The reviews posted here are from travelers who started their planning with Wendy’s trip questionnaire for Maria and Brian. That made them VIPs and earned them these five benefits. If you want similar VIP treatment and benefits, use this black CONTACT button:
Maria and Brian have earned a spot on Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts based on Wendy’s rigorous testing and vetting as a traveler and journalist, including feedback from her well-traveled readers.
Have you returned from a trip arranged through Wendy’s WOW List and want to submit a review? Check your inbox for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Please review your trip: That’s how you get a WOW Moment.”
Maria Gabriella Landers and her team did a wonderful job planning and overseeing our trip to Italy. It was my sister and I and our father on a bucket-list trip. She was able to advise us on and book our accommodations, travel once we arrived in Italy, experiences and tours and dining. They made this seamless so that the drivers, tour guides and hotels were all in the loop. We had a specific request that with meals we wanted a mix of casual and fancy, and they needed to be able to accommodate gluten-free. This was not a problem and our dining experiences were all wonderful. We are so glad we chose to use Maria and her team and highly recommend them.
When Italy beckoned for a return visit in September, we turned to Maria Landers for assistance in building an itinerary that focused on food, wine and culture. Maria did an excellent job in finding new places to visit and new experiences. We got a firsthand look at several familiar Italian products with visits to the marble quarries at Carrara, the Ferrari Museum, a balsamic vinegar producer and a violin maker. Each was very interesting and highly recommended. We experienced the quieter side of Italy in the charming Tuscan town of Barga, as well as the more populous—and popular—Venice and Milan. All of our guides and drivers were excellent and knowledgeable. Our hotels were all comfortable with top-notch service. We never felt unsafe re: COVID. Maria’s recommendations opened up new areas of Italy for us to explore and gave us another memorable Italian journey.
Maria planned a wonderful 9-day trip to Venice and the Italian lake district. There were a lot of moving parts to this trip, and everything was well coordinated and went off without a hitch.
We were met at the airport by our local host who walked us to our driver, who took us to our private water taxi, that literally dropped us off right in front of Londra Palace, our beautiful hotel. Our trip coincided with the Venice Film Festival, so many people were waiting at the docks for one of the scarce transports. Our “taxi” pulled up, as scheduled, because Maria had made the reservation far in advance.
As we motored down the Grand Canal, standing (to be sure we took in every detail) in the back of our gorgeous watercraft, wind blowing through our hair, we knew this was going to be a very special trip.
After a quick power nap, we headed off on an early evening “Cicchetti” walking tour where we visited several local spots for Venetian appetizers and wines.
The next morning, we met our guide for a visit to three islands. The first stop was Murano, where we enjoyed a tour of the famous glass factory, conducted by the son of the owner, who was also a grandson of one of the grand master artisans. We visited 2 other islands, observing the art of lace making by hand in Burano, and the island of Torcello.
Venice was also the site of our WOW Moment. Although I won’t spoil the details, in case others may be treated to this same experience, let me just say that it was very special and a trip highlight. People applauded as we went by.
The remainder of the trip was spent in Stresa and Bellagio. The Villa Aminta was a lovely boutique hotel. We never would have found it on our own, nor the town of Stresa, for that matter. But what a wonderful location and lodging choice for 3 days.
Every day in the Lake district was filled with a special experience—a private tour by the owner of a renowned wine cellar, a fun cooking class, a tour of the beautiful Villa Balbianello, where our guide had a key to allow us entry into rooms which were off limits to the general public.
While I have always enjoyed planning my own trips, there is no comparison to the benefits of utilizing the talents of a travel specialist. Maria had access to the best guides and knew the right people behind the important scenes. We received early check-ins and special welcome gifts at the hotels she chose. Her restaurant recommendations were wonderful.
Kudos to Maria and her staff.
We have returned from a glorious trip to Rome. We only had three short days there before setting sail on an ocean cruise ship, but with Maria’s help, we made the absolute most of every moment. Maria made all the arrangements including pickup at the airport, hotel reservations, private tours, dining reservations, and private transportation to the port of Civitavecchia to catch our vessel. Three days prior to our arrival, we received a message from Maria that she was changing our hotel due to some recent negative feedback regarding our original hotel. The upgrade put us in a 5-star (upgraded from a 4-star) hotel at no additional charge. The Grand Hotel Palace was probably the nicest hotel I have stayed in in Europe. We had a huge suite complete with small kitchen and dining room. My husband celebrated his birthday while we were there and we were surprised with a nice bottle of Prosecco in our room that day.
We had the very best experience with our privately guided tours of the Colosseum and Forum. Our delightful Italian guide, Annalivia, was full of knowledge and moved us to the front of every line! Much to our surprise, we loved our walking food experience with Maria, who is American/Italian and walked us through the small, out-of-the-way alleyways of Rome, stopping to eat a small bite at her favorite shops, meanwhile sharing her stories of local life in Rome. We tasted local appetizers, espresso, biscotti, pastries, and rice balls (they are heaven in your mouth!). We had a night driving tour to see the night lights of Rome. Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy and cloudy but we still enjoyed seeing the city from a different point of view. Of note, many of the usual lighted sights are currently in the dark as Rome is trying to conserve energy (which I applaud). We can’t thank Maria and her group enough for making this Rome experience seamless. We did not experience any Covid concerns and felt safe every second. I never had to worry about planning a thing.
Like many travelers, our trip to Italy was postponed due to COVID until September, 2022. Despite having to cancel and rebook, our consultant, Maria Landers, was on top of each detail and provided thoughtful advice. She adjusted the arrangements and leveraged a wonderful network of experienced guides. She even arranged a real specialist for our visit to the Galileo Museum in Florence. She also recommended a unique rowing opportunity to Venice — something we never would have thought of, but it was lots of fun. After working with many travelers, Maria has good insight into how to pace each day. She anticipated when we were likely to be tired or could add one more thing. We would definitely use Maria again!
It is always a challenge to take two grandkids on a trip, let alone on a trip to Italy in the middle of a heat wave with Covid hanging in the air. But, we had a spectacular time. Maria created an itinerary that was tailor-made for the grandkids’ needs. We stayed in Rome as well as Florence. The cooking lessons (3 of them), the Vespa ride through parts of Rome, as well as the mummies in the Vatican Museum and the catacombs, were their favorite parts of the trip! There were heat challenges which required rejigging the itinerary. This was done very professionally and I was extremely appreciative of the rapid responses. The overall planning of the trip took time and communication at times was difficult due to schedules. Nevertheless the final itinerary was exactly what was needed for all of us. Many wonderful memories were created.
A highlight for the grandparents was going to the Vatican and the Cathedral at the end of the day. No lines, hardly any people, and we could appreciate all the splendor and history.
Our July trip to Switzerland was a last-minute change necessitated by family arrangements. (Our original itinerary was southern Italy in the fall.) Maria put together a multi-city 10-day plan that, in spite of summer crowds everywhere, was an enjoyable introduction to a country that we had not previously explored. The guides were exceptional in all of the city stops. A highlight in Bern was a chance to see the workings of the city clock with our guide, one of the “keepers of the clock,” a true WOW experience. The hotels were well-chosen, in excellent locations for seeing the city on our own, and the restaurant suggestions perfect in every location. Transportation was well-organized and always on time. (A highlight for us was the train ride to Grindelwald through the Alps.)
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Destination Italy – Matera –> Pompei—> Amalfi Coast. May 31-June 11, 2022
We had several phases of a complicated group and private trip to Italy for our “gang of 8” adults deferred through Covid, and finally we were able to travel in May 2022. Fortunately we booked our Amalfi villa accommodation before the 2022 travel demand explosion, but we hadn’t made most of the detailed arrangements re. logistics of transport of our large group, and our activities, and frankly I was exhausted trying. In steps Maria Landers at T minus 1 month, with detailed recommendations, advice, and ultimately a well-organized, richly experiential itinerary (with a lot of moving parts!). The absolute highlight of our trip was a private tour of the Amalfi Coast by sea on the powerboat Sea Legend. Captain Leonardo and first mate Bianca were delightful, the sun was out, the seas were warm(ish) and welcoming, and the day was simply the best. A second high point, nearly as much fun as the boat trip, was the cooking class arranged at Michelin-starred Don Alfonso in the village of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi. Chef Nicola was a charming teacher, and we actually ate the food we prepared! The Don Alfonso property and family proprietors could not have been more welcoming. The irony is that Don Alfonso was a last-minute substitution found by Maria and team for the originally planned class that had to be cancelled owing to unforeseen water issues. These were experiences I’m quite sure I would not have found on my own. Maria and her Italian colleague Cristina were also very flexible with short-notice adaptations to the schedule, which we very much appreciated. Another time I would come to Maria much earlier in the planning stages to let her do her magic for more aspects of a trip, but within the constraints I gave her, she and her staff were brilliant.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just returned from our third trip to Italy with Maria Gabriella Landers and Brian Dore and maybe the best compliment I can give them is to say that we are already looking forward to a fourth trip. (And for readers with Covid concerns, we were in Italy last September when many restrictions were still in place including mandatory masks and showing proof of vaccination for indoor locations. Those restrictions were mostly dropped just prior to our arrival, but much of our trip was outdoors and people were still respectful – and we felt very comfortable the whole time.)
This trip focused on Emilia-Romagna (Parma, Ravenna, Modena, Bologna) with an additional stop in Lake Garda. We had been to each of those towns before (except Modena) but this trip was so much more interesting, educational and memorable, thanks to Maria and Brian’s planning. As always, the pace of the trip was exactly what we prefer; we like having some free time every day as well as a couple of totally free days within the two weeks. As always, our guides and drivers were terrific and added tremendously to our experience. Hotels were well-matched with our tastes and even when there were a couple of last minute hotel changes, we were notified in advance and everything worked smoothly. Thanks to Maria’s suggestions, two of the hotels in particular were simply exceptional and we will be dreaming of them for years to come.
But what makes working with Maria and Brian so special is the unique experiences they organize to suit your interests. We had a private winemaker/winery visit outside Parma that we’ll never forget, a magical visit with a violin-maker in Cremona, fun experiences at the Lamborghini Museum and Imola Formula 1 racetrack, and a delightful visit to some beautiful villages in the foothills of the Appenines.
Last but not least, since Emilia-Romagna is the food paradise of Italy, Maria booked several lunches and dinners at restaurants for us — something we don’t do too often — and all of them were fabulous, with staff that made us feel at home and the kind of down-to-earth menus that we love. So now we just have to decide where in Italy we want to go next, of course with Maria and Brian’s help.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This trip was planned for 2 years ago. We were a couple of weeks away from travel with everything paid when COVID shut everything down. Maria assured us the trip would be waiting for us when we were ready to travel, and she delivered on her promise.
We kept the itinerary the same and had a fabulous time. Starting in Florence, drivers then took us on the scenic route to Montefalco in Umbria, then to Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast, ending in Rome by way of Pompeii. All of our guides and drivers were top-notch.
Accommodations throughout were great with beautiful views and helpful staff. Our favorite hotels were Antica Torre in Florence and Grand Hotel Capodimonte in Sorrento.
All the tours and activities were enjoyable and informative, but a few stand out. We had a WOW Moment surprise in Florence (Thank you, Wendy!) when we were led along back streets to the Torrigiani Gardens, the largest private garden in city limits in Europe. It’s been owned by the same family for centuries. After a tour of the spectacular grounds, the owner took us to the balcony in his residence and visited with us over wine and a huge assortment of antipasti – a wonderful experience.
On our drive to Umbria, we stopped for lunch and a tour at I Balzini, a small family vineyard and winery. Lunch was served on the patio overlooking the vineyards and gorgeous Tuscan scenery. The wines and food were delicious, and we’re looking forward to the arrival of wine we purchased there.
Cristina set us up with dinner reservations throughout the trip and all of them were good. Ristorante Bagni Delfino in Sorrento was special for the lovely sunset view on the water as well as excellent food. We ate well with a fun cooking lesson from Chef Andrea at Locanda Rovicciano in Umbria, a food tour in Rome, and one great restaurant after another.
Maria recommended the use of Cranky Concierge for our air arrangements and I’m so glad she did. We had delay after delay on the trip to Florence, and we had peace of mind knowing they were ready with backup arrangements if we didn’t make our connection.
The trip was definitely worth the wait. Maria listened to what we wanted on this trip and gave us the trip we hoped for. Highly recommend!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our 3-years delayed trip to Switzerland was wonderful and I wish we could have stayed much longer. Our hotels in Luzern, Interlochen and Zurich were world class. Our guide in Zurich was extraordinary and she made all of us want to return to Zurich to discover more of its ancient stories. Maria Gabriela Landers did a good job setting up seamless connections and superb accommodations.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We returned yesterday from a fabulous trip to Italy planned by Maria Landers. I don’t know how it could have been any better! We received a package a couple of weeks before our departure containing our final itinerary and two high-quality face masks. The “nota bene” section of the itinerary included a ton of useful Covid-specific and other information. Maria very thoughtfully arranged for a pharmacist to come to our hotel room the day before we returned home to administer the rapid Covid antigen test required for entry to the US. How convenient! Covid precautions (masks, proof of vaccination, etc.) in Italy were very similar to those at home and we never felt uncomfortable or at an unreasonable risk.
A combination of our visit occurring during shoulder season and the pandemic severely limiting tourists from Asia and other regions meant we encountered no crushing crowds and no problems getting into restaurants. This was most noticeable in Venice, where we enjoyed strolling freely the narrow streets of La Serenissima.
Fabulous hotels!!! In Milan the Hotel Principe di Savoia is a luxurious property, centrally located for walking to most things we wanted to do. Our guide Lorenza was delightful. Her insights into DaVinci’s Last Supper were better than anything we could have gotten out of a book.
Maria broke up our drive from Milan to Venice with a stop in Verona for a walking tour and lunch. It was perfect. We loved our guide Marina so much that we insisted she join us for lunch.
Venice is my wife’s favorite city after our home city of New York, and she has always wanted to stay in the Gritti Palace. Maria arranged a beautiful room with a balcony facing the Grand Canal. It could not have been better. Daria was the perfect guide! An Italian who spent time living in New York and going to college in Boston; she was a perfect bridge between the Italian and American cultures.
On the drive from Venice to Lake Como we stopped in Vicenza to see some of Palladio’s best architecture and a delicious lunch in the wine cellar at Il Cepo. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como is like something out of movie. We had a corner room with a lake view of Bellagio. The “Grand” in the hotel’s name is most appropriate. Our guide Rita and our skipper Carlo, took great care of us and had fantastic senses of humor. We spent the morning touring on a private water taxi. Tremezzo and its surroundings took our breath away. Lunch at Crotto del Misto was unbelievable! We had the restaurant all to ourselves. It was like a dream.
This was our first international trip since the lockdown and it reminded us of how much we’ve missed traveling. We’re already thinking about our next trip!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We truly enjoyed a wonderful trip to Umbria and Rome. Maria and her team had a spectacular itinerary tailored around food and walking. We were blessed with wonderful weather as we hiked near Assisi and explored Gubbio, Spello, Spoleto, Bevagna and Montefalco with Maria’s team of excellent guides and drivers. Our guide Marco’s knowledge of art was truly amazing and we learned the Umbrian perspective on 2000 years of history. We explored smaller, well preserved walled towns, most dating from Roman times. We ate magnificently, with truffles being a major focus in pasta, bruschetta and scrambled eggs. The truffle hunt was fun and informative and lunch following truly memorable thanks to Cristina. Rome was very busy, Gina made our food walk there one of the highlights of the trip, showcasing smaller neighborhoods, shops and wine bars. Maria had everything in place for Covid protocols and we had no issues with our Green Pass, EU tracing and testing to return to the US. In addition, the team was more than accommodating with minor changes, including a request for a second dinner reservation in Montefalco at a very small, highly rated spot.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My family of six—including four daughters, ages 5 through 11—traveled to Italy and Switzerland in November/December 2021. Maria pulled it all together on relatively short notice; I think we had only four weeks of lead time. She arranged for great hotels, fun excursions, and private guides in Florence and Zurich who were fantastic with the girls. It was really nice to have the same driver the whole time we were in a city, and each driver was excellent and very accommodating. We had a fantastic time making pizza in Florence, and another major highlight was our WOW Moment. Thank you so much, Wendy, we really enjoyed it! We walked across the river in Florence to a more residential neighborhood and visited an artist’s studio, where she welcomed us and helped us make our own mosaics in her found-object style. While they dried, we enjoyed sandwiches and cake in the cafe. The artist and Elvira (our guide) were so friendly and welcoming it was a real treat to spend the afternoon with them. As for Covid, we felt pretty safe: Things felt mostly normal (but with masks…and a QR code app in Switzerland). The Italians and Swiss seemed comfortable and ready to move on, which put us at ease as well. Maria arranged for Covid tests for us prior to our return flight. Everything went smoothly, and it was nice not to have to worry about anything. I will definitely call Maria again when we return to Italy or Switzerland.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Needing an extended get-away after our son’s wedding (which Maria planned their honeymoon), my wife and I took a three week cooking excursion to Northern Italy. We had travelled with Maria on two prior occasions, so hectic-ness of the wedding dictated that we left almost all details to her. We were so pleased! We went to the less travelled areas of Italy’s cooking fame; Modena, Bologna, Parma and finished in Lake Como. The highlight of the trip might have been the first two nights at Chef Massimo Bottura’s Casa Maria Luigia and dinner at his acclaimed Francescana. We met both Chef and partner/wife Lara. Their hospitality was everything we could hope for…. one of the most enjoyable stays of my life. Fantastic location to unwind from jet lag. My wife is a chef and cooked twice with two fabulous cooks, Cristina in Bologna and Stefania in Parma. Both experiences were highlights, as well as glimpses inside their lives in both their wonderful homes! Ending the trip in Lake Como at the fabulous Grand Hotel Tremezzo was the bow on the present. Splendid! We felt safe the entire time and our drivers were impeccable. Thank you for this incredible journey and taking care of the details for us!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We recently took our second trip with Maria and Brian and we are ready to book a third trip as soon as we can! We originally planned this trip (Matera/Alberobello/Amalfi Coast/Sorrento/Naples) for March 2020, then postponed it twice before finally going last month. Maria was completely patient and flexible about holding our payment until the time we could actually travel. The test and EU locator form required for entry were not very burdensome and obtaining an antigen test before coming home was easy and inexpensive. (Maria told us which Farmacia to use.)
As it turns out, the original itinerary was perfect for this stage of the pandemic: we were outdoors most of the time, at archaeological sites (Herculaneum, Paestum, Pompeii), seeing the Amalfi Coast, exploring cities on foot and dining outdoors. As Maria had described, Italians are very respectful of covid protocols, requiring proof of vaccination to enter museums (and ruins) and masks indoors. We had private guides and drivers who were quick to assure us that they had been vaccinated and then ensure that we were comfortable along the way.
Thanks to Maria’s suggestions, we stayed multiple nights in Matera (which has much more to offer than the sassi) and in Sorrento (which we loved, and after seeing the busy Amalfi Coast towns, we were happy to just visit them rather than stay overnight). Each hotel recommendation was perfectly suited to our taste and were some of our favorite hotels ever. The guides Maria arranged for the 3 visits to ancient ruins were terrific; they did not talk about dates and names, they were able to paint a picture of life in those cities before their destruction. And the guides we had for walking tours in each city were energetic, personable and passionate about their home towns.
The true icing on the cake were the special events arranged for us — a hands-on bakery visit, lunches in local restaurants/wineries, and a spectacular private lunch with a famous chef in Sorrento who took us shopping for produce and fish, then sat and talked to us while one of his chefs prepared our lunch in front of our eyes.
As someone who planned our trips by myself for 30+ years, I know for sure that nothing can compare to having an expert in your corner. We’ve been to Italy a dozen times on our own, but I don’t know that we’ll ever go again without Maria and Brian arranging it for us.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just returned from a fantastic 3 week trip to Italy that Maria had arranged for us. It was a complicated itinerary going from northern to southern Italy, with many wonderful stops on the way. Maria carefully vetted all the hotels, guides and restaurants that she arranged for us and they were wonderful. I had lived and worked in Italy, so the initial list of places to revisit was quite long. Maria listened to us carefully and slimmed the list down perfectly to fit into 3 weeks. She did an outstanding job and is one of the best WOW Listers we have worked with in our many years in working with Wendy’s recommendations at Condé Nast and now The WOW List. Our only disappointment is that we didn’t go longer! For the last 10 years we have been traveling to other places in the world as we have worked for many years in Europe and wanted to see other parts of the world. Luckily we were on one of Wendy’s Zoom calls in May or we would have never thought of going back to one of our favorite countries in Europe without the crowds.
We were nervous when the Delta variant hit in July and almost postponed, but glad we didn’t! We felt safer on the international flights and in Italy itself than where we live. Most people were compliant with mask wearing and everyone was checked for any indoor venue with either a green pass or other documentation for vaccination. In addition, we felt comfortable that Italy has a high vaccination rate.
We toured with comfortable private cars everywhere and all dinner reservations were made for us. Every driver was on time, personable and spoke English. We just had to get in the car and go. Everything went off without a hitch. The guides were superb, especially Elvira in Florence and Guido in Rome. Cristina Tili, who is Maria’s Operations manager on the ground in Italy, was extremely proactive and a joy to work with. Unfortunately my husband had back problems during the trip and Cristina along with The Palazzo Bontadosi, which was our hotel in Montefalco, helped him tremendously. One of the staff took him to the pharmacy so she could interpret what he needed from the pharmacist in Italian!
The highlights of this wonderful trip included:
~Half day lake tour on Como and exploring the region which is beautiful
~Venice without floating hotels and massive crowds
We toured the grand canal, along with Murano known for its exquisite glass, Burano (lace and colorful houses), and Torcello which has a beautiful cathedral. The Hotel Londra Palace was everything I remembered and so happy Maria booked us into a fabulous room overlooking the canal.
~Florence: We stayed at the Grand Hotel Minerva on the Piazza and it was a great location and the room was divine along with the customer service. We loved the rooftop pool and what a view of the Duomo at night. Elvira, who was one of the best guides we have had anywhere, was a wealth of information, fun and nothing was too much trouble for her. We went to the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David, toured the Uffizi (no lines!) and had a fun time on the Arno River with food and apertivos.
When we thought it couldn’t get any better in our 3 days in Florence we had a Wendy WOW Moment that was over the top!! We saw that Maria listed “a one of a kind experience” in the early evening. Of course, we tried getting hints from Elvira, but she was not sharing anything, until we were almost at our destination and told us that we were meeting the Marchesa Elena Torrigiani at her estate and grounds in the middle of Florence! Her family goes back generations and is considered royalty in Italy. The garden is 17 acres and she personally led us through the gardens and explained all the monuments, trees, etc. The best site on the grounds was a neo gothic tower and walls from the Middle Ages! Elana was so charming and a wonderful host as she told us her interesting family history up to the present. She finally led us to an outside bistro where we had a wonderful dinner. What a way to end the day. Thank you Wendy!
~Umbria was one of our personal favorites and we stayed at the Palazzo Bontadosi on the Piazza in Montefalco. The hotel was beautiful with frescoes and the staff were so kind and helpful. Great home base for visiting the hill towns of Assisi, Spello, Spoleto and Orvieto. I met Cristina which was so nice and we went to Spoleto for a truffle hunt. We had a home cooked meal that was wonderful by the family who runs the agrotouristo.
~we then headed down to southern Italy and really enjoyed Sorrento as a home base (the square is quite lively) and toured the Amalfi coast which is just breathtaking-where we visited a local farm where they make mozzarella cheese. Our favorite spot was the hill town of Ravello and enjoyed all the beautiful ceramics.
~we also visited Paestum which has 3 well preserved Ancient Greek Doric Temples and not to be missed. I found the temples in better shape than Athens.
~ on our way to Rome we went back to Pompei (that was the only site that was very crowded) and I also wanted to revisit Herculaneum which is even better preserved in my opinion and almost no crowds.
We capped our trip off in Rome at the Hotel Artemide which was a lovely contemporary hotel with a rooftop for dining and the food quite good. We loved seeing the sights again in Rome including the Colossum, Pantheon, and my eternal favorite, the Borghese Gallery with some of the best Bernini sculptures.
We loved our trip so much we are thinking of going back to a different area of Italy with Maria and Cristina in spring! I just have to figure out how to lose the 10 pounds I gained from all the good food and wine.
We also wanted to give Cranky Concierge a shoutout who Maria partners with and we have used them for years.
Maria Gabriella Landers certainly warrants a very high place on the WOW List ! In a word, in addition to WOW!, our trip was perfect. We were in Italy for the month of October, extending into the first week of November, Maria and her team worked out a great itinerary for us, incorporating a week in the middle of the month for an event previously planned by my university in Veneto. After our week in Venice and Vicenza, we resumed our itinerary prepared by Maria. To help explain how impressive Maria’s team is, I will start at the outset of our trip. They work with a flight monitoring service (called Cranky Concierge) that assisted us throughout the trip when we needed it. For example, Cranky Concierge arranged for our airline to give us limousine service upon arrival at Heathrow Airport to transfer us to another terminal at Heathrow for our connecting flight to Milan. It was a short connection time so the special attention was much appreciated when the British Airways Customer Services representative came to our seat on the airplane to arrange for the special transportation. It was this type of accommodation that we enjoyed throughout the trip. Guides met us at every new city. Transportation from the airport to our hotel as well as transportation from city to city was always punctual and the drivers could all speak English. Another impressive fact in this regard is the beauty of the vehicles transporting us throughout our tour. We always felt very special (if not regal) being transported in those big black beautiful vehicles. I could go on and on with details about the perfection of the itinerary, but I will not make this review too lengthy. Some of the most memorable parts of the trip were the knowledge and communications of the guides Maria provided us, the unusual events she planned, the cities she chose for us to experience, the quality of the hotels where we stayed, and the excellent weather she provided for us ! I want to underscore my comment about our guides. Every one of our guides was very impressive in their knowledge of the area and their ability to communicate. They all spoke very good English and they were all very charming. This is the second trip that we have taken following recommendations of Wendy Perrin (with the first one being with Marisol Mosquera’s team in Peru) and we now look forward to getting recommendations for another part of the world soon.
To have a “Once in a Lifetime Experience” on any trip is always a blessing…. to have that life changing experience almost everyday, well that is phenomenal! Each day unfolded with at least one, if not two, incredible culinary adventures. We were able to become a part of the local culture by being invited into home kitchens across Italy. Our guides were instantly befriended and feel like we have known them a lifetime. We learned insider tips, local customs and so much about the everyday life of Italians that no amount of research on our own could accomplish. Five stars.
(P.S. The chocolate factory was not up to snuff. I would drop it.)
Maria Gabriella Landers and Maria Cristina Till put together an amazing trip for us to Northern Italy (Lake Como, Venice, Bologna, Florence and Milan, with side trips to Padua, Parma and Lucca). They listened carefully to what we wanted and packed it into two amazing weeks. The logistics for everything, including cooking classes, drivers, guides, hotels, restaurant reservations, tickets (Biennale, symphony, ballet, Ferrari Museum simulator), and golf courses among other things, were flawless. Maria and Cristina were immediately responsive to our requests for minor itinerary changes during the trip. Their advice and suggestions were outstanding. We could not be more pleased.
Our experience with Maria Gabriella Landers can be summed up in one word – Outstanding! Maria and her team designed an incredible experience for our eight-day trip to Piedmont. Her attention to detail was great. From the beautiful hotels she selected for us in Mombaruzzo, Stresa, and Turin, to the selection of guides and drivers. Our experience with our guide Lucia Demaria (who was with us most of our trip) was exceptional. Lucia was able to identify those things that were truly important to us and made sure that our experience was top notch. From our cooking class in Roddi to the various wine tours we enjoyed throughout the region, each encounter was very memorable. We were impressed that each day’s itinerary seemed to surpass the previous day. Our drivers were also excellent. They were professional, on-time, extremely diligent and made sure our needs were always met.
This is our fourth trip using one of Wendy’s WOW List specialists. Each trip has been unique, gratifying and tailored to our needs and interests. We will continue to use her experts. I highly recommend anyone thinking of traveling to use Wendy and her WOW List.
Maria is totally on top of everything. This was our second trip with her. It just works. We will work with her again.
This was our first trip to Italy and it totally exceeded our expectations. Our guides were beyond educated and knowledgeable and very personable. Our drivers were very helpful and again, we were so glad we didn’t have to figure all of this out. We wouldn’t have been able to navigate a trip like this ourselves. We flew into Rome, went to Chianti, Florence, Turin, Monforte DAlba and flew out of Milan back to Colorado. We made some changes along the way, but our travel specialist and guides navigated the changes for us.
The trip that Maria planned for us was wonderful. The hotels that we stayed in were in great locations, had lovely staff and were clean and beyond comfortable. Everything went off as planned, and there was always a person waiting for us at the specific time identified and when needed, a specific place. Unfortunately, we had poor weather in Florence which caused the trip down the Arno to be cancelled, but the guide did an excellent job of spending more time in the Uffizi museum. We stayed in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast at a wonderful hotel very close to the square. We would rethink taking an all day driving tour to three of the towns up the Amalfi coast. It was extremely crowded, and it was a long time in the car. If we did it again, we probably would have just chosen to go to the city of Amalfi and Positano and skip Ravello. It was difficult to get to Ravello with one of the roads being only one lane.
Rome was everything we hoped for and more. The place that we stayed was in the perfect location, we could walk to all of the sites we wanted to see and had a number of palazzo to pick when deciding where to eat. We stayed for 3 days, 4 nights and could have stayed longer.
We would definitely use Maria and Wendy Perrin to plan another trip.
We were well-served by our specialist Maria Gabriella Landers and her staff. After several startup glitches in communications, they were receptive to collaborating on our desires to fashion a trip which flawlessly met and exceeded our wishes for a unique, memorable vacation.
First, the important stuff: Maria Gabriella Landers is the best travel agent we’ve ever worked with. Period. She is deeply knowledgeable, thorough, and attentive. And she carefully vets all the hotels, guides, drivers and special service providers who work with her. Importantly, anytime we’ve had questions or issues arise in the middle of a trip, Maria is always quick to respond with answers and solutions.
This is the second trip Maria has designed for us. Though I didn’t think it possible to surpass the first trip to Italy that Maria she put together for us, it did. Big time.
I’m sorry to say that we put Maria through her paces with a false start this time around.
After she had already orchestrated a complete, two week itinerary in Umbria and Rome for us, we pulled an about face and asked her to organize an entirely different trip. Our new plan was to start out in Rome, and then head on to Paris and Amsterdam- with tours and custom tailored experiences along the way.
Maria never batted an eye. She simply collected our input on what we wanted to see and do and got to work.
The end result was beyond magnificent. Maria only works with the best suppliers. One of our tour guides in Rome was the author and art historian, Alessandro Celani, whom we met on our first trip with Maria. Alessandro is superlative. My wife and two adult sons and I are hard core art junkies who love learning new details and backstories about works of art and their creators. As with our last visit, Alessandro didn’t disappoint.
Maria’s hotel selection in Rome, The Villa Spalletti Trivelli was magical. The lavishly appointed villa has only 14 rooms, and a wonderfully kind and attentive staff. On the morning of our twin sons’ birthday, the kitchen staff brought out a surprise, freshly baked birthday cake.
Our stay in Paris, at the beautiful Relais Christiane hotel in St. Germain de Pres was also exceptional. Here again, we had excellent tour guides. And a private cruise along the Seine.
From Paris, we took the train to Amsterdam, staying at the Hotel Pulitzer on the Prinsengracht in the city center. Because we had lived in Amsterdam several years ago, we relied on Maria only for our transport from and to Schiphol. And yet, as always with Maria’s hand picked car services, the drivers were friendly, courteous, highly professional and waiting for us prior to our prearranged meeting times.
We love to travel, in Italy especially, and we would not think about going back without first reaching our to Maria.
I can not recommend Maria more highly. As far as traveling in Italy goes, Maria is simply the best.
Maria Landers did an OUTSTANDING job in helping me create a wonderful trip for my friends and family to Italy to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Her pretrip planning advice was excellent- clearly trying to understand our needs and desires. The farm hotel she arranged in Umbria was terrific, centrally located, peaceful and really nice. The tours she arranged were just terrific, including a late arranged tour for the second part of our trip. The people who work for her in Umbria were over the top, even providing unplanned advice; especially Christina who was amazing.
This was an amazing vacation. We had a fantastic time. I took my daughter her husband and two kids 8yrs and 14. I was so impressed with how engaging every guide was with the adults as well as the kids. Everyone and everything was superior. The hotels were excellent and the room setups were exactly what I wanted. Each WOW was a WOW. Just for your knowledge there was one experience that was not on the same par with the rest of our WOW’s. It was the trip to the stables. We did not meet a jockey and we were not offered a chance to mount one of the horses. I think we could have just spent more time in Siena. My Daughter and Son in law have been telling everyone how amazing this trip was and have passed on your name. Thank you for a vacation we will never forget.
Maria Landers helped us design a fabulous 10 night Switzerland and Italian Lakes holiday. Starting in beautiful Lucerne, our trip was a perfect combination of Alpine scenery, easy hiking with postcard views, scenic and efficient train travel, and cultural diversity. So much to enjoy, but we especially loved the Jungfraujoch cogwheel train journey to the Top of Europe, our Vineyard visit at the Castle Ricetto of Ghemme, and gorgeous Old Town Zurich. Excellent tour guides and thank you Maria for the incredible selection of hotels. Already planning our return!
I continue to be impressed with the level of service the WOW travel specialists provide. I appreciate their first hand knowledge of the hotels, locations and local guides. Everyone one of our local guides were just great and very enjoyable to spend time with. Even the drivers were super nice. Thanks, Maria for making our trip to Italy special.
An excellent first experience with Maria Gabriella for a family trip to Italy with our young adult children. She listened to our requests and incorporated a little something for everyone. We had a vineyard tour and lunch, a day out in the Bay of Sorrento and a Vespa foodie tour of Rome to name a few. Our guides were superior and worked hard to make our trip memorable. transportation between cities was excellent. Maria provided excellent advice in the planning phase, offering advice as to which cities/experience would best meet our needs.
I wanted to give you feedback on the wonderful trip that Maria Landers arranged for us to take our niece to Italy as her gift for college graduation and acceptance into veterinary school. Maria was exceedingly knowledgeable and helpful in arranging a fabulous trip with outstanding guides, tremendous accommodations, and amazing experiences. Maria provided just the right amount of assistance, guidance, and recommendations in building the itinerary with me. It was a pleasure to work with her & I would definitely recommend her to friends who are considering traveling to Italy.
First and foremost, Christina (our contact while in Italy) was worth her weight in gold in helping us with the lost passport of my niece. She was very responsive to my emails and helpful assisting us to the extent that she could with the issue of my niece losing her passport (right off the bat we think on the last flight from Madrid to Venice because she did not have it to check into the hotel in Venice). Christina provided me with very useful information about the Naples consulate & replacing lost passports, and she was able to switch our activity days in Sorrento/Amalfi Coast due to us having to go to Naples to get a replacement passport for her & that switch worked perfectly. Having her as a contact gave me a great peace of mind during this turmoil.
Secondly, all the hotels were absolutely wonderful and we so loved our upgrades at both the Ruzzini Palace in Venice and the Grand Hotel Santa Lucia in Naples! Having views of either the Campo or the small canal from the rooms was enchanting at the Ruzzini. We especially loved staying out of the tourist areas and loved the quiet and residential feel of the Campo Santa Maria Formosa. We would definitely stay there again should we return to Venice (which I hope we do!) Glad that we could enjoy the suites at Ruzzini for 3 nights and wish we had more nights to experience the luxurious suite in Naples! The Hotel Capodimonte in Sorrento was lovely, perfectly located to walk into town, and the balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples was terrific! We spent as much time as possible out there.
All the guides/hosts were amazing. They were so very friendly, knowledgeable & excited to share their city/culture/experiences with us. All of them were especially wonderful with our niece Alex, who had the experience of her lifetime on this trip (despite the lost passport). Of particular note was Bruna who was our guide in Venice for the Basilica and Doge’s Palace. What a font of information & enthusiasm she is! It was a wonder we could keep up with her. We also loved the secret rooms tour with her. Nan, our cicchetti rowing instructor was so much fun & the cicchetti were delicious! We had a riot of a time trying to learn to correctly row. The most surprising was that my niece, who originally said she did not want to row when she first read the itinerary, was the first to volunteer at the experience and she was the best of the 3 of us! After that experience, I said who needs a gondola ride when we were our own gondoliers! Fiorella in Naples was a joy to have walk us in the city and introduce us to some really unique taste bites of Naples. Our niece still dreams about the “snowflake” pastry she tasted on that walk (frankly, so do I!). You definitely have curated the best guides for your clients and we greatly appreciated it.
While all the guides (including the boat captain) were amazing, perhaps the most valuable one was Antonio who was our guide on our hike along the Pathway of the Gods. Although he was a wealth of knowledge about many things along our hike including botany, he proved his utmost value when my husband took a rolling tumble off the path and fell 15 feet! Thank God he hit a landing or else he would have continued tumbling down the cliff and perhaps fatally so. Antonio immediately rushed to his aid and found an alternate safer way to rejoin our path, where he attended to my husband’s wounds. Although my husband suffered many lacerations, only 2 wounds in his leg were deep and fortunately, nothing required a hospital visit. We are seasoned hikers and this incident was quite unforeseen and shocking. Antonio was amazing throughout and as we slowly looped back to our start, he made sure that he stayed with my husband and made certain he was using a walking stick properly. Up to the fall, we all were thoroughly enjoying Antonio, the hike, and the scenery.
My niece (and we) fell in love with both Venice and the Amalfi Coast and we all loved the food we ate in the three cities that we visited. All of us felt that we could have spent longer in Venice because we love to walk, wander, and experience and Venice delivers all of that in a most unique environment on the water.
Truly, a memorable trip for us all, thanks to Maria!
Wonderful and on-point planning from the beginning. My daughter and I loved our trip to Rome, Umbria, and Florence was absolutely lovely. Maria and her team set the perfect balance of history and adventures for us, hit the right notes on pacing, and selected perfect matches in our guides and drivers. A trip not to be forgotten.
Maria Gabriella Landers planned a spectacular trip to Florence, Bologna, and Rome for my family which included my 15 yo daughter, 18 yo son, and my fiance Jay. Italy can be overwhelming because there is so much to do, see, and eat! We found a good balance. All of our transfers were super professional. We had 7 guides during our trip, and each one was highly knowledgeable and gave us a terrific education. All were equally terrific, and it is unfair to say one was better than the other. Toni was our guide for the Vespa Food Lovers adventure in Rome. We really connected with her because she happened to have kids similar ages to my kids, she was super friendly and funny! Alessandro was our archaeologist who gave us an amazing tour of the Colosseum and Forum. Our tour guide for the Vatican was wonderful – Valentina – this tour was quite long and arduous because there is just so much to see. In the end, The Sistine Chapel was definitely my favorite art part of the trip, and that was a hard decision to make – which was the best part of the trip, because Italy is just loaded with greatness everywhere.
I have a very busy life, busy work life and I really relied heavily on Maria to design the itinerary. She did not disappoint. I felt all of the excursions were unique due to the guides, and the excursions themselves. The second day in Florence, we visited a noble family estate and enjoyed a cooking lesson with the family chef, a tour of the wine cellar, and had lunch with one of the family members. We learned of the family’s wing of art at the Uffizi, which we visited the next day. We made a 5 course meal and learned how to make tortaloni, with Chef Michele who was terrific. My kids loved this lesson and were very into it. The food, of course, was delicious. The estate was beautiful, even on a cool, foggy day. Meeting people who had a direct hand in the life and culture of Italy was special. Our Food Lovers Excursion on the vespas with Toni was a complete standout. My 6’4” son was mortified to ride on the vespa, and got over that fear in 1 minute. We were a team of 5 vespas! Don’t mess with us! Toni took us to her favorite spots including a famous jewish bakery, another bakery with a very old, long and famous oven. It was exciting to ride through Rome with this perspective on a vespa. I am sure there is no way I could’ve arranged such a trip.
All of our accommodations were lovely. Antica Torre di via Tornabuoni had the best view of the Duomo at night, and general view overlooking Florence. The breakfast was delicious. The Grand Hotel Majestic was majestic! Beautiful inside, very sophisticated. Crossing Condotti in Rome had a terrific location.
I felt the communication with Maria and her team in Italy was smooth. This seemed to be due to her long-standing relationships with everyone. There were a few issues – a private driver strike in Rome, and I needed to cancel the last guided tour the night before we left because we just needed a rest and Maria and Cristina, her Italy connection, took care of everything smoothly.
I am glad we visited Bologna and saw a part of Italy that was not the most common stop, and few tourists were present. I am a dental surgeon and really enjoyed visiting the teatro medica at the university of bologna with my kids. This was a site Maria pointed out to me.
I appreciated the travel itinerary books that Maria sent to me prior to the trip with all of the logistics, phone numbers, names of guides, etc.
Maria deserves to stay on the WOW List!!
Our recent trip to Italy was wonderful, interesting and delicious! Maria Gabriella Landers really achieved WOW for us! She asked thoughtful questions up front and created a truly custom itinerary. We toured Rome on the back of Vespas and made pasta in Bologna. We’re just a little nerdy so it was fascinating to see how they make Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and Prosciutto di Parma. Best of all, we visited a violin workroom in Cremona, followed by an outstanding lunch. The hotels were a perfect fit for us and even though we moved around a lot, everything was smooth as silk. And now we’re hooked on private drivers…uh-oh! We’re already thinking about our next WOW trip. Thank you!
I had Maria plan a special family trip for three family members to spend 11 days in Italy in Oct.
I had some specific requests to see some things I had not seen before, as I have lived and worked in Italy 30 years ago. Maria from the outset understood my needs and she crafted an amazing trip from the start (a private transfer from Malpensa to lunch at Villa D Este & onto Bellagio on Lake Como) to Finish…High-speed train back to Milan to catch our flight home. Everything was seamless and very special. All of the hotels were perfect for us, and Maria pulled off the virtually impossible: finding a lovely quiet room overlooking a piazza without crazy noise and in the shadow of important Renaissance architecture. She also mentioned the rooftop pool and bar at the Minerva in Florence where we had drinks each night in the soft evening light with gorgeous views of the Duomo. Her private excursions to the Factory floor of Lamborghini, to lunches at small wineries run by families who have been there for centuries… it was all beyond terrific. Our private boat ride on the Arno at night was a huge hit and my niece who is studying there had not ever seen a private boat trip on the river in the evening. This is the edge Maria offers, access and know-how that only a seasoned specialist can uncover for their clients.
I can’t thank Wendy enough for linking me up with Maria, we enjoyed every day of our trip and we will certainly reach out to her again to plan some more special moments in other spots in one of my most favorite countries on earth, that I have visited more than 20 times! Mille Grazie Maria and team!!! Can’t wait to go back to Italy…as soon as possible.
Our trip was absolutely fabulous. We were in Italy for a week and a half this past September/October and everything was excellent. We started our journey in Milan where we stayed at the Hotel Spadari al Duomo for three nights. The hotel was excellent and even provided us with a free bottle of champagne and some strawberries upon learning that it was our honeymoon. It was central to all the main sights and shopping of Milan. The included breakfasts were also excellent! Our next stop was in Parma, and all the transfers went off without a hitch. We stayed at the Park Hotel Pacchiosi which was amazingly beautiful. The service, as well as the food, was excellent there was well. We went on a short city tour in the evening we arrived which allowed us to get a sense of what the small city had to offer. The next day we went on a food tour which showcased all the things Parma and the surrounding area are known for; Parmesan cheese, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Vinegar! The tour guide was super knowledgeable and passionate and we truly learned a lot. The last stop of our trip was in Bologna, where we stayed at the Hotel Touring which was also excellent. One of our favorite parts of the trip was the cooking lesson we took in Bologna at the Salotto di Penelope where we learned to prepare pasta and a variety of sauces from scratch. Overall we would recommend this trip to anyone who loves food and has a passion for art, history, and culture. Everything went off without a hitch and someone was always there to answer the phone if we had any questions about our accommodations, tours or transfers.
Maria Gabriella Landers helped us plan our recent trip to Switzerland. We approached Maria with most general impressions of what we wanted on our trip. She helped us to determine what would be of most interest to us and created a lovely itinerary. The trip was beautiful. We trouble with one of our hotels; we woke up one morning to a very large puddle on the floor. We notified the hotel and left for the day assuming the issue would be resolved by the time we returned. Unfortunately, when we returned in the early evening, water was still leaking in the room. The hotel staff shrugged and said there was nothing they could do, there were no other rooms in the hotel and would try to fix the issue the next day. We called Maria and within half an hour we had a new (very beautiful) room in a different hotel and a driver to take us there. We were very impressed and highly recommend her. We plan to work with Maria again when we travel to northern Italy.
We had a trip to Italy that was difficult to arrange because we wanted to go from cinque terra to Puglia to Capri. Maria figured out how to make it work. We had wonderful guides and drivers everywhere and flew from Milan to Brindisi. She put us in a charming small hotel in Manarola when the original travel agent that I talked to said that there was nothing suitable in the villages and I’d have to stay elsewhere and take the train in every day. She also suggested something that I would never have thought of— a day sailing on a private boat in Puglia. All in all, it was a wonderful trip.
This is our second vacation using Maria and her amazing team. I did not think she could out-do our last adventure to Northern Italy, but as usual, she planned another incredible and memorable vacation – this time to Rome, Amalfi Coast, and Capri. She is a meticulous planner and she has an outstanding team always responsive and available for any questions. Cristina is always there for us when needed. Maria has great contacts for fun personal experiences – we visited a cheese farm with personal instruction on how to make mozzarella etc…, we visited a family lemon grove in the Amalfi Coast and we had a private pizza making lesson in Naples. Everything we asked for, she made sure that it was taken care of. Our guides were incredible as always. Restaurant recommendations were great.
This is a travel expert that is on top of her game and without hesitation, I would use her services again and give them our highest possible recommendation.
We had a great trip. Maria was great and we had several WOW moments. Would absolutely go again and would use Maria again. Highlights were: our hotel in Florence which Maria picked for us (brilliant!). Our guides in Florence and in Sienna. Most of all truffle hunting with Valentino and his dog. Amazing!
Our 8-day food tour of Italy was requested by our 21 yr old son who was graduating from university. We are a family of five (mom, dad, 3 boys ages 24, 21 and 15) that enjoy traveling together, eating great meals and experiencing other cultures. We wanted some guided tours and some days to explore the areas on our own- Milan was the starting point, next was Bologna to learn about the renowned foods of the region and then a repeat visit to Florence because it is Florence and whats there not to love.
We absolutely loved everything the travel specialist planned for our trip. The drivers, guides, food tours, wine tasting, cooking class were all impeccable. In Milan, our tour guide was able to make a call to a fashion designer when she found out our son loved fashion and we were able to meet with the designer. We spent an hour plus speaking with him, trying on his designs and buying some of his pieces. There is no way we would have been able to do this if it weren’t for the guide. In Bologna we had our guide for two days and she was able to tell us about the history of Bologna, tour the University, walk us through the beautiful side streets and took us on a delicious food tasting that culminated with a lunch consisting of copious amounts of prosciutto, hams, cheeses, bread, balsamic vinegar, wine. Our all-day food tour through Parma and Emilia Romana was incredible as was the private wine tasting where we sat in the cellar with the vineyard owner for over two hours tasting food and wine pairings. The vineyard owner then asked our driver to detour us through the medieval village of Fontanellato to view the castle and moat in the center as well as indulge in gelato. It was late in the day and past the end time of the tour but the driver indulged us and it was a not to be missed excursion. Again, we would not have found this on our own. Maria also booked us a terrific private cooking class where we learned to make pasta and gnocchi. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. In Florence, our guide gave us an in-depth but quick welcome back to Florence as we had to get to the Uffizi where she guided us to the major works, gave interesting background stories to the art and from there we proceeded to the Barchetto boat tour on the Arno. Another great find. If there was any drawback to our trip, it was the difficulty we had with Maria and her responses to our questions or requests. She did, however, resolve a last minute hotel room issue that came up and that was appreciated.
Maria and her team designed a thorough itinerary that allowed for us to get the highlights of Italy in a short, 10-day window. We spent our time in Rome, Florence, and Venice, with day trips into Umbria and Chianti for unique and private food-related events. With her help, our group of six all got to experience things that were tailored to our individual interests (architecture, cartography, food and cooking, ancient history, Renaissance art, and so much more). We were able to avoid lines and really get a lot of in-depth information about the sites we explored from knowledgeable guides. It was really a turn-key vacation where we were able to relax and enjoy the time in Italy without worrying about the details.
This is our second time using a planner from the Wow List, and like last time, we were not disappointed with the experience. Responses were prompt and informative, and Maria was flexible in working within our budget to make sure we were able to have as many must-haves ticked off as possible. She was also extremely patient with our many, many questions during the planning process. We even got a wonderful surprise about 2 weeks after returning home, when we received a photography book written by and filled with photos from our Rome guide, sent by her and Brian.
We truly enjoyed our first time in Italy thanks to Maria and Christina, and we would not only recommend them to others, we hope to use them again for future Italy adventures.
Maria arranged the trip of a lifetime for our vacation to Italy. The hotels were all amazing, with warm staff, great central locations, and many amenities we did not expect—like spas, gourmet breakfasts, rooftop restaurant to name a few. The tour guides and drivers were knowledgeable, friendly, and courteous. The excursions were custom-tailored to our interests and were perfectly orchestrated. There was no detail not taken care of by Maria. I would 100% use her services again. Really can’t say enough good things about this trip.
Maria helped us explore Umbria in a way that I had not imagined before. The guides she selected for us were absolutely top notch. The experiences she arranged helped us explore the region in a more intimate and personal way. And traveling between cities with our own driver has spoiled me for all future trips!
I can’t wait to plan the next trip with Maria and her team to share Italy’s rich history and amazing food with my children and grandchildren.
My wife and I just returned from a spectacular, custom-made trip to Italy that was orchestrated and arranged under the guidance of Maria Gabriella.
Thanks to Maria’s expertise and attention to detail, every aspect of our trip was as enjoyable and as comfortable as we had hoped it would be.
Our tour guides were terrific, all of them: Elvira in Florence; Stella in Siena; Alessandro, Gina, and Claudia in Rome; and Francesco in Pompei/Naples. It is impossible to quantify how much each of our private tour guides added to our understanding and appreciation of the art, artists, history, and culture in each of the museums, cities, and sites we visited. Our drivers, all of whom arrived ahead of time for our scheduled pickups, were great, too.
And Maria’s hotel recommendations, the Palazzo Vecchietti in Florence, and the Portrait Rome were perfect and perfectly located. The staff at both hotels were exceptional.
It’s obvious that Maria has worked very hard to identify and partner with the guides, drivers and support staff who took such great care of us. They were all stellar.
My wife and I have been thinking about this trip for several years. Thanks to Maria and her team, our dream trip to Italy was everything we imagined, everything we wanted, and more. Also, Grazie Mille, to you, Wendy.
Thanks so much for connecting us with Maria. We would not have found her without you. Another thoroughly happy Wendy Perrin fan,
Maria and her staff did an outstanding job for my husband and me. My husband had been to Italy 30 years ago, but I had never been so we stayed in Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome. Due to weather in the US, we arrived over a day behind schedule. Thankfully Maria and her team were able to make a few adjustments so we didn’t feel like we missed too much. We saw all the highlights and had some unique experiences. As an example, one day while staying in Florence we had a driver that took us to Sienna for a half day tour with a guide, then we went to a boutique winery for a private lunch and wine tasting. Finally, before returning to Florence we visited an olive estate where we had an olive oil tasting and the owner showed us their private chapel. That night my husband said he could now answer someone who asked him to describe his idea of a perfect day! I would highly recommend Maria if you are interested in one of a kind experiences in Italy.
When we four friends called on Maria Landers to help us visit Italy, her thoughtful planning took us to some familiar places to start, then all the way to the heel of the Italian boot to see new places. Matera and Lecce were great additions to our itinerary. Along the way, she found us activities and attractions we never would have found on our own. The hotels, guides, and drivers were all excellent.
A special touch was the trip booklet she put together with extra places to see, ideas for where to eat, and records of all our arrangements in one tidy resource. She also has a transport monitoring team that tracks your airplane travel, even if you booked it yourself. Helpful when our flights changed unexpectedly.
I’d call her again, for sure!
Maria was absolutely lovely–her suggested itinerary was thoughtful, guides excellent and restaurant/hotel recommendations exceeded every expectation. I would definitely highly recommend her.
The trip we took was terrific. There were a variety of tours and experiences that were scheduled, and all exceeded our expectations.
The tour guides and drivers were all knowledgeable, engaging, and dynamic (for example shifting plans based on inclement weather, etc.).
In planning the trip, Maria Landers was very thoughtful in making the choices, presented us with a variety of options, and provided us with very unique experiences, such as a stop in Bologna and a gastronomic tour there; seeing all of the temples in Venice’s Jewish Ghetto (including one that often is closed to the public) and secret rooms in the Dulces Palace in Venice; and a private tour of stables of a 13 time Palio champion outside Sienna, I would highly recommend this travel specialist.
We had an amazing vacation in Italy! To have everything planned for us by Maria Landers, was such a treat. And we had the Cranky Concierge monitoring our flights and checking in with us. Everything flowed smoothly for our trip – prior planning and all aspects of the itinerary for each day.
All the drivers in Italy were great. They were professional: always prompt for pick up and always waiting for us to take us back. We were so thankful not to have to navigate the Italian roadways!
Having guides was a spectacular way to see all that we did. Our guide in Florence was magical. Her knowledge and friendly personality made it such a delight to explore Florence and see the David! Our tour of Siena was great; a good balance of art, history, and life in Siena. And time with our guide was fabulous. She was able to enliven our experiences at both Casa Gola and the Truffle farm. She is so easy going and an excellent translator. Ancient Rome with our expert historian went so quickly. He is so knowledgeable and engaging – we left wanting more. Our night drive in Rome was so special. He showed us many great spots in Rome with his bubbly personality. And our final guide for the Vatican did not disappoint. She was able to weave a story as we toured the museum that culminated in the Sistine Chapel. And seeing St Peters, while Mass was going on and the sun setting was an amazing conclusion to an amazing vacation. We are so lucky to have benefited from all of the excellent guides.
One of our favorite experiences was cooking and having lunch at Casa Gola. As we drove up her driveway we knew we were in for a very special treat. Her place is so lovely. We appreciated the picturesque setting, her beautiful home, and the decor. It was so fun to help cook inside and outside. And the food was simply fantastic! We’ve been telling people that it was like Martha Stuart meets Pioneer Woman meets Ina Garten.
The truffle farm was lots of fun too. The dogs actually found truffles! It was special having the owner sit with us during lunch. We talked politics, current events and he even told us a joke!
All of the hotels that Maria reserved for us were excellent – centrally located, quiet, and well appointed. We really enjoyed Antica Torre in Florence with our big window overlooking the Arno and sunsets on the terrace and the big breakfasts. Being on the rooftop to see the city was the perfect end to every day.
Places visited over ten days – Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Montefalco, Bevagna, Rome
Maria put together a fabulous three week trip to Southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta for us. The hotels she selected were outstanding, the drivers were very professional and the guides were first rate. Maria followed our progress and immediately jumped in when we had a ferry cancellation. She also enlisted Cranky Concierge to monitor our flights which were most helpful. Thanks to Maria, this was one of our very best trips and I would certainly recommend her to anyone heading off to Italy.
Maria planned a busy three day visit to Venice, exactly what we wanted. The guides were excellent. In the limited time, we were there, we felt we got a good taste of the city. The hotel was very comfortable and extremely well-located. Everything came off without a hitch.
My wife and I met with Maria via conference call to discuss what we wanted to our trip. She listened and asked very good questions. She came back with an itinerary that perfectly matched our discussion. Every aspect of the trip was perfect. The guides she booked for us were fantastically educated professionals. We had an absolutely fantastic trip. We would definitely work with her again and recommend her to anyone looking for a fabulous trip to Italy.
Maria listened to our requests and put together an itinerary that was seamless. All we had to do was show up. Our hotel room was upgraded twice during our trip. I would highly recommend working with Maria and her team for a trip to Italy.
Maria helped plan the details of our Italian trip to Tuscany and Rome May/June 2017. The guides were excellent! One highlight was a behind the scenes visit with a multi-winning jockey from the Palio (Sienna). My kids loved seeing the track where he trains the horses, and he and his wife were charming. Our guide was fantastic with the kids and was a Sienna resident who provided us with not only the history but the current gossip as well. Hugely entertaining! We also took a day trip to visit the Carrera marble quarries. Recommended by Maria, this side trip was unique and yet another “insider” experience of Italy. We had a very knowledgeable guide in Florence who was able to tour our families in the first half of the day and then give an in-depth Medici tour for my husband during the second part of the day. Again in Rome, we experienced excellent guided tours, of food/gelato as well as history/monuments. We felt like we toured Italy with locals (who also happened to hold degrees, etc, and/or had intimate knowledge of the subject matter). But beyond the excellent guides, what really sold us on Maria was the level of service. We had professional drivers everywhere we went. Never had to worry about a thing, where to park, where to eat, etc — the decisions were always made for us so we could just enjoy without a worry or hiccup. We enjoyed amazing meals, adored our hotel that Maria recommended, and relaxed! Our flight arrangements home had a small issue and the air concierge service immediately responded to us, and watched over us until we safely returned. I would highly recommend Maria to any of those traveling to Italy.
Maria Gabriella Landers provided an exceptional itinerary.
The trip was perfect, accommodations and the organized excursions were excellent. We enjoyed the cooking class and truffle hunt with Christina. The personal wine tastings were perfect. Our drivers and tour guides were very nice. We had the best time and everything we did gave us a beautiful taste of Italy. This is a trip we will remember forever.
Maria was fantastic. Our trip was in August 2017 to Venice, Florence, Lake Como, and Milan. The planning was made easy by Maria. She arranged the hotels, airport transportation, guides on locations and limo transportation between the major cities….could not have been better.
The trip turned out as I expected. No hitches. Knowledgeable guides and on-time pick-up at the hotels. The hotel rooms were pleasing and well-located. The dinners at the vineyard and the farm were very nice touches. Thanks for the memories.
Just returned from a trip planned by Maria and her team. This was one of the finest and best-planned trips we have ever taken. From the first phone call, Maria listens and tailors the vacation to your interests and even culinary needs. We traveled to Lake Como, Florence, Venice, and Milan. There were absolutely no glitches in service. All of our transfers and rides occurred without incident or delay. Maria has access to incredible guides – some of the best we have ever had on vacation anywhere. She also has access to some incredible experiences: i.e we had private visits to a parmigiana-reggiana dairy farm, a prosciutto di parma factory, a balsamic vinegar farm and exclusive small vineyards with some incredible local wine. She even arranged a pizza-making lesson at a restaurant in Florence. While we were in Lake Como she arranged for a private lunch on a local island and a visit to Lugano Switzerland.
This is a high service, first class, professional group of people, that will accommodate everything! Maria and her team are at the top of their game. We would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone and we look forward to using them again for another Italy adventure soon.
We traveled across Italy (Rome to Venice) in June 2017 with our 10 year old daughter and wanted to ensure we had a safe and memorable experience, which is why we chose to work with Maria. She was prompt, friendly, and provided lots of recommendations and resources for us prior to the trip so we felt well prepared. The tour guides were nothing short of amazing- even the drivers were top notch and did more than just transport us from place to place- they each gave us a lesson on the history and culture of every place we went. They were professional, on time, and engaging- which was especially important for our daughter to find some interest. We would highly recommend Maria and her team- the accommodations and experiences she chose for us went way above our expectations. Our next vacation we will definitely be choosing a guide from Wendys Wow list!
During the last two weeks of May, 2017, we traveled to Italy, visiting among other places, Montefalco, Spello, Spoleto and other towns in the hills of Umbria and then on to Tuscany, visiting Florence, Chianti, San Gimignano and other scenic villages in that area. We took a side trip to Cinque Terra and then on to Bologna and Venice and thence to Rome. Thanks to Maria Gabriella Landers everything was carefully planned and thoughtfully arranged, with knowledgeable guides, expert drivers and friendly local hosts. Usually, we are DIY travel planners, but this time we left it to the pros and it was worth every penny. We have traveled many places and rate this trip as one of, if not the, best; all arrangements were made and carried out to perfection, from restaurants to accommodations to interesting sites to visit. No driver was ever late; no reservation ever lost, no connection was ever missed, no destination ever disappointed. Everyone we dealt with was friendly, responsive and competent. Cannot imagine a more perfect experience. If you are considering travel to Italy, especially the northern part, we can recommend this travel planner without reservation; she knows her stuff and will save you time and worry.
The travel experience that Maria Landers planned for us from 5/19/2017 to 5/31/2017 was extraordinary. We were attempting to find a singular event to surprise our host and hostess in Venice…. and Maria planned just that for us with very little advance notice. our day trip to a Palladian villa was extraordinary. Who wouldn’t enjoy being seated with best friends….alone in a vast, private dining room……at a magnificent site where an abundant luncheon was served to just us. And wine, of course. And, to our surprise, a visit to an artist’s residence was added on near the end of our afternoon. Perfect memory still lingers.
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Umbria and Tuscany planned by Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers. It was simply terrific in every way. After a telephone conversation with Maria to describe interests and preferences, she delivered an itinerary that was right on target. In reality, the written itinerary (focusing on highlights) did not do justice to the extraordinary services and excursions we enjoyed. Our walking tour guides were excellent, our local host was so knowledgeable and charming, drivers were friendly and always right on time, and the farm/winery/meal “events” were special and memorable. Bravo to Brian, Maria and their team we are already thinking about our next destination with Brian and Maria’s help.
Maria planned a glorious trip for my niece and me in June of 2016 that took us from Venice to Florence to Amalfi, Pompeii (and Vesuvius and Herculaneum) and then to Rome. She arranged some off-the-beaten-track tours of street art in Florence and Rome which were extraordinary. The guides that she teamed us with were superb — touring Rome with an archaeologist with extensive knowledge of Roman history and architecture PLUS where to get the best gelato was priceless. All of the guides were flexible and built our itineraries for our tours based on our preferences which were pretty amazing. Looking back, I am amazed at how much she packed in — basically meeting every request that I had with her meticulously planned itinerary that made good use of every moment and allowed us enough free time to get lost along the way. I am a frequent flyer on Wendy’s list and have never been disappointed by any of her travel experts and Maria was all that I would expect — and then some.
We had an excellent week long visit to Rome (2 adults, elderly mother, 20 and 17 yr old). Maria and her team made all the arrangements for our hotel, transportation, tours and guides while we were there. She took time to speak with us about what we wanted from our trip and recommended a number of options for tours and experiences to choose from. Every expectation was met, the guides were excellent, the drivers were on time and friendly, and the tours we selected were fabulous. We highly recommend the Food Tour with Gina as something different. We would hire Maria and her team again for future travel to Italy.
I’ve never had a travel company do everything just as they said! We even scheduled an additional tour when our ship returned to Rome.
Every guide was on time and performed with wonderful knowledge of what we were witnessing. The timing was perfect with everyone. We enjoyed each of our guides and the pace of the tours was fine. All but one tour was by walking. If we were returning to Italy, we would want to be touch with Maria.
We recently returned from an amazing honeymoon trip to Rome and Florence, organized by Maria and her team. With all the details we had to consider for the wedding, I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by also researching and planning a big trip. Wendy Perrin’s Wow List made it easy to find a travel expert for Italy, and then it was simply a matter of describing my dream trip and hitting the submit button. Maria then emailed me to set up a phone call so we could discuss in more detail what we wanted to accomplish. Trying delicious food and wine were at the top of our list, but we also wanted to see the top landmarks and achieve a nice balance of art, culture, architecture and history. The itinerary she sent back was perfect, and took all the stress out of the equation. Maria also provided location guides for both Rome and Florence with suggestions for site seeing, shopping and restaurants during our leisure time. This really came in handy throughout the trip. In fact, one of our most memorable dinners in Rome came from the list provided. (Maria is happy to book any dinner reservations you’d like and add them to the itinerary.) When we walked into our hotel room in Florence, in a 13th century medieval tower, we jumped up and down because it was so awesome. The hotel even surprised us with a bottle of champagne on ice and snacks. Our private tour guides were truly impressive and shared a wealth of knowledge. Our favorite experiences of the trip included a lunch at a small family owned vineyard and a cooking class in a private olive grove. Our driver for those two days was also top notch. Without the help of Maria and her team, we wouldn’t have access to special experiences like these. Everything in our itinerary went according to plan, and we never had to worry about a thing. We are so happy we splurged, and are already dreaming of our next trip to Italy.
Our trip was extraordinary and all the drivers and guides were of the extraordinary caliber and I will highly recommend Maria to all travelers,
Thank you for an easy way to combine so many resources under one umbrella for travelling around the world.
The purpose of the trip was to take my elder mother, whos parents were from Italy, to see the places her parents told her about as a child. Maria Gabriella-Landers did an excellent job making arrangements for the trip. This included advance planning earlier in the year, making accommodations in all the cities we traveled to, setting up tours and guides, and suggesting, and making, dinner reservations each evening. Maria’s team was excellent in providing services and updates along the way. This included flight tracking as well as last-minute modifications to our plans. Maria did a great job staying within my budget for the trip. The hotel accommodations were very good to excellent. The best hotel we stayed in was in Florence, overlooking the city from our terrace with views of Il Duomo, the tower of Palazzo Vechio, Ponte Vechio, and the surrounding hills of Tuscany. The tour guides Maria arranged for us were top-notch. They did a great job explaining to us the finer details of the sites and places we visited. And they were very pleased to speak to my mom in Italian. My mom thought this was the last trip she would be taking. But after going, I think she has it in her mind to give it another try.
Maria was always available, was especially good dealing with my obsessive nature regarding planning. Guides were wonderful, driver fantastic. There is nothing negative to say about the entire experience, it was fabulous.
My wife and I had always wanted to visit Tuscany. Because we previously had a wonderful experience with a WOW Specialist for our trip to Bali, we decided to go with another WOW specialist and are glad we did.
After we came home from our 8 night trip to Tuscany that Maria Gabriella Landers put together, we can see why she is so highly recommended. She is a first class professional who is clearly a Tuscany travel guru. She was the perfect person to help us put together a memorable trip.
I was impressed with her from the beginning when we had our initial consultation. She knew what questions to ask and listened very carefully to what we shared with her. From the information that she got from us, she put together an initial itinerary. What she proposed in her initial itinerary was exactly what we wanted and we approved it without making any changes. The prefect itinerary for brand new clients on the first try. Impressive.
As part of her service she included the Cranky Concierge to monitor our all of our flights. Wow, what a great service this was. From now on I will use the Cranky Concierge for all of my overseas trips.
Maria stayed in touch with us and kept us updated in the months prior to our trip. Her regular follow up with us reflects how much she tries to provide the best service possible. I liked that a lot.
The places we saw and the guides she arranged for us was were excellent. In particular, Stefania is such a bundle of positive energy with deep knowledge of the local area, and has a wonderful passion for her work. One of our drivers in particular, Carlo, was such a delightful, energetic, elegant, passionate, and knowledgeable gentleman.
The hotels Maria recommended were in great locations and had warm, friendly staff. She also made reservations for us at wonderful restaurants.
We are thankful for Maria’s exceptional knowledge and service, and highly recommend her to anyone considering a trip to Tuscany who wants first class personalized service to put together the perfect trip. She deserves her reputation as one of the Top Tuscan travel experts in the world. Very well done Maria.
Maria planned an excellent short trip to Venice, Siena and Florence, during what might have been the busiest time of the year. She was in contact with us directly from the beginning of the process and throughout the trip. Our guides and drivers were on time and well-organized, among the best that we have used. The hotels she chose were perfect for our needs, in terms of location and the level of service. We appreciated the restaurant recommendations, as well as the ones reserved for us in Siena and Bologna. I would not hesitate to recommend her or to use her again for an upcoming trip.
Was very pleased with the quality of tour guides and drivers provided. Each guide enhanced the enjoyment of each location considerably. It would have been a good trip on our own but was an excellent trip with the help of Maria. Also had very nice accommodations – really enjoyed the stay in Venice and Ravenna. I was hesitant to go to Venice as I had heard so many negatives about it. With the suggestions of Maria – it became one of our favorite places.
For Maria’s feedback – all the guides were great, but real standouts were Caterina in Venice, Paola in Ravenna and Elvira in Florence.
Dreams really do come true. I wish words could express how wonderful our amazing trip to Tuscany was. I began planning our trip with Maria over a year ago. The process started with an in depth interview, followed by emails to answer all of my questions. She then tailored the perfect trip for myself and my two adult children. This was an over-the-top trip! It included knowledgeable tour guides who showed us off the beaten path places, sampling speciality foods, shopping recommendations and much more. They helped us experience the culture first hand. Maria gave excellent restaurant recommendations, travel tips and airline ticketing advice. If I ever get to return to Italy my first call will be to Maria!
Wendy, I am so glad I found your services. I look forward to using your services the next time I travel. Thank you so very much!
Maria and her Italian contact Christina provided excellent guides/drivers and interesting and unique experiences. This was our 5th trip to Rome so had visited many of the wonderful sites previously but our guide Alessandro was able to help us find new gems like the Museo do Palazzi Doria Pamphilj. In Umbria we stayed in a nice country inn set in Bevagna amongst vineyards and olive groves. A truffle hunt and preparing and cooking a fabulous lunch at a private home were highlights of our trip. When staying in Bologna they arranged a visit to a prosciutto plant and a parmigiana reggiano processing plant in Parma. The guides in both Ravenna and Bologna were excellent.
Maria arranged a tailored trip for my wife and I. We were in Italy for too brief a time but
Maria made the best of it. We had a magical walking food tour in Rome that allowed us to
visit neighborhood food stops and see the Jewish Ghetto. Ive been to Rome many times
but I finally got to feel what the magic of living there was like with the tour. We had
a wonderful private drive to Tuscany and a winery with a home cooked meal served as we
looked over the vineyard. Truly one of the most memorable meals I have every had. We then
toured Florence and were thoroughly educated in Renaissance art and history. So with four
brief days we saw Rome, Tuscany and Florence. For travelers with limited days this was a
For years I had wanted to see the buildings of Andrea Palladio. Maria planned a three day itinerary which was everything I hoped for. She listened and planned exactly what I wanted. The escorts, guides/driver were uniformly excellent. Everyone was on time, friendly and knowledgeable. Her organization and trip book mailed to me were great. Even a few days prior to leaving home, she emailed suggesting a change of hotel because she found availability at a hotel she thought was superior to the first one she booked for us. I could not have done this trip without her, and I couldn’t have been happier with the trip!
Maria planned a week-long family vacation in Italy following 10 days in Europe with my sons soccer team. We visited Sorrento and Rome. The hotels were fabulous and both included amazing breakfast buffets. We had great activities planned at both destinations. The guides were top-notch and experts in their field. We also had drivers throughout the trip who were consistently on-time and friendly. Maria did a great job of showing us the highlights at both destinations yet allowing for ample free time to explore on our own.
We traveled to Venice and Asolo in July 2016. Since taking a course in the art and architecture of Venice eight years ago, I had wanted to see the buildings of Andrea Palladio. I booked a cruise originating in Venice so that I could travel to the area of Vicenza and see the buildings. However, despite considerable research, I wasn’t able to plan to see all I wanted to. Wendy Perrin suggested I reach out to Maria Landers, and even forwarded my email to Maria. Within a day or so, Maria contacted me. We had a couple of emails back and forth and one telephone conversation so that she could learn what it is we wanted to see. I booked my own hotel in Venice, but needed her for a tour of Palladian architecture in the countryside of Venice. She devised an itinerary that was just what I hoped for! She even included someone to meet us at the airport in Venice and take us in a private water taxi to our hotel. A guide led us on the Venetian custom of aperitvos and snacks the day we arrived. The next day a guide took us to some major sites, including the Opera House. (I had mentioned to Maria that that was my #1 place to see in Venice.) Our guide/driver met us and spent three days with us. Frederica couldn’t have been more wonderful – personable, accommodating, knowledgeable. I was thrilled to see so many of the buildings I had studied. She made it a joy, despite the heat. Even though she knows so much, on the day we went into Vicenza she had another local guide, Rita, tour with us to give us even more information. We were sorry to say good-bye to Frederica.
Up to the last minute, Maria was monitoring plans for our trip. Just a few days before we left home, she emailed telling me that she found availability at a hotel which she thought was superior to the one she originally booked. We followed her recommendation. We felt like we were in the movie “Enchanted April”. The Villa Cipriani was wonderful. The detailed itinerary that Maria sent was great, as were all the various escorts, guides, etc.
This trip was a big thrill for me. I could not have planned all of it on my own. I would definitely contact Maria if I was planning another trip to Italy. Grazie mille, Maria!
Thanks to Maria Gabrielle Landers and her planning I had a memorable vacation. The guides and tours that were provided were all excellent. The guides were a wealth of information and as personable as can be. The tours through the various Villas, churches, opera houses and so much more, through the guides knowledge and presentations, made the sites come alive.
It was a wonderful vacation. Thank you
I was extremely pleased with the work of Maria Landers, who arranged a 22 day tour of Italy for my wife and I, our two daughters, two sons-in-law, and 3 grandchildren (ages 11, 8, 6). There were no hitches. Our hotels in 7 locations were well located, and first rate. Our guides were superb and focused on the teaching and involvement of the three grandchildren. Not an easy task in places like the Uffizi or Vatican museums. Many tours were unique and special such as searching for truffles with trained dogs, meeting with a star jockey of the Palio in Sienna, two cooking classes, a visit to Carrera and the marble mines, a boat excursion along the Amalfi Coast with time for the children to swim in the Mediterranean, walking food tours, and a wonderful night excursion to see the lit up monuments of Rome. Highest recommendation for Maria and her crew. I am considering a return to Italy with just my wife and another couple under Maria’s guidance. I asked each member of my family for any criticisms, no matter how small, of any part of their vacation, and there were none. Well worth the cost of the excursion.
This was our fourth excursion with travel specialists recommended by Wendy Perrin, and they have all been terrific.
We visited Florence, Umbria, and Rome in June of 2106 and were very happy with our trip. Everything went extremely smoothly, exactly as planned! We had some truly memorable experiences thanks to Maria Landers, most especially our Umbrian cooking class and the ancient sights tour in Rome, which was led by an incredibly knowledgeable guide. Thank you!
We absolutely loved everything about our trip to Italy. Even though we were only staying a week and visiting two cities, Maria planned everything perfectly and we felt like we were able to see the highlights and see the culture! Everything ran smoothly and when there was one little hitch with a driver one day, they handled it immediately and figured it out. The best experiences were the more personal ones. She planned a lunch and visit to a small enoteca in Umbria. This could not have been a better experience. The family that owns the business was fabulous. We felt like family from the minute we walked in until we left. We feel as though we have friends in Spello now! Also, the cooking class and winery tour in Florence at Capezzana was fabulous. The family dined with us after we spent the morning cooking with their personal chef of 30 years! This really gave us a feeling of culture. Everything was top notch, from the hotels to the drivers and cars. The guides were also wonderful. Our personal guide for our ancient Rome tour was a college professor and so knowledgeable and fun and we loved our other guides as well. Nothing could have been better!
Maria Gabriella Landers planned a wonderful trip for us to Sicily. Everything was seamless and one disappointment in Rome was dealt with quickly to our satisfaction. We would definitely use her again.
Maria Landers put together a very customized trip for my wife and I. Everything was excellent and many things were very unique. We would highly recommend using Maria for any Italy trip! We went to Venice, Florence, Tuscany countryside, Parma and Lake Como.
Maria Landers planned our Venice trip in May and I cannot say enough wonderful things about our guides. They were knowledgeable, personable, and generous with their answers to our numerous questions. We had exceptional tours and enjoyable conversations. We highly recommend a Cicchetti tour as part of the Venetian experience. Everything — from our escort at the airport to our cruise transfer — was perfect.
Maria Landers was excellent. She listened carefully to what we wanted and planned a wonderful trip. All of the guides were extremely knowledgeable, personable and spoke English well. The hotels she chose were in great locations, were quite comfortable with excellent staff that took great care of us. Particularly in Lake Como and Bologna she steered us to 2 fabulous hotels we would not have otherwise known to choose. She also made suggestions about where to dine, and once we chose the places, she made all of our restaurant reservations. There was not one “dud” among them. They were fabulous restaurants. We can recommend Maria most highly and without reservation!
Maria Gabriella Landers planned a wonderful trip for us to Sicily. Everything was seamless and one disappointment in Rome was dealt with quickly to our satisfaction. We would definitely use her again.
We just landed and I wanted to tell you how much Steve and I enjoyed our trip to Italy planned by Maria Landers. The accommodations were lovely, the drivers were always safe and courteous. Even when we had a mishap with a car breakdown the problem was resolved quickly. The guides Maria arranged for us were knowledgeable and had a good command of English. Steve was able to catch three fish on his outing, so that was great also. My driver Carlo was quick to come up with a fun plan for me for the day. Once again Thank you. We would recommend your Maria Landers to anyone that wants an enjoyable trip.
This trip was a trip of a lifetime! It was planned perfectly from our tours to our hotels and restaurants. It was planned as if Gabriella knew us personally. The drivers were awesome as well as our tour guides. The tours selected for us could not have been better as well as the hotels and restaurants. We cannot say enough how incredible everything was.
Our April 2016 trip with Maria Landers and Brian Dore to Rome and Florence was what we had hoped for and overall exceeded our expectations. Every guide we encountered knew their venue and was passionate about it. We enjoyed having the prepared tours and guides, but also appreciated the freedom to explore and experience both cities on our own. The guides and tours allowed us to tailor our trip, gave us starting points to follow up on what they had presented and maximized what we did in each city.
Guido, our guide at the Vatican engaged our party of 5 and was a wealth of knowledge, we could have asked questions for days and I have no doubt he could have answered them! As we left the Sistine Chapel he realized a small private party was ringing a bell and waiting to enter a private area, Guido ushered us to the side and told us to wait and look in as the door opened – for a moment we saw a Vatican guard and beyond a beautiful private room with more amazing art work. In Florence we went beyond the city into the countryside with Francesco as our driver and guide. He made you feel welcome and comfortable and was fantastic at pointing out sites of interest and navigating the narrow streets of the small towns we went to. Our day in Chianti at the winery Podere La Cappella was wonderful. Meeting the father and daughter team was a delight, the conversation and lunch we shared was amazing and expanded our knowledge of Tuscany and it’s wine and food. Day two with Francesco behind the wheel took us to Villa Monte Oriolo, with it’s beautiful olive grove of more than 6,000 trees. The natural beauty was matched by the warmth and hospitality of Eleonora Calamai and her daughter who presented us with a wonderful cooking lesson. They helped us to prepare one of our favorite meals of the trip and inspired us to purchase a pasta maker upon our return home (we are working at perfecting what we learned and hope to return to the Villa in the future for another lesson and perhaps a stay). Our time at the Villa was time we did not want to end and a true highlight of our trip! Francesco managed to soften our departure with a stop at Casini Firenze- Jennifer Tattanelli , a wonderful fine leather shop in Florence.
Maria listened to our requests and presented an itinerary that enhanced our trip and gave us experiences we would not have had on our own. The guides were all experts, highlighting the “must see” points and made visiting sites easy and efficient with no wasting time in lines or getting lost. Having a driver was also one of the best choices we made. We are not ” shy drivers” and manage NYC traffic just fine and certainly GPS has made driving easier world wide, but a local driver allowed us to relax and enjoy the ride, his insights and even take a short nap.
We certainly will seek out Wendy’s suggestions as we make future plans and hope to be in touch with Maria for a return trip to Italy some day.
During the last 3 weeks of September 2015 Maria organized a 3 week trip to 8 locations. Rome-Naples-Matera-Puglia-Palermo-Sciaccia-Noto-Taormina and back to Rome. Lots of details, lots of travelling. She arranged everything from private drivers and tour guides to special events. Everything went exactly as planned. Top hotels, food and wine were important to us and she delivered. We were very pleased and would work with her again. In fact we plan to have her help us with a trip to the northern parts of Italy. We recommend her without reservation.
Steve and Lois Chess
All of the experiences Maria planned were exactly what we were looking for. All of the guides were excellent, especially Borris in Cinque Terre; Francesco to Chianti (and Natasha) and Stefania in Lucca. The only negative was the dinner we had in Florence at I’Parione, which was recommended to us by Maria in her list of restaurants to try.
We had spent the day in Chianti tasting excellent wines from the region (and told our server as much), so we wanted to try another wine, not a Chianti. But he kept pushing us to try one. Second, when my pasta course arrived, it was not al dente. He didn’t come back to ask how the meal was so that I could mention it, and it was difficult to get someone’s attention. I was hungry and ate the dish, outside of the pasta being overcooked, the flavors were okay. When we finished, he came back and then I told him. He said, Oh, most foreigners don’t like their pasta al dente and send it back, so we automatically cook it longer. Not good. Don’t assume. We were looking for an authentic meal and didn’t experience that here. It was our last night in town too.
I’d recommend removing that restaurant from the list. Otherwise, all was great with Maria.
We just returned from an October vacation in Italy, visiting Rome, Florence and Venice. Thanks to our travel consultants, we had a spectacular time! Concierge in Umbria made all – and I mean, all – the arrangements for an amazing trip! We had a memorable experience literally every day. For example, I doubt too many visitors to Florence get a private tour of one of Europe’s largest private gardens with a member of the Italian nobility, and then sit down in his study to talk with him and his granddaughter about politics. All of our guides were amazing. Among them was a professor at the University of Edmonton’s campus in Italy, a television personality in Bologna and a wonderful retired librarian in Venice. The entire trip was arranged with absolute precision such that there was no wasted time. We will be talking about this trip for the rest of our lives, and we can’t wait plan another trip with Concierge in Umbria. We enthusiastically recommend Concierge in Umbria to anyone thinking about a trip to Italy!!!
Thank you for a wonderful trip to Italy. The accommodations at each location were spectacular. All of your insight and recommendations were accurate and enjoyable. For us, the most important part of the trip, was the education in Italian culture and history. To that end, we were particularly impressed with the drivers and guides assigned to us at each destination. They were all polite, personable and well informed. Without them we would certainly have missed the Italian experience. We will recommend with enthusiasm Concierge in Umbria to our family and friends. When we return to Italy, it will definitely be with you. Thank you again for a great trip!
This was our first trip to Italy and Maria made it one of the most exceptional trips we’ve ever taken. She created an intimate experience with amazing hotels and guides. Her suggestions for sightseeing, shopping and dining were great. We would use her again (and will) without hesitation.
My wife and I are very spontaneous, last-minute travelers and are comfortable with the pros and cons or being that way. We used the services of Maria Landers to plan a two-week visit to Sicily in May and could not have been more pleased with the arrangements she made even though we probably drove her a little crazy. We booked our own flights and hotels but relied on Maria to plan the itinerary itself and to rent a car for us and to arrange guides in each of the cities we visited. Maria started off by sending us, what I imagine was, a basic itinerary for Sicily and then was very flexible and accommodating about the changes we wanted to make to it. She also made recommendations that saved us both time and money along the way. We had a wonderful time and the guides Maria was able to find us, even at the last minute, were great. I highly recommend using Maria. I imagine that if you have more time to plan ahead she is even better.
Maria has now planned two fabulous trips to Italy for us and another couple. Though we had a few requests, for the most part we have left the planning to Maria and have not been disappointed. She definitely will go the extra mile to make sure your vacation is fabulous and just what you are looking for. Our most recent trip to the heel of the boot of Italy was incredible. No detail was forgotten. We highly recommend you choose her for your next adventure anywhere in Italy.
Everything was perfect from start to finish. This was our first trip to Italy (and my first trip to Europe) and we were really perplexed as to where to we should visit, how much we could absorb in the time we had, and what sights we should absolutely see (and might kick ourselves later if we didn’t). Maria helped us decide the cities to visit, the sights to see, and set us up with wonderful drivers and tour guides, all of whom made our visit so much more special and authentic. Italy on its own is spectacular, but looking at it through the eyes of someone who lives there makes it magical. I would go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I would most assuredly contact Maria to help us set it up.
We traveled in October of 2014, and we visited Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Tuscany, and Rome.
Maria and Brian planned a great kid-friendly two weeks for us in Florence last summer. They set up gelato making, pasta making, pizza making, a Vasari Corridor tour, chocolate tasting, paper making, and many, many tours through museums, sites and gardens. An unbelievable experience. We even went back to Florence this summer and picked up where we left off with some additional tours and museums and even a book-making workshop.