Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Andrea's team found the perfect villa for us and our two adult children and made all the necessary arrangements
Adam Amsterdam | August 25, 2023
Adam Amsterdam

Imagine three weeks in a villa with this view of Lake Como. Photo: Traveler Adam Amsterdam

We worked with Andrea and her excellent team to rent a wonderful villa for three weeks in Ossuccio, a small comune on the western shore of Lake Como (about 12 miles northeast of the city of Como). Andrea’s team found the perfect villa for us and our two adult children and made all the necessary arrangements with the owner and property manager. They even made sure that any groceries and household items we wanted were ordered and stocked for our arrival. Andrea arranged a day trip to Bergamo with a great English-speaking guide. If you’re within a two-hour drive I highly recommend visiting Bergamo. She also arranged a cooking class for us in Bellagio with an award-winning celebrity chef. We made beautiful tri-color pasta and feasted on a delicious lunch. Andrea also arranged a boat with an English-speaking captain to take us to several towns along the western and eastern shores of Lake Como where we stopped for lunch, shopping, and gelato. I also must mention that we had a WOW Moment, which was a romantic dinner for my wife and me on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo overlooking Lake Como and the twinkling lights of Bellagio, all framed by the pre-Alps in the distance. This was our third trip to Italy planned by Andrea and her team as our travel experts and I wouldn’t think of planning anything in Italy without them.

The meal was a show-stopper and the pasta class was revelatory
Andy Robinson | August 17, 2023

We just returned from a 12-day trip to Florence (2 days) and various other parts of Tuscany (8 days). This was a hybrid trip for us, as we planned some minor excursions on our own, but Andrea and her team worked with us and set up some great tours in Florence (despite our short stay) and experiences around Greve-in-Chianti, where we were based. While we had been to Florence before (also arranged by Andrea), the other couple we were with had not, so Stefano arranged separate tours on the same day for each of us which culminated in a private sunset cruise on the Arno (thank you Sylvia for your animated and attentive commentary—lots of fun). Our enthusiastic and passionate guides, Chiara, Sarah and Sylvia, brought Florence’s history and culture to life making the tours of the city, the Academy, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and the Oltrarno District both informative and entertaining. The Brunelleschi Hotel, where we stayed, is a beautifully appointed property, centrally located with great service and amenities. The staff was very professional and accommodating. Highly recommended.

On to Greve-in-Chianti. We stayed at the Borgo del Cabreo, another beautiful property located on a vineyard high above the town offering a 360-degree view of the Tuscan countryside. Breathtaking, especially while sipping our morning coffee or enjoying an aperitivo by the pool at sunset. Rooms are big and the beds are very comfortable. Staff is very friendly but do be aware that you must have a car to get down to the village and there is no on-site shuttle but taxis are available. We had a car so it was not an issue for us. The breakfast spread is outstanding.

Our excursion to Montalcino and Pienza was sensational as was our driver Giovanni. We are big Brunello fans and Andrea’s team arranged a great experience for us at the small, family-owned Poggio Rubino vineyard. What a great day—we got the the tour of the winemaking operations and then sat down for a homemade Tuscan lunch (thank you Nonna) to accompany our very generous and expertly paced Brunello tasting. A great experience. Do it, but make sure you have Giovanni there to take you home. Since we probably overstayed our welcome at Poggio Rubino, our time in Pienza was brief but still worthwhile—even if just for the aroma of the cheese and truffles that surrounded us as we wandered down the streets.

The following day we drove to the Antinori-owned Fonte de Medici estate, where we took a pasta-making class with Ellis followed by a 5-course tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Passignano just down the road. Wow. Both experiences were eye-opening and a treat for all the senses. Not enough room to really give these experiences their due but the meal was a show-stopper and the pasta class was revelatory. Ellis is a great teacher with a sharp sense of humor. We loved him. Our only advice is don’t drive there and maybe don’t do them back-to-back. A must-do experience. Thank you, Stefano and Andrea.

All in all, this was another fantastic trip arranged by Andrea and her team. Thank you to the guides and the hosts at all of the properties. Looking forward to our next adventure.

Well-designed itinerary, top properties, unique experiences and excellent guides
Lou Lower | May 28, 2023

Our two weeks exploring Puglia was superbly executed by Andrea Grisdale and her professionals. Well-designed itinerary, top properties, unique experiences and excellent guides. Their Ambassador Service (available 24-7) is highly responsive in answering questions, modifying itinerary items, etc. The cooking class in Lecce was tops. Although technically not in Puglia, do not miss Matera…UNESCO World Heritage Site recently used during the latest James Bond movie.

So many highlights to our trip, but a few that stand out are the times we were away from the crowds
Sheri Hardin | May 15, 2023

For a few years I had kept notes on what I would like to see in Italy. After the pandemic I had quite a long list, which I provided to Andrea and 3 weeks to try and accomplish. Andrea listened to the type of trip I wanted for my husband and me. This included lots of well-known sites like the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel and many other churches, Amalfi Coast, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Lake Como. Andrea took my list and crafted an itinerary that allowed us to see well-known places but also have time to relax and just enjoy the people, the food and the beauty. Andrea and her staff responded to all my questions, changes and additions. They kept up with things changing, like notifying me when the entry to St. Peter’s Basilica opened from our Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel Tour that made it feasible to enter without the long wait. When you hear that Italy is very popular to visit, take it seriously. We went end of April through mid May and it was crowded in almost every city. There were so many Americans but also lots of school groups and Italians celebrating the 3 different holidays occurring during our vacation. Our guides and drivers were fantastic, working us around the crowds, finding places for my husband to rest, recommending fantastic places to eat, providing historical and current information, truly caring about us, and giving us experiences we will never forget. Andrea’s team secured hard-to-get tickets like in Milan to view The Last Supper, provided help for us in train stations with luggage porters and assistance to board the correct train. This made transferring cities much more relaxing. They also thought of little things like having our driver use a van while driving to some of the Amalfi Coast towns, so we were sitting up higher to be able to appreciate the views. When a couple of weeks before our trip we wanted to add a food tasting in Rome, they made it happen and we enjoyed a wonderful view of the city from a rooftop bar. Seeing the city lit up made us want to do a drive-by-night tour to enjoy the many monuments lit up. I emailed my trip contact at Andrea’s office and they arranged an evening of seeing the beauty of Rome at night.

There are so many highlights to our trip, but a few that stand out are the times we were away from the crowds. These included a boat tour around Amalfi Coast, wine tasting outside Florence and witnessing some local craftsmanship and meeting some local artists there, private tour of glass making in Murano (also made a purchase and took our photo with the glass master who made our piece), walking around the lake in Dolomites in silence and beauty, the private boat tour of Lake Garda, the awe in seeing works of art like David where we entered early and beat the long lines, boat ride and wonderful lunch Andrea’s team had booked at Lake Como and the smaller towns of Lucca and Bergamo. I like to purchase things that mean something, and the guides were great to take me or point out shops where the products were made locally.

Andrea provided me a few recommended selections of places to stay in each city, and every hotel we selected was in a great location with wonderful service. There is no way I could have planned 22 days in Italy and experienced so much without using Andrea’s team and the guides and drivers she uses.
I also want to thank Wendy for our WOW Moment in Venice, which was a wonderful food tasting where we also got to see a part of the city we had not seen.

Some things we did on our own that we greatly enjoyed were a horse carriage ride in Lucca, a convertible taxi ride around the Island of Capri, tour of Puccini’s home in Lucca, and a violin concert at Vivaldi’s church in Venice.

I want to point out that if you go to the Dolomites off-season, please be aware the town of Cortina, which will host some of the 2026 Olympics, is pretty much a ghost town in the off-season. The beauty though of the Dolomites cannot adequately be explained without seeing. Also we planned this trip a year in advance, which allowed Andrea’s group the time and ability to secure hotels and tours that sell out.

I am so thankful for Andrea and her team and all the guides and drivers for bringing my Italy dreams to life.

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