We had the most wonderful visit to Milano planned by Andrea Grisdale and her staff. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Milan, I was greeted by someone to help me through customs, get my bags and take me to my private driver. Once settled at the beautiful Park Hyatt, our amazing tour guide, David, kept us so busy with an aperitivo tour, an in-depth tour of the Duomo and Museo del Novecento and plenty of little special spots for shopping, eating, and experiencing all that is Milan. The hotel Andrea suggested was like home and so luxurious—and I was hugging the staff upon my departure. I cannot wait to come back and do more in Lake Como! Grazie Mille Wendy Perrin, Andrea, Nicole and Julie!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had a great trip thanks to Wendy Perrin and our guides. The best guides we have ever had. Were able to tour, get insight and go places we would have never been able to do on our own.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This was our third trip with Andrea’s office and again an awesome experience, the best and very knowledgeable guides, completely flexible transfers, and sharp, flawless response to on-the-go requests and changes to our itinerary.
Will never go back to Italy without Andrea´s team!! All awards rightfully deserved!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Andrea Grisdale and her team planned an amazing trip for my husband and me to Naples, the Amalfi Coast and Capri in May. Every detail was handled smoothly, from airport transports to full day adventures. A highlight was a private cooking lesson and dinner with Chef Peter and his staff in Positano. It was an outstanding experience. Another highlight was a full-day sailing excursion on a private yacht along the Amalfi coast and around the entire island of Capri. We stopped at so many grottoes, including the Blue Grotto, as well as stopping at Nerano for an incredible lunch. Another great experience was a private tour, wine tasting and four-course lunch at a local vineyard, including a stop to Ravello and its beautiful gardens. All was expertly planned and executed.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL In July 2022 our family of four, including two young teens, travelled in Italy for two weeks with a trip planned by Andrea’s team. Our focus was mythology and ancient history and it followed a week in Greece, planned by Wendy’s Greece expert, Jacoline. We had a GREAT time. After a detailed zoom conversation about our travel preferences, budget and general wishes the expert brainstormed so many amazing ideas I fretted we’d need a month for a rich experience. However, she skillfully crafted a two-week trip that hit all the right notes, including private tours with top-notch guides, special activities, and plenty of free time to relax and wander.
One of the best things about hiring is an expert is being connected to their contacts, which makes for a trip full of magical moments that I never would know to imagine for myself. For example, the “secret Rome” Vespa tour allowed us four hours on the back of Vespas whipping around central Rome and beautiful residential neighborhoods (with stops for photos and explanation by our guide), which was incredibly fun and became a highlight of the whole trip. In Tuscany we spent a few hours with a husband and wife who run a small artisinal olive oil company. We learned a lot about the process and enjoyed a lovely homemade lunch and personal conversation with them both. It was delightful and even the kids enjoyed it.
Another benefit of the experts is having all logistics handled, which is especially helpful when travel is rebounding post-Covid and circumstances can change on a dime. They provided a mobile app that allowed us to check our itinerary throughout each day, access tickets and transfer information, and contact our 24/7 concierge who helped us out a few times by ordering last-minute tickets to the Uffizi and sending our train tickets, which we had misplaced.
We made clear that we didn’t want to spend heavily on hotels the whole time so opted for an Airbnb in the former Jewish Ghetto of Rome for a week, which saved a lot of money and allowed us to enjoy the city like locals. I recommend it! In the second week we splurged at a resort in Tuscany and also enjoyed a small hotel in Florence with a view of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio – which I’m sure was arranged by Andrea’s team!
Our trip was so memorable, made especially so because of expert guidance. Honestly, you can’t go wrong.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My brother-in-law rented a villa in Tuscany in July and invited us to come for five days. We added a visit to Emilia-Romagna after the villa. Our travel expert Marta arranged an amazing trip for us, including all transfers for airport-to-Tuscan villa and villa-to-Emilia-Romagna. We were based in Bologna at the Grand Hotel Majestic Già Baglioni. During the week Iron Maiden and Queen both performed in Bologna and the bands stayed at our hotel. We felt like rock stars every time we left the lobby because there were huge crowds waiting for a glimpse of the band members. We had a wonderful private cooking class where we made pasta by hand (with a rolling pin!), and learned to make authentic Ragù alla Bolognese as well as tortellini in brodo. We visited the Ferrari museum in Maranello and did a test drive in a 2010 Ferrari California, which was quite a rush! During our five-day stay in Bologna we also took day trips to an “acetaio” to learn about and taste traditional balsamic vinegar, an organic farm that makes Parmigiano Reggiano (more tasting), wineries, and Ravenna where we saw the most incredible mosaics from the 9th century. I don’t have enough room to write about the FOOD. Emilia-Romagna has perhaps the best food in Italy!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL After having to cancel several European trips during these pandemic years, it was a joy to finally return to Italy. Andrea’s office did a great job of planning our tour of the Amalfi Coast. We would have skipped Naples, but Andrea insisted in our planning Zoom meeting that we spend time there exploring the rich history. Boy was she right! Our excellent guide, Maria Luisa, walked the city with us pointing out the layers and layers of diverse and multicultural contributions to this unique and ancient city. We learned so much appreciation for Naples from her and had the best pizza of our lives! From Naples, we traveled by ferry to Capri, where we were met by drivers in these outrageously fun cabana cars. I wish I could attach photos but imagine convertibles with striped awnings overhead for shade. They had great style. As did everything in Capri. We loved the accommodations that Andrea arranged for us in Capri. Our hotel was gorgeous, filled with outstanding contemporary art and a sublime pool – but the views from our rooms and private patios were perhaps the most spectacular. We spent a day at the hotel’s beach club, relaxing on private Christian Dior-appointed lounge chairs, swimming in the Mediterranean, and eating fresh seafood. Probably one of our family’s best days ever spent on holiday. Next we traveled by private boat up the Amalfi Coast to Positano. Our Captain, Paolo, and his mate Salvatore, cruised us along the gorgeous coastline, stopping to let us swim and explore grottos at leisure. Paolo persuaded us to skip the more crowded spots and took us to his secret blue grotto, a cave with gorgeous blue lighted water tucked into the coastline. The boat ride was cool on so many levels (thanks in part to Paolo’s 80s soundtrack). Arriving in Positano, we were reminded that we were not the only people who were excited to return to traveling this summer. The narrow streets were jammed with tourists, and the crowds were huge. Our hotel on top of the hill was appreciated for its remote location away from the busy port. We were grateful Andrea arranged for us to have a driver, Roberto, drive us along the famous coastal road. Roberto was experienced and full of information, but also extremely kind. When my daughter felt car sick, he treated her with great care and understanding for which we were grateful. We asked our hotel concierge for an escape from the crowds and they arranged a water taxi to a private beach club along the coast. We had another great day swimming in the Mediterranean and felt better with fewer people pressed around us. The crowds reminded us that Covid cautions have relaxed and we flew home without having to test for Covid as we originally planned. Flights were a challenge. Having had good experience with Wendy’s recommendation in the past, we enlisted Cranky Concierge to help oversee our flights. Their team was on top of cancellations and delays for us, and although we got home later than planned there were no unwanted layovers. We have learned to trust Wendy’s WOW List for ease of travel and guiding us towards those special experiences that only an insider can arrange. Well done Andrea!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Three glorious nights at Grand Hotel Portovenere. A fabulously located jump-off point to see Cinque Terre. With boat pickup just steps away, one was able to access by boat four of the 5 Cinque Terre towns. Our tour guide was wonderful, entertaining and very knowledgeable. She added so much local color to our experience. She helped us find some local restaurants for the full flavor of the towns. Next off to Florence via Pisa and Luca. Very easy drive to these two towns. But the challenge came with finding our hotel, Hotel Santa Maria Novella, in Florence in a car. We had two GPS devices working and still drove around for 45 minutes trying to find the hotel. The hotel has an extremely small sign on the front, not street side, that is blocked by a large plant. Ugh. Once in Hotel Santa Maria Novella, we did find that the location was excellent. I would just caution travelers who arrive by rental car that they get specific street directions as the plaza is a restricted space. Our Florence guides were superlative. They shared with us local restaurant suggestions. This was vital as it was Fashion Week in Florence and many restaurants were booked well in advance. Thanks to our guides, we found some local gems of Florence. Our guides were so friendly and helpful in sharing all their extensive knowledge of art, architecture and culture and the history behind it all. We breezed by lines outside the Uffizi and Academia and straight in to see the sites and wonders. We also had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Duomo Museum. It was fabulous. Finally, with the help of our drivers and transfer folks we made the easy fast train to Milan where we were greeted by another helper and driver and safely and efficiently escorted to our final hotel Manzoni. The highlight of our Milan tour has to be our Aperitivo tour. Our spectacular guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable about all things Milan, Italy, and the Aperitivo. We had two stops on the tour, one fancy and one traditional. Both were superlative and gave you a different perspective of the evening event. Our second stop was in a small shop run by a husband and wife combo who welcomed us into their small restaurant and treated us like kings and queens!! Next day our Milan Duomo tour was very enlightening. Our guide made sure all our extra needs were met and exceeded. Wow!! Our final transfer to Milan Airport was flawless and easy. Thanks very much for the fabulous trip. Ciao.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip was from June 4 through June 18th and took us to various regions of northern Italy. The impetus for the trip was a wedding in Piedmont region followed by travels to the Cinque Terre then Florence then Milan. Only one of us had been to any of these places some 20+ years ago. The detailed planning of Andrea Grisdale and her team was essential for this venture. All hotel reservations and travel reservations excluding airline tickets were set by the planners. Also an app was provided that made the daily plans easy to follow. Each of our venues included a guide to show us the sites. Each of these 3 guides could not have been nicer and more informative. The sites we visited were incredibly historic and our guides were most knowledgeable about the subjects.They moved us along comfortably, set up lunch at great restaurants and provided names and reservations for dinner as well. I cannot imagine trying to do this trip without these 3 persons.
When we plan our next trip I am sure we will use this team. Overall the trip was really fun, the accommodations excellent, the food and wine outstanding.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had a wonderful 10-day trip to the Amalfi Coast, ending with a couple of days in Rome. Traveling in Italy at this point during the Covid pandemic is very much like being in New York City. Masks required in taxis and on public transportation, otherwise it feels very pre-pandemic.
Our travel experts Andrea and Marta planned a fantastic itinerary. We started in Positano at the Hotel Il San Pietro, which is like living in a dream. Our room, with a balcony overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, was perhaps the nicest hotel room ever. We spent a fun-filled day on a private yacht cruising the coastline, sipping Prosecco, and having lunch at a restaurant only accessible by boat. If you go to the Amalfi Coast you MUST spend time on a boat! Our private cooking class with Chef Peter was a blast. We learned so much about local ingredients and ate like royalty. The food and wines were delicious and abundant (maybe too abundant!), and his villa is a perfect location with gorgeous seaside views.
Ravello was a bit calmer than Positano and we had a lovely walking tour with Mena. One of the highlights of the whole trip was spending a day in Naples learning to make authentic Pizza Napoletana from one of Italy’s premier pizzaiolos (the same pizzaiola who showed Stanley Tucci how to make pizza). A once-in-a-lifetime experience! We also visited Italy’s only biodynamic buffalo mozzarella producer where we sampled the mozzarella, ricotta, and gelato, all made with buffalo milk.
We ended in Rome, where we’ve been many times. The Hotel de la Ville is in an perfect location and we had a palatial room with a balcony. It was perfect vacation start to finish.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Italy began 2 years ago. The agency worked with us during the planning of our fabulous trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast. They guided us towards great accommodations, excursions, guides and some local dining adventures. Then Covid and lockdowns. They continued to work with us for 2 years as we rescheduled then had to cancel again. When the trip finally was going to happen – they worked with us to make some changes to the itinerary and our trip was almost perfect. They use a wonderful app to help with all our documents and a local contact that was available 24/7 during our trip. All of the drivers and guides were extremely professional and knowledgable – truly felt like we had the very best while there. Before the trip they also sent out book and movie recommendations for prep on our trip and large restaurant guides that helped us plan our lunches and dinners. The private yacht to the island of Capri, the pasta-making class, the private dinners, the Vespa tour—all highlights of our trip. Highly recommend and will definitely use them again!!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Since we’ve returned from Italy, my husband turns to me EVERY SINGLE DAY and remarks, “That travel agent did a PERFECT job on our trip. Every detail was fabulous!” Yes, Andrea Grisdale’s team listened closely to our needs (as seniors) and found us perfect accommodations and perfect transportation within Italy to make our time unforgettable. Andrea’s idea of three days in the Chianti countryside after the tiring overnight transportation from Chicago gave us time to relax and enjoy tiny towns and green hillsides (and taste wine) before arriving in more urban Florence. She selected an unforgettable countryside resort with two fabulous restaurants. Her driver picked us up for three days of scenic hill towns, tiny shops, and a well known winery where we had our own private tasting on a hillside overlooking the vineyards. After that, our marvelous driver, Giovanni, dropped us off in Florence, and we were delighted with the hotel’s location–a 10-minute walk from everything we hoped to see: museums, Duomo, shops, and river, but not buried in the crowded shopping area. We requested a suite so we could relax every day before dinner, and Marta (part of Andrea’s dream team) found us a suite with its own balcony where we could view the entire plaza and cathedral while sipping a glass of wine. Our Florence tour guide, Olivera, was divine: informed, responsive, and delightful to be with. Eleanora, on Andrea’s team, efficiently purchased all of our museum passes so we had no long waits in line and gave us a good list of restuarants. The hotel Maria Novella staff went out of their way to be helpful with dinner reservations within walking distance and spoiled us with their friendly concern for our every need. We had the name and phone number of a “team member” in case we needed extra help while we were in Italy, and she arranged for covid tests IN OUR HOTEL ROOM so there was no searching or uncertainty. We stayed in stunning rooms, met lovely Italian staff members, and we returned thrilled with Andrea and her delightful, knowledgeable, and patient staff. We’d definitely ask for their help again and recommend her to others. The $300 pre-booking fee worried me at first, but I learned that it was worth gold. This is an experienced group with an international reputation. Hats off to Wendy Perrin for helping us make this invaluable connection!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL How did the trip differ from pre-COVID? Because it is one of the highest risk activities in which one can engage, we have not eaten a meal inside a closed restaurant or public access area since the onset of COVID. We advised Andrea Grisdale and her team of this, and they helped us find hotels that could accommodate us in that respect — eating meals outdoors or in very-well-ventilated or open structures or indoor areas. Andrea’s team also arranged for/scheduled the COVID test we had to take in order to return to the U.S., and that experience was comfortable, predictable, and convenient — and we received a discounted rate for the tests. (We would have relied on Andrea to guide us on Italian COVID requirements and how to meet them, but all restrictions/requirements had been lifted by the time of our arrival.)
Andrea’s team added value to our trip primarily by offering several choices of hotels that align with our preferences at our two destinations in Italy’s lakes region. We are very happy with the two we chose from the offered options. Andrea’s knowledge of the hotels’ condition and maintenance, atmosphere, location, amenities, staff competence and service orientation/commitment, and willingness to accommodate COVID precautions were a big part of that. (We like to venture forth on our own for activities, etc., and we used frequent flyer miles to obtain business class air tickets, so the only trip planner services we used were suggestions of hotels, arrangements with and prepayment for the selected hotels, arrangement for a rental car, and arrangement for the COVID test required before return to the U.S. Andrea offers a far greater range of services and assistance to travelers who wish to take advantage.) Andrea also provides a very helpful service: round-the-clock access to a staff member designated to assist with meeting unanticipated challenges or needs. We encountered a toll road that offered no way to pay other than to go on an Italian website and use a credit card. We called the designated staff member who determined the amount due and made the payment and then let us reimburse the company. While this was very helpful to us, it was a relatively minor matter; the ready availability of such a source of help could be very valuable in dealing with more significant problems that sometimes arise.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Andrea was lovely, but the trip was quickly turned over to an assistant, who was obviously not informed what we were looking for. Collecting money was her priority.
I use travel agents when I am too busy to plan every detail of a trip myself. I expect their guidance on points of interest, and to be hooked up with great guides. Once I have gone over all the explaining, I rarely have the time to review every detail – hence using an agent. I go on 15 trips a year, more than half I plan every detail myself.
My bad: I did not review what Andrea’s second-in-command planned. It had no relation to what we were looking for. Although the guides were lovely (except in Naples) we were taken a few cities and sites I never would have bothered with, and we never covered the points of interest I discussed, history, architecture, design, art. Wendy warns us to review every point carefully, but I have used so many of Wendy’s trip planners before, and each time they exceeded my expectations.
RESPONSE FROM WENDY
Andrea delegates a lot of the trip-planning follow-up to her Italy-based staff. To help prevent disconnects or miscommunication, it’s important to follow this advice that I email to every traveler if/when they decide to book a trip: “Read your itinerary carefully. Does it accurately reflect everything that you want and discussed with your trip designer? If not, email him/her with a recap of any elements you discussed that are not reflected in your itinerary, and cc me.” —Wendy
PANDEMIC TRAVEL A most beautiful trip to Florence, Italy with a brief overnight in Rome and day trips to Pisa, Lucca, and shopping the outlets. Our hotel had a patio with a view of the Duomo that was truly stunning.
One of the best features of visiting Europe is the knowledge of the tour guides. Most are historians and become certified to offer their expertise on the past and current culture. We had amazingly friendly and knowledgable guides who offered not only a unique perspective on Florence and Rome but also on Italy in general. We are given a person to contact with any questions or concerns while abroad. This came in handy for covid testing before returning home and following up with any necessary questions about where to eat, etc. It was truly a beautiful trip.
We had the most amazing meal in Rome for our anniversary and it was one of the top five meals of my life.
Our vaccine card and masks were required to enter every store, restaurant and museum. We chose to wear our masks in large crowds outdoors but mostly went without while outside.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL – This trip was something we had planned for March of 2020, so we were happy to finally get to do it!
– The trip planner made many suggestions of experiences etc… that we worked on together to find the right fit for our family (besides myself and husband, we have 2 teen daughters, 14 & 17).
– We really didn’t have many conversations about Covid or minimizing our risk. We knew Italy was vigilant with mask wearing indoors as well as checking our vaccination cards, so this wasn’t much of a discussion. Our trip planner organized a covid test at a local pharmacy before we travelled back to the US.
– Our trip planner added value by arranging experiences that we would not have known about as well as organizing the drivers and guides. All of the drivers and guides were top notch!
– We really didn’t have any experiences to avoid and liked our itinerary a lot. If anything, we tried to fit a lot into our time frame. We spent 2 nights in 4 different cities, so it was quick moving and we could have spent more time in each place. However, we had a lot we wanted to see and do!
Our trip began after an overnight flight from Newark to Milan. Our first tour, on the afternoon of our arrival, began with a couture fashion designer arranged by our travel specialist, Andrea. We had a private experience with the designer at her studio. She taught us all about designing for the couture and ready-to-wear markets along with a crash course on fabrics, materials etc….We even got to see sewers working on one-of-a-kind dresses. After this experience, we crashed at the hotel until our tour the next morning. Our walking tour of Milan began with pre-arranged tickets to The Last Supper. Our guide met us outside of The Last Supper and helped us navigate our way in after our tickets were not coming up in the system. Following The Last Supper visit, our guide proceeded to give us the history of many of the sites in the city, which ended at the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele Mall. After Milan, we went to Lake Como. Planning this portion was difficult because it was “before season” and many of the well known hotels were not open yet. Andrea’s group booked us at a lovely boutique hotel in the city of Como directly on the lake. The rooms were amazing! We had a walking tour of Como on the first day followed by an all day private boat tour with guide on our second day. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the lake area and was very easy going about changing our itinerary along the way. Overall, our few days in the Lake Como area was great, especially for being pre-season. Next, we were driven to the city of Bologna, about 2 1/2 hours Southeast of Lake Como. In between the two locations, we stopped at the Ferrari Museum in Maranello. Andrea pre-arranged a private VIP tour of the museum. It was very interesting….even for non car people! We had a free evening to enjoy the amazing food in Bologna. The tour organizers sent us amazing lists of restaurants in each of our locations. The next morning, a chef/guide met us at the hotel to walk us through the old food markets of Bologna. He taught us all about the local foods while we shopped for ingredients for our private cooking class that afternoon. After finishing at the markets, a driver took us to a local cooking school to begin making our pasta lunch. The chef was entertaining and informative. Most importantly, we made the most amazing homemade pastas and sauces! Sadly, we had to leave Bologna the next morning to make the 3 hour drive to the Piedmont region in the Northwest area of the country. This area is best known for wine and truffles! Andrea’s group had recommended a hotel that opened last year called Casa di Langa, located in the hills outside of Alba. This hotel was amazing!!! The views from our room were stunning and the food at the restaurant was special. The hotel had a laid back, but elegant vibe. The Piedmont region is completely underrated!!! It has the beauty of Tuscany without the crowds. My husband is an avid wine collector and had requested a tour of the Gaia winery in a local village. Gaia is not open to the public for tours. Andrea used her connections to set up a private tour & tasting for us. It was definitely a highlight for my husband! On our last day, we were taken to a private home of two brothers that truffle hunt. After a truffle tutorial, we made our way up into the hills with our truffle hunting dog, Leesy. It was so exciting to actually find truffles in the ground! Leesy did a great job finding 2 truffles on our hunt. We proceeded back to the house for an amazing selection of local cheese, salami and Olive oil…..with a generous portion of truffles slices on top! Following the truffle “snack,” our guide took us to an amazing lunch in a local hilltop village and then dropped off in the town of Alba, the largest town in the area. We explored Alba on our own and ended wandering the narrow streets filled with locals for several hours…trying to forget that it was our last day!! After a quiet dinner back at Casa di Langa, we packed up for our trip home the next morning. Northern Italy was a special area that we can’t wait to go back to again!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL The trip was the most enjoyable of my life. In 87 days, Andrea’s team showed foresight in catering to my needs/interests and flexibility in adapting to my needs and interests as they changed, instead of rigidly and blindly following the itinerary. That includes changing transport arrangements based on circumstances and my preferences and guides being willing to take me places that I saw on the spot and sounded interesting. The guides had to be among the most knowledgeable in their cities and regions. Andrea’s team worked seamlessly with a riding outfitter to mix horse trips with their arrangements. This review really only scratches the surface of 87 days in Italy, five weeks of which were horseback riding.
• How did this trip differ from one you might have taken before the pandemic?
Less than you might think. Yes, a few small rooms in a palace in Florence were closed, there were one way routes through museums, I was having to show proof of vaccination everywhere, I had to wear masks in different places, and I had to get tested before returning home and make provisions for a positive test, but in terms of activities, hardly at all. Italy has done better at managing the pandemic than most countries, and the regime was strict but not oppressive.
Because there were way fewer tourists in famous places like the obvious sites in Rome (and Rome overall), the Vatican, Pompeii, and Tuscany, the trip was far more enjoyable. I don’t know how many times I heard a guide telling me, “Before the pandemic, this street would have been packed!”
• Did the trip planner suggest experiences, accommodations, dining options, travel logistics, etc., that felt Covid-appropriate to you? Did he/she solve particular challenges or destination-related problems?
Yes. An occasional restaurant had tables that were a bit too close for my comfort level, but that is totally subjective, and I discussed that with the guide already. As to the second, airport staff used by Andrea’s team helped me deal with with an airline problem and would have helped get to a city by other other means, and Nicole booked a hotel in Torino the night before a flight because heavy snow around where I was staying in the mountains 90 minutes away could have turned into ice and made it impossible to get out. I, of course, had to pay extra.
• What did the trip planner do, or not do, to minimize your health risk or financial risk?
I never felt that there was any unreasonable health or financial risk. I don’t know what would would have happened if I had tested positive a few days before the trip, and Andrea’s team made known an evacuation insurance company that could have taken me home if I had met its criteria. If I hadn’t, according to the Embassy, I could have quarantined for as long as three weeks at my expense at my expense and not because of Andrea.
• Did the trip planner add value to your trip?
Yes. By having really knowledgeable guides who had dealt with the people who worked at every site who were willing to change the itinerary as circumstances and personal interests changed. We couldn’t do the Siracusa archeological area on the first day, but were able to add it to the beginning of another. Also, having private drivers meant that it was possible to see more since the driver could let us off at one place and pick us up at another. The guides and Andrea’s team were able to book restaurants at the last moment and other activities, such as puppet shows in Sicily.
• Did you have certain trip experiences that other travelers should either seek out or avoid?
They should seek out a villa in Sicily between Siracusa and Agrigento with complete mosaics that depicted in fine detail life in Ancient Rome, the private tour of the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the Galileo Museum in Florence, the city of Verona, and the Piemonte region, which has rolling scenery every bit as beautiful as that of Tuscany plus great views of the Alps. Being with dogs hunting truffles was a lot of fun. San Gemignano, Siena, Assisi, and Perugia were all beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance cities/towns that made me feel transported back in time. Being in Rome, Florence, and Verona during the time right before the holidays would have been beautiful anyway because of the decorations, but all the more so because Italians had come out of a very tough lockdown and were obviously joyful and relaxed. The only place which I wish I hadn’t visited was the August Mausoleum because the restorations and alterations totally wrecked what was an amazing building when it was constructed.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Other than mask wearing it surprisingly didn’t differ.
The itinerary was planned before covid and it didn’t have to be changed. It might be because Italy adheres to preventative measures better the the US. Andrea’s team did inform us of the forms needed to enter Italy.
Yes, they added value. I asked that food be the focus and they arranged unique experiences for us. The accommodations that were booked were wonderful. Responses to my emails occurred by the next day. 2 highlights was a prepared lunch with local specialties that took place in the villa of our guide. And the WOW Moment was truly WOW. We were met by a highly accomplished chef, taken to her kitchen and observed her making a pastry unique to the area.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our recent trip to Italy–September 28-October 8th–arranged by Eleonora Lambrughi and Andrea Grisdale and their team, was more fabulous than we could ever have hoped. Through several thoughtful zoom sessions and email exchanges, they acquired a deep understanding of who we were and the activities and places we would be most likely to enjoy, and then created a customized itinerary that fit us beautifully. During our 10 day trip, we squeezed in stays at Lake Orto in northern Italy, Portofino on the Mediterranean coast, Tuscan hill country, and then Rome. The trip was magical in every way: the accommodations they found for us every where we stayed were exquisite, as were the Michelin one- and two-star restaurants where they arranged for us to dine every evening. Understanding our love for the outdoors, photography, and history, they also arranged numerous hikes and bike rides for us with fantastic guides, permitting us to visit so many extraordinary places that we would never have found on our own–from ancient chestnut forests and Roman ruins in the hills surrounding Lake Orto and Lake Mergozzo and an eco-farm high up in the hills of Portofino to a fantastic tour and wine-tasting with the owner at her family vineyard in Barolo.
Two other special trip highlights made possible by Andrea’s team should also be mentioned: One morning, well before dawn, my husband and I accompanied the clavigero (key keeper) of the Vatican on his rounds to unlock and open all of the doors to the Vatican Museums. He invited us to unlock a number of the doors ourselves, including the door to the Sistine Chapel, where I also turned on the lights. Quite an experience, to open the doors to so much history and art, and behold it all on our own, with no one else present!
When told about my wish to get in some long runs during our trip in Italy, as I was preparing for an upcoming marathon, Andrea’s staff also arranged for a marathon-running guide to fetch me at my hotel in Rome early one morning, for a two-hour running tour through the city. And what a fantastic two hours I had, as my guide shared her own personal stories as a child growing up in Rome, as well as never-heard-before histories of the different sites and neighborhoods we jogged through.
All of the guides throughout our trip were fantastic–knowledgeable, personable, flexible, charming, fluent in English, and eager to share stories and engage in conversations that were as much an exchange of ideas as fact-sharing tutelage. We could never have hoped to find such consistently wonderful guides on our own.
The perils and hassles of Covid were also carefully addressed. Andrea’s staff made a point of ensuring that mask-wearing was required in all of the indoor places we visited–and so we felt fully protected at every hotel, restaurant, and museum we visited, and in every private car and alongside every one of our guides that they arranged for us. The staff also helped guide us through Italy’s always-changing requirements regarding vaccination and Covid testing and related documentation and helped arrange for us to get the test we needed the day before our return to the USA. They also helped us obtain travel insurance that would cover Covid-related risks.
Our time in Italy was made infinitely richer as a result of Andrea’s meticulous designing of our itinerary that perfectly addressed our special wishes and needs. I strongly encourage anyone thinking about a trip to Italy to make use of her services too!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We spent three weeks in Italy with many of our activities and tours organized by Andrea and her team. Overall we give them high marks. Our itinerary included Portofino, Lake Como, Positano, Capri and Taormina in Sicily. Andrea’s guides were quite good overall, particularly the guides in Como, Capri, Positano, and especially Taormina. The airport guides were critical to making our transition between flights, highly recommend this service. Also her drivers were quite good particularly Francisco in the Positano area. In addition, Nicole was her ambassador once we arrived and she was very helpful in answering our questions and changing arrangements as we wanted. The best experience among many great ones, was particularly the all day cruise they arranged along the Amalfi coast.
The only negatives were a guide by the name of Marialusia in Positano area who was too verbose, a heavy accent although giving her good marks for being gracious when we had issues at the scuba diving shop which Andrea recommended. The dive shop, outside of Naples, was a total disaster, very poorly run with bad equipment. We were so excited about diving into Roman ruins only to have this experience spoil our expectations, My BCD (inflates/deflates as needed) had a button that did not release air. We dived anyway due to shallow dive of only 15 feet. But if a deeper dive, this could be a very serious flaw, either you cancel the dive or risk dying if control is lost causing a rapid ascent.
Aside from the above and assuming that our interest in diving was unusual and therefore did not give Andrea any prior feedback on the dive shop’s quality, we overall recommend Andrea’s team for their overall attention to detail, drivers, guides, airport assistance and Nicole’s great assistance once we arrived.
Andrea Grisdale and her staff fulfilled our wishes beyond our expectations. Starting with the introductory phone call. She listened carefully to the things we said we enjoyed and we had no specific things we wanted to do. When we got the packet we were so pleased with the itinerary, but we had no idea how perfect the trip would become. Every driver and guide were so professional yet personable and were on time. They all mention Andrea’s team and you could tell the respect that they hold in the area.
We had two standout experiences. The first being an entire day on the sea to cruise the Amalfi coast. We did not know what to expect when we went to the wharf, there were so many tour boats. We were a little confused when a very large beautiful yacht pulled up. I was joking with my husband and told him that would be amazing, my husband said you should have seen your face when they held up a sign with our name on it. Captain Beni and his hand Salvatori gave us an experience we will never forget. We stopped at a restaurant high above sea only accessible by boat and had a delicious meal with great staff. Perfect day!
The second amazing experience was with our driver taking us from Positano to Ravello. We had a 3 hour stopover in the town of Amalfi but it was grey drizzly day and he asked us if we would rather go to his friend’s winery. The owner gave a very personal tour and the joined us for lunch that his wife had prepared. It was so unexpected and right out of a romance movie.
Her staff was right on top of things. We needed to change the dated of our Rome guide (my error) and they worked hard to accommodate us. We loved the hotel in Rome.
They stuck to our budget. That being said we did not like our hotel Villa Marie in Ravello and wish we could of upgraded to nicer hotel but the view was amazing. They also let people know that it was our 40th wedding anniversary and we were greeted with Prosecco at the Palazzo Murat. This was the best and most detailed trip we have taken using your WOW list.
That you very much.
Andrea took the time to understand exactly what we were looking for and tailored a trip that was a perfect fit. It was clear from the start that she and her team were not just pulling out a cookie cutter proposal but pulling together something specifically for us. They arranged for all of the logistics, which were seamless, and each of the drivers and guides were timely, professional, warm, highly capable, and spoke excellent English. All the properties and events were terrific. It was an absolutely outstanding trip and we would not hesitate to use them again.
Based on our initial discussion with Andrea’s team during the planning process, we let them know what types of experiences that we were interested in, as well as the quality of the hotels that we were expecting. They were very receptive to this information and used it to plan a fantastic trip for us. They provided an itinerary to us for the trip and we did some fine tuning of this itinerary with their assistance. They provided us with some memorable experiences, such as a Vespa ride through Rome and a cooking class in Florence. Most importantly, they provided us with a seamless experience. Every detail of the trip was planned very well. The hotels were all terrific and in great locations and the tour guides and drivers were all very nice and very knowledgeable. This was the trip of a lifetime and one that my wife and I will never forget. I highly recommend Andrea.
Andrea and her team were terrific. From the initial phone call when Andrea spent time understanding what we wanted, to the execution and follow up to find us just the right hotels and activities, everything was perfect. The three guides selected were amazing; knowledgeable, informative and easy to spend time with. We only had one request during the trip, to change the time for a driver and add two people to the drive, requiring a larger car. The on the ground contact handled this in a timely and friendly manner.
Having Kate as a guide for the visit to the islands in Lake Maggiore really made a huge difference in our understanding of the area and the history. It helped that she was really knowledgeable of the plants in the botanical gardens as my husband was very interested in what was planted and the names of the plants – Kate definitely delivered!!
The hike in Bellagio was wonderful. However, it was harder than anticipated based on the description of “moderate” I received. It was well worth it, but I would be careful to define moderate or ask what the travelers are comfortable with in terms of steepness and terrain.
All in all, a wonderful trip. I would work with Andrea and her team again and definitely work through Wendy Perrin for another trip. I have already referred both to a friend.
We just returned from a family trip to Florence, Rome and Positano with our two adult children, 25 and 23. As with our previous two trips, this one was just as spectacular. From the initial planning stages with Andrea Grisdale through the final itinerary we arranged with Creta and Ilenia and with Odri’s support during our trip, our family enjoyed a vacation that had something for everyone and went off without a hitch. When we did run into a minor issue at one of the hotels, Odri stepped in and fixed things quickly and efficiently. All of the guides (Elena- Florence, Piera- Rome, Carmine- Pompeii) and drivers (Vincenzo, Eduardo, Tomasso, Francesco) and hotel staff were attentive, polite and enthusiastic about their country which added some extra personality to the experience. This was especially true with Vincenzo, who took very good care of us for 4 days in Positano. He shared some of his personal story with us and provided an insider’s look into Sorrento, his home town during our Villa Ida experience. Our WOW moment at Podere Le Ripi in Montalcino hit all the notes we were looking for– friendly hosts, beautiful setting, great wine and delicious food. Another memorable experience was our cooking class at Villa Ida in Sorrento. We had great fun in the kitchen with Roberta and in the wine cellar with Charlie, the family patriarch. Eating a whole meal that we prepared under the lemon trees in the Villas garden was fantastic. Charlie is a character and he added a very warm, family vibe to the experience. Anyone into Italian food culture should do this! Our final highlight of the trip was our private yacht charter from Positano to Capri. Our captain, Davide, was the perfect host, providing us with lots of interesting information while also ensuring we experienced the beauty of the coastline. We especially appreciated his flexibility and the opportunity to set anchor and swim off the boat for a while. The whole day was spectacular and was the perfect way to end our 12 day Italian journey.
Andrea Grisdale and her team were consummate travel professionals. Their pre-planning for the trip, including soliciting our thoughts through detailed questions and their own suggestions, was the foundation for a great trip. The visit in Rome to a Contessa’s villa was a unique experience while making and selling gelato was also fun and memorable. Their guides were knowledgeable and engaging. We decided to change the last day of the itinerary and this was handled without any problems. We would certainly work with Andrea and her team in future Italian travels.
Andrea and her group came up with an outstanding itinerary that included Milan and the lake district of northern Italy for a group of 6 of us. All recommendations and accommodations were great and the guides (David, Tonya, Rita, Anna & Stephano, Kate) fabulous! Transfers were on time and removed any anxiety about getting from one place to another. I would just remind potential clients that her planning fee is not a deposit against future trip costs, but rather a separate charge for the planning services provided. This was little unclear in our communications, but looking back to the website it does state this. Regardless, the fee was well worth the quality of the services we received.
My daughter and I took a trip of a lifetime to Italy. We were in Venice for three days, then Tuscany for three, Positano for three and Capri for two. My travel specialist took the time to listen to what experience I wanted from each place and we were not disappointed! Everything was set up for us, from hotel bookings, private car pickups to train and water taxi transportation. There was an agent at every point of our journey with an incredible attitude and professionalism. I had the name and contact of our travel specialist while in Italy and she was always available when I would text her with a question or concern. Will definitely be using this travel agency for all of my future trips and I have provided recommendations to friends and family as well!
Everything scheduled went as planned and executed on time. All scheduled events were done professionally. The tours we went on had very good, experienced guides that made them enjoyable and we learned about that specific area to a degree you could not otherwise do yourself.
We had help one time where we asked to change the schedule around and our travel assistant came through quickly with no problems for us.
Overall the trip was very fun and we had an enjoyable experience.
Our overall trip to Sicily was amazing and we had a terrific time. The country is wonderful, our drivers and guides (with one exception) were excellent, the food and wine is delicious, and the hotels that Andrea recommended were very good.
However, after an initial itinerary was formulated for us, it did not appear that anyone on Andrea’s team actually paid detailed attention to the changes made and how they would affect us. We tweaked our plans several times before the trip, based upon our likes and dislikes, as we did more research. We paid Andrea a planning fee, so it should not have been a problem for her team to make minor changes. We counted on their expertise to guide us, especially on how to spend our travel days, if we were attempting to do too much, etc. For instance, why plan a stop in Sciacca on a Sunday? The whole town was closed. Or why tell us we would visit the open market in Siracusa, when that wasn’t possible because we were coming all the way from Agrigento that morning, and the market is only open in the morning?
Andrea is not the Sicily specialist on my WOW List. For Sicily trips, I recommend Marcello Baglioni (click on “READ REVIEWS,” below his photo, to learn about his Sicily trips). If you’re ever not sure whether a travel specialist is the right fit for your particular trip goals and needs, click over to Ask Wendy.
Wendy, you and I spoke around Christmas about a 15th-anniversary trip I was planning for me and my wife. I took your advice and hired Andrea Grisdale to set up a four-day weekend at Le Sirenuse in May.
Andrea’s team was exceptional; nothing was left to chance. A day after arriving we received a call from one of her associates checking in on how things were going and already making sure our departure was well-planned. Our tour guide, airport transfers, and much-appreciated room upgrade all happened flawlessly. This is actually the second time I have used her, after having her plan a family trip to Tuscany two summers ago.
As for the hotel, I now understand why Le Sirenuse is written about so much; it is total perfection. We felt like we were in a movie while there.
Andrea Grisdale and her team were fantastic. I had a few phone calls with them a year ago to plan the trip. I told them things I liked and didn’t like and they developed the whole itinerary for 10 days.
It turned out to be a great trip. It was a perfect blend of activities and free time for relaxation (as we wanted), including two great hikes, a visit to ruins in Pompeii, a visit to a winery, a visit to a private farm and associated Michelin starred restaurant, and a day on a private boat (which was the highlight of the trip). They arranged for drivers and/or private guides almost every day. Every driver and guide was on time, spoke great English, and was very friendly and helpful.
The hotels we stayed at were all great hotels with very friendly staff who were very helpful in recommending and making dinner reservations for us.
Overall, everything was just as we had hoped. An awesome vacation. I would highly recommend Andrea and her team to friends and, in fact, already have.
We worked with Andrea and her team to organize our honeymoon on relatively short notice — about a month before our trip, scheduled for the end of August which is typically very busy in Italy. The team listened to our ideas and desires for the trip and quickly prepared an itinerary that took us to Lake Como, Lake Garda, Tuscany and Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, with accommodations and activities to match what we were looking for. The team was great about adjusting the itinerary to squeeze as much in as we wanted or to manage the budget. Our trip included a private boat tour of Lake Como, wine tasting in the Valpolicella region, day trips to small towns scattered around Tuscany, and a private tour of the ruins of Pompei, among other things.
We could not be more happy with our trip. The accommodations were spectacular, particularly Casta Diva on Lake Como and the two Belmond properties in Tuscany and Ravello. The tour of Lake Como was one of the top experiences of our trip thanks in large part to our wonderful guide, Rita. She was a delight and we’d recommend her to anyone. Our guide for Pompei (Carmine, if we’re remembering his name correctly), was also incredible and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him. All of the drivers were also very good in their own right, very charming and personable, and managed transfers seamlessly.
Regarding Andrea and her team’s service, everything was wonderful. It was an enjoyable and clear process from start to finish, everyone is incredibly kind and professional, and we wouldn’t hesitate to use Andrea again in the future.
Our travel specialist for this trip was excellent beyond words. We had used Andrea’s services before, about 5 years ago to Milan and Bellagio, and couldn’t wait to schedule another. This trip included Bologna (4 nights) and Venice (8 nights). We rate them excellent for many reasons: drivers, guides, and all forms of transportation were perfectly on time, courteous and friendly. In this regard, that was a value in and of itself. We would never have been able to coordinate the kind of transfers, guides, etc. on our own.
The value of a well known and respected agency guarantees that all hotel recommendations will be top notch! They were. The hotel locations and services provided by each hotel was excellent. The service staff at each and every hotel went above and beyond any expectation, anyone could possibly want or need.
As far as solving challenges or destination related issues, traveling out our age (Senior and a Super-Senior) can be a bit difficult as the only way to get around Venice is on foot or by boat – which we did quite easily as our guides made sure we were comfortable with the pace and not overly tired on our many guided walks.
As an aside, while relaxing over a refreshment in Venice, a couple from the US sat down next to us – struck up a conversation and learned they were on a “tour” which included all of Italy in 20 days and they were exhausted! I described our travels and recommended Andrea to them right then and there, and they were most grateful.
One thing that stands out for us is the way our transport out of Venice to the airport was handled. Not once were we left to fend for ourselves and how to get from point A to B, as our guide was with us the whole time (water taxi then a private driver to the airport itself), including confirming gates, times and then sending us through Security!
As far as advice to anyone considering using Andrea and her staff – please at least make contact with them. Have your questions and ideas ready in order to get exactly what you want on a vacation!
This trip was the best ever – we have been home for two weeks now and frequently describe in detail to friends and family that this was “the best ever” trip we have taken!
Everything about our Italy (Amalfi Coast) trip was spectacular and taken care of from the drivers to the hotels to the excursions. I would highly recommend!
Andrea’s team did a great job planning an Amalfi Coast 60th birthday celebration for my dad. They did a great job accommodating one of our group’s flight delays and were very responsive despite the late hour. The highlight was by far the dinner at Don Alfonso’s! My dad can’t stop telling everyone how amazing the meal was and how wonderful the owners were to show us around the property. The hotels they chose were perfect, given our group size and budget, and they really listened to my request to give my dad the best possible views.
Just everything was super organized and all activities we on time and scheduled perfectly. No hidden surprises. All our tours-drivers -restaurant reservations were all done smoothly. Also, another key was that we really have the local flavor from all the guides and drivers that were arranged for us.
My husband and I rarely use a travel agent because we love to do the research and plan every detail of our vacations. However, this trip was for our 10 year wedding anniversary, so we wanted the ultimate luxury experience without having to think about anything. Andrea and her team far exceeded our expectations for our anniversary celebration—it was truly the trip of a lifetime.
After our initial phone consultation where she discussed our interests and desires for our Capri and Amalfi Coast vacation, the first proposal she and her team sent was on point. She really listened to what we wanted and tailored the proposal accordingly.
We just returned from our trip about one month ago. There wasn’t a minute that went by that my husband and I didn’t think “this was worth every penny and more!” We truly didn’t have to worry about anything. From the knowledgeable and kind drivers to awesome tour guides and boat captains, it was beyond perfect. Our favorite day on the trip, and arguably in our lives, was when our boat captain picked us up in Capri, toured us around the island, let us swim in the grottos, and eventually dropped us off for the rest of our stay in Positano. The views were so stunning, but the captain really made our experience so special.
Andrea has the connections with all of the right people, which makes the entire experience unlike any other. I will absolutely use her and her team for future trips, especially to Italy! We can’t wait to go back!
We traveled to Lake Como, Italy for my wife’s 50th birthday. I would use IC Bellagio again because they had access to great guides and were helpful for me in picking a hotel (Grand Hotel Tremezzo) which we absolutely loved. Overall though the experience felt a bit like a low-touch operation in that I really got more lists of things to choose from versus someone making recommendations based on things we specifically liked or providing counsel on why we would/would not want to do some things versus others. Good news was that there were great things to choose from but honestly felt more like they took my order than planned my trip. My contacts kept changing through the planning process but that was really not a problem because they did a superb job of covering for each other when one was out. So through the whole process, they never missed a beat. They were super responsive and basically gave me everything I asked for. It was a wonderful trip. I would use them again mainly because they had great access and I have been to Italy several times and have a pretty clear idea of what I do/don’t like but not sure this would be my first choice for someone who needs a lot of direction to choose and plan.
Our June 9-18 trip to the Italian Lakes and Milan surpassed expectations. The hotels on Lake Como and Lake Maggiore were wonderful, conveniently located on water’s edge, and offering every convenience. The Armani Hotel in Milan, while also 5 Star, was not our “cup of tea” particularly after our stay at the two hotels on the lakes. The Armani lobby is on the 7th floor, entered by an express elevator from the front entrance. Getting from the lobby to one’s room entails taking a 2nd elevator bank, in our case going down to the 3rd floor. Exiting the hotel requires the same procedure in reverse (i.e. going from 3 up to 7 and then from 7 down to the ground). The dark hallways and rooms, in our opinion, are too somber. Each of our 4 private tour guides (one each for Como, Maggiore, Verona, and Milan) was superb, very knowledgeable regarding the history and culture of their respective venues as well as being very pleasant. In addition, having our own guides enabled us to skip the lines at various sites. Having private boats to tour the lakes with our tour guides added to our enjoyment and comfort. Kudos to Andrea Grisdale and her staff for compiling a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience and for their timely responses to any questions and requests that we had, both prior to and during our trip.
Traveled to Rome and Amalfi Coast. Trip went as planned and all accommodations were excellent. Everything went according to plan. Excellent service.
From the time we arrived in Venice, we not once felt anxious about where we were, where we needed to go, how we were going to get anywhere. The trip was seamlessly planned. We will always use the WOW List, in the future for all of our trips!
The tour guide, Louisa, was amazing. Her knowledge and passion about the artwork we saw was amazing. She brought the experience in Venice to life!
We made changes during our trip, which were taken care of quickly and with a smile. We also had to return a few days early from our pre-paid trip, due to a medical emergency. Andrea was able to secure some of our pre-paid money back, although it was not technically due us.
Also, the rooms at the hotels chosen were magnificent. That is what we like: not just detail in picking the right hotel; but the very special room at the special hotel. We could not ask for more.
This was an amazing trip. Everything was planned perfectly and there were NO issues, not even a hiccup. The tour guides were so knowledgeable, the restaurants were excellent, the drivers were so pleasant and prompt, and the hotels were gorgeous. Everything was amazing. I would highly recommend Il Bellagio to my friends and family.
Andrea and her staff exceeded our expectations for our recent two week trip to northern Italy. From the initial phone conversation with Andrea through the work out of all of the details with her staff, we felt very well taken care of. The private drivers & tour guides Andrea selected were invaluable to us for a carefree “insider” experience that only comes with detailed local knowledge… which they have.
We will definitely work with Andrea for our next future trip to Italy!
We used Andrea Grisdale for a family trip to Italy this July, and couldn’t have been happier. All of the of service – from top-notch hotels to English-speaking drivers – exceeded our expectations. We were thrilled every day as we traveled through Rome, to the Amalfi Coast, and then to Venice. We have complicated travel needs as kosher travelers because we only eat in kosher-certified restaurants – a rarity on the Amalfi Coast. Andreas team arranged for a kosher caterer in Rome to deliver delicious meals to us in Sorrento and for our hotel there to serve it to us in a private dining room with our own waiter. We felt incredibly normal! It was a treat not to eat cold, packaged food on our hotel beds, as we have unfortunately had to do many times. Andreas team was a pleasure to work with, and we can’t wait to plan another trip with them soon.
The entire trip was planned and executed perfectly. The quality of the guides, drivers and special experience companies were top notch.
The travel agency was extremely customer focused and very attentive. I would recommend to everyone.
This is a long due recognition for excellence in travel planning, I have taken two trips to Italy with Andrea Grisdale and her team, and wouldn’t consider another one without them.
They have all the connections you would need to have any kind of wonderful experience you might not even think for yourself, from diner recommendations, private tours (one of their drivers was a personal friend of Ferruccio Lamborghini, and got us a private tour of the museum without any reservation or prior schedule!), hotel upgrades, and in case of an emergency they will got you covered. (I left my laptop in Venice and they helped arrange everything to get it back to our hotel).
Summer 2013 and May 2016
We spent a fabulous week in Florence right after New Years. This was the second time we used Andrea and and her team and they once again did a great job.
The planning stage with Andrea, Creta and Stefano was fun. We were offered some interesting things to do while on vacation and after some back and forth, we arrived at our itinerary. From that point, they finalized everything and got us set to travel by sending additional information on the food and culture of Italy.
Once in Florence, we met Tanya, our tour guide, Tanya was a great tour guide who we had the pleasure of being with for 4 days. She not only took us to the various sites, but she was extremely knowledgeable about what we were seeing. We loved our time with Tanya as she was able to impart her vast knowledge to us in a conversational manner so that we could ask questions and offer our observations. Tanya also shared some cultural knowledge with us on such things as where to shop and what to look for when searching for restaurants in which to eat. In addition, Tanya was always checking with us to make sure we had everything we needed.
Another highlight of the trip was Andrea’s team arranging for us to take a cooking lesson with Stefania. Stefania was very friendly and took us through a local market to shop for the food with which we were going to cook. Stefania was a gracious host at her house and she made us fell very welcome We learned a lot from Stefania and are looking forward to entertaining our friends with some of the dishes we learned to make that day.
Another great thing that Andrea’s team does is they have Grazia and Nicole on duty to call 24 hours a day if we needed anything plus they checked in at various times during the trip to make sure that everything was going well.
A great service offered by Andrea’s team is their VIP airport experience. They have a person meet you when you arrive and meet you at the airport before you depart. This made everything easy, especially with our luggage and the VAT refund process.
In conclusion, we had a great time and want to thank Andrea and all her staff at IC Bellagio. We appreciated all of their efforts in making sure we had a great vacation. There is no doubt that we will engage Andrea and her team for a third time when we return to Italy.
Andrea and her team were amazing.!!!!!!The hotel that I stayed in was one of the best, cleanest, and the staff were so accommodating. The area was exactly what I was looking for. It was quite and close to Bellagio. I asked Andrea if I can learn and practice the Italian language in this trip. The area she chose was excellent fit to what I desired. The driver that picked me up and dropped me off the airport was extremely professional and the drive was very comfortable. The private tour guide by Rita was one of the best tours I have had. Rita was amazing. I had a day with the owners of the hotel at their house for Pizza. Home made pizza!!!!! It was great to know them and to know the history of Palazzo Del Vicere (The hotel I stayed at). I enjoyed every aspect of this trip. Thank you Andrea and team for making this happen. God bless you all and I so appreciate such great team like this. My next trip to Italy Andrea and her team would be the team to go to for sure. Thanks Wendy Perrin for recommending Andrea and her team. Great choice!!!!!!!
Our cruise was cancelled at the last minute. Andrea and her team had already been hired to plan our post cruise trip; we jumped into action and asked them to help us plan the 7 day cruise portion in a very short period of time and they delivered for us extremely well. I was particularly impressed with Grazia and our “in country” support. When the weather didn’t cooperate, we were able to move our tours around, when we wanted our transportation changed, it happened, she was responsive and amazing to work with. The properties were amazing and the tour guides were excellent.
Andrea and her team focused on who we are to help design an experience that fit our style and interests – so they took the time to ask questions up front and then to present options. They communicated regularly and responded very quickly during the entire planning process.
On the trip, they stayed in touch to ensure all was gong well. Since we had no changes, requests or issues, we did not really need the support but it was very good to know it was there.
What truly set them apart was the actual experience we had. Everything was very well done – the hotels were superb, the guides were very knowledgeable and personable (as were the drivers) and the recommended tours / experiences were both well organized and definitely tailored to our preferences. We also had enough “down time” built in to enjoy some places on our own.
For anyone either taking a first trip to Italy or who wants a tailored experience that requires very little effort on their end, I would not hesitate to recommend Andrea and her team at IC Bellagio. Please note, this is not the least expensive option but in my opinion, it was worth what we paid to have a worry free high end experience.
Andrea Grisdale and her Lake Como-based team did an amazing job for us. She arranged for our stay at a beautiful, private villa high in the hills above the town of Bellagio. The views of the Lake from up there were stunning. The property was brand new with every modern amenity and even had a swimming pool. There was more than enough room for all of us. It was a short walk to town from there as well. On one of our days there she arranged for a private guided boat tour of the Lake with a visit to the famed Villa Balbianello from Star Wars and James Bond films. Her restaurant recommendations were superb. We appreciated her responsiveness to details and her very timely responses with email communications. We were never left wondering or hanging for information. That to me is a hallmark of a great travel specialist. She and her team fit that bill to a T!
My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in April 2015 in beautiful southern Italy (Positano and Capri). Andrea and her staff planned and orchestrated a trip of a lifetime complete with safe/knowledgeable drivers, fabulous hotels with extra perks, and special encounters with the local people. Several of our favorite activities included cooking lessons with Mamma Agata, a private tour of the ancient city of Herculaneum, a cooking lesson and farm tour with the owner of Don Alfonso, and a very memorable lunch along the Amalfi coast at Lo Scoglio while transferring to Capri on a private yacht. We can’t wait to go back!
In the past I have typically planned our own trips, but for the last few years I have utilized the services of 3 other travel experts recommended by Wendy Perrin (Entree Alaska, Costa Rica Expeditions, and I’m currently working with Pierre of Nicaragua Adventures on a family trip over Spring Break). I would HIGHLY recommend IC Bellagio, and the other travel experts list above, to anyone looking for a unique, customized travel experience. Why stress about the small details when you can let the experts do it for you!
This past summer my family and I enjoyed a wonderful trip planned by Andrea Grisdale and her team. Our requested itinerary included time in Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and a week in Sardinia in a rented villa together with experiences that were more off the beaten track than a more traditional family vacation. Altogether, the trip was a bit more than three weeks in duration. We had traveled and toured through Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany and Northern Italy on a number of occasions before and were looking for something different and geared to some of the interests our kids have (who range in age from 9 to 18). Andrea and her team delivered! Some of the more notable experiences included a private bike tour from Rome out along the Appian Way to see ancient Roman aqueducts (some still in use today) and a stop at a 500 year old farm house for cheese and wine, a private Gelato making lesson, a private guided tour of areas of Rome less frequented all while riding on Vespas, a guided hike in the hills above the towns of Ravello and Amalfi, private cooking lessons at a Michelin-starred restaurant to private boat trips to explore the beautiful coastlines of Amalfi and Sardinia. Andrea and her team did a fabulous job of listening to the types of activities that appealed to us as a family, the kinds of hotels we prefer and did an excellent job of suggesting experiences and properties that responded to our preferences. The only aspect of the trip that fell slightly short of our expectations was the villa we rented in Sardinia. Andrea and her team do not do much villa work on the island and are less familiar with areas outside of the Costa Esmerelda (we wanted to be in a less touristy area of the island). Don’t get me wrong – it was absolutely fine – just not of the same caliber accommodations that she was able to arrange on other portions of our trip (which were all truly exceptional). Because Andrea and her team did such a good job of suggesting experiences and events that really showed she listened to what we like to do and the types of things that we enjoyed from past trips to other countries, I plan to call Andrea and her team again the next time we visit the Amalfi Coast, Central or Northern Italy.
My husband and I went to Rome and Florence in September 2015. We had a wonderful and memorable trip . Andrea and her team put together an excellent itinerary that included 5 star hotels along with 5 star tours. All the drivers, tour guides and assistants were professional and friendly and went out of their way to make sure that we were well taken care of. I agree with all of the previous reviews posted on this website. If you want to experience the best of Italy , then Andrea and her team should be your go to travel specialist.
We were very pleased with our Trusted Travel Expert. Our stay at Villa Cora in Florence was extraordinary! We loved everything about it—the service was superb, the food fabulous, and the room was divine! Thanks so much, will use you next time we travel for sure. We had an incredible time.
My husband and I traveled to Italy from 9/13-10/1/2013 started in Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Rome and Sorrento. We had an extraordinary time with the help of Andrea Grisdale and her team, our travel through Italy was flawless. With Andrea’s help we had the vacation we wanted and within our budget. She was absolutely wonderful to work with. The restaurants she recommended to us were fabulous. We always had a contact number and name 24 hrs a day in case we needed help at any time. This was the most comforting of all. Any time we travel to Europe in the future, Andrea will be our first call.
Andrea and the IC Bellagio team organized all of the logistics for our honeymoon in the Amalfi Coast (Sept 2015). Every aspect of the trip—from planning to enjoying—was entirely flawless and stress free. We enjoyed every element of the trip that ICB touched—every driver, boat captain, tour guide, etc. was friendly, on time, professional, knowledgeable and with a great personality. ICB definitely has the pulse on what the best of the best is in the area.
We couldn’t have been happier with the level of service provided by Andrea and team.
The best part was that they are entirely flexible with their planning services. My wife and I wanted to plan some of it ourselves and rely on ICB for their expertise where needed (such as transfers). ICB worked with us and went out of their way to understand what we were doing on our own to ensure a seamless vacation and that their planning meshed with ours—they really cared about making sure we had a great vacation above all else.
Andrea Grisdale is incredible. However, she did my intake discussion and then handed me off to someone else, who handed me off to someone else at a different stage who then handed me off to someone else for completion of final documents who then handed me off to someone else as an on the ground contact. As a result of the multiple people involved–there were many issues with the planning of my trip that I ultimately had to escalate to Andrea to resolve. while each event and hotel they planned was wonderful, they did not all work together. for example, the hotel they recommended for our wine tasting was at least 30 minutes away from anything we did on those days and no restaurants in the town were open on the day we arrived. the same thing happened with the hotel we were placed in at Lake Orta–most of the area restaurants were closed on that day. There were other equally nice/priced hotels for the wine tour part of our trip that would have been better located. The reason why I selected a local travel agent and did not work with my usual US based travel agent is that I assumed someone local would understand which hotels would be best located to the tours they scheduled for us. additionally, our guides were told requirements requested by “the client” which were never requirements of ours or even discussed with me. Thankfully, when that became apparent, our guides were able to adjust on the fly. However, we would have had an even better experience if we were asked to provide our actual requirements instead of the travel professional on Andrea’s staff making them up. this experience was completely different from my previous experiences working with other travel professionals recommended on your WOW list (which were amazing!)
I just returned from the Amalfi Coast and had the MOST amazing trip ever. Our agent, Andrea from IC Bellagio and her incredible team of experts organized a flawless trip through Positano, Ravello, and Capri. We had the best of the best of everything, including the drivers, dinner reservations, tours, private guides and especially the hotels. I literally can’t thank them enough for making our summer vacation so memorable. I can’t wait to go back to Italy again!!
Andrea Grisdale put together a fabulous trip to Italy for us. From beginning to end, our experience working with Andrea was great. All of the properties she recommended were outstanding, and the guides she provided were not only local experts but also people we enjoyed being around. Andrea’s work was top-notch!
What a pleasure and a stroke of good fortune to discover Andrea Grisdale and her team at IC Bellagio! From our initial coffee in NYC to toss around some ideas to the many emails that followed, I thoroughly enjoyed planning our week (June 2015) on the Amalfi Coast and Capri, which was a surprise to mark my husband’s 50th birthday. Andrea’s team asked all the right questions, attended to each detail, and created an itinerary that combined heavenly experiences that brought together all the elements I was looking for: relaxation, romance, fun, adventure and extraordinary food and service.
We especially loved our time at the Hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano and the Hotel Don Alfonso in Sant’Agata, Sorrento. While I was looking for a WOW experience in terms of quality and service, I have no doubt that Andrea has the breadth of knowledge and contacts to create any kind of itinerary and experience to suit each client’s desires and budget.
I cannot imagine how we will top this trip. But I’ll be 50 in a few years, so I am sure we will try! Thank you, Andrea and IC Bellagio!
My husband and I were referred to Andrea for our trip to the French and Italian Riviera in January. We couldn’t have been happier with our service.
The itinerary was just what we wanted—places, hotels, etc. The guides and drivers were knowledgeable, considerate and likeable. Andrea’s people checked in with us throughout our trip, which was very comforting.
We highly recommend Andrea Grisdale, IC Bellagio, the guides and the drivers.
Andrea and her team at IC Bellagio helped us plan a wonderful two-week visit that started in Florence, then went on to a week in Tuscany at a villa at Castello di Casole and then on to Piemonte where we stayed in wine country at Hotel Villa Beccaris in Monforte d’Alba and ended with a few nights at Lago d’Orta at the historic (and restored) Villa Crespi. After interviewing Andrea on the telephone to ensure a good “fit” before our hiring IC Bellagio, we were surprised when she turned around and extensively interviewed us and learned about our interests, past travels, and goals for our trip. She and her team sent us some options for various parts of the trip and then, once we had narrowed down the geography, we discussed many options for guides, excursions, hotels, meals, etc. Our final itinerary was outstanding and included some special activities, such as an opportunity to go out truffle hunting with a leading truffle hunter and his dogs in Piemonte. Our guides were local, personable and very knowledgeable, and open to tailoring tours to our interests. We have traveled worldwide for forty-plus years and IC Bellagio is one of the top travel experts that we have worked with. Their attention to detail is fantastic and they really know Italy and have access to unusual activities and top guides.
Andrea Grisdale and her wonderful staff at IC Bellagio made our first trip to Italy wonderful! We could never have done it so nicely on our own. Having private transfers and guides saved us lots of precious time and also made our days so much fun and stress-free. After our guided tours we had plenty of free time to roam around, shop, and visit the fabulous fun cafes for our afternoon aperitivo.
All of our drivers and guides were born in Italy. They were so very knowledgeable and friendly and proud to tell us many interesting things about Italy and the sights they showed to us. They all went above and beyond the call of duty.
Since my husband and I were traveling alone, we wanted the comfort of knowing we had back-up if we needed help of any kind. IC Bellagio gives their clients that peace of mind by providing a back-up person and number to call in each city you are visiting. Our contact person called us early in our trip to check on us and see if we needed anything. We certainly appreciated that level of attention from ICBellagio. We did later call our contact person when our Venice hotel put us in a nice room but not quite as nice as we expected. We called the front desk and asked for a nicer room, and they said none was available. We called our contact person from our cell phone, and she made a quick call to our hotel front desk, and we were immediately escorted to a bigger nicer room.
IC Bellagio arranged a private boat ride from the Venice train station to our hotel and then on the departure day we had a private boat take us to land where a private escort met us and escorted us thru the Venice airport and personally checked us in and took us to our gate. Making that transfer from the Venice hotel to the Venice airport by ourselves would have been stressful for us. The transfers by private boat across the canal were magical.
IC Bellagio also provides their clients with an extensive list of recommended restaurants in each city you visit. They even gave us several pages of detailed information about Italian wines and Italian menu items. We found that information very valuable when
ordering from Italian menus.
We are telling all of our friends and relatives who plan on traveling to Italy to plan their trip thru Andrea Grisdale and her fabulous professional staff at ICBellagio. Our trip was absolutely perfect!
Having just turned 60, I thought I had “done Europe” in every way possible, from backpacking as a young man to travelling to various countries while stationed in Germany during the cold war to self-planned vacations. But, I had never travelled with the help of an outstanding travel advisor like Andrea from start to finish. What a fabulous trip.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it was for my wife and I to have been gathered up and whisked away without anything to worry about. The people Andrea provided as drivers, guides and connection assistants were all courteous, respectful and knowledgeable and were on time every time. I would specifically like to recognize Anna who was our guide for the Lake Como tour. She was so fun and full of life. She had a wonderful personality and the ability to mix her expertise with a congeniality that made the day very enjoyable for us. Alessandro was our driver from Verona to Venice. He took us to Soave, and while we had lunch he went out of his way to call and arrange for us to meet a local artist whose painting was on the wall in the restaurant.
The Villa D’este was beautiful and was our favorite hotel during our trip. The Gritti Palace was also beautiful and was so grand. We feel like we got to stay in two of Italy’s best hotels. We did not particularly care for the Palazzo Victoria in Verona, but that is understandable wedged between the other two grand hotels we stayed in. The Palazzo Victoria was just a bit too modern for us and the room appointments were a little cheap looking. The Affresco suite was just too cavernous for us.
All of the restaurants were fabulous. Could not have been better. Coming in November really was a perfect time because we felt like we were the only “tourists” around. We had all of Italy to ourselves.
We won’t travel to Italy again without Andrea.