What a fantastic trip!!! Thank you so much for putting together a great vacation and taking care of all the details. It was so nice to look at the the itinerary and know when and where we needed to be the next day. We were able to really enjoy the trip without having to spend valuable vacation time trying to figure things out. I think Italy is my new favorite place in Europe, the Italians we interacted were warm and welcoming and genuinely seemed pleased to have us visit. During our small group trips we met some really nice people, many americans, some canadians and australians.
Palermo- drivers were good, Cristina who did my walking tour was great, very knowledgable and personable.I was glad I had the tour on my arrival day because it pushed me to get out and not go to sleep too early. The hotel was nice, I had a big room. They thought two people were going to be staying there. I'm now a big fan of going to the beach the day after arriving on an overseas trip. It was exactly what I needed. As I mentioned before the Tola winery folks couldn't have been nicer and when they get their tasting room open, I think it will be a great place to visit. I made it home with four bottles of their wine.
My conference was good and met a lot of interesting people. I got to see many of the sites within Erice and we visited Segesta one of the days. We also got to have a pastry lesson with Maria Gramattico at her shop in town.
Sorrento- First of all, the hotel was probably one of the best I have ever stayed at. I would stay there again and recommend it to friends. Our room had the best view, we enjoyed sitting on the balcony and taking it all in. Michael our driver from the airport and to the train station was great. Wish we had more time at the Boscho di Medici winery, they do a really good job at giving you an overview of their process for making wine and a really good set up for a meal while doing a tasting. Really enjoyed the amalfi coast and capri trips. They only problem with the day trips is you never feel like you have enough time to see everything.
Florence/Tuscany- We had a great guide on our walking tour, I think her name was Emmanuela. It was nice to have a knowledgable guide and be able to skip the lines as it was extremely busy in florence with all the tourists. Enjoyed spending the rest of the day going to the PItti Palace and wandering the streets, shopping, and eating the wonderful food.
The bike tour was fun, a little odd to have bike guys do the tour of the castle and wine production facility. Overall the day was fun and a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery. for the Siena/San Gimignano day trip was good but definitely didn't have enough time in either place. With so many tourists we didn't really have enough time to do everything or go up in any of the towers as it required either time entry or the wait was over an hour and we basically only had 2 hours in each town. If i did it again I would either only go to one place or have a guide with tickets already purchased. The highlight of the trip and the perfect ending for it was the wine tasting and cooking class. It was the best explanation of the wine making process and then the cooking class with Gabriela it was so fun and she was a warm and generous host.
Thanks for all the work that went into making a wonderful vacation.
BTW- I think we had a convert with Leigh. She really enjoyed the trip and was telling a lot of the people we met about how great your planning was.