Our travel agent could not have provided a better vacation than he did! It was amazing. Two in our group had never been to Europe before, so I was very pleased that they were able to have such a great time. Thee tour was beyond our expectations. We were able to see all that we had expected to see and much, much more!
Our guides were prompt, intelligent, and friendly. They provided exemplary information to help us understand what we were seeing. Three stand out: Our guides in Lucca, Pisa, and Rome. We especially enjoyed our ROme guide's company. And having pre-purchased tickets in Rome at the Colosseum and Vatican City saved us hours of time!
The thing that I liked most was that the tour was designed to our requests. We were met promptly by drivers except in one instance, and that was a driver booked through a different agency. Drivers, except in one case, spoke clearly understandable English and were very friendly.
Our hotels were in perfect locations, enabling us to do afternoon and evening exploring on our own. They all provided clean rooms and substantial breakfasts. In fact, the breakfasts were delicious. Receptionists at the hotels were very helpful in giving directions to nearby restaurants. The receptionist in Rome even helped my friend arrange to mail a package back to the U.S. Our travel agent did an excellent job with those bookings.
One recommendation that I would make is for the company to provide maps of each site to help us get around better. Any type of printed material would be welcomed.
If I had to choose only one thing, it would be our time in Rome. Our guide bent over backwards to accommodate us. He answered all our questions with patience. We enjoyed two meals with him, and it was as though we had a fifth friend at our table. By the way, those meals, one in the Jewish Ghetto and the other in Castelli Romani, were some of the best food we have ever eaten. My husband and I do not eat grains or sugar, and our guide was able to communicate this to the waiters, who had no trouble substituting a different meal from what they had planned. The restaurant selection was superb!
However, we all enjoyed Lucca too! It was a great place to begin our trip, with fewer tourists. It has the ancient charm that we were looking for, yet the facilities at restaurants and our hotel were terrific. Our guide kept us enthralled with her stories about groups who tried to attack Lucca and about how Lucca came to be such a great silk distribution and banking center (and how now their primary export is toilet paper, which we found amusing). None of us wanted to leave Lucca, but Rome awaited.
Neither my husband nor I was able to walk the steps up to the top of the Tower of Pisa. Our guide took us instead to the cemetery, which we enjoyed immensely! She was very willing to make accommodations for us. We also toured the Baptistry and Cathedral, which, in our opinion, were far more interesting than the tower itself.
Walking where others walked thousands of years ago brought chills to my soul. I would not trade that experience for anything!
I would spend more time in Lucca and cancel the San Gimignamo/Sienna tour. We loved Lucca so much that we would have liked to spend more time there. Though San Gimignamo and Sienna were okay, and I was the one who requested them, they didn't move us as Lucca had.
Also, I probably would not take the tour of Capri because there was just not much to see there and it was extremely crowded. An exception is the boat ride around the island. Our guide was hilarious and kept us entertained, which made the visit much better. If planning this trip now, I would just book a boat from Sorrento to go around the island.
Though we had a great time in Santorini, I would not want to return. The fault is with me for not doing my homework. I requested that island, but hindsight tells me I should have chosen either Mycanos or more time in Athens. Walking in the narrow, stony paths of Santorini was very difficult for me. Everything else was wonderful; I just didn't plan on the paths being so difficult for me to walk. This in no way reflects on the wonderful tour that our agent and his company planned for us. I have already recommended this company to two friends, and, if I travel again to Europe, I will certainly be contacting this company!
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