This was our first trip to Italy. Our travel agent made it a fantastic experience. We began planning the trip in November 2019, with a travel date of October 2020 in mind. The Covid pandemic erupted around the world in the meantime, precluding our trip in 2020, but the team at this agency allowed us to keep our itinerary and reschedule for October 2021. Happily, we made it. Our 2-week tour included Rome, the Vatican, Nettuno, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Assisi, the Chianti countryside, Napoli, Pompei/Ercolano, and the Amalfi Coast (Positano and Ravello).
We appreciated the ability to customize the trip to our particular interests and preferences. We requested boutique hotels, and each hotel chosen by our travel planner was perfect, being comfortable, convenient, congenial, and high quality. Likewise, the various excursions were ideally tailored to our particular interests, including nature hikes, sightseeing, a few museums, tours of historical sites, and cuisine. The guides in various cities selected by our travel planner were truly superior (degrees in history, art history, archaeology, and geology) and all were amiable and spoke excellent English. Some have become friends for life. We also bonded with one of our drivers who was with us for a week. His commentary during our drives provided insights into daily Italian life, culture, and current events. We also learned a little Italiano!
A great experience!
All of it was enjoyable, but our favorite day was the day trip to Castelli Romani. We took in great scenery while visiting an authentic working vineyard and winery, in the midst of the grape harvest in October! The vineyard tour, wine-tasting, homemade food, and entertainment (a melodramatic performance of an old Roman drinking song accompanied by guitar) will be a fond memory forever! We felt as though we were living in a scene in a movie, depicting a perfectly romantic day!
All of our guides were very professional and knowledgeable, and also nice people. This made all the tours very enjoyable.
The nature hikes in Cinque Terre and the Path of the Gods, though strenuous for moderately-fit late-50s tourists, were glorious! We were happy we did them.
The cathedrals in Pisa and Siena, the tomb and chapel of St Francis of Assisi, and the Catacombs were all spiritually moving.
The Sicily-Rome US Military Cemetery in Nettuno was also a very special experience. My great uncle is buried there, having been killed in combat in October 1943 serving in the 45th Division, US Army. The grounds were incredibly peaceful and beautiful on the sunny day when we visited. The guide was very kind and helpful, making it a very special and meaningful experience. This side trip was specially arranged by our travel agency at my request, and they did a great job.
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