But we wouldn’t be anything, really, if it weren’t for all those special guests who entrusted us with making their holidays memorable for the past nearly-15 years.
We’re always grateful for the chance to meet travelers from all around the world on those trips, and to be a part of their Italy experiences. And we’re extra-grateful when those guest travelers take the time to send some thoughts about their experiences once they’re back on their home turf.
This past July, one such guest — Jeff S., a busy Media Specialist, an avid blogger, and a talented storyteller from Eagan Minnesota — wrote about the 7-day trip to Italy he took with his friend Duane on his blog, the Snarky Librarian. It is with Jeff’s permission that we share some of his Italy adventure (and his stunning photos) here. Thanks Jeff!
“Duane and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Rome, Florence, and Venice (with a quick drive down the Amalfi coast and a stop in Pompeii)…We booked our tour through a company called Avventure Bellissime, which I found on the internet. It’s always somewhat disconcerting to submit your credit card information to a company with which you really don’t know anything (other than what you read on “TripAdvisor”), but this was a total win! We were so impressed with this company!
“They took care of accommodations and transportation, with various “small group” tours of no more that 8 to 10 people, and left plenty of time to explore the cities we visited on our own. Perfect for how we like to travel. With a series of vouchers, sent via email, we were picked up at the airport by a private car, taken to each of our hotels, picked up to go to train stations for our next destinations, and given amazing, insightful, knowledgeable tours of key attractions in each city.
“An added bonus was that all of the others who booked the tour that we were on were amazing people from throughout the United States and Canada. We met some really fun people, and enjoyed getting to know them through the course of the tours…Awesome!”
Jeff and Duane spent their first day in Italy exploring Rome on their own. They had a great time — explored the Galleria Borghese (“a museum in the middle of the Borghese gardens”) and had their first taste of real Italian gelato. The only glitch? Jeff learned the hard way why we advise to never wear new shoes for a walking tour. Ouch! (Blisters.) Luckily after a good sleep and a little foot care, the intrepid travelers were ready for Day Two!
For their second day in Italy, Jeff and Duane joined an Avventure Bellissime small group tour to the Colosseum:
“Our tour guide at the colosseum was Francesca, and she was amazing! I believe she was an art history major, so knew what she was talking about! She brought a children’s book with illustrations of the different types of gladiators, a book with plastic overlays entitled “Rome; Then and Now”, and did an excellent job of introducing us to this gorgeous landmark!”
“After the forum, Francesca put each of us into taxis and directed them to take us to the start of our next tour…Vatican City. Before that tour started, she recommended a great little local place, Forno Feliziani. Very good, local-centered, cafeteria-style place…I had a delicious artichoke and mozzarella pizza!!! We shared our table with Marilyn and Jim, from Canada. They were also with us for many of our small group tours throughout Italy, and were really great people!!!!”
After a yummy lunch, Jeff, Duane, and their tour companions headed to Vatican City:
“Francesca was again our guide, and did another amazingly informative and interesting tour. We saw incredible art, gorgeous architecture, and unbelievable opulence…it’s astounding what’s housed in the museums and galleries there!”
Jeff’s favourite part of the visit to the Vatican was the Sistine Chapel. They also enjoyed seeing the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. “After dinner, we walked (or in my case, limped) back to the hotel, and collapsed into bed! Another amazing day in Rome!”
On Day Three, Jeff and Duane went on an Avventure Bellissime day trip to the Amalfi Coast:
“On Thursday, we got up early, grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel, and met Jim and Marilyn in the lobby to meet our driver Vincenzo for a trip up the Amalfi coast and a tour of Pompeii. I’ve always heard that the Amalfi coast is beautiful, and I’ve been fascinated with the story of Pompeii since elementary school.”
Below are Jeff and Duane on their way with Vincenzo along the Amalfi Coast. As you can see, the weather was on their side again and it was a beautiful day. This region is known for its lemons, as Jeff discovered: “After touring the cathedral, we headed up the main street. Duane found an amazing gelateria, which boasted “the best lemon sorbet anywhere…The owner was correct! I’ve never had a fresher, zestier, refreshing sorbet in my life. Just writing about it is making my mouth water!!!”
Then to Positano — always one of Avventure Bellissime guests’ favourite stops:
“Our next stop was Positano. What an amazing town! The villas climb the side of the mountain like vines, and are colorful and gigantic, and beautiful. Many movies have used Positano as a backdrop (we just watched “Under the Tuscan Sun” last night, and I’d forgotten that parts of it were filmed there…totally cool to recognize spots that were used in some of the scenes!!).”
“We met the van awhile later, then headed off to Pompeii. I remember learning about Pompeii in elementary school, and was fascinated with the story…Mt. Vesuvius erupting in 79 A.D….killing many of the towns inhabitants…burying Pompeii (and nearby Herculaneum) in ash and pumice…the town being forgotten for centuries (the “hall of maps” in Vatican City, in fact, doesn’t include Pompeii because the maps were painted during the time that it was lost)…
“I can’t remember the name of our tour guide, but he has been giving tours of Pompeii for decades. He was very knowledgeable, and it was a great introduction to the lives of the people in Pompeii. We saw the baths, a bakery, a pizzeria, a villa, the forum, and various other ruins.”
On their fifth day, Jeff and Duane headed on a small group tour to Florence with Avventure Bellissime’s popular guide Antonella:
“Our guide was Antonella, and, as was the case with all of our other tour guides, she was amazing!!!!!”
“The train ride was delightful!! Avventure Bellissime arranged it all for us, and we were in the first class car. We had beverage and snack service, a fabulous view of the Italian countryside, and most of us were in the same car, so had a chance to chat and share stories of the trip, thus far.
“We arrived in Florence mid-morning, and I have to say…Florence is amazing! After the hussle and bustle of Rome, Florence seemed like a small town (except for the tons of tourists). Rome was full of ancient ruins. Florence was surrounded by pointy pine trees, villas, and ancient churches and forts. It was beautiful!!!”
“We walked around the Galleria Uffizi, the piazza of city hall, toured a church that started out as a grain market…rubbed the nose of the “good luck” warthog fountain, looked at the outdoor markets, walked around the duomo, walked to the middle of Ponte Vecchio, and ended the tour at the Accademia, where we saw David, by Michelangelo (UNBELIEVABLE!).”
Day seven? Venice!
Jeff and Duane spent their final day touring Venice with Avventure Bellissime — they saw the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square — soaking in as much of Italy’s culture, architecture, and magic and they could before heading home.
“Wow…what an AMAZING trip! UNBELIEVABLE cities and sites! FABULOUS tour companions! A STUPENDOUS travel company through which everything was booked. TRULY the trip of a lifetime! Here’s hoping YOU were able to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of an INCREDIBLE place recently too!!!!”
Now, while Jeff’s Italy experience is unique in that Jeff took the time to share all the exciting details and beautiful photos on his blog, the fact that he and Duane had such a wonderful time is not. It would be hard to find anyone who’s visited Italy and doesn’t now count it as one of the most amazing experiences of their life!
If you’re considering adding a trip to Italy to your 2014 calendar, now’s a great time to book. We’re offering Early Bird Pricing on many of Avventure Bellissime’s most popular Italy Vacation Packages.
Choose our “Semi-Private 8- Day Rome to Venice Essence of Italy Tour” package (Land Only) to see all the spots that Jeff and Duane did, including Rome, Florence, and Venice! See the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum and Ancient Rome, Michelangelo’s David, the Grand Canal, and St. Marks.
Or choose one of our other equally enticing packages, also available at 2014 Early Bird pricing:
Semi-Private 6-Day Taste of Italy Tour Packages (Land Only)
2014 Small Group 8-Day Rome – Venice Essence of Italy Tour
2014 Small Group 10 day-Cinque Terre Tour Packages (Land Only),
If you’ve got a specific itinerary in mind, we can help too. Our expert Italy travel sales team can help you to customize a holiday that includes any of our Italy day trips, group tours, and vacation packages. Call us today!