Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Outstanding 12-day trip to the Italian Riviera. Wanted to go to Italy, started with Lake Como and Andrea Grisdale was so patient with me listening to what I was looking for and helping me design the ideal trip. Never even went to Lake Como! Outstanding day in Milan getting to see The Last Supper when it opened with a driver who waited for us, then on to Serravalle outlet for great shopping before arriving in Santa Margherita.

Yacht tour of the coastline cancelled and refunded with one phone call when weather forecast looked rough. So easy. Great food tour with Guido in Ravello, amazing drivers, spectacular day with guide in Cinque Terre and loved Sorrento with yacht day in Capri. Amazing hotels chosen by Andrea. The BEST was our day in Pompei and climbing Vesuvius in a rain storm with guide Carmine. Storm front came in suddenly and somehow he found us a ride down the mountain…literally the only car on the mountain! What is that worth? I would have bought a car! I felt like every day we were being watched from a distance by Andrea’s office to make sure we were safe and on schedule. We felt so well taken care of and every time I called Marianne in the office to confirm something, she picked up the phone on the first ring. Best guides, best drivers and always on time. What is that worth?

Travelers Dan Gorbett and husband Mike Wellner on a private yacht exploring the Amalfi Coast with Positano in the background, Italy.

Dan Gorbett and husband Mike Wellner exploring the Amalfi Coast (that’s Positano in background) via private yacht.

We highly recommend utilizing Andrea Grisdale and her team for your Italian vacation. My husband and I toured Italy March 16th-March 31st. We started in Rome, then went onto the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Venice, Lake Como and finally flew out of Milan.

I really felt they designed the trip based on the criteria we gave them! The true gem of this experience was the local guides. Julia, our guide in Rome, was truly unbelievable. She took us on three different days of tours and I really felt like we experienced so much in a relatively short amount of time! We had similar experiences in every city to which we traveled. The tour guides were all local and were passionate about their cities. We had an art historian show us around Florence, and our guide who took us to the Murano glass-blowing factories in Venice was part of one of the families of artisans who have been doing glass blowing for hundreds of years.

Another highlight of the trip was the yacht day in Amalfi. They arranged for us to go down the coast to Capri and then our boat captain and first mate told us about the different aspects of the coast and the people who lived there while enjoying the sun and the water. In each different area the guides were able to give us recommendations of small “mom and pop”-type restaurants with truly amazing food. As expected on an Italian vacation, we had the best food and drinks of our lives.

The team provided us with an app that had detailed day-by-day instructions including meeting points and times. Our train tickets were all in the app and there was always someone to meet us at the train stations. The days were never over-planned. There was always time to slow down and enjoy the cities and the meals.

One particularly impressive action by the team was related to our trip home. Our flight home was changed at the last minute and the concierge from the company was able to adjust our morning driver from Lake Como to the Milan airport, and we were picked up at 5 AM on Easter Sunday!

We felt like we truly experienced a huge amount of Italy without feeling like we were always rushing from place to place. Their choices of guides, hotels, and experiences were phenomenal and we would absolutely use them for another Italian vacation!

This is our third trip to Italy with Andrea and her wonderful team. We approached Andrea with our “last-minute” travel urge of late September: We wanted to immediately fly to Italy for almost a month, during the peak season of October! We desired to revisit many of our favorite places in Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice. Andrea, Stefano and team delivered an amazing experience.

Obtaining bookings at top hotels during October was a challenge. In Rome, the Hassler and Eden were not available. Stefano suggested the Hotel Splendide Royal, which was fantastic. Moreover, we received a wonderful room upgrade, due to Andrea’s relation with the property. Likewise, our usual Florence hotels had been booked for months. Stefano suggested the Portroit Hotel, which again was a wonderful choice. As in Rome, we received an amazing Balcony upgrade, due to Stefano’s relation with the property! This special Balcony Suite would be highly recommended, since we were able to watch the Florence sunsets over the river each night. Spectacular!

Although we had an outline of places we wished to visit in each city, we did book a number of experiences, which were tailored to our interests in art, architecture and design. In Rome, we greatly enjoyed our private visit to the Galleria Colonna, recommended by Andrea and Stefano. Likewise, we enjoyed our private recommended visit in Venice to Palazzo Pisani Moretta.

In Venice, we stayed at our favorite hotel, The Gritti Palace. Andrea was able to book our requested room, with a balcony overlooking the Canal. Once again, not an easy last-minute booking at peak tourist time in Venice.

Generally, we judge our travel agents on how “problems” are handled during a trip. We are seasoned travelers, so we understand many issues will arise on our journey. However, this trip was like “clockwork,” without any issues. The itinerary was carried out with precision, as professionally and beautifully planned by Andrea, Stefano and their team.

Many thanks for the memories which are now part of our lives.

Originally planned in 2020 and then postponed by the pandemic, we recently completed a wonderful two-week early October trip to Venice, Florence, Rome and Positano, all of which was expertly designed and executed by Andrea and her team.

We have typically performed all of our own travel planning, so working with someone else to create an itinerary with this many moving pieces was a new experience for us. We began with an in-depth planning conversation with Andrea and one of her associates about what we were looking for (primarily a history and food focus) as well as our travel preferences. We subsequently worked through multiple iterations of our plan — asking lots of questions along the way. The team was extremely responsive, thorough, and patient in working with us. When all the planning was complete, we felt we had an itinerary that would make the logistics of moving around the country stress-free, allow us to visit many of the historical spots typical for a first-time Italy visitor, and provide some unique “off the beaten path” experiences. On all three counts, Andrea’s team delivered!

From a logistics standpoint, our trip was perfect. From the time we arrived at the Venice airport and were escorted to our private water taxi, to the last day of our trip when we were driven to our departure point in Naples, every encounter with a driver or travel assistant was timely, friendly, professional and courteous. Our boutique hotels were centrally located, but also very quiet, comfortable and relaxing.

It’s been well-documented that Italy has been very crowded with tourists, and this has seemingly extended the peak travel season into October. Despite the crowds, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the major historical sights due to the superb guides we were paired with. Advance reservations allowed us to skip most of the lines, and our guides were very savvy about finding ways to lessen the impact of the many tourists. Beyond helping us to navigate the crowds, our guides were historical experts, adding lots of background and insights about each place we visited and giving us a sense of life in Italy then and now.

Apart from the traditional historical spots, the experiences that Andrea’s office suggested and arranged were a major highlight of our trip. There were too many to list them all here, but they included a private demonstration with a master glassblower and a visit to a weaving factory in Venice, a culinary food tour in Bologna while in transit from Venice to Florence, a Tuscan cooking class at the home of a chef in Florence, a hike in the hills outside of Florence ending with an amazing picnic lunch at the villa of a family with a historical and current connection to local art, and a full-day tour of small-town areas near Positano — including an excellent private lunch in Tramonti. Extra bonus — thanks to lots of walking, we enjoyed all of these food experiences without gaining a pound!

More than anything else, it is the people we will remember about this trip. Time spent with drivers, guides, and hosts inevitably led to conversations about our families, our day-to-day lives, the things we have in common and the differences that make us unique. Although we will likely never see these people again, these interactions enriched our experience immeasurably and we will fondly remember these new friends.

The tagline on Andrea’s website is very fitting — “More than a Journey, an Experience.” Andrea and team added a great deal of value to our trip and made it so much more meaningful than it would have been had we sought to plan it all ourselves. We should also mention that a number of our guides and drivers made unsolicited comments about how much they enjoyed working with Andrea’s office. To us, this says a lot about an organization and reinforces everything we experienced. We are extremely grateful to have had such an amazing two weeks and would highly recommend Andrea to anyone looking to have an outstanding Italy experience!

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