Buon giorno Antonella,
I'm sure those who traveled on our recent trip to Italy have responded to you by now. I started composing a short story about Marie and my experiences during the 28 day adventure, but I realized that not everyone would be interested in the details of our experience. Secondly, the story of our experience is just too long! Thank you for fulfilling Marie's outline for the itinerary and special requests for the needs of our 5 person group. We were accommodated exceptionally in every way. I can not imagine traveling to Italy and not having a well orchestrated plan in place, and not having a reliable source to contact in the event of an unforseen incident to resolve the issue, especially not having a command of the language. It was a very secure feeling being a guest in Italy. THANK YOU, Antonella and Cultural Italy.
Our drivers were exceptional. They were on time, if not early for our appointments. They safely navigated our routes to destinations often pointing out sights, points of interest and historical significance. I want to give "gold stars" to:1) Danielle in Venice and our travel to the Cinque Terra, 2) Marco in all of our excursions in Rome, and 3) Giovanni specifically for David and Marie in our stay in Sorrento, Positano and our final destination, Naples. These 3 drivers went above and beyond which only enhanced our experience making our trip so memorable. Antonella, you chose the best of the best, and it was a huge bonus that all of our trips were private and not diluted by having to share the vehicles with other people whom we didn't know.
Hotels met all of ours requests for the circumstances of the location. I wish to give "gold stars" to: 1) the staff at the Baglioni in Venice for their gracious professionalism and the beautifully decorated breakfast room which was breath taking, plus the offerings were plentiful and outstanding, 2) the proprietor of Hotel La Spiaggia, Maria, and her staff were welcoming, hospitable, informative and always accommodating. We were able to preserve the label on the bottle of wine featuring the LA Spiaggia that Maria presented us on our departure to Rome...a great memory of our stay, 3) the Hotel Lunetta was a great choice for location. I particularly enjoyed the breakfast discovering "mint milk", and the "gold star" goes to Titsianna at the front desk for her warm hospitality and her interest regarding our stay and our in our excursions, 4) the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria was an oasis in luxury protected from the chaotic bustle of tourists in the main location of beautiful Sorrento...it was our sanctuary. Upon arrival, Carmelia at the front desk offer us an upgrade to a Junior Suite Deluxe Sea View which was greatly appreciated. Carmelia always inquired to insure our comfort and needs were met..."gold star". The Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is nothing less than a 5 star experience with exceptionally superior vistas, decor, and amenities within the beautiful serene grounds of the property. Our only complaint was the constant daily efforts by staff to invite us to have dinner at the restaurant at the pool. I finally had to say that we preferred to dine indoors. Not only were their efforts intrusive, but it gave us the impression that the hotel was desperate for business. However, we would gladly stay at the hotel again and do recommend that the experience of the property is well worth it when in Sorrento. 5) Off to Positano and the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni, which was comfortable and scenic, as our room overlooked the beach and upwards to the magnificently scenic hillside community. A perfect location for people watching and celebrating our anniversary and Marie's birthday. A "gold star" to another Antonella at the breakfast room who was a gracious host always seating me at a window table overlooking the cove. Marie was even presented with a special pastry cake with a candle on her birthday. Thanks to both Antonellas!
Now Naples and the 5 star rated Grand Parker Hotel. Two "gold stars" for Marco at the front desk and Fernando in the lobby bar/restaurant. Both gentlemen were hospitable and professional. Otherwise, I wouldn't rate 5 stars for the overall experience. Firstly, the "Grand Dame" is worn and tired, in great need of refurbishment and repair. Second, although the 6th floor dining rooms appear to be remodeled, hospitable service needs attention. Short and inattentive was our experience and average offerings at breakfast. Lastly, the Hotel just didn't feel Italian. Much less than a 5 star experience. We were worn out from the heat and humidity and ready to go home.
Antonella, I'm not sure if you hand picked our tour guides, but they were exceptional. All 4 of them receive "gold stars"! 1) Chiara on our Lucca visit was vibrant, upbeat and fun showing us many historical aspects about Lucca, past and present. 2) the Cinque Terra boat tour with Captain Franco and 1st mate, Sylvia was first rate. Again, being a private party of 5 made for a comfortable relaxing tour of the coast. Packed with great vistas, historical information and a cool dip in the Mediterranean was only topped by our lunch in the bay of Porto Venere which was prepared and served by the Captain and 1st mate. A glorious day on the water! 3) in Rome, our fabulous Manuela. A consummate professional, her exceptional knowledge was only outweighed by her infectious passion. She truly captured our hearts! She was amazing!
And 4) Laura,for our Pompeii tour deftly guided us though the numerous large groups while still being informative and thorough. She evened suggested that we dine at her friend, Paulo, restaurants in Sorrento. Marie and I did introduced ourselves to Paulo one evening.
As I have stated, Antonella you have played a significant role in the success and enjoyment of the 28 day saga! Now that Marie and I have rested and settled into our normal life, we have begun to talk about returning to Italy as we reflect on our trip and experiences....what we would like to do again and do differently. It's a great feeling to project toward our next adventure. You certainly had a great hand helping Marie coordinate our itinerary. We look forward to working with you again as we develop our ideas and thoughts. Magically, you make dreams come true!
Our many thanks to you and Cultural Italy!