we left and gave him that amount.

Note:  Would recommend to tell tourists planning to visit Rome to be sure before they enter a Cab to ask what the cost will be.  Good idea to check with your Hotel as they are very helpful and know the costs.

June 3
Tour of Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palantine Hill.  Very Hot and Humid but Luca walked us at a nice slow pace.   Michelangelo’s “David” and all of his other works did not disappoint.  He was a genious.
Returned to Osteria Dell’Antiquario Piazzetta to celebrate Joe’s Birthday.  He and Polly had a blast.  Great Osso Bucco.   

This was a very informative trip.  Our planning with all of your guidance made it a trip that will be remembered and replayed in our minds for many years.  Two highlights of this trip were:

Opera in Venice
Cooking Class in Sorrento at Fattoria Terranova

Alessia, you were always very accommodating and prompt to respond to questions or information we needed. We will definitely recommend you to anyone who solicits “Cultural Italy” for a vacation.  Thank You! 

Raymond and Dorothy Ciechoski 

To all my travel companions, it was fun all the way and love you all. Please do not hesitate to add and/or rebuff any of the above. See you in Australia in 7 months. 

Joseph Eng