How many times in your life can you say that you experienced perfection? That’s the vacation that Pia planned for us with Cultural Italy. More specifically, our honeymoon, which is a tall order for anyone to orchestrate, let alone our first trip to Italy. My wife and I both have backgrounds in the arts, and she’s a chef, so a proper tour of the birthplace of the Renaissance and one of the world’s culinary holy lands had to be a most special experience. From the moment we began planning discussions with Pia, we could hear the passion in her voice for introducing travelers to the magic of quintessential Italian culture and experiences. In two weeks, we were set to experience four destinations: Venice, Florence, Rome and Positano on the Amalfi Coast. It would have been stressful and overwhelming without a clear and concise itinerary, especially as novices to European travel. From the moment we landed and enjoyed the comfortable ride with a private driver to our private boat taxi that brought us into the Grand Canal of Venice, we knew we chose and spent wisely. It set the tone for the whole trip, a trip that played out like a symphony. One moment you’re marveling at impossibly beautiful art and architecture, the next you’re quietly sipping a “spritz” that sparkles from the Italian sun at an outdoor cafe. Or if you’re like my wife you may even shed a tear upon leaving Firenze for it is truly an enchanting place. For us, the romance of Italy that people always write and speak about always seemed like an exaggeration until this pitch perfect vacation took our breath away. Suddenly you understand, all at once, the poetry and music in people’s voices when they describe their experiences of visiting this country. It turns even the most non-creative people into artists!
Our advice would be to balance your days with scheduled activities and wandering time. Italy is a place where you need to get lost and discover a hidden wine bar or the craft shop of a local artist. But when it comes time to have a guide, Pia paired us with the most amazing local professionals who personalized our experiences of Vatican City, Pompeii and the masterworks of legendary artists in Firenze. Having the knowledge and context of everything we were seeing made for such three dimensional immersion into culture and history, and we did it all without losing precious time waiting in long tourist lines. Even our intercity train rides were easy and so much fun! (I’d go back just for those snacks)
Once we reached the Amalfi Coast, we understood why Pia saved this for last. An other-worldly, seaside destination of phenomenal beauty where we were able to relax and reflect on all of our amazing experiences. Our bed and breakfast was family owned where we had a private sea-view terrace and homemade Italian pastries to die for. Our private boat tour of the coast with the most charming skipper Carmine (ask for him) had us swimming in private caves and sipping prosecco while sightseeing medieval watchtowers along the coast. We even had a fresh seafood lunch at a restaurant that you access by boat.
There’s a time and a place for improvised travel, but to experience Italy like a local with welcoming services was truly the vacation of a lifetime thanks to Pia and Cultural Italy.
Jonathan from Los Angeles