I’ve been meaning to email you since we got back from our trip to tell you that we had a wonderful time! The hotels, transportation, and tours that you had arranged for us all worked out very well and allowed us to relax and enjoy our experience without having to worry about all of those details. We kept commenting to each other, “Wow, Alessia took good care of us!” 🙂 Having our itinerary, necessary tickets/vouchers, and additional recommendations on packing, restaurants, and key Italian phrases in one packet was very helpful as well. We kept everything together in a bound folder and referenced it regularly as we planned our days.
A couple of notes for you:
1) While the restaurant recommendations were helpful, it was hard to know where those restaurants were in relation to our hotels without looking up each one — we wanted to eat at restaurants within walking distance of our hotels, and so an accompanying map identifying the locations of the recommended restaurants (and gelaterias!) would have been very helpful.
2) All of our hotels worked really well, especially with our request for adjoining or adjacent rooms with our daughter. Hotel Ponte Sisto, with the garden view suite, was especially nice — we had plenty of space/privacy, and the garden-facing room and private patio provided a quiet and relaxing space away from the bustle of Rome in summer. The hotel staff was also very welcoming and accommodating. The only difficulty we had with our hotels was in Florence at Hotel Berchielli — while the hotel itself was very nice, and the views out our windows of the Arno River were beautiful, the street noise outside our windows made it difficult to sleep at night. One night there was an opera concert on the river just outside our windows, which was nice to listen to; however, it did not end until almost midnight, which was hard as we were tired from a busy day of touring the city. The amenities at this hotel were also not quite as nice as at the other hotels — the air conditioning seemed a bit sporadic, and the bathrooms sometimes had a bad smell. Overall, though, even this hotel was fine, so we are not complaining, just giving some feedback for you. On the other side, Hotel Berchielli had the best breakfast of the hotels we stayed in, complete with cappuccinos with chocolate designs in the foam. 🙂
3) All of the tours that we had were excellent. Our private tour guides in Venice and Florence, and our Over Rome group tour guides in Rome all did a very good job. We were pleased with the tours and learned a lot in the process! The cooking class in Florence was also excellent.
4) Your itinerary of a tour/activity in the morning and then afternoons free worked very well for us, especially with the heat and crowds in Florence and Rome. Having nice hotels to go back to in the afternoon to cool off and relax made a big difference — we were very thankful that you did such a good job in finding comfortable and nice places for us to stay. We also enjoyed our two days in Orvieto, without any tours scheduled and away from the crowds. That was a nice break for us in between visiting the more popular cities.
It really was an amazing trip from start to finish! As Jim now says, it was “fantastico!” 🙂
Thanks so much for all of your help in planning our trip — we would highly recommend you (and Cultural Italy) to any of our friends and family who plan to visit Italy in the future.