Testimonials – Passion for Italy Reviews from our Clients
On behalf of my husband, and our three friends, I want to take the time to “Thank you” for your assistance, in creating a trip of a “lifetime”!!!
The hotel selections were fabulous!!! We always found ourselves enjoying a great view, in a great location that allowed us to walk out, and enjoy Italy!!!
The organized tours, “Mamma Mia”!!! There are no words to describe our gratitude, as our tour guides went to great lengths to be sure that we observed the best spots, obtained the smallest detail on all historical sites, and got us front row seats to be able to take it all in!!! “Mama Bear” was our favorite guide!!
Lindsay, you managed to find the right fit, on all of our Bed & Breakfast stays. We met wonderful people, and they gladly helped us enjoy the true “Italy”!!! They all went above and beyond, and made us feel as a part of their family.
Even the car rental had been wonderfully orchestrated. Our car was delivered on schedule, and they spent a long time, demonstrating all benefits/functions of the car, and even backed it onto the street – you know that was appreciated!!! How we made it to Salerno without an accident – I will never know, as my eyes were closed, and I was not breathing!!! Once we got to Salerno, all was good. Countless U-turns, and “re-calculating” along the way….lol!!!
One of the very first surprises that we experienced in Naples, was our surprise meeting with Gemma. How marvelous to meet her, and enjoy the tour of the famous cisterns together!!! Lindsay, we were always certain that you put us in the right hands, as it was a piece of cake maneuvering through Italy with all of the written material you emailed us. Although it is different for all, our group discovered so much more about Italy, thanks to that rental car. I am sure we drove through 1000 tunnels, and 11000 round-a-bouts.
It is often said – “……travel is an education…”
You made it possible for us to live that.
We have taken with us more memorable sites than a mind can hold, more historical data that can be read about on “Google”, and an experience that was second to none.
I hope that my friends will also reach out to you, and thank you for your hard work, and endless responses to “help-me” text messages….at alll hours of day or night!!!
We are so glad we had the nerve to venture out to discover Italy, and so glad that we had you by our side every step of the way.
I raise a glass of wine to you, and your company!!! Saluti!!!!
May our paths cross again in the very near future!!!
Wishing all of you a successful week!!2018 October, L. Brewer, Saskatoon, Canada
Dear Sabrina, Mark and I wanted to express our appreciation for the wonderful trip you planned for us. Everything was seamless and we loved all of your recommendations for the locations, accommodation and tours etc. The bespoke planning with so many different experiences of our passion for great food, wine and soaking up the culture made for an unforgettable time.
Every aspect of the trip exceeded our expectations but Positano, Ravello and the Cooking Course, the Wine Tour – Brunello Wine and our time in Rome at the Relais were a particular highlight – including the foodie tour in Rome.
Thanks again Sabrina. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you and your services to anyone travelling to Italy.
We can’t wait for another trip!2018 September, Fiona Chapman, Brisbane, Australia
We can’t speak highly enough of our experiences working with PFI Travel, and in particular, Lindsay. Lindsay helped us to plan a dream vacation, with just the right amount of touring, balanced with relaxation.
She paid attention to every last detail of the trip, taking away all of the stress that comes with planning a vacation. She listened to our interests, and based upon those conversations came up with a lovely, personalized itinerary.
Highlights included a beautiful boat tour on the Amalfi Coast, semi-private guided Tours of the Vatican City as well as the Colosseum and Forum tour in Rome, a charming villa in Tuscany, a private tour in Florence that included wine and olive oil tastings, and personal suggestions for our enjoyment as we concluded our trip in Venice!
Extremely client centered, PFI Travel is a professional, reliable, service organization. Thank you PFI Travel!2018 June, K. Libera & Family, New Providence, NJ, USA
The trip was wonderful! We loved Italy and everything you set up for us was spot on. Our apartment locations ending up being perfect and we never had to get a taxi. Walked almost 13 miles the day we went to the Vatican. Needed more time in Pompeii – but needed an extra day which we didn’t have. We will definitely return to Rome some day – you just can’t absorb it all. Thank you so much for making sure it all worked right. Back to work…2018 June, J. Wise & Family, Oxford, New York, USA
Lindsay with Passion for Italy was a dream travel planner. She immediately understood the type of vacation my mom and I wanted to plan and was invaluable throughout the entire process.
We had never been to Italy before, and it was intimidating beginning to plan this on our own. We are so thankful we chose PFI. Lindsay was able to book all of our hotels and make recommendations for everything from coffee shops to full day tours.
We asked her tiny little details about luggage and plug ins and how to get cash and when to watch out for pickpockets – she got back to us within 12 hours each time. When we plan our next trip, though we’ll have more experience, we still plan on using PFI. I can’t imagine travelling to Italy without their expertise! Worth every penny.2018 April, Hannah & Tami, Siloam Springs, Arkansas USA
Dear Lindsay, I want to thank you so much for everything you did helping me plan our vacation to Italy. This was one of the best family vacations we have had (and we have had some great ones). Your advice was spot on from the hotels, transportation, to the tours we took. I had not used a travel agent before in the past but you exceeded all my expectations. You can tell you have actually been to each of the cities and you know your stuff. Your detailed information on each of the cities were so helpful. Bill really appreciated the running information you provided on each city. You were awesome!
The arrangements for transportation to and from the airport, the water taxi in Venice, the trains to both Venice and Florence were wonderful and saved us a lot of time and worry. We loved the hotels in both Venice and Florence. The Venice Hotel with Seaview in Venice was gorgeous! We loved the sea view. The staff at the hotel were wonderful. We ate in the restaurant on the top floor overlooking the water and it was one of the best meals of the trip. Our private tour of St Mark’s Basilica and The Palace Doge in Venice were great!
Florence I think was our favorite City. Again, another great hotel – Hotel in Medici Tower– These were the best rooms. It was wonderful that our family was in a suite that allowed us to be together but still have separate rooms. We loved just strolling thru this city. The private tour was fabulous! The statue of David was spectacular, pictures do not do this justice. Our tour guide was fantastic giving us great advice on a couple of restaurants that locals use.
Rome was great, also. My favorite tour was of the Colosseum and the Forum. It was so interesting to be able to go below the Colosseum were the gladiators were at. This was our favorite tour guide. He was awesome and again we were given great advice on restaurants off the tourist track and one of our better meals. Even though it was early, the Vatican Tour was well worth the early morning. Again being able to skip the long line was wonderful. We were able to take our time going through the museum and it was not nearly as crowded in the Sistine Chapel, as it was when my daughter did the tour with her class. Saint Peter’s was incredible . My husband and the girls were able to go up to the top.
Overall, I can’t say enough about our trip. You really listened to what we wanted to do and came up with the perfect itinerary. In all three cities, after our tours, we were able to stroll at our leisure, stop in churches in the squares and view amazing paintings, eat when we wanted to at some fabulous restaurants. We were able to see a lot but also able to relax and just enjoy the trip.
My daughter says we need to make a trip to the Amalfi Coast, so I may be calling you again. I wish you also booked Scotland and Ireland. I think that may be our next trip so if you know someone who can do what you do for those countries please let me know. Thanks again,2018 March, Patsy, Nashville, Tennessee,USA
Lindsay you did an amazing job! The organization and communication not only before the trip but while in Italy was outstanding. You can tell you have a great knowledge of the areas and tours. You had this trip planned perfectly and your recommendations were spot on. Your hand picked guides were beyond knowledgable as well as extremely friendly. I truly wish you did more countries and would recommend you and PFI to anyone!2017 Dec, Scott, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA
Good morning Lindsay, we had a blast! All of the tours you set up were a lot of fun and the tour guides were awesome! We had a lot of laughs and I think they did as well. Tom used several different techniques to tip our tour guides at the end of each excursion to amuse all of us including the guides. We also stopped for wine, cheese, and fried artichoke in the Jewish ghetto. It was very good and believe it our not Tom did tip the waiter. Joking aside it was a fantastic trip in a beautiful country, the food, wine, and Italian people we all great! Thanks again for all of your planning and excursion ideas.2017 Dec, Craig Komp, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA
We are just now headed home. Thanks for your services. We were really pleased with the tours you arranged. They prioritized the things we wanted to see, and you were incredibly responsive to our preferences for sights, schedule, and pace.
The car service made transitions so easy, and were efficient ways to travel between places with the least amount of time spent traveling. The skip the line access and early tours were good to excellent in all 3 cities. We also liked the small group, semi-private tour options.
The hotel locations were central in each city, and again meant that we could easily access sites, and did not spend a lot of time traveling into the center of town to begin touring. The maps and meeting points were helpful as well.
Your personal service and attention was very valuable and appreciated.2017 Sept, Lisa, Kenai, Alaska, USA
We have finally made it home safely – what a wonderful adventure!
Thank- you so much again for all your help in organising our getaway, everything was wonderful. All the transfers were on time – Antonio was delightful. The accommodation was just as we expected and perfect for our group.
The night time underground tour of the colosseum was wonderful – so quiet and cool – a perfect way to beat the heat and crowds. And so interesting.
I have dreamed for many years of shopping in a Tuscan market and taking armloads of produce back to a villa and cooking for my friends. We did just that!
The San Casciano markets were the ideal location to stock up on the most delicious tomatoes I’ve tasted, plump vibrant eggplant, sensational in season! – porcini mushrooms, focaccia, fabulous chunks of parmigiano and a wedge from the the greatest wheel of creamy gorgonzola we’ve ever seen!
Thank you for your patience ahead of the trip in discussing alternatives, and for organising everything for us so impeccably. One might say this is a once in a lifetime trip – except it was so amazing – we are TOTALLY coming back!
Thanks again Sabrina- you helped make our adventure wonderful.
Bern & Paul (Brisbane), Heather & Drew (Denver)2017 Sept, Bernadette Higgins, Brisbane, Australia
The transport to our accommodation in Positano was punctual courteous and clean as were all of the transfers – am happy to recommend company quite highly!
Accommodation in Positano was good – three star standard (but no wine glasses at all unbelievable in Italy ). Positano overall horribly crowded,certainly overpriced,and not a lot to do really (I do accept it was my decision to stay there), beaches – nasty and stones,catching the circuit bus – quite an experience with some of fairly aggressive locals (nearly beat me) when I tried to let old, disabled lady on first !!!!
Now Ravello is another story, beautiful, relaxed not as crowded and wonderful Cooking Course with accent on Mediterranean diet was informative And great fun.
Fast train to Florence a great experience – wish we had trains like this in Australia.
Stay in Tuscany was idyllic, accommodation magnificent and setting in hills with dirt roads was great, we far preferred little villages like Montepulciano and Pienza to Siena which was crowded and more difficult to access.
I wish to compliment you on your outstanding service, every arrangement was faultless, and look forward to using your service in the future and happy to give you a five star rating.
With best wishes, Peter2017 Sept, Peter, Brisbane, Australia
First, overall, the trip was outstanding. Each city is unique and special and we truly enjoyed them all. Thank you for all your hard work for us. It made a difference in the quality of the trip.
- All the hotels were excellent. I would recommend that you keep using all of them in the future. Antica Torre was amazing! Even though the hotel in Bellagio was 3 star, the location was great and the service was excellent.
- All of the drivers were very professional, on time and did a great job for us. But they are very expensive.
- The tours were very good with the exception of the gondola ride. Mostly, very professional and good value.
- The wine tasting and cooking classes were once in a lifetime experiences. Excellent! The venues were great.
Again, the trip was excellent. We are still talking about it. The friendliness and service we received the entire time was top notch. Thanks again Sabrina. We will recommend you to our friends and family.2017 Sept, Jude Vick, Minneapolis, MN, USA
In 2016 we wanted to go to Italy, but alas in never happened because the planning was overwhelming since it was our first trip to Italy. 2017 was shaping up to be the same but then we found PFI. We told Lindsay what we wanted and how we liked to travel. She made it all so easy and took care of lodging, trains, cars and trips across 5 cities. Everything was perfect from the moment our driver picked us up at the airport till the water taxi delivered us back to the airport.2017 July, Rocky, Harrisburg, PA, USA
Hi Lindsay, Thank you, yes, the Epicurean Tour in Sorrento was great. It was a day well spent. Our driver “Cocacola” was a good driver, and a good tour guide. Nice man and helped us learn a lot. He also went out of his way to get us water and to get us to an ATM.
The olive oil place was wonderful. Seeing the history and the evolution of their practices over time was fascinating. The tasting was comprehensive and their oil is excellent.
We then went to the winery and had a similar time of learning and enjoying the tasting. We left there feeling real good! 🙂 The farm was, I would say, the least educational stop, partly I think because we were running late by then (we really had fun at the winery), but the food was excellent. Then the drive back to Sorrento was nice and the gelateria was a good finish. Catherine enjoyed making a wonderful lemon sorbet. She only got two small drops on the floor.
I could definitely recommend the tour to anyone who wants to learn a little about traditional Italian culture while enjoying the beautiful countryside.2017 August, Frederick Polli, Seattle, WA, USA
The tour company and the tour of Prosecco was perfect. We were extremely pleased! We plan to be back to Italy again and will use your services again!2017 July, Shona Fisher, Edmond, OK, USA
We just wanted to say thank you very much for helping us plan another amazing trip to Italy. We loved all the accommodation you arranged for us and their location each time was perfect. The transfers were great however we did miss Giuseppe from Campania, this time as our transfer to Cinque Terre, could not speak English so it did make it hard for him to talk to us!!2017 July, Ann, Brisbane, Australia
“We are both busy professionals and didn’t have time to do the research or make the bookings for our ‘bucket-list’ holiday to Italy, so when we came across Sabrina and PFI we were thrilled. Sabrina was always responsive and very warm, nothing was ever too much trouble. We adored our time in Italy and will be back again one day to do it again.
Every accommodation was perfect, all the trains and connections were seamless, the tours really insightful and tailored to our needs and the staff always friendly. Knowing that Sabrina was on call should we have any issues while we were travelling also gave us peace of mind – especially since our Italian is minimal. Thank you Sabrina and the team at Passion For Italy. We couldn’t recommend you more highly.”2017 July, Carina, Sydney, Australia
We had such a fantastic time on our two and a half week trip PFI planned for us! I love planning vacations, but I was intimidated about our first trip to Europe.
Lindsay provided me with enough information and travel guides that I felt comfortable exploring each city on our own, but they also gave me the freedom to plan as much as I wanted to. It was so nice knowing we had someone we could contact with questions during our trip.
We had a tour company cancel one of our tours, but we didn’t have to worry about anything. Lindsay had us rebooked with a different tour company within hours. We were able to keep on enjoying our day knowing someone was taking care of our reservations! I’m so glad we found them!
Our vacation went so smoothly and we could focus on relaxing while letting the professionals deal with the details! Thanks Cameron2017 June, Cameron Calhoun, Jonesboro, AR, USA
Sabrina did a fabulous job booking our trip. We had very specific itineraries that we wanted to complete. Sabrina found the perfect guide for us! All of Sabrina’s recomendations were spot on. She was quick to answer all of my many e-mails. She was so nice to work with that I felt completely relaxed before and during the trip, knowing that she was only a phone call away if we needed anything. And the hotel she recommended was in the perfect location with great amenities and very helpful staff. Thanks for a great trip Sabrina!2017 March, Betsy, Davidson, New York, USA
Hi Gemma, I just wanted to say a big thank you, our trip was amazing. Everything you booked was great from the accommodation, private transfers and tours. We were very lucky with the weather over the whole time, had maybe 3 days of rain overall, the temperature was great for doing lots of walking. We loved everywhere but if I had to to choose I would have to say Tuscany, we just loved it, especially the villa we absolutely loved, and that pool area was just spectacular.2016 Lisa, Brisbane, Australia
Gemma, We can’t thank you enough for helping us plan our wonderful trip. There is so much to share, it would take a novel to write it all. Every aspect was incredible, ran so smoothly and fit our style of travel perfectly. We have so many photos and wonderful experiences that we will remember forever. Such a wonderful experience we could not have done it without you! We have had so many people ask about you and how we planned the trip, we are just passing the info along. Robert2016 Robert, Ontario, Canada
Okay, we loved the place in Milan it had a wonderful morning breakfast and was bright and cheery. We loved the homemade breakfast and cappuccino!
All of the accommodations were great and some very unique and special – like the Contessa’s apt in Venice. She was delightful and so very helpful. We enjoyed a spectacular and memorable anniversary dinner at the Riviera restaurant.
Lake Como – The Relais was beautiful. we had a whole ordeal just getting there but were saved by a couple of angels. It was pouring down rain which made it more difficult to do much.
We never did take the ferry anywhere, we did take the bus to visit a large estate (also in the pouring rain) – I will have to get you the name of it to recommend because it was quite something. It was very cold there and, as you know, no heat was allowed so I think if the weather was better the place would’ve been amazing. They served wonderful food and we had a memorable dinner down in their wine cellar.
We liked Como very much and loved the Como Hotel. We felt surrounded by the rich and famous not to mention wealthy! You should’ve seen the cars! The lake is so beautiful! We both would like to return there.
Florence was a bit overwhelming and we left much to be seen… We had a great tour guide for the Uffizi Gallery and The David. I actually liked the location of the apartment in Florence even though it seemed like we were on a back alley – yet when we walked out the door there was our coffee cafe and a darling little restaurant, plus the open air market which had everything right there.
Tuscany and the Apartment at the villa was our favorite, no surprise! Doriana the manager, was amazing and provided the best, absolute best service we have ever experienced! She seemed genuinely happy to help us out with anything and made dinner reservations, set up 2 fantastic wine tours in Montalcino and Montepulciano, (even supplying maps with her suggestions, names and places) and taking me to the Dr. at 7 pm when I broke out in a rash all down my legs!!! She truly was the best!
We loved Rapallo and enjoyed a glass of wine and their fresh homemade focaccia at the hotel each afternoon. Portofino was one of my favorites – the ferry over, a long walk and lunch with the best homemade “family recipe” pesto we have ever had. Eating and drinking was something we did best and enjoyed.
Hiking Cinque Terre was amazing!
Assisi I loved. I am sorry we didn’t set up a tour there. I feel I missed so much and was frustrated. Hope to return.
I too loved the people and the culture, the laughter, the family togetherness even how they dressed so nicely. I was really impressed with how conscientious they are about the use of resources, recycling, and keeping their streets and cities so clean. I loved how friendly and helpful and trusting they are and, again, the laughter and the conversation, all the things I love about life.
Thank you so much, again. We couldn’t have done it without you Gemma!2014 Myra and Don Kelly, California, U.S.A
A wonderful 7 weeks in Italy, organised and orchestrated by the knowledgeable, and ever helpful Gemma!
One of the cornerstones of our trip was to experience the great opera houses of Italy – La Fenice, La Scala, the Verdi Festival and Teatro Regio in Parma, San Carlo – and we saw great performances in them all! All of the tickets were pre-arranged – heaven!
The tours and guides that Gemma and her colleagues arranged were outstanding. I was amazed at the knowledge of the guides and their capacity to communicate and inspire. We were early at the Vatican (with a surprise visit to a part not normally visited), a small intimate group for the Vasari corridor in Florence, the Doges’ Palace in Venice, the catacombs in Rome, beautiful and surprising Naples, not to mention amazing Pompei….it was all so beautiful and easy.
There is nothing like experience, knowledge and a passion for the country! The places we stayed at were works of art themselves with beautiful views and wonderful staff. What memories! We will have to go back. We will be in touch, Gemma!2012 Ifor and Catherine, Brisbane, Australia
Allow me to take a few minutes of your time to listen to our thoughts about our last Europe holiday. It was GREAT! It was MARVELOUS!! It was a BLAST!!!
Thank you sooo much for your time and effort that made our vacation a memorable experience. With endless requests coming from our big family and you tried to accommodate all of them, definitely it was everyone dream-come-true holiday.
The big family was extremely happy and they will definitely refer your service to other family and friends who plan to go to Italy in the future. The hotel, the transport, the tours, also the guides, the drivers and the hotel staff – all perfect! Maybe if we only can change the apartment in Florence, but that’s about it.
Everything was so neatly and carefully organized, and all fit our needs and requirements and standards. I can not thank you enough and I always feel blessed remembering when I decided to choosing you as our organizer for the trip. Truthfully, you have made our vacation beautiful and memorable.2013 Amelia- family of 11, Jakarta, Indonesia
Gemma’s suggested itinerary and careful planning resulted in a wonderful, month long holiday in Italy with no hassles. There were many highlights. One of the best was the week we spent in week long organised tour package in Umbria . We loved the history and the art and met some very interesting people.
The hotels we chose from the Passion for Italy list were excellent as were the day tour and short guided tour suggestions made by Gemma in the various regions we visited from Venice to the Amalfi Coast. Talk to Gemma if you are planning to go to Italy!” Thanks again for your work in making it such a memorable holiday.John and Chris, Newcastle, Australia. Four Weeks in Italy
Dear Gemma, We had a fantastic vacation in Italy. We were very pleased and have already told many about the how much we appreciated your assistance. All of the vouchers were accepted without issue and the transportation arrangements were flawless. At the airport were met by our driver for the who drove us to our hotel in a Mercedes. It was a comfortable ride and driver was safe and courteous.
Favorites: The Vatican tour and the guide were great. We were in a group of 4 couples, so we didn’t need ear phones and our guide was terrific. There was so much to see and appreciate in the Vatican that it requires a return visit. This was an excellent tour company and guide, highly recommend.
In Roma the Piazze, the fountains, the architecture, the food and cappuccino were all great.
Tour of Tuscany from Rome to Florence with private driver –
9am sharp, our driver, Fabio, arrived at the Baglione with a Mercedes for our excursion to Florence via Tuscany. Again, irest class like the transportation from the airport.
Choosing a personal driver verses a train to Florence was one of the best choices we had made. Fabio was great explaining the sites and history along the way as we enjoyed the beauty of the Tuscany landscape. Mid-way through the excursion we stopped in Montalcino as requested, there Fabio took us to the winery.
We were greeted by the daughter of the owner who took us on a tour through the family winery and ended with a wine tasting of several varietals of Brunello. Fabio then took us to “the Fortress” which sells a variety of regional wines and provides lunch. We had lunch at the Fortress, a variety of meats and cheeses and more wine tasting which was più delizioso. We must say that the whole experience in Tuscany/Montalcino was one of our most enjoyable and memorable.
The views from the terrace were amazing. The vista of the mountains were the backdrop of the beautiful view of Florence. From our terrace you could see the Arno with it’s bridges at our feet, il Duomo and many other landmarks were also visible. The scenery was just amazing! The location of the hotel was convenient to the heart of it the attractions, restaurants and shopping. The staff were exceptionally warm and welcoming, could not compliment them enough. Our walking tour was very good, thanks in part to the guide, better listening equipment and a smaller number of participants. We’d recommend this tour guide and activity.
The food was very good although not as good as Rome in general. Our favorite meal was purchasing some meats, cheeses, bread and olive oil from nearby Salumeria and Enotecca, then enjoying them on the terrace overlooking that amazing vista. The breakfast buffet at Antica was excellent too.
Venice-The whole experience of Venice, the canals, boats, shops were all wonderful, unique and memorable. There was not as much to see or do and it seemed to be much more tourist oriented. The room at our hotel was very nice and location was excellent. The view from our window was a beautiful scenic of the ocean.
All in all, we had a fabulous and memorable trip to Italy and thank you for your assistance in making it so.
2013 Marianne and Frank, Pittsburgh, U.S.A
This mother/daughter trip was my Sarah’s 21st gift……….It was the hardest trip I have ever prepared for and also the easiest.This was to be the first time I have travelled without my Husband, on my own, in a country I knew very little of the language. And as Sarah couldn’t find a tour that she liked with a travel agent, and we did try, it was left up to us to organise our own itinerary.
Fortunately for us my husband found ‘Passion for Italy ‘ while searching the net. At first I was nervous about using a company that operated over the internet, Skype. Our meetings on Skype were effective and Sarah and I were blown away by Gemma’s knowledge and enthusiasm to find the right trip for us. Our contact with Helen, the travel agent who booked our flights and train travel was also extremely easy as Gemma had done all the hard work , working out times and dates.
Our trip went without a hitch no dramas at any point, the accommodation Gemma booked was exactly as she had described. Each place we stayed in was clean and friendly, and as we opted for the cheaper end of the price range, they were a good 10min stroll to the centre of town. This was more of an advantage than you may think as we got to see that little bit more of each place.
Things I learnt in Italy; If you’re using a cash passport over there, DON’T pay for your meals with it if you can help it…….they add an extra 10% to your bill that you never see till you check your balance on line. Plus if you don’t want bread with your meal, say no when they deliver it to your table, or you will pay for it, per person……There were plenty of ATM’s in the smaller villas, a little hard to find in Florence other than at the train station. Taxi drivers weren’t that bad, just make sure they are a taxi. 40 or 50 euro is norm to and from the airport. The euro is so good now, I wish I were there again…2012 Karen and Sara Ipswich, Australia
Our accommodation was wonderful. The connection with the apartment contact in each situation was easy and smooth. The apartments were in great locations and clean. Passion for Italy did a great job for us!Chris-Family of Five, Sydney, Australia
Sent while on holiday in Italy….”Thank you Gemma. I am really getting your “passion” for this place. I am having an experience of a life time”!
Second trip to Italy – Hi Gemma. Just had to let you know how much we are enjoying this trip. As we say goodbye to each place we have said that nothing can be better and every time we have been surprised. But The Jebel has just well and truly topped it! My husband is in his element. In fact I don’t know how I’m going to coax him out of the hotel!
This itinerary has been so well balanced with frenetic cities (Palermo won hands down) to shear relaxation. In every case we have had a haven to escape to. Love love Sicily! Accommodation has been delightful.2012 Marsha, Johannesburg, South Africa.
We have arrived back safe and sound from our Italy trip. Thank you. Your villa recommendation was terrific, we had a very pleasant stay, we saw a lot, ate a lot and laughed a lot. Marsha joined us and we thoroughly enjoyed our Villa.2012 Sue and Graham, Darwin, Australia
My 26yr old daughter and I have had the most memorable 5 weeks in Italy. Gemma’s help and expertise in organising an itinerary that satisfied our requirements enabled us to experience places we may not have found ourselves. The sharing of her vast knowledge and experience of the country gave us tips that I’ve no doubt contributed to our trouble free holiday.
We soon learnt that Gemma’s suggestions whether it be accommodation or restaurant choice were always reliable. My daughter on more than one occasion commented “where does Gemma find them”? I am so thankful to have discovered “Passion for Italy” and know that the fabulous memories I have of our travels would not have been possible had I tried to organise such a trip without Gemma’s expert input. .2011 Julie, Brisbane, Australia
Just catching-up after the holiday…We had a great time in Italy. Everything worked out smoothly and the itinerary was the right pace for us. It was my first time driving in Europe but my wife and I were able to find our way with little difficulty, mostly because she navigated.
Our red eye flight to Venice was hard but it got us there on time and we really enjoyed the water taxi arrangement and were able to easily get to our hotel. Barbara at the hotel was very nice as was Sunil and we enjoyed our stay there.
One of the highlights of our trip was on the first night when we attended a rowing lesson with Row Venice an organization that is trying to preserve traditional Venetian rowing. It was great fun and a fantastic way to visit the city. The following day we visited some of the other islands and had a wonderful lunch of seafood in Burano, I think at one of the restaurants you recommended.
After that we visited the Doge’s Palace. The tour you had arranged worked well. We did not have any problems finding the meeting point and the docent was very knowledgeable. It was also nice to be in a smaller group. Barbara was nice enough to help us get our tickets for San Marco, which allowed us to avoid the long ones.
Then we took the car and headed towards the estate in Valpollicella. We stopped in Soave on the way and spent a nice few hours visiting to old walled city. We did not make it to the park as we were having challenges with the directions. There seem to be more than one place that shows up in Google when searching that name. Our stay was very nice also. I would say our cooking lesson, tour and wine tasting was another highlight of the trip. We enjoyed walking around the estate and the neighbouring villages. We did go to Sirmione and enjoyed the visit on a hot and sunny day.
We then went to the castle that you booked for us, which is an experience onto itself. We enjoyed the hotel and the facilities and spend a good part of sunday in the spa where I was treated for my birthday. We would have liked to visit one or two of Proseco wineries but, contrary to what the hotel staff had advised, tours are only available by reservation or on weekends. So, we spent some time on the Prosecco road and visited the ancient mill in Refrontolo and Fregonia Grotto, which were well worth the visit and interesting.
The next day, we went to Cortina by the back roads and reached the hotel early enough for lunch in the village. We enjoyed visiting Cortina and watching all the shopping going on there. Everyone at Hotel in Cortina was very nice and we had a nice stay there.
Our guided hike around Tre Cime was another highlight of the visit. We could have managed well on our own but it was very relaxing to know Mauro was taking care of everything. It was also nice meeting him as he is a remarkable young man and truly passionate about the mountains. As you suggested, we visited Asolo on the way to Caorle.
I found Asolo quite nice and certainly worth the detour. We ended-up parking in the town square and having lunch nearby and then visiting the surrounding area by foot. We made it to Caorle in good time. We found the hotel location was a very good one but our room was small and the shower was very tight. I guess that is just the way it is there. It was a good experience to go to a touristy place like Caorle. Although it is not my kind of place it was nice to have a day to put our feet up before heading back. I previously explained how the diner resolved itself.
So all in all a wonderful trip. Thanks again for helping us on such short timeframe.2013 Gilbert , Philadelphia, U.S.A. 10 Days Food & Wine Trip in Veneto Region
I first met Gemma Green Close at Griffith University when we were completing Italian Studies and have since had the privilege to come to know her well. She has a passion for all things Italian and has a great ability to listen to her client’s brief, so all the trips she organizes for the independent traveler are certainly anything but run of the mill. She has personally visited many ten’s of hotels and villas and if she says she knows a place, she does. Some of the extra activities she recommends, such as the Ghost Tour in Venice are great fun, especially if travelling with children. I have personally travelled with her in the Abruzzo and Southern Tuscan regions and saw some amazing places. Gemma also has a great knowledge of art and culture and a deep respect for the Italian traditions. She is the consummate professional and I have no hesitation in recommending her business, Passion for Italy.Catherine, Lucca, Italy
From Rapallo, we caught the train to Como via Milan. We found the trains very easy after the first one we caught from Rome to Florence, and we were very grateful for your tip to take suitcases that had four wheels on the bottom, so we could roll them sideways down the aisle.
Not every train had a baggage section at the end of each carriage, so more often than not we got on at the end of the carriage furthest from our seats! Transferring trains was very easy, although we noticed older folk had quite a struggle getting bags on and off the trains. The transfer was ready and waiting for us in Como, as we’re all the transfers you organised for us. The driver was very courteous and was asked if we would be ok on the winding road to Bellagio.
Check-in at Hotel in Bellagio was first class. Very professional, even down to the detail of using a miniature door to show how to use the key wand to unlock or room door. The balcony view was terrific. It was unfortunate the weather was cold and rainy, but we had our umbrellas with us and explored every lane way in Bellagio. The closest we got to seeing George Clooney was a photo of him on the wall inside Bellagio Point.com, a food and wine bar which had an all day happy hour. Very generous complimentary food with apperitivi.
The quality of the room at the hotel was excellent, and I would gladly recommend others to stay there. I was glad we didn’t get a terrace room, as it would have been a waste in such poor weather, and even in good weather, all the lake view balconies look down on the terraces, so not much privacy down there. We ate breakfast in the hotel, which was fine, and on one occasion had lunch in the bar/cafe – the soup was excellent. Mostly lunch and dinner we ate out. Best meal in my opinion was wood fired pizza at Barchetta.
Venice was absolutely wonderful. Once we were out of the train station, we took our time to figure out how to purchase the ferry tickets, and which ferry to take to Rialto. As with most things in Italy, it was a bit confusing, but in the end, as we were getting on the ferry, I asked a staff member “this ferry to Rialto?” Si. “How many stops?”
One. I had taken a GPS device with me, which we used to navigate from Rialto to the hotel, and confirmed our directions with the instructions you gave us. We needn’t have taken the GPS. After the walking tour the next day, we didn’t even bother with maps as it was a delight to get lost in such a wonderful place, and always easy to follow the signs back to San Marco or Rialto. The staff at the hotel were really friendly. We were put in the room halfway up the stairs, which was fine, although next time I’d probably prefer on of the upstairs rooms which might be a bit brighter and I believe have four-post beds. The location was absolutely spot on, and Jenny and I used their recommended restaurants on a couple of occasions, and we weren’t disappointed. Breakfast was very enjoyable, except for the American guest who complained about the music! Then spent all his time at breakfast ignoring his wife and reading out loud from his iPad.
I was glad we only did the one tour in Venice, as we really enjoyed just wandering the streets, shopping, eating, drinking and taking it all in. We didn’t even go to Murano or Burano, as we felt that we had come to see Venice. Not to jump on a ferry and go somewhere else. Maybe next time. The confusion at the start of the walking tour was disappointing, mainly because we had arrived 15 minutes early, and were the last to be checked in due to them cancelling our booking. The tour itself was very good, and our guide was friendly, informative and good natured. I would advise against taking this tour on a Sunday, as the church at San Marco was being used for communion and was therefore closed to tour groups. So our tour started late and finished early.
Nevertheless, it gave us the confidence we needed to get around Venice on foot without a map. We kept an eye out for concerts and on our last night in Venice we went to Chiesa San Vidal where we enjoyed a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Interpreti Veneziani. The water taxi was probably not necessary, but an enjoyable experience anyway, to take us back to the train station on the way out.
Ravello was gorgeous, and the hotel in Ravello was very enjoyable. Breakfast in the hotel was terrific, and we mostly ate lunch at one of the restaurants in the main piazza. We took a walk through the gardens at Villa Cimbrone, and marvelled at the killer view! I would recommend this to anyone. We had dinner on the second night on the terrace by candle light, overlooking the beautiful valley stretching below us towards the spectacular coastline. Very romantic!
In Positano, I was again delighted by the friendliness of the reception staff at the hotel. They could not have been any more helpful. We arrived quite early and our room would not be ready for a half hour (which was still much sooner than we would be able to get in to most hotels in Australia!), so we just went for a walk down the hill to the Bach while they got our room ready. We had an excellent view from the very end/corner room on the top floor. The hotel breakfasts were terrific, and on the two mornings we needed to be out early, they opened the restaurant just for us so we could have an early breakfast (which we arranged the night before).
The weather in Positano was quite cool (around 18C max), mostly overcast, rain at times, windy and rough seas. The first full day, the ferries to Capri etc were cancelled due to rough weather. The forecast for the last two days however looked much better (sunny and 23C) so as we were already booked on a Pompeii tour on the Monday (2nd last day) we booked a boat tour to Capri for the Tuesday. Both tours were excellent.
The Pompeii and Vesuvius tour was one of the highlights of our time in Italy, well worth the long, winding road journeys there and back! We opted for a smaller boat rather than a ferry to Capri and were glad to avoid the throng on the larger boats. We finally had a swim in the Mediterranean.
Had the weather been more conducive to laying on the beach, the five days in Positano would have been perfect, but given the weather, I felt it was a day too long. The locals said it was really unusual to be so cold in May. I think next time I would probably travel in September, as I suspect coming out of summer, the weather may have been just a few degrees warmer.
Anyway, our final night at the beautiful residence in Rome was wonderful. Again – so friendly and what a gorgeous room. We went back to a restaurant called Toto, just around the corner, where we had been for dinner just over a month before. The waiter remembered us, and asked how my speaking Italian had gone. As we were returning customers, we were treated like VIPs, given complimentary prosecco before our meal, and limoncello afterwards.
After dinner we walked back down to the Trevi Fountain so we could see it by night. It was a beautiful evening. Amongst the crowd of people, we held hands and tossed our coins far into the bosom of the fountain, ensuring we will return one day to Rome and la bella Italia.
I can’t stop singing your praises Gemma whenever anyone asks me about how we chose where to stay in Italy. Your advice and selections were absolutely brilliant. Thank you for helping make our 25th wedding anniversary celebration an experience of a lifetime.2013 Brad & Jenny, Adelaide, Australia, 25th Wedding Anniversary, 4 Weeks
“Gemma’s suggested itinerary and careful planning resulted in a wonderful, month long holiday in Italy with no hassles. There were many highlights. One of the best was the week we spent in Umbria with a package tour. We loved the history and the art and met some very interesting people.
The hotels we chose from the Passion for Italy list were excellent as were the day tour and short guided tour suggestions made by Gemma in the various regions we visited from Venice to the Amalfi Coast. Talk to Gemma if you are planning to go to Italy!”2010 John Holt, Brisbane, Australia
What a magnificent Italian experience – thanks to Gemma and her passion for Italy. The hard work of discerning and booking accommodation was taken care of…leaving us to arrive at each destination (not an easy feat) . Gemma took on board our budget and desire to mix up accommodation styles…booking for us a great value hotel in Rome, quaint beachside Bed and Breakfast, a
perfectly positioned (not too many steps) family hotel on the Amalfi, a peaceful Monastery and the dreamy Villa in the Tuscan countryside. Perfecto!2010 Kaylene Benson, Brisbane, Australia
Gemma’s enthusiasm is infectious and I highly recommend Passion for Italy to anyone wanting to design a personalised holiday to one of the most beautiful and captivating countries in the world.
Nothing was too much trouble and Gemma went out of her way to provide for my interests, arrange comfortable authentic accommodation, and offer valuable advice on all aspects of my travel. Gemma’s thorough preparation made my holiday an absolute joy. I think about my holiday often, and also dreaming of my next one!2009 Jacqui Dalwood, Brisbane, Australia
We have finally returned from our Italian odyssey and want to thank you for all of your help in creating a wonderful holiday.
The accommodation which you booked for us in Florence, Chianti and Rome was excellent. In every case our special requirements were met and exceeded.
The villa in Chianti was superb. It fulfilled all of our fantasies about staying in a romantic Italian villa and was fantastic value. We loved the village and its great restaurants and the fact that we were so close to a multitude of scenic and interesting excursions.
Your expertise and thorough knowledge of Italy made so much difference to our trip. All of your tips were valuable and made travelling easier. We are sure that your inside knowledge gave us access to an Italy which we had not experienced before.
All of the accommodation was of a high standard and considerably cheaper than staying in the usual tourist hotels. It also gave us more real contact with locals and local way of life.
Thank you, Gemma, for your help, expertise, patience and advice. We are happy to recommend your service to family and friends seeking help with planning the best way of visiting Italy. We hope that we can use your service again.2006 P. Reynolds, Wollongong Australia