“Everything you planned was amazing (apart from cooking class–which was in no way your fault). We absolutely loved all of the city tours (Genoa, Parma, and Turin). The guides you chose for those tours were incredibly knowledgable, friendly, and courteous. I would have to say my favorite tour was Parma. Manuela knew everything there was to know about the city. I loved that she shared stories about influential women (another area of passion for me–I plan to research all of the women I learned about on our trip). The food tasting was also delicious. The tour of Genoa was also excellent, and I enjoyed our visit to two antique book shops. I held a book from 1503 – difficult for someone from the US to imagine. Our guide was very helpful in translating with the book shop owners on my behalf. The tour of Turin was also fabulous. And our guide got us in to see the shroud with only a five minute wait! What a bonus that was!
We absolutely loved the tour of the Borromean Islands. Our guide was excellent. Even though we battled some rain, she timed it so that we saw the Botanic gardens first, before the rain, and then we were inside a restaurant having lunch during the worst of the rain. I could not believe the stunning beauty of those islands. I was particularly struck by the botanic gardens, and by the grottos in the palace. Again, our tour guide was so knowledgable, and we learned so much about the history of the region and the influence of the Borromeo family.
We adored Sestri Levante, and our only regret there was that we missed Cinque Terre (a good reason to go back). We loved the hotel’s location on the beach, and wish we had had a bit more time there.
We struggled a bit the day we were on our own to find our way to Switzerland and back. We relied quite a bit on the brochure and hand gestures to find where we needed to go. But it was quite an adventure! The train ride back took us through some breathtaking scenery. (I now have added incentive to learn the language).
The hotels were all very nice (the one in Parma is the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in–the kids were amazed).
It was great to have drivers so that we didn’t have to find our own way. One suggestion I would make is regarding transportation to/from the farm (cooking class). Perhaps have a driver from Parma drive up to the farm, and then some hours later have a driver from Stresa come pick up. Luca had to wait a long time for us on a very hot day since he was our driver for the entire trip.
Having the smart phone was very helpful!
All in all, you created an amazing trip for us, which allowed us to learn so much about the region’s history and rich culture. We will treasure the memories we made while in Italy.
Let me know the best way to send photos!
Diane DeBella (Superior, CO) – JUNE 2015