Now that I am home and have had time to reflect on our trip – it truly was a trip of a lifetime. This was a surprise trip from my husband for our 50th birthdays as well as for our 25th wedding anniversary. What made it even more special was that both of our children Madison (18 and leaving for the University of North Carolina) and Adam (21 and in his last year at the United States Air Force Academy) were able to come. This may be the last time for a while that we will be able to travel together. Several times during the trip, once during our visit to Villa Ida, I looked around and shed a tear at how special the moment was to be together as a family in such a special place. And you helped make these memories for my family.
Now on to the actual trip …
Rome was fantastic – hectic, crowded, hot, busy, chaotic – but fantastic. The detailed itinerary and times that you provided took all of the worry out of our travels. We were able to just enjoy!
Residenza Frattina was very comfortable and in a great location. The contact there was always very helpful and gave us great suggestions of places to see and eat.
Our tour guide for the Vatican, Marta (I think), was excellent. She was delightful to be around and very knowledgeable. She took the time to show us pictures of things we would see and the history behind them. We waited in no lines and truly enjoyed our time there. She definitely added to the Vatican experience.
The Colosseum was another great experience. Our group tour guide was again very good and gave so much insight into the Colosseum’s history. One thing I have taken away from our trip is that guided tours offer so much more than seeing something on our own. Each guide, I am sure, brings different insight and stories to each place. We did walk over to the Forum afterward, but with the heat and walking, we did not stay for long. We were anxious to have a rest before our Walking Food Tour.
Sarah was excellent and to end on the rooftop terrace for pasta and wine, took our breath away. My son said that was his favorite part so far.
The cooking class with Fabiolous was more than I could have imagined. Our chef made everything very fun and we had a great time with the other family that was with us. The kids learned a lot and we ended up eating way too much. It was nice to have a day off from sightseeing, but I still felt like we experienced a part of Rome that not everyone sees. It was interesting to see how people shop everyday at the markets.
The Necropolis was the most interesting because of the history and everything I learned. That was definitely worth waiting for! Our guide again, was excellent.
We waited a little too long to board the train to Naples, so we had issues with storing our luggage (it had to sit in the aisles) but it all worked out. I would definitely give future travelers advice to board as soon as the train arrives. We learned our lesson, so for the next 2 trains, we were on the platform when the trains arrived and everything went smoothly.
Our driver out of Naples, Francesco, was great! Very friendly and eager to make us comfortable. He played Dean Martin songs about Italy that we all recognized – very fun!
Sorrentino Winery was beautiful. The tour was interesting, the food was delicious, and the wine was perfect. The case we purchased arrived today!
Pompeii was among my favorites. Celeste, our guide, made it very interesting and fun. The kids really enjoyed it and again, I learned so much. Driving along the coast, Francesco pulled over so we could get out and enjoy the view.
Tasso Suites was nice and in a great location.
Sorrento was beautiful. It was crowded but moved slower, especially at night, than Rome. We took one of your suggestions and ate at Trattoria da Emilia. It was a bit of a walk along the water and then down a few quiet streets and then it opened up onto this beautiful waterfront with twinkle lights – it was magical. One of my favorite places that we ate!
Capri was a great day and we took the chair lift to the very top. Very fun and a great way to see the view. Villa Ida and making pizza with the family was definitely one of our highlights. Charlie showed us his “wine cellar” and picked fresh figs for all of us to eat. This experience is one I would recommend to anyone going to Sorrento.
Everything went smoothly catching the train and meeting our guide, Elena (I think this was her name) in Florence. To only be in Florence for a short time, she did an excellent job pointing out the highlights and taking us to the museum. I think we were all content with seeing just the smaller museum. Madison has said that she would like to return to Florence one day to see more. Elena took us back to the train station and made sure we knew where to meet our next driver. As always, the guides and drivers were more than willing to help us feel comfortable.
The drive to Chianti was beautiful. And when we arrived at Castello di Spaltenna, it took my breath away. The accommodations were exquisite and the staff, especially in the restaurant were very friendly. We never left, except for the cooking class the next day. The class was fun and as always, the food and wine were plentiful. We spent the afternoon by the pool and in the spa. We all enjoyed and savored the quiet and beauty of the area. You timed our visit there perfectly. We were exhausted, in a good way, and this retreat allowed us to slow down and really savor the Italy that we all imagined in our minds. I would definitely return here again. Being here also came at a time when we received sad news from home. A very young friend of our family died unexpectedly back home during our stay. I was able to go into the chapel there and reflect and pray for the family. Again, Castello di Spaltenna came at the right time in our trip. My whole family agreed that we could have spent one more day in Chianti. But, we must always leave wanting more.
By now we considered ourselves pros on the trains and all of our transfers going into Venice were perfect!
Hotel Giogione was wonderful. The location was great and Venice was definitely my favorite city. By just walking across one bridge, the crowds were gone and we could just enjoy walking and seeing the back alleys. Our guide was good and the water taxi tour was great. I enjoyed the slower pace of Venice as compared to Rome and am glad that we ended our trip there.
I hope I have conveyed how special this trip was to us. (I may have written more than you wanted 🙂 But, everything you planned for us went perfectly. I expected the pace of the trip to be busy, but your itinerary allowed us to be able to rest most afternoons before heading out to see more later in the day. Again the timing of Chianti was perfect. All of the drivers and guides were very professional and eager to please. We really appreciated everyone’s efforts. Your list of restaurants was very helpful and we also used the app YELP for restaurant suggestions.
For a trip that will only happen once for my family, your efforts are greatly appreciated. You have helped create a special memory for my family and for that I am sincerely grateful.
Thank you again and if I can offer more insight on anything specific, please let me know.
Lynne & Gary Fly”
Lynne & Gary Fly (Greensboro, NC) – JULY 2016