Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Travelers Isabel, Mario, Julia, and Martha Queiroz in the town of Alberobello, Puglia, Italy.

Isabel, Mario, Julia, and Martha Queiroz in the town of Alberobello.

Alison and Elisa prepared an excellent itinerary for our eight days in Puglia. We’re a family of four, with two adult daughters in their 20s. We had a fantastic experience in this beautiful and authentic part of Italy. We’ve been to the more classic Italian tourist destinations and to multiple Mediterranean spots in other countries, and we strongly recommend a visit to this less explored region near the heel of the Italian boot. Alison and Elisa were professional, detailed, creative, and responsive in understanding our travel interests to select accommodations and experiences for our itinerary. They really know Puglia!

All of the hotels were upscale and welcoming, with excellent service. The boutique hotel in Ostuni (Paragon 700) was perfectly located for exploring the northern part of Puglia, where we stayed for four nights. My wife is a relatively discerning interior designer and loved the Paragon 700. While in Ostuni, we went on an e-bike tour of the countryside through the endless olive groves, past numerous trullis, and visited the towns of Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and Alberobello, the old town of the latter being composed entirely of trullis. On the bike tour, we stopped at a family-run farm, where our girls (and mom and dad!) marveled at the site of a day-old litter of 12 piglets and 1-month old little calves. We experienced mozzarella making, including burrata, and then had an amazing meal — the ultimate farm-to-table experience. Our guide on the bike tour, Silvia, was knowledgeable, interesting, and super pleasant to be with. The two support vans were key to getting the most out of the day (biking, walking around in the towns, carrying some of our stuff, safety, etc). Our favorite restaurant for dinner during this first part of our trip was Taverna della Gelosia in Ostuni, recommended and reserved for us by Alison’s office. While in Ostuni, Alison stopped by our hotel to greet us and have a drink. It was a nice, genuine touch for Alison to drop by.

The second part of our Puglia trip was in the south, near Lecce, where we stayed at Masseria Trapana for three nights. The Masseria was fabulous, with fewer than 10 suites and everything we needed for relaxing in luxury. One of the coolest things was the underground hot tub, literally a cave, with an opening on the roof for natural light. Alison’s team prepared two experiences for us on this part of the trip which were also fabulous: A private visit to the Duca Carlo Guarini winery which has been in the same family for nearly 1,000 years, or 24 generations! The visit to the winery was supposed to last 2 ½ hours and we were there for more than four hours, including another excellent meal and a tour of the town palace where the adult sons of Don Giovanni (the patriarch who runs the wine business) are building their own winery and wine business.

The day after the winery we went on a private boat tour of the beautiful coast to see the idyllic Lecce limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and lots of little bays and coves for swimming. Fabbrizio, the captain of the Tortuga, was pleasant, competent, and did a great job taking care of us, including serving a meal which his mother had prepared. The Tortuga is docked in the port of the ancient town of Otronto. Going in and out of Otronto felt like being in a small, undiscovered San Tropez. Somewhat surprisingly, Lecce was probably our favorite town of all of the Puglian towns we visited, and that’s a pretty high bar. I guess there’s a reason they call it the Florence of the South.

Alison and Elisa were available at all times for our questions and for a few last-minute itinerary and restaurant changes, and they always got things done with immediacy and with the most pleasant attitude. We strongly recommend a visit to Puglia, in partnership with Alison’s team to make it special.

We were very pleased with the services provided by Alison and Antonello’s team and plan to use them again for another trip to the region in 25 or 26. They were super responsive whenever I tried to reach them, and designed an itinerary for us with a very interesting mix of cultural activities and historic sites. The guides and drivers they set up for us were outstanding on every level—friendly, engaging and interested in sharing information with us. Additionally, I’m learning the Italian language and the guides and drivers were all very good sports to let me practice and help improve my language skills. Highly recommended on all levels.

We have traveled to Italy on several occasions but had never been to Puglia or Sicily. We have noticed an increasing amount of publicity and attention focused on these areas and how the crowds have not yet realized how much the south of Italy has to offer. With that in mind we contacted Alison and her team for assistance in planning our trip.

We initially had a phone conversation with Alison and Elise, at which time they asked about our interests, timeframe, concerns and past experiences. They clearly listened closely, as they responded with a proposed itinerary that reflected much of what we had discussed. As the planning process progressed they were always willing to make changes and responded to questions and requests promptly.

We have just returned from our two-week vacation and could not be more pleased with the arrangements that they made. The itinerary was well planned and executed. The combination of delicious food, interesting activities and amazing historical sites will certainly leave us with many wonderful memories. Particularly memorable are the people we met—interesting guides, winemakers, cheesemakers, chocolate artisans, bakers, jewelers and sculptors. Perhaps most memorable were the market tours with chefs followed by cooking classes and fabulous meals in their homes! Alison and Elise even met with us during the course of our travels to check in and kept tabs on us throughout our time in Italy.

Once the laundry is done we’re ready to get back on the plane to our next destination. Thank you Alison and Elise for making our Italian adventure one we will always remember!

Just back from a 10-day tour of Italy, Oct 16-26, 2023, that we began and ended by visiting our daughter’s home in Bologna, and our wonderful 2 grandchildren there. We had previous visits there and had taken daytrips from Bologna, but my wife and I wanted to see more of this fascinating country.

What a wonderful trip it was. Alison and Elisa worked with us to plan an agenda, modified it when we had additional requests, always kept in contact during the planning and made sure all our needs were met. We put together a tour that included 6 days in Puglia, ½ day in Matera and 3 ½ days in Naples, including the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Herculaneum, and a city food tour of Naples. This was nothing short of a fantastic experience. Every detail was anticipated and completed. The guides were absolutely great, with depths of knowledge and ease of communication that made us want to never stop. Drivers were very professional, often contributing to the information, and vehicles were first class.

Unexpected highlights were countless and included a textile factory in Puglia, La Constantine, where hand-operated looms have been creating beautiful fabrics for 200+ years, even items for Dior. The intensity and talent of these ladies at the loom was inspiring and we were able to purchase several lovely items, including a gift for our daughter’s home. A second surprise was the nature reserve at Torre Gauceto. A wonderful environmentalist led us on a 3 ½ hour walk along the coast and wetlands, home to thousands of migratory birds, a special interest of my wife and an example of how our planners could adapt expertly to meet our requests. A great example of the personal planning was the change of a scheduled e-bike tour through the “trulli” region as the original day scheduled was predicted to be rainy, and the tour was moved a day earlier, at the last moment, to ensure a wonderful bicycling experience, which it was. Elisa kept in close contact with us throughout and we were especially delighted to meet both her and Alison in the town of Polignano a Mare, and share coffee and gelato. All of the accommodations were tastefully elegant with wonderful staff. The food in Italy is beyond description and we have too many favorites to list. A real plus was the day in Naples, a food tour in the first half and on our own in the afternoon. Aldo gave us a superb food and history lesson and discussion, and the confidence to step out on our own. We finished in Naples and took the fast train to Bologna to complete our visit with family and enjoy a Halloween in Italy.

I was astounded just how well planned and executed this tour was and look forward to many more trips to Italy.

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