Finally back on my Chicago time sleep schedule -- but the jet lag was WELL worth it! Italy was perfection.
We loved our experience in Rome, the Hotel Montecarlo was wonderful, and having the skip the line tickets allowed us to truly have a wonderful day-filled experience. We enjoyed the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palentine Hill (my brother's favorite for sure! Loved the Gladiator stuff). We then took our own tour of the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain (unfortunately under construction), and the Spanish Steps. We also appreciated having the skip the line tickets for the Vatican. What an amazing experience seeing the museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica (and square).
After Rome, we took a train to Florence (and we really appreciated having our tickets already purchased! SO helpful!). We LOVED our cooking class, our chef was so charming and talented! We also really enjoyed our small group tour of the Duomo. My mom hiked all the way to the top! Unfortunately, somewhere we lost translation in planning and we didn't have skip the line tickets for the Accademia, but we went early on Thursday morning and had a short wait before getting in (which was well worth it!). Lastly, we adored our Chianti tour. It was so cool having the experience in 2 different parts of the Chianti region (Montereggioni was beautiful!).
Again, our train tickets pre-printed were so helpful in getting from Florence to Monterosso. Although it was discouraged given the time it would take to travel there, our one night in Monterosso was one of our favorite nights. We LOVED the vacation feel after a busy start of our trip in sight-seeing. Monterosso was a great moment to reflect, slow down, and enjoy BEAUTIFUL scenery and people. My brother and I did the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza and back - it was amazing. We loved Hotel Amiche - very nice!
Our last leg of the trip, from Monterosso to Venice was lengthy with the amount of trains, but again, well worth it. We all wanted to see Venice, and it was beautiful. We enjoyed going at our own pace towards the end of our trip, and we explored San Marco square and all the windy canals. Our gondola was also delightful, such a relaxing way to end our amazing trip.
Overall, I would highly recommend working with Cultural Italy to ANY family traveling to Italy for their first time. It was so helpful having our vouchers and train tickets beforehand. It allowed us to fill in the open windows of time with exploring, and I loved getting to see so much of Italy in our short 9 days. Thank you for your organization, recommendations, and enthusiasm!
We miss Italy every day!
Thank you again,
Emily and Family