Wonderful trip. Responsive planners. Met via Zoom-type meeting at first, with plenty of follow-up email, and using WhatsApp during the trip. Adjustments made on the fly. Top hotel selection in Sestre Levanti, with excellent guides and drivers. Experiences included pesto making in a historic house in Genoa. So much more than just a cooking class but an immersion in food, culture and history. The experience shopping with a chef, and then cooking at her villa overlooking the sea, was sublime. Transfers from the airport and to our final destination (a perfect wedding in Tuscany) was smooth and seamless. Highly recommend this planner and team.
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.