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!!