when we went up for breakfast this AM, one of the staff came right up to us and said, “You cannot have lactose. Can I make you a cappuccino with rice milk?” OMG!!! I think that was the BEST expression I’ve heard! I’ve been dying for a cappuccino. We were so happy. They also had an entire basket with gluten free bread for Thomas. The b&b here in Syracuse has been wonderful. Their staff and position in town is perfect.
We also LOVED the wine tour at Planeta. That was just amazing. They are equally as wonderful as the hotel staff. They had gf breads for Tom, and the tour was so generous and perfect. We had no idea that we were getting a picnic lunch outside either. What a terrific surprise. We were there for 4 hours chatting, drinking, and eating! I could have stayed all day. We stopped at Noto on the way back, which had great architecture and granite.
Thanks for such a great day full of surprises.
We had a wonderful trip. Thank you! I will give you both the positive and negatives just so you can have more future successes. Know that we would call upon you again in a heartbeat and use your services in the future. You were the best!! Thank you!!!
The first hotel, Hotel Carmine, was gorgeous. We loved the old monastery, and the staff were great. Beautiful bar and lounge area. There was an outside garden that was so serene for soaking in the sun with beautiful flowers. They had good dinner recommendations (San Lorenzo Osteria, which I think you recommended too). Our room was sweet. It overlooked a small piazza. Everything was clean, and we had just the right amount of amenities. The only pitfalls included: no on-site parking as originally stated (it was really hard to find parking anywhere near the hotel—I guess you can no longer park out front), and the fact that we had just gotten in after 2 days of travel to learn that we’d have no power or water for a full day. We had to get up very early, eat early, and then leave the hotel—even to use the restroom. Not using a bathroom at a hotel all day is crazy! Thankfully, our Sicilian family picked us up that day—they said that this was not normal for Sicily. Minus that inconvenience, if they had power, the hotel was amazing. We still loved Marsala and Hotel Carmine. It was still a great start to the trip. Anyone would love staying there. THANK YOU for the olive oil and vinegar too. What a nice surprise when we got in. The phone was also helpful, and thank you for picking up when we called. We appreciate it!! Thanks for checking in as well. We did see Agrigento and Noto on the way to Syracuse. Both were very worth it. Love granite in Noto! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Modica. There was so much to do and see. All of your dinner recommendations that we tried were perfect! We loved that you always had recommendations for everything.
Our second hotel, the B&B Sirene, was also wonderful. The staff were accommodating and pleasant. They had GF and lactose free food for us, which was SO nice. They sought us out to feed us correctly. Amazing service. The views are wonderful of the docks and water. Breakfast on the roof was just gorgeous. The location couldn’t be better. We loved the small feel of the place with modern amenities and great service. Our room was big, clean, and modern. It was way better than what we expected from the pictures. We spent half a day on the balcony drinking wine and watching boats. It couldn’t have been any better.
You know from a previous email how wonderful Planeta was. That experience was amazing. Great picnic, great tour, great food. Just beautiful. The staff there are A+. That was a major favorite.
Our flight to Naples was crazy. The Catania airport was packed!! Holy cow!! But we made it to Naples : ) Our driver picked us up and brought us to Pompeii. I cannot remember his name, but he was honest and nice. He was on time and professional. We met Antonio for a tour of Pompeii—that was great. Pompeii is a must see. We would have loved to see the theater but also understand how huge Pompeii is. For the time that we were there, we saw a lot and thought the tour was perfect. Plus, we were starving (having missed lunch and landing one hour late). Our driver not so happily let us snack in his car…but we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, it was 6 PM, and we had a tiring travel day, but we worked it out. He tried his best and so did we. He got us there safe and talked to us along the way. He also picked us up at the end of our stay on time and drove very calmly through those crazy turns. We appreciated that.
Positano was great! Hotel Vittoria should be 4 stars. The staff are wonderful. They were the best. Two guys threw our luggage bags on their back to bring them down and later back up those cliffs (one at 4:30 AM). That is service!! The views were AMAZING. LOVED the location. Our room was huge. We had a big balcony that looked out at houses (water would have been nice, but we cannot complain). The bathroom was the best with a hot shower and lots of space. Cute tiles everywhere. Some great restaurants are minutes away, like Next2. Next2 was one of the best restaurants that I’ve ever been too. We saw John Stamos, the famous actor, down by the water (I don’t think he is famous in Italy, though). Capri was OK, and unfortunately, I only made it thought half of the Amalfi Coast boat tour. I started to get seasick when the guide stopped the boat for a swim. The water was just too rough for where he stopped. The wine and food were a nice touch, but I was unfortunately done by then. If I wasn’t green, I think Tom would have rated that one A+ and said it was his favorite day. Tom and I jumped off the boat in Amalfi (the guide was really understanding and even offered to get us later). However, we took the bus back after a nice lunch on the beach. I just couldn’t do those waters. I’ve done many boat tours but the Amalfi Coast is a bit wavy. I did take sea sickness medicine that morning, but the Amalfi Coast won. If anyone ever asks, it is for strong stomachs. The company, Lucibello, was really good, though. Everything in Positano was perfect. Loved both beaches and that we were closer to the quieter one.
In Palermo, we had an amazing tour from Enrica. We just loved her and the tour. We also got “kidnapped” by our Sicilian family for a day when we arrived, and they took us to Montelepre where all of Tom’s family lives. Palermo is where we have the biggest negative of the trip. That B and B with Marco… I would highly recommend reconsidering that place on your list. Yes, it is centrally located, but it’s pretty awful. Marco was never around. For an entire day we tried to find him to pay taxes and give him the phone. No one ever sits at that desk. We never got assistance or what we needed. They left unattended luggage from people who couldn’t check in yet out in the open—not even behind the desk. Our room was gross. Like a cheap motel in America. Stained walls, holes in the walls, we had a light out in the room the entire time—before we got there–and the worst: the maid moved all of our stuff. I’ve never had my stuff moved completely all over a room. My razor was moved as well as broken. I had clothes moved to different sides of the room. They didn’t move my stuff to clean so we can only assume that they (he/she) went through our stuff. So unprofessional. Also, the bed was the worst. The sheets are sandpaper. Itchy and kind of dirty looking. The mattress is only one—which felt like sleeping on a box spring only. We couldn’t sleep. I piled up soft materials and slept on those. We had barely any toilet paper when we arrived and it took a full day to get that and soap. I asked for an extra pillow and finally Tom had to go hunt one down. There are no amenities. No safe. No fridge. Bare bones toiletries. The shower was too small. Marco is full of himself—and he also scared us about Palermo and all the crime. We were 1.5 hours early for check-in, and even though multiple rooms were open, he tried not to let us check in. The breakfast was the most sad of all the hotels. It was just the worst. Again, though, the location is neat in the new part of town.
Sooooo, that’s the short version. We LOVE Italy, as always. It was our third time there. We had an AMAZING trip. The negatives—not your fault and out of anyone’s control—were minor compared to how much fun we had!! Hope this helps!!
Christine and Thomas”
Christine F. (Deland, FL) – MAY 2016