Finally time for some feedback on our trip to Sicily. In general, the trip was great! Well planned by you with accommodations and activities that were exactly what we enjoy and exactly what we were looking for – clearly, you listened well to our requirements and desires and fulfilled them to our great satisfaction! I was especially impressed by the guides you work with – they were, as a group, the best guides we have experienced in our travels – knowledgeable about not only the specifics, but also the context around their areas of expertise; and willing and delighted to open up and share with us their experiences as humans living in their country, city, culture, society. Well done!
The highlight of the trip was the day we spent on Mt Etna. The guys at EtnaHiking are superb and made our experience very memorable. You will see that from the pictures (link below).
Of course there were some disappointments and areas that you could possibly improve. These relate mainly to the comparison of the expectations that were set in the trip proposal and itinerary and the reality of what actually was offered. While none of these was a catastrophe, there is room for improvement and I will try to highlight these:
- “English Speaking Drivers” – This was featured in your proposal, yet Horatio was the only driver who spoke English and who spoke to us at all! The other drivers were incapable of communicating with us, which led to some practical problems (that you are aware of) and missed opportunities. With the long transit times we spent in cars going from one place to another, it would have been nice to have at least some commentary from the driver of where we were, who we were seeing out the window, something about his own experience, etc. Instead – other than Horatio, who was great n all these respects – we had only silence. This was not good and not what was expected.
- Activities/visits that fell short – Examples,
- You said: “You will discover the local ancient method to make chocolate under the expert guide of Katia who will be sharing the secrets of her grandma Nonna Elvira with you in her house in the heart of the city. So get ready for an unforgettable chocolate hands-on experience, we will make sure you will go back suitably messy.”
- Reality: It was a nice visit, but consisted of us standing across a bench to hear some facts about chocolate making and watch as a worker made and poured some chocolate paste into molds. No participation from at all, hardly “hands on.” See photo below
- You said “you will visit a beautiful wine estate and learn about the origin, the story and uniqueness of Marsala wine. A delicious lunch at the historical cellar, with typical Sicilian delicacies and wine tasting will follow”
- Reality: We have been to many, many wineries and vineyards and this one is at the absolute bottom of my list. First we arrived 1 hour early (driver problem again), and sat in the hot courtyard to wait for the hostess to arrive, then when she did, we were given a rushed, superficial tour of the facilities providing no insights or understanding at all into the winemaking they do there. The place itself is not a “wine estate”, it’s a factory in the middle of the city and very industrial. The ‘delicious lunch’ was a very uninspiring plate of focaccia and sandwiches served not in the sealed-off cellar, but in the very ordinary tasting room (more like a bar). I think you need to find a new winery to guide your clients to!
- Salt Way Road:
- You said “Visit the historic salt pan works, where the ancient tradition of harvesting salt from the sea is still practised.”
- Reality: Our driver pulled over at the parking lot and turned to us and said “photo?” That was it. We got out, took a picture, and then continued down the road.
Even though I have pointed out some areas for improvement, you will get the highest rating from me, as our overall experience with you from start to finish has been nothing short of delightful!
Steve & Monica Shevell”
Steve & Monica Shevell (Stockholm, SWEDEN) – JULY 2016