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“Florence & Pisa” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours

Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours
Via Madonna dei Monti 35, 00184 Rome, Italy (Monti)
+393935469303
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Ranked #16 of 146 Food & Drink in Rome
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours provides private, custom designed tours throughout Italy: *Unparalleled customer service from start to finish*Art & history tours*Food & wine tours, tasting tours, market tours*Cooking Classes with home and professional chefs all over Italy (featured in the NY Times) *Food Workshops*Art classes such as mosaic, fresco, drawing or painting lessons, artisan tours*Walking Tours*Chauffeured tours and transfers *Experiences with art experts, archeologists and historians to sommeliers and chefs. *Hotel, restaurant, and train reservations We specialize in the best hidden gems of Italy~ Let us open up the Secret Door to Italy for you!
Naples, Florida
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Florence & Pisa”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2013

We had an excellent experience with our guides in Pisa and Florence.
Martina met us at a cafe near the Leaning tower. We spent about 4-41/2 hrs with her and I think we saw everything we needed to see at the Cathedral grounds. She planned it so we went to the Basilica at the appropriate time to hear the chanting echos. Her English and knowledge was excellent. Martina was very considerent of Michelle's abilities giving her options to continue on or stop.

We met up with Lisa on Wednesday afternoon and Friday in Florence. Being born and brought in NY meant her English capabilities and insights were excellent. We saw the Accademia on Wednesday , the Duomo and the entire area used by the artists of the Renaissance. She introduced us to her favorite gelato places - made Jim VERY HAPPY. Her suggestions for dinner were excellent , too. Friday was busy, Pitti Place and all it's treasures, the gardens and it's history. Her art knowledge was wonderful and she would bring together artists we have studied, comparing them with other artists , rounding out our knowledge. She was a hit for our trip.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy_Hotline_Tours, General Manager at Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours, responded to this review, November 25, 2013
Dear James,
Thank you for taking the time to write us a review!
Pisa is a charming city, and there is much more to it than just the Leaning Tower! I am pleased that you chose to take an in-depth 4-hour tour here with our private tour guide, Martina, and that you felt that the tour was well-paced and interesting, and Martina's knowledge and company appreciated.
Having only a limited time in Florence you chose, nonetheless, to cover a lot by taking one 3-hour tour of the Accademia Gallery, the Duomo and other city highlights, and another 6-hour tour of the Uffizi Gallery, the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. Lisa has a particular interest in botany, and in her tour of the Boboli Gardens (for those who are interested!) she is always happy to combine the history of the Gardens with a study of its plants and landscaping. Once again, I am very pleased you enjoyed Lisa's company and expertise - she's a terrific guide.
We hope to be able to show you more of Italy in the future, thank you again!
Warm regards,
Ally
General Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC
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116 reviews from our community

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English first
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Rome By the Bite: Food Lovers Tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2013

We invested a lot in this tour, so I really expected an amazing experience. Ettore did not disappoint. We enjoyed fantastic food and lots of history, well worth the money.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy_Hotline_Tours, General Manager at Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours, responded to this review, November 25, 2013
Dear Samantha,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write us a review!
We are very pleased to hear that you enjoyed your private 4-hour "Rome By the Bite: Food Lovers Tour" with our resident history, food and wine expert, Ettore.
We hope to welcome you back in Italy soon - we offer equally informative, fun and delicious walks all over Italy!
Warm regards,
Ally
Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Guided tour of Uffizi and Accademia in Florence”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

I can't recommend strongly enough hiring a guide (Lisa if you can get her) for these two museums. I was stunned at the crowds, which were far thicker than the last time we were in Florence. No fear: Lisa got us into the museums and managed perfectly to take us to what we needed to see while weaving it together with her in-depth knowledge not just of the masterpieces but the context of the time in which they were created. If you end up cheaping out on meals -- who can complain about pizza and pasta every day -- and spend your money instead on Lisa you will never regret it. -- Wendy. Vancouver, B.C.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy_Hotline_Tours, Manager at Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours, responded to this review, November 22, 2013
Dear Wendy,
It was a pleasure to read the review of your 4-hour Uffizi and Accademia tour in Florence with our wonderful guide, Lisa. Travel during the busier months can be overwhelming, and I am happy that you felt the difference taking our private tour. Thank you! Warm regards,
Ally
Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Forked River, New Jersey
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“A DREAM COME TRUE!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2013

My grandmother took me to Italy and thanks to Ally and her team we were able to take our family of eleven people to Italy. For sixteen days - three generations...all had fun. Grandparents, adult children and grandchildren. Oldest grandchild is thirteen years of age and youngest is 9 years old. What a challenge for Ally! Ally arranged transfers, airplane tickets, hotels, restaurant reservations, and theatre tickets. The guides were "Prima Class". We were totally relaxed, comfortable and everything went perfectly. We received many compliments from the Italian people about our "Famiglia:"

Rome:
IQ Roma Hotel was perfect. The receptionists at the desk were very polite, kind and helpful. The Hotel was clean, new, and breakfast was wonderful. The location was perfect. Close to all the main sights. Ally arranged go to the head of the line tickets. These tickets enabled us to see Vatican and the Coliseum without waiting.
Our guide, Daniela was wonderful....we want to adopt her! She was pleasant, well-informed and very accommodating. We were able to see all the sights listed on our schedule. She selected good places to eat....especially Gelato facilities. The grandchildren love Gelato!

Sorrento:
Maison Tofani Hotel was wonderful. Located on the historic street of Sorrento. The owner Maria and her staff were very pleasant. Breakfast was served in the dining room. The selection of foods was unique and well prepared. We were surrounded by beautiful antiques and a fresco on the ceiling.

Our driver Salvatore was fun to be with and very patient with the local traffic. We had lunch in Positano and decided to rent two boats for the afternoon so that the grandchildren could have some fun swimming and snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea. Claudia, the guide and I were together while the family was boating. In the evening we ate at the restaurant and immediately went to Teatro Tasso. We had front row seats and the grandchildren were asked to dance the Tarantella and play instruments. Our daughter- in- law was invited onto the stage to participate in a performance. We all had fun!

Puglia: The region of my grandparents; the towns of Monopoly and Altamura.
Gelso Bianco was our residence. A restored Trulli farmhouse and cooking school in Alberobello. Antonello greeted us and brought us to a Trulli restaurant. He ordered a meal with typical foods and wine from the area. Delicious.

Mimmo was the guide for Alberobello. He is very passionate about the Trulli houses and gave us a wonderful history lesson and tour of Alberobello. Mimmo explained that there would be a feast in town while we were in Alberobello and so we attended the feast. Antonio, another member of the team, drove us to the feast. Antonio was a musician so I was able to sing "Guitarra Romana" with him. This was a nice surprise! We ordered a variety of meats from the butcher shop. The meat was cooked for us and we sat and ate among the locals at the feast. Later on there was fireworks that we could see clearly from Gelso Bianco.

Rocco served as a tour guide, our chief and football (soccer) coach! Rocco's is from Monopoly, the home town of my paternal grandparents. Rocco gave us a wonderful tour of the town. We visited the beautiful Basilica, where I am sure my grandparents went to church. We ate at a restaurant outside in the courtyard. Rocco ordered all the food typical of Monopoly. The meal began with sample tasting and then the main course was pasta cooked with fish in a crock pot a bread crust on top. Very unique. Finally, we shopped at the market to buy the foods for our cooking class.

At Gelso Bianco Rocco became the Chef. The grandchildren learned how to make pasta. Rocco had five grandchildren making dough, flouring the boards and rolling out the pasta. Each child had a "job" and they worked hard under his supervision. The meal was delicious.

In the morning, the grandchildren picked figs from the trees and helped with breakfast. They went swimming in the pool and then asked Rocco to play soccer with them. Everyone had fun.

Altamura is the home town of my maternal grandparents. Altamura is famed for its bread. Rocco took us to an Altamura Bread bakery. The grandchildren participated in a "hands on" experience of making different shapes of traditional Altamura bread and had a wonderful time. We purchased loaves of bread and cookies and ate the food at Gelso Bianco.

Altamura was the most magical part of the trip. Ally provided us with a name of an official in Altamura who gave me the last address where my great grandparents lived. We visited the street and intended to take a photograph in front of the door. Since we were a large group of people making a lot of noise, a woman came out on the balcony. She asked if we were from America? During the conversation we learned that she was my grandfather's niece. She was 84 years old. When we returned to America we called her and let her speak to her 95 year old cousin!

Venice:
Corte Grimani hotel was wonderful. Located right on a canal, we could see the gondolas and hear the musicians singing and playing their instruments. The apartments were spacious and clean. Everyone was very pleased with the accommodations.

Our guide Sara greeted us and we visited all the famous sites. And of course we went to Murano to see Venetian glass blowing and Burano where there is beautiful lace. Both very enjoyable. At night a gondola ride was scheduled Ally arranged a perfect time...6:00 PM just when the sun was setting. We had three gondolas for the family. My granddaughters and I were in the gondola with the musicians. They enjoyed the song "Ciao Venezia" and sang it many times during the trip. They are still singing the song in America.

Florence:
The tour guide Lisa was wonderful with the grandchildren. We saw the "David". Lisa called the David "The Tall Nude Dude." Then off to the DaVinci museum for children. This was a "hands on" experience of DaVinci inventions. The grandchildren wanted to see the Domo even though we had seen so many churches....but none like the Domo. Lisa brought us to a local artisan and the children worked with metal and created ornaments. Lisa was great!

Tuscany:
Villa Le Barone...what a beautiful Villa. Our grandson stated he liked the Villa because it was "kid friendly". The villa had a pool, tennis courts, ping pong table and a large area to play soccer. The food was excellent and we decided to eat our evening meals at the villa. One night after we ate, my husband and I were walking the property when we meet a lovely couple. We began a discussion with the couple who complimented our family and the grandchildren. When we asked about them we learned that the couple was the Count and Countess of the Villa Le Barone!

We went on a tour at the Castle estate of the Macario family. The Historical Residence was built in 1184 by the Pazzi family, a well known rival of the powerful Medici. We had a wonderful tour and wine tasting experience with Alberto. We bought wines including "Vino Santo" and olive oil. Our tour guide Linda also brought us to a town called Greve.. Here we had free time and then we returned to the Villa for another delicious meal.

Rome:
Hilton Rome Airport Hotel was a great. Clean and spacious. Everyone discussed the vacation and named their favorite places. All comments were positive and the grandchildren would like to return to Italy once a year! Momma Mia!

Ally, we can't thank you enough for this wonderful vacation and making our dream come true!

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy_Hotline_Tours, General Manager at Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours, responded to this review, November 22, 2013
Dear Hal,
It was my pleasure to be planning this trip together with you and your wife from the very start (in February of 2012!) and I am just so thrilled that the trip was a success this September! I know this was a vacation of a lifetime for you and your children and grandchildren, and that the trip to Puglia – to visit her grandparents’ birthplace – was especially important to your wife. How wonderful (and magical!) that she met a long-lost relative while you were there! I am glad I could in some way.
We work with wonderful, child-friendly private guides and chefs, and I am delighted to hear that Daniela, Claudia, Mimmo, Rocco, Antonello, Sara, Linda and Lisa ensured fun tours for the whole family throughout your time in Italy.
I am pleased that the transfers from Rome to Sorrento and Sorrento to Puglia with Salvatore, and the final trip from Tuscany back to Rome with Riccardo were comfortable, well timed and fun. Finally, I am glad that you enjoyed all the hotels and villas that I found and booked for you in Rome, Sorrento, Puglia, Venice, and Tuscany.
I enjoyed myself immensely planning this trip with you, and I look forward to having you back someday- there’s so much more of Italy to explore!
Kind regards,
Ally
General Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC
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Covington, Louisiana
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Reliable, Professional, Fun and Awesome Tours & Guides”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2013

I worked with Ally in planning a 14 day Italy vacation to Venice, Florence and Rome. We went September 17 - Oct 1, 2013. I rented 3 apartments for my group of 7 that was mostly my family and 2 other friends. I found out about Italy Hotline from the Travel & Leisure Magazine Rome edition that listed Italy Hotline as a great tour company. Went to the website to see what they had to offer. Was just going to book a Venice tour to walk us around through back alleys etc but ended up booking a tour or 2 for each city!!! We ended up doing 4 custom tours with Italy Hotline. Ally immediately returned my first email through the website and continued to help me out through out my year long vacation planning. Ally also made reservations to restaurants for me. We wanted authentic Italian family owned places and all were VERY good. We wanted to see all the tourist sights but also wanted to feel like a local too. My great grandparents Immigrated to the US from Italy.

We started with the 4hr Venice Highlights and Food Tour with Nadia. She is a true Venetian...that explained every little detail all around Venice that I would have missed if I was just walking by myself. For example...why certain areas are named that way, how we know who owns what and is that really an addition?? We stopped at two places for Prosecco and wine. Also stopped for gelato. All was included in the tour. Nadia met us at our apartment.

In Florence, Linda was our guide for the 8hr Tuscan Charm tour. We customized this to include Pisa. So we Climbed the Pisa tower (bought tickets on own) then moved on to San Gimignano for lunch and shopping. And while Linda was touring us along...she also talked about herself and her life in Italy (we asked her about it really)!! We visited Casa Emma winery along the old chianti road for a wine tasting and was actually able to see the machine squeeze the juice from the grapes and discard the stems. September-Oct is crush season! Lastly we ended with going to see San Miniato perched high in the hills across the Arno River from historic Florence and has a fabulous view of the city!! Linda picked us up from our apartment and brought us back!! I gave Linda my email address and she emailed me more local places for dinner and where you can really get authentic gelato. We were seeing so much of the fake gelato! Ally made reservations at Del Fagioli....It was to die far the best! We also found Trattoria Buzzino that was excellent as well!!

In Rome, Daniela started us off with a 3hr Rome Highlights Evening Walk by meeting us at our apartment. This was a leisurely stroll from Campo de Fiori up to the Spanish Steps. She gave us a lot of insight on the history of how the areas became about and pointed out many details!! She gave us ample time for pictures and even stopped for coffee. Her tour helped us with waking on our own the entire length of our visit in Rome. Rome is much bigger than Florence etc.

Lastly, Grazia toured us around in our 5hr Vatican tour. Loved how we skipped the line and I liked how Italy Hotline just had 7 of us and we were not in those large groups of tours with the head sets!!! Grazia knows how to move around the Vatican so we did not get mixed in the large groups so we would have a better view of the museum items and areas. She brought us to all the areas in the Vatican...the museum, gardens, Sistine Chapel , Basilica and tombs underneath. We did not climb the dome because it was raining outside. Grazia ended our tour by bringing us to a Vatican Souvenir shop just outside the Basilica. We had dinner at La Focaccia and La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali while in Rome...both reservations made by Ally.

All Tour guides met us promptly at out apartment or pharmacy( for the Vatican tour) and all restaurants had our reservations when we arrived. The only reservation we didn't make was the one in Venice...you truly do get lost sometimes!!! Overall we had a wonderful experience with Italy Hotline and Ally. I also wanted to mention that Ally went on vacation while we were travelling in Italy and had Marcel follow up with us during that time!! Some people may feel that they may be expensive but I feel that Italy Hotline goes over and beyond excellence in the customer service. I have already recommended them to friends and will use them again when we return to Italy!!

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy_Hotline_Tours, General Manager at Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours, responded to this review, November 22, 2013
Thank you very much for your wonderful review! I am so glad that you read about us in Travel + Leisure and, after initially only looking for one tour, allowed me to put together an entire trip for you and your family & friends.
Nadia in Venice, Linda in Tuscany, and Daniela and Grazia in Rome are wonderful tour guides we have worked with for a long time now, and I am pleased that you appreciated their intelligence, insight, wit and genuine kindness.
We feel that food & wine go hand-in-hand with history, culture & art, and I am pleased you were able to enjoy this irresistible combination throughout your private 4-hour Venice Highlights & Cicchetti and your 8-hour Tuscan Charm tours.
When renting an apartment in a new city, it is always good to have a local show you around your ‘new neighborhood’, pointing out not only the cultural highlights, but also ‘the basics’ like not-to-be-missed restaurants, great wine bars, the best place to get your morning cappuccino and cornetto, and where the nearest supermarket and laundromat are located. I think our 3-hour Rome Highlights Evening Walk lead by a local, professional tour guide is a wonderful way to begin your stay in the Eternal City.
We wholeheartedly believe in private tours and I am pleased that you felt the difference when you had your 5-hour Vatican tour with Grazia. The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica are stunning, must-see sights that are, unfortunately, very crowded and can feel overwhelming. We think that a private guide leading you in a small group will maximize your enjoyment of the sites.
Thank you again for your kind review, and I look forward to welcoming you in Italy again soon!
Kind regards,
Ally
General Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC
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