We very much enjoyed our trip to Liguria and the Cinque Terre. Our travel consultant Anna Merulla overall did a fine job in planning our itinerary and was very responsive and easy to work with. Manarola and the Cinque Terre were the highlight of our trip. Our last two days biking the hills of Cinque Terre and then hiking between Corniglia and Manarola were our best experiences. Also, a boat ride from Santa Margarita to San Fruttoso was enjoyable. We would recommend avoiding the historic district of Genoa. This is especially on a Monday (when we were taken there) as almost everything is closed on Mondays. The Imperiale hotel is a beautiful building but there is little to no soundproofing in the walls. The La Torreta Lodge in Manarola was quaint, comfortable and well located. We would definitely stay there again.
Our trip planned by Anna was superb! She was hands-on throughout the planning process, listening to our needs and wants, and crafted a trip that surpassed our expectations. We wanted to visit northern Italy and while we knew some of the experiences we wanted, we didn’t know where. Our guides were top-notch, some having degrees in archeology and most being from the towns/regions we were visiting, allowing them to share a local perspective. Our trip started in Santa Margherita Ligure, a beautiful town in the Italian Rivera, just minutes from Portofino. The Hotel Continental was located a short walk from town and we had the most magnificent view of the water. The room was large and comfortable and the staff was very welcoming. Anna helped us reserve a wonderful restaurant for our 1st wedding anniversary. From SML we did day trips to Cinque Terre and Genoa. In Monterosso we had lunch in a picturesque vineyard and in Genoa, Anna helped us get museum tickets so we could have half a day to explore at our own pace. She had us utilizing trains and ferries which cut our travel time and allowed us to see more.
Our next location was Florence, her hotel suggestion was beautiful but perhaps located further away from the central district than we would normally choose. She secured us reservations at Enoteca Pichichorri, a 3-star Michelin restaurant, where the chef signed a menu for us. We asked for a free day to explore the museums and sights on our own. Don’t miss Trattoria Cammillo, a family-owned eatery from the 1940s. One of our day trips from Florence was Pienza, we wish we had had more time, as there was so much to do and see. There is a town card that grants entrance into the palazzos and museums. The town art museum was a genuine treasure. We also had a Brunello tasting at a winery and visited a farm started by a Swiss family. The farm experience was complicated with the heat and overabundance of flies, which made the cheese tasting and lunch less enjoyable.
Next, we traveled to Parma. The hotel in Parma would be our least favorite, but well located. Parma has many sites and some of the most magnificent churches. We would have perhaps one of our favorite day trips from this location. Giacomo, our guide would take us to a parmigiana cheese maker, Parma ham maker, and Acetaia di Giorgio. We would don hygienic gear and shoe covers as we watched the process happen before our eyes. We followed the process and visited the aging rooms. The tours were followed by tastings. In Modena, at Acetaia di Giorgio, they have made traditional balsamic vinegar in their home since 1870. We learned about the process and tasted several of the vinegars. The next day it was off to Bologna. If it hadn’t been for the heat we could have stayed longer. The history, architecture, and food make this a city we would love to revisit.
Our final days were spent in Milan where we had time on our own. Thanks to Anna, when our airline canceled our flight and we needed an extra day, she was able to secure our same room for a second night. The hotel was a gorgeous boutique hotel, a bit far from the historic center, but we were surprised with an upgrade to a corner room. Once again Anna had made us reservations at wonderful authentic restaurants.
Thanks to Anna we had an amazing trip with excellent guides who were flexible and responded to our needs. We went to places we never would have chosen on our own and spent 10 days living La Dolce Vita. Thank you Wendy for the introduction.
Our trip was absolutely amazing . We traveled to Liguria during April of 2023. Emanuela planned some wonderful day trips that ran seamlessly. She was able to keep us away from the Easter chaos while experiencing and learning about the region. We stayed in a small town, Sestri Levante, that was beautiful and luxurious without being overstated. It was not American touristy but more local—a small Italian seaside escape with wonderful food options and friendly people. Each night when we came back from our trip it felt like home. Emanuela planned a mix of food experiences (cooking classes and food tours) with hiking (Cinque Terre) and some informative tours in Florence. We loved our day in Lucca and our tours of the city and food market in Genoa. Emanuela was able to individualize the trip for us and was in contact through to make sure things were going well. She even went out of her way to meet us in Genoa. This was a wonderful experience overall and we would contact Wendy Perrin again to point us in the right direction for future trips.
We worked with Emanuela to plan our trip from Venice to Verona to the Lake Region. We had planned to go to Lake Como or Lake Garda. After our initial Zoom call and emails asking about our particular likes and dislikes and goals for our trip, Emanuela suggested we skip the crowds that are visiting Italy this year and instead go to Lake Orta, a smaller jewel of a lake located just west of Lake Maggiore. The hotel Emanuela recommended was delightful and our tour guides everywhere we went (from Venice to the Lakes) were outstanding. The personalized approach and private touring each step of the way made our trip very special and exactly what we had hoped for. We could never have planned a trip like this on our own, which included tours of historical interest, culinary interest and hiking. We look forward to working with Wendy’s recommended tour planner for our next trip.
My husband and I had the pleasure of working with Anna and Emanuela’s team to plan our trip to the Italian Riviera. The weather was perfect with warm days and cool evenings. Cinque Terre was very crowded and difficult at times to walk through the villages. It requires a lot of walking and it is both hilly and steep. We stayed in Manarola which was perfect. More on the quiet side but with enough restaurants to choose from. We also spent some time in Sestri Levante as a base for day trips and for some relaxation. We recommend doing Cinque Terre as your first stop then relaxing in Sestri Levante. We loved the hiking both in Portofino and Cinque Terre. The lunch at Baranco vineyard in Monterossa was perfect. Anna and her team arranged for everything. Transfers, reservations, great guides and wonderful restaurants. We did not have to worry about anything.
We had a wonderful trip as planned by Emanuela. Liguria was particularly busy given the holiday, and Emanuela kept us away from the crowds. We loved our tour of the Villa T and wine tasting/lunch in the Luccese countryside. And our visit up the Ligurian coast was very special, given Emanuela’s expertise. Do not miss Tellaro! We never would have known to travel to Orta San Giulio, with its magical monastery and beautiful village, if not for Emanuela.
We felt very well cared for all through our trip and even got to meet Emanuela and daughter in-person in their home town of Genova! Piedmont also was very special and our visit with a local cheese maker on her organic farm was a highlight!
This was our first experience hiring a travel planner for our entire trip and it was such a valuable experience.
We highly recommend Emanuela!
Emanuela helped to plan a great trip to Italy. She was very patient and communicative in the planning stages as well as when we were there. All the drivers and tour guides she chose were great. I would recommend her to anyone planning a trip to Italy.
We had a really wonderful trip! Anna was responsive to our family’s travel goals, which also included taking into account health and safety, weather, and one of our children’s birthdays. We are so pleased that we traveled to Italy and the specific locations we visited there!
Anna worked really hard to help us find accommodations in our preferred destinations, which were very busy at the time we were traveling. She also came up with alternate destinations when we needed to pivot due to lack of availability. We were very pleased with all of the experiences and dining options she suggested. The tour guides she suggested were very knowledgeable, personable, and helped us get so much out of our visits to each destination.
We especially appreciated Anna’s work in arranging culture- and nature-related experiences and booking tickets in advance due to high demand. When some experiences we had hoped for for our daughter’s birthday turned out to be unavailable due to the time, she did seek to come up with alternatives. The restaurants Anna suggested were delicious, lovely, and gave us a good sense of the local cuisine. She was also very attentive to our request to dine outdoors as much as possible for health and safety concerns. We especially enjoyed our hotel accommodations in Milan and in Santa Margherita Ligure.
We very much appreciated Anna’s responsiveness when travel issues arose, like when we mistakenly missed a train stop. She was also extremely responsive in helping us with dining needs during the course of the trip. Anna absolutely added value to our trip. Her work on accommodations, dining, and cultural and natural experiences enabled us to enjoy a truly memorable family vacation in Italy. We felt very supported before and during our travels. She is very professional, and it was a pleasure to work with her.
My husband and I had a fabulous trip to to Cinque Terre, Italy for our 25th anniversary during October of 2022. This was our first trip to Italy and it exceeded all of our expectations. We felt as though it was our second honeymoon.
I had an initial meeting over Zoom with Anna to discuss the purpose of our trip and our style of travel, things we enjoy, etc. and then Anna basically took it from there. She came up with a suggested itinerary which we then discussed and finalized together.
I had no idea what to expect and we were WOWED from the moment we arrived. All of our transfers included first-class transportation services, each of our hotels provided a complimentary upgrade along with a welcome gift, and all of our dinner reservations included the best tables and the best views.
We especially loved our two boat days—one included a tour of Portofino and lunch at a restaurant overlooking the cove of San Fruttuoso—and another included a trip to Portovenere and lunch on board in a beautiful bay.
Anna’s advice was spot-on and we felt as though we were in excellent hands. We had the perfect balance of activities and down time and never felt over scheduled.
I would definitely recommend Anna and Cinque Terre! Thank you for the trip of a lifetime!
Anna planned a trip to Lake Como for my husband and me in October 2022. From the very first time speaking with Anna, she was very attentive, and extremely responsive throughout the entire process. She expertly chose what felt like the best experiences we could have had in that region of Italy—a boat ride, a guided visit to a lakefront mansion, agriturismo, a small vineyard, and a cooking class with a chef! We literally still talk about that trip and cannot decide what we loved the most. Just so grateful for Anna’s guidance and attention and for making this trip a long-lasting memory!
I worked with Emanuela Raggio and was very impressed with the entire trip-planning process through to the final day of the trip. I highly recommend. Both Lake Como and Lake Garda were absolutely amazing, but very different in feel. Como was beyond stunning, just like you see online, but I’d easily visit both again.
The trip was planned for my mother’s birthday, so we requested a detailed itinerary that combined high-end accommodations and day trips that were private in nature and aligned with her interests (wine, food, boating on the lake, plus a sprinkle of history).
Emanuela nailed it.
I gave her a general outline of what we were thinking for the trip to satisfy my mother’s interests, and she went to work to curate a custom itinerary. The process of working thru fine-tuning the itinerary was seamless and so easy. Emanuela was always quick to respond and suggest revisions. She also helped with dining suggestions (all of which were phenomenal) and ensured our private travel (car and boat) were set up (all of which were high-end, on time, safe, friendly, and clean).
In addition, the guides that were selected for us during the trip were just fantastic. We had lunch several times with our guides as they fit in so easily. I would use the exact same guides again in the future.
Overall, I was really pleased with the trip and overall planning services. I set a budget and gave Emanuela a general idea of what I was thinking for the trip and sat back. Planing was a breeze. The trip itself was simply unforgettable.
I really appreciate Emanuela’s service levels during the entire process. On a few occasions during the trip I sent her a few questions (via WhatsApp) and she responded right away, which is really great to have when overseas. She was even able to move reservations and suggest additional places of interest upon request as we made small edits to our daily plans along the way.
If you are looking for a quality trip to Italy and want authentic experiences without all the tourist traps and crowds—I highly suggest connecting with Emanuela and her team, as they can curate a masterful itinerary.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Italy was terrific. When I first spoke to Anna, I told her that I was interested in visiting Bologna, Lucca and Cinque Terre. She immediately suggested that we include the Langhe region of Piedmont which I had not known about. As it turned out, the 5 days we spent there provided some of the highlights of the trip. The area around Barolo is absolutely stunning with grapevines and hazelnut orchards all around and many picturesque and historic towns. Not to mention that it has some of the best food we’ve ever had anywhere. Anna was very helpful in suggesting destinations and experiences which we enjoyed. Our visit to Dozza, which I had never heard of before, was fascinating. The tour guides we had were exceptionally knowledgeable and charming. Because Italy lifted their Covid restrictions shortly before we planned to visit, we were concerned about eating indoors. Anna recommended some terrific restaurants with outdoor dining. During a couple of the tours that included lunch, the dining was indoors, which made us a bit uncomfortable. But these restaurants, which were family-run and lots of fun to visit, weren’t crowded, so I guess they were ok. The hotels she suggested were chosen as historic and/or family-run and they were generally fine with at least one standout. But one (Arena in Lucca) was below our standards as the room was very small with no place to put any clothes, and there was no one around during the day to help with any issues we might have. The Castello Real in Verduno, in the small Langhe town of Verduno, was very atmospheric, but there was no A/C and the weather turned out to be quite hot. Luckily, we got enough of a breeze so we could sleep comfortably. Ultimately, we thought it was worthwhile to stay in this unique hotel in a less touristy location and eat in the local restaurants which turned out to be amazing. Anna was extremely responsive to all of my email requests and comments and was a pleasure to work with. We would not have been able to plan as rewarding a trip without her.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL A week before our trip, Emanuela noted a cruise ship would be docked in La Spezia. As our plan to enjoy the Cinque Terre was to train south to north, the recommendation was we pivot to a car. Simply, due to the size of the roads, the thousands of disembarking cruise passengers would only be able to travel the Cinque Terre by train. We didn’t want to feel the NYC commute in Italy!
When we arrived in Riomangarri, Emanuela planned for us to visit a boutique vineyard. A six-person operation, producing 20,000 bottles a year based on the side of a cliff and run by a man who can trace his family to this village for over a 1000 years. After a wonderful experience we drove north.
There are three ways to travel the Cinque Terre; 1. Small Boat. 2. Train. 3. Car. For years the Italian government has discussed converting the train tracks to a bike trail and building a new train system inland. It’s old, hot and busy. The road is narrow, wrapping itself around cliffs, but it turns a hour 45 min drive into 20 minutes. Beautiful and easy was the drive from Riomangarri to the next village. Well until it wasn’t…
An avalanche struck the road a day or two prior. There were no signs, no police, but the road was closed. Our guide called Emanuela. She pivoted us from the car to the train only to find out the train station was on fire and also closed. As boat times didn’t work, we had to drive back to La Spezia, miss lunch and continue to Montarossa. A 20 minute drive now nearly two hours.
Emanuela personally apologies, treating the rockslide and fire as if it’s her fault. Then tells us she booked us a lunch in hills of Montarossa. For this lunch we were hosted by a former Italian senator and World Bank executive who now owns this slice of heaven. For over two hours we drank, ate and experienced true dolce vita. This was an experience we never would have had without the Rockslide. Fire. Royal Caribbean day trippers.
Our adventure in the Cinque Terre was ripe for disaster, but we had Emanuela watching our every move from Genoa. She took our trip as seriously as if we were her visiting family and her desire for us to have the best trip showed. Everyone wanted to impress Emanuela through us; we had the best tables, hotel upgrades and surprise experiences that just consistently took the trip up a level. Thank you!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Italy was put into a higher category by having used Wendy Perrin’s recommended planners. This was our first time traveling abroad without experienced friends, so we were nervous about getting things mixed up and/or missing out. We did walking, driving, and boating tours. All Wonderful! The guides were mind-bogglingly well educated on their subject (Italy), and spoke superb English.
We loved how they planned only half-day morning tours so that we could relax for the rest of the day and have time to get ready for dinner. Speaking of dinner…. Wow, the restaurants were ALL amazing! One thing to note: they don’t bring the check until you ask for it!
Also, the hotels chosen by our planner were perfect and in ideal locations!