We are home, safe and sound! Thanks for a wonderful itinerary that gave us a very unique and memorable experience in Italy.
A very happy new year to you and your family! I hope you have a great time during this festive period.
As promised, I will give you a final review of the rest of the itinerary. I have not been writing, as I think the long period of travel had kind of make us exhausted.
Valeria, our guide for the Imperial Fora and Colosseum, exuded a lot of enthusiasm and energy during the tour. We all thought she was quite good! The tour of Rome highlights was quite a rush-through. It would have been better if the gladiators’ activity was scheduled on another day, so that we have more time to explore some of the Rome attractions. BTW, as you have seen on my FB, we love the Sabatini restaurant that you arranged for us to have dinner last night. A big thank-you from us to you! Tonight, we had dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. It is called Sensus, rated no. 12 by Tripadvisor. I must say the food and service were fantastic too. You should check it out some day. The cooking class was wonderful, and we enjoyed it very much. Kudos to Fabio and his assistant, Monica! The visit to the Vatican City was an amazing eye opener. The 2.5 hour visit was a bit too rush. Frederica was a very knowledgeable guide and took us to the highlights, but we wish we had a bit more time on our own to explore the museum. After she left us, we went back to the basilica and went up the dome. Luckily we did, cos’ the view was awesome up there.
Marco, the driver guide of the full day excursion to Pompeii and Naples, was absolutely wonderful. Not only was he patient to a fault, he was the perfect gentleman who was trying to make sure that we are happy customers. He took us to the Vesuvius when we requested, though the place was closed when we got there. Then he took us to Napoli, despite the bad traffic from Rome to Pompei and in Napoli itself, to let us have a glimpse of the Xmas market. He also paid for our pizza lunch, and we are not sure that it was included in the tour or his generosity.
We all love Florence! It was a beautiful and amazing city. Though it was quiet on Xmas day, we still managed to explore the place a bit by walking around town. We didn’t go for the mass, as the children were afraid of being bored, since we all don’t speak Italian. It’s ok, we can leave the visit to the inside of the Duomo for our next trip.
The shopping at the outlets was fun. I wish I had more time, and also more money!
As for Venice, it was definitely worth a visit. It is not quite like any other city in Italy. I was glad we went in winter, as even then it was quite crowded because of the Xmas break. Overall though, we found this place to be expensive and overly commercialised. Service staff could be quite obnoxious or wonderfully helpful, depending on your luck. It is definitely worth mentioning that the guide who received us at the train station, Gabriella, was a spunky and resourceful lady! Thanks to you and her, we got rescued very quickly after alighting at the wrong station! This is an incident that proves that your service is important and well worth the money? In addition to receiving us, she was also very helpful in orientating us during the boat trip to the hotel.
As for the private boat tour on the Grand Canal, it was quite fun. The guide was very knowledgeable, but we all felt very sleepy listening to her…she definitely could be a bit more interesting. I had to keep waking my son up as he started dozing off during the tour!
Dinner at Ristorante Il Ridotto was awesome. Great food, great service, great ambience! What more can I say?
We were happy to be back in Milan. Breakfast here was the best, and served by wonderful staff.
I was glad you arranged for a tour to the lake district on the way to the airport. At first I had my reservations, in anticipation of the long flight home, we had wanted to take it easier. However the breathtaking views were worth the time and effort. Unfortunately, most shops and restaurants were closed during this time. This would be a place we would love to go back to some day.
Btw I did some shopping at Peck. Thanks to your recommendation, I got all that I wanted to bring home for my party. Sadly, I left my panettone in the seat next to the driver who sent us to the airport. Blame it on the amount of luggage we had, so much so that we forgot my precious panettone, which I didn’t want to risk being squashed inside the bags in the first place. Sad!
Ok, that’s about it. Let’s keep in touch. Meanwhile, have fun and ciao!
Kwee Sian Choo and family (Singapore), DECEMBER 2012