It’s All About The Details

Judging from the trip report below, Mia and Matt clearly loved their Italian honeymoon! But here’s what jumps out at me the most  —  the things that they’ll remember forever (the things that make or break the overall experience) are NOT the hotels.  Even though that’s what most clients want to focus on when we’re planning the trip. Instead, it’s the finer details. The fabulous tour guide in Rome, whom they invited to have drinks with them afterwards. The private water taxi that whisked them to the airport on their way home from Venice. The food tour in Bologna that she’s been raving about to anyone who will listen. All of that clearly overshadowed the Rome hotel that she thought was “shady”, and I’ll bet she will have forgotten the name of that hotel before her first anniversary — unless she looks back and re-reads this blog post 🙂

ROME

The hotel {Hotel Cecil} was a little shady. The location, yes, is great, but the hotel itself is weird and they were not very helpful or even nice at this hotel.  As for the breakfast in the morning – I spit up the first thing I tried into my napkin… it was disgusting! Thankfully we were not in our room long…..

Now….. as for the guided tour…

honeymoon couple and their guide in rome italy

OH My Goodness – our guide was AMAZING. yes it was a long day touring everything in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity but wow was it worth it. Matt and I lost at least 5 pounds walking around in all that heat! But she made everything fun and exciting and boy did she know her stuff… We even invited her to drinks after, she was that great we had to take a picture with her!

The train was easy to get to and our car service was waiting for us in Naples and was the nicest guy!

SORRENTO

This was the most amazing part of our trip. From the crazy city and walking around we did in Rome, what a relaxing time we had here. And OUR ROOM!!! my god, I couldn’t believe that was ours! it was unreal. It was like I was in a dream. It was the most picturesque place I have ever been to. We even did a day trip to Positano and Amalfi and omg I can’t say enough about this place, the hotel {Hotel Minerva}, the view, the people we met…. Unbelievable

FLORENCE

Ok, not going to lie, we were a little depressed to leave Sorrento for a city but what a lovely place Florence was. Our hotel {Hotel Kraft} was in a great location (right near the American Embassy and walking distance to lots of places) we did some shopping at the Mercato Centrale and had wonderful dinners every night. Our tour to Siena and Chianti was like being in a postcard. Our tour guide was amazing once again and so knowledgeable. Our wine tasting and lunch were delish and it was a memorable excursion.

As for the cooking class – MY FAVORITE!!! I already made a dish we made in Florence at home! I loved loved loved it! and Matt loved it just as much! Check out pics!

new groom learning to make pasta on his honeymoon in italy

BOLOGNA

Our hotel room was HUGE and perfectly located {Al Cappello Rosso}. I loved everything about this city, the people, the food, I would recommend bologna to everyone I meet. That is because we went on the tour of our lives to the prosciutto, cheese and balsamic factories. WHAT A DAY!!! unreal. I’m still telling people about how amazing that tour was. It was one of the many highlights of our trip!

VENICE

Our hotel {Hotel Ala} was very tiny but easy to get to and accessible to everything. I loved Venice. Again, our tour at night was awesome. The lady was a sweetheart and we learned so much about the so-called floating city. And to top it off… our water taxi to the airport was the best way to end our beautiful honeymoon.

I can’t thank you enough and have been giving your praises to everyone I see. You planned the best honeymoon for Matt and myself and every place was better than the next.

If I could suggest two things:

1 – we did an AIRBNB experience in Rome and it was amazing their company is RomaEat

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187791-d6728912-Reviews-Roma_Eat_Food_Experience-Rome_Lazio.html

what a great way to try local roman food

2 – Teatro De Sale – a dinner theater that I would go back to Florence just to go to again. worth looking into!!!!

Also – go on netflix and watch “somebody feed phil” and he does a segment on florence and venice and we went to both those restaurants! and they were amazing!!!

AGAIN…. I can’t thank you enough.

How Do We Top This?

Is there anything more gratifying for a travel planner than to have a client come back from an anniversary trip and say “we have no idea how we’ll possibly top this next year“?? Dana and Kevin clearly loved their anniversary “escape” to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, and I better start thinking NOW about what to suggest next 🙂

Thanks, Ann! We had the most INCREDIBLE trip and definitely feel like we’re having Italy withdrawals now that we’re back at home. We absolutely loved the country, the culture and the scenery, and our itinerary was amazing. All of our transfers, trains, hotel check-ins, etc, went perfectly to plan and helped to make our trip care-free.

When we arrived in Rome the first morning, we were excited but exhausted. Neither of us can really sleep on planes, so we had tried to wake up really early the day of our flight so we’d be tired on the plane. Turns out, we still couldn’t sleep no matter how tired we were. So now we know when we take our next trip to Europe that we’ll just get as good a night of sleep before we leave as possible! We took your advice, though, and powered through / caffeinated ourselves so we could stay up and get on the time zone. We were very happy to not have any specific tours or plans that day so we could just explore and get a feel for the city.

The River Palace was such a great hotel! The rooms and elevators were very small, but we were prepared for that. Everything was beautifully appointed, classy and comfortable. We really liked that our hotel felt like a Roman hotel, and not just any hotel we’d find at home. The complimentary breakfast put those we’re used to at American hotels to shame! It was delicious. They had all sorts of pastries, cheeses, meats, eggs and fruits, made us delicious cappuccinos, and even had a juice bar with complimentary make-your-own mimosas. Definitely a great way to start the day! We found the breakfast at our other hotels to be equally as impressive.

the Trevi fountain in Rome

We did TONS of walking and exploring in Rome. We explored the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza del Popolo, shops, side streets, countless churches and monuments, and of course ate as often as we possibly could. The food and wine were beyond amazing – definitely lived up to and surpassed the hype. I was just in disbelief that we were actually experiencing such a beautiful city that I’d only seen in pictures before. The only downside to Rome were the flower guys who were overly aggressive in trying to get you to take a flower and popping up from everywhere. But we learned to deal with them and certainly didn’t let them put a damper on our fun 🙂

couple standing in front of Roman ruins

The Colosseum and Roman Forum tour we took was so amazing! Before the tour, we sat at a little cafe overlooking the Colosseum to enjoy cheese and wine. It was unreal! Our tour guide was interesting, entertaining and funny, and the 3 hours flew by. Going in through the Gladiator Gate was a really cool experience, and I would definitely recommend it! The Vatican and Sistine Chapel tour we took the following morning wasn’t our favorite, although the city, museums and churches were absolutely breathtaking! We found the 3 hour tour here to be longer than we would have preferred, just because there was such an overwhelming number of people at the Vatican, and the tour dove more into Art History than we were really interested in. That said, we are still really glad we got to experience it! If we did it again, we would probably want to do either fully private (so we could customize the tour more), or self-guided.

After the Vatican tour, we headed for the train station to begin the Amalfi Coast portion of our trip. We completely fell in love with the region; so much so that we started looking up real estate! The Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento was the perfect hotel, and the sea view room was 100% worth it. The hotel itself was gorgeous, the staff was the best I’ve ever seen, and the room was amazing. We had panoramic views of the sea without even having to get out of bed! We really enjoyed the pool, hot tub and pool bar, and the Vesuvio Roof Restaurant was delicious and absolutely perfect for dinner on our anniversary evening. While in Sorrento, we explored the downtown area, which was probably the most charming city I’ve ever seen. The shopping, restaurants and cafes kept us entertained for hours. Our third day there, we took the Circumvesviano Train to Pompeii, where we did a self-guided tour. The city was incredible, and we really enjoyed the self-guided aspect here as everything was really well labeled, so we got to go at our own pace & avoid the largest crowds of the tours while not feeling like we missed out on information.

For the day of our actual anniversary, we decided to have the hotel book us on a semi-private day trip to Capri. This ended up being one of our favorite days on our trip (which is saying something!). We were on a gorgeous, mid-sized boat with 8 people and a captain. We went to the Blue Grotto first which, even though the cost was steep (28 euro for the 2 of us for about 10 minutes total), we are so happy we got to experience it! We got off our boat and into a small rowboat which held 4 of us and a captain. The entrance into the grotto is only about a meter high, so we had to lay in the bottom of the boat while the captain guided us safely into the grotto. Once inside, the height and characteristics of the rocks and the unreal, glowing blue of the water was absolutely breathtaking. Once back on our boat, we were taken on a tour of Capri, which included the Green Grotto, White Grotto, sailing under the Faraglioni arch, and the most amazing coastline we’ve ever seen. We had about 4 hours to explore Capri, which involved a LOT of stairs and a workout, but the views were beyond worth it. The island itself is beautiful, but also unassuming in its own way while being mega glamorous. On the designer shop-lined streets, it felt like we were on a more exclusive Rodeo Drive that, at the same time, managed to be more welcoming and down to earth. Back on the boat, we enjoyed wine and limoncello while we got a tour of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and got back to port around 6:15 pm – just in time to enjoy happy hour and dinner at our hotel. I’m not sure how we’re going to out-do that day for our 5th anniversary!

famous arches and rocks on a blue ocean in Capri, Italy

Back in Rome for our last day, it was fun staying in a different part of town than our first stint in Rome. The Hotel Britannia was lovely and very charming, and was located super close to the train station. The room itself unfortunately didn’t have very good A/C, but the windows opened so it worked out. The room was tiny, but the bathroom was HUGE, so it balanced out and we had all the space we needed for just a one night stay. We spent the last day seeing some more sites, doing some great shopping, and eating as much as possible before we would have to leave the delicious Italian food behind.

All in all, it felt like we were living a dream on our trip. It’s always been #1 on my travel bucket list, and it didn’t disappoint! We can’t wait to go back and explore more of this incredible country. Thank you so much for planning our dream trip! Can’t wait to see what you help us with next!

Dana

Amalfi Dreamin’

Is there any place more romantic and relaxing than Italy’s Amalfi Coast? I’m not sure, but after reading this trip report from honeymooners Meg and Henry, I’m ready to pack my bags and go!

Hi Ann!

We had an amazing honeymoon! Thank you so much for helping us set it all up.

I think it was really nice to have a few relaxing days in Gaeta to recover from the craziness of the wedding. The hotel (Grand Hotel le Rocce) was beautiful, clean and had a fantastic small private sandy beach set several steps down the cliff-side. It was nice having the rental car for this part of the trip, we were able to take the short drive into the little city of Gaeta, do some sight seeing and explore some restaurants and bars. We got down to Sorrento and dropped the car off without issues, we ended up taking the ~35min taxi to Positano from there (~65 euro).

Positano was awesome. Hotel Posa Posa was adorable and they were extremely friendly. They ended up giving us a free upgraded room with a balcony once they found out it was our honeymoon. We hit up Fornillo beach a couple of days there, all the way down the many stairs that start right outside Posa Posa, we enjoyed this beach much better than the Main Beach.  Our favorite Restaurant for dinner in Positano was Ristorante Max. It was a little more expensive, but a great experience. We did our boat cruise that my bridesmaids got us, through the company Amalfi Sails. This was an amazing private day trip to and around Capri and up the Amalfi coast, allowed us to do some swimming off the boat and lunch on Capri before heading back to Positano.

couple enjoying the amalfi coast italy

Praiano was also great! Hotel Pellegrino was very nice, clean, and updated. What made this hotel stand out was the hospitality from its owner Luigi, he was so welcoming and gave it a nice small family run business feel. He also made an amazing breakfast each morning! We enjoyed walking down the many steps to Gavitella beach. It was definitely more quiet of a town, and without one town center but a string of shops/restaurants closer to the hotel Pellegrino as well some cute seaside restaurants by the main Marina di Praia Beach.

Likely our favorite thing we did was the day trip to Le Vigne di Raito. Fabrizio was great for the transfer ( i think next time we would save some money by taking the ferry from Positano to Salerno then taxi to the vineyard, and taxi/transfer from the vineyard back to the hotel). We had a blast walking through the Vineyard and  learning about the wine-making process, then had an amazing 4 course lunch with plenty of wine tasting at the top with a beautiful view! We brought some delicious wine from there home with us.

The trip up to Rome was easy with the transfer/train ride. Hotel Siena was small, but clean and updated and in a great central location. Our Vatican and Colosseum tours were great! I think if we did it again we would only have spent two nights in Rome. The transfer to airport was smooth as well.

Thanks again Ann! Let us know if you have any other specific questions we can answer for you.

Best,

Meg and Henry

Easy, Breezy Italy

Loved, loved, loved receiving this feedback from Jaime and Matt!  Not just because they had such a fabulous time in Italy, but because it was the little touches (great guides, fabulous and reliable drivers, pre-arranged train tickets, and helpful concierges) that made such an impression on them. Anyone can plan a trip to Italy, but a true travel professional knows how to make it all seamless so that you can just relax and enjoy the ride 🙂

Hi Ann!

We can’t thank you enough for your amazing planning expertise. Our trip was wonderful and your itinerary made it so easy.  I could have seen us making some mistakes with language barriers and perhaps booking trains and maybe making an error so we both agreed it felt so nice to have a professional take care of all the arrangements so we could just relax and enjoy!! Not to mention the hotels were amazing and in great locations.

I’ll start with Aer Lingus… really nice flight, the red eye on the way there was a bit difficult. I was a zombie pretty much the first day but we did push through as you recommended and I was fine the next day. On the way back, Aer Lingus was a bit hard to find in the airport in Venice but we also arrived 3 hours early so we had to wait for them to set up their check in. That could be a bit confusing for people if they arrive early like we did… also Aer Lingus seemed to share check in space with Jet Blue. The flight back was much better as we got back around 8 pm from Boston and it was really 2 am for us so we were able to go right to sleep and then wake up this morning being fully rested and ready to go to work. It was helpful that we cleared security in Dublin and when we made it back to Boston we were already done. It was nice you gave us a heads-up because that could potentially be a bit confusing it seemed like we had to go through twice.

Our driver who met us at the airport in Rome was wonderful and awaited us with a sign with our names. Made it super easy and nice to have someone waiting. He even bought us a cappuccino since our driver was running a few minutes behind schedule but our driver was amazing! So helpful, informative and spoke great English… I would definitely use Rome Cabs again!

River Palace was awesome! The people at the desk were so helpful and informative. They gave us a complimentary bottle of wine. The hotel was in a great location. We felt very safe and were able to walk to sites. The concierge provided a map and circled places of interest, called cabs, and were just generally friendly and helpful. It really felt like a little home for the few days we were there. I loved all the detail you provided on the itinerary about local city tax and credit card for incidentals… etc… just helped us know what to expect. The concierge also confirmed our tours for us!

We loved our tour guide for our Colosseum tour. His name was Gigi he was so passionate about the information and very funny! The only thing I would say about this tour is again we arrived very early to the meeting place and were a little worried because it wasn’t an office it was just a park, but as soon as it got closer to the time of the tour we saw plenty of people also waiting, i think initially we just weren’t sure we were in the right place.

Our Vatican tour was also really great, we liked that the meeting place was in an office and we actually showed up right on time for this one so we were very lucky it was easy to find!

Next we set off for the Naples train station. We were happy you shared to be vigilant. We didn’t run into any problems but we did witness a man take advantage of some ladies traveling alone. He grabbed their luggage despite their protest and took the bags on the train, then he stood there until they gave him some money and when they gave him one euro he was not happy and let them know it!! Just another heads-up story for people about the train station. He wasn’t in uniform but wore clothes very similar to one and was sort of an imposter, asking to see people’s tickets to try to confuse them into thinking that he was an employee and then grabbed their bags and demanded tips.

Next we met our absolute favorite driver!! His name was Carmine and he was just the sweetest! He was practically giving us a tour on our drive and was super friendly! The only thing was we thought we could pay by credit card and he said it was cash only so we were just happy we had enough…

Posa Posa was a great hotel in Positano. It was more basic and more beachy feeling with a tile floor and just basic furniture, did not have a luxury feel like the Rome hotel but we were happy with the mix. Plus, the balcony was amazing! We literally woke up to a view of the sea, it had a table and chairs out there so we were able to sit and drink wine and relax!! That was our same view for the breakfast each morning as well! The people working at this hotel were also very nice and helpful with anything we needed. It was a great location. A few restaurants in Positano that we greatly recommend are di Vincenzo’s, Constantinos, and a very cool experience where you get taken to a place without a menu and they serve you a 6 course meal for 40 euros made by “mama” called La Tagliata. We hiked the Path of the Gods while we were there and took a boat to Capri which we recommend. Our driver back to Naples was also very nice, (he knows you) Fabrizio.

honeymoon couple in front of Italian grotto

The trains that you booked were fast and easy. We loved not having to purchase tickets and just having to hand them to the staff!!!

Our Florence hotel was amazing!!! So swanky haha… the breakfast was quite impressive!! They hooked us up with some champs, and aperitivo, when we arrived.  I think if we had to do it all over again, we would have done one more night to explore more in Florence and one less night in Venice, just our personal preference.

The only time we “messed up” was we didn’t realize you booked our rental car pick up at 10 am and we didn’t show up until 12-1. It didn’t end up being an issue. We picked up the car and put it in a lot so we could spend a few more hours exploring Florence before driving out into the countryside.

The next part of the trip was probably our favorite!!! We absolutely loved Radda in Chianti! The view from our room in our hotel looked like a back drop or a painting!!! We absolutely loved this hotel and Linda our favorite receptionist. She sent us to 3 wineries, one a small family run and two others, one was a castle, and one an old monastery.  We did not expect so much history on our wine tasting tour but it was so interesting!! The mom and pop winery gave us a free tour and tasting and of course we bought some amazing wine! But it was pretty cool to have a private tour and see how the wine is made, and a private tasting as well!!!! We also drove to check out San Gimignano and Siena  — very cool to explore. Returning the car was very easy and the car came with a gps which made navigation a breeze.

a view like a painting! Honeymoon at Radda in Chianti, Italy

Our least favorite part of our trip was Venice. It’s very cool to see because it’s unique, but we just loved the other places so much more. The hotel there was just ok compared to the others as well as the concierge and location. We had been so spoiled though to be honest… we got off the train and found the water bus without a problem… it was only 7 euro each for a one way, and only took about 45 minutes, plus the boat ride was pretty cool. We did the same on the way back to the airport, all the people at the waterbus ticket stations spoke English and were able to explain exactly what to do to catch the waterbus back to the airport. It was only 15 euro each and took about 1 hour and 30 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes with a private taxi. We were happy to save a few bucks here and it worked out with our flight times so we didn’t mind that it took a bit longer. We didn’t really feel like we even needed too much time in Venice as we were kind of spent on seeing churches and sites and just wanted to chill at this point.

a honeymoon in Italy wouldn't be complete without Venice

The only other thing we wished was that we gave ourselves a bit more spending money in our overall budget because we did end up spending twice as much as we thought we would. We never skipped wine at dinner and always had more than one course haha… plus we shopped a bit to bring back wine and leather 😬

a happy man across a huge pizza in Italy

Overall we felt like our itinerary was a great mix of adventure, relaxation, sight seeing, and learning/ touring. Italy is our new favorite place and we absolutely want to return!!! The people were great, food amazing, views incredible, wine delicious, and just overall history and culture so interesting and impressive.

a smiling honeymooner on a wall with beautiful rolling Italian hills

Thank you so much for your time and attention to detail with planning this trip. We kept mentioning how incredible it was that after only meeting once, we felt like you completely got our vision and nailed it!! We loved that you yourself have used some of the vendors on your own trips! We will definitely be calling you as soon as we save up for our next trip and send our friends your way!!

With gratitude,

Jaime and Matt

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)