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“A DREAM COME TRUE!”

Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours
Ranked #51 of 224 Food & Drink in Rome
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Owner description: Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours provides private, custom-designed tours throughout Italy: *Unparalleled, personalized 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~
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
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!

3  Thank hal g
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 reviewResponded 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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53 - 57 of 145 reviews

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!!

3  Thank Gina R
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 reviewResponded 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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Reviewed October 12, 2013

After much debate following the government shutdown, we proceeded with our vacation in Rome. This company came highly recommended by Elizabeth Minchelli - highly rated but highly overpriced, affordable for the elite few. She recommended the cooking class with this company. Other than the disgustingly high price tag (this was THE MOST expensive European cooking class I have taken, and for those of you who have followed me, you know I've experienced a few!). I don't think the wonderful chef knows how ridiculous the cost is - I hope she is getting paid more than half the price tag, since she does all the work!

What sets this class aside from all the others, is that you get to pick the menu you'd like to learn, and she gives options within the seasonal farm fresh to table. You can also opt for a quick market tour (highly suggested). Francesca greets you with a gentle familiarity of a friend opening her doors to you. And that is where you cook - in her home surrounded by the sounds and feeling of the "newer Rome". Trained in Australia, this Italo-British newfound friend guides you through your lesson with comfort and full of wonderful tips, snacks, wine and friendly / warm professionalism. But you feel like you are leaning in your sister's kitchen. Our class included semi-freddo, crostini with black kale, chicken liver pate, porcini risotto, rabbit, artichokes a la romana. The experience and the delicious food exceeded our expectations. Too bad it is so over priced at 210 euro pp. Way above the 95 I paid in Paris!

If you can afford it, it is a wonderful way to take Rome back home with you!

2  Thank Rita V
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 reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Dear Rita,
Thank you very much for taking the time to review our private 5-hour Rome Market Visit & Cooking Class with Chef Francesca! We have been working with Francesca for many years now, and have always received nothing but praise from our guests- I am so pleased you thoroughly enjoyed your day with her too.
I would like to take a minute to address the issue of our class being ‘overpriced’.
Our cooking classes are not 210 Euros per person, but rather, the cost of a private, 5-hour, 4-course cooking class (often, with more than one variation of a course) with our private professional chef costs 420 Euros for two people (min. two participants) – each additional guest after that is asked to pay 100 Euros. This cost includes, of course, the meal and also water, soft drinks, wine, coffee and digestifs. This is a competitive price for the kind of experience we are offering.
As you point out, unlike other private cooking classes and cooking school workshops, our private cooking classes may be fully customized to our guests’ likes and dislikes, dietary needs and requirements. Guests who express interest in our private cooking class are sent a list of over 80 dishes to choose from: starters, first courses (pasta, pizza dough or gnocchi you make by hand), second courses, side dishes and desserts. There are meat, fish, seafood, vegetarian, gluten-free and kosher options, and our Chef only uses the best local ingredients. Additionally, we always welcome our guests’ requesting a dish that is not on the suggested menu list. This is a flexibility you will not find anywhere else.
The day begins with a visit to the Chef’s local market, and the class and the meal take place in her private home, rather than an industrial kitchen or school setting.
I am sorry that you felt the price stopped you from giving us a 5 Star review: we always tell our guests the price from the start, we do not have any hidden costs, we offer an unforgettable personal experience with a wonderful Chef, an extensive menu to choose from, excellent customer service- all of which you seemed completely satisfied with.
Kind regards,
Ally
General Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC

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Reviewed October 8, 2013

We worked with Ally in planning transportation and tours in Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Ally was incredibly gracious in her communication and detailed and quick in her response. We also communicated with her associate Marcel who was just as helpful and even shared what to order at his favorite restaurant, Taverna dei Fori Imperiali... which was great.

The transportation and tours were exactly what we wanted. Our guides in Rome - Grazia and Ettore were both extremely knowledgeable and enjoyable to be with. Grazia took us through the Vatican and Ettore created a special 4 hour tour - 3 hours of Ancient Rome and over an hour of wine and food tasting at a wonderful little wine bar. Ettore's combined knowledge of history and wine, make for a special afternoon.

Our driver in Rome, Marco was fabulous. On our way from the airport to our hotel, he took a brief "detour" to share some very special sights with us. Our driver to Ravello and then from Positano to Pompeii was "another" Marco. Also, so engaging sharing his hometown (Naples) information with us. Our guide in Pompeii was Santiago. He was just great - so informative and a pleasure to spend a few hours with... even in the rain!

I found everyone I came in contact with through Italy Hotline to be hospitable and professional. In looking at other similar companies, Italy Hotline provided a very good value for the costs. They really managed all the details in addition to making restaurant recommendations and reservations.

2  Thank travelmore10
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 reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Thank you for your kind review!
I am very pleased that you found communication with us pleasant and efficient, and that all the services were to your liking.
Grazia and Santigao are wonderful colleagues and absolute experts in their fields. I’m pleased you enjoyed the Vatican City and Pompeii! Ettore is not only a fantastic tour guide, but also a professional wine and food expert. This makes our fully customized tours that combine the culinary & the cultural in Rome an unforgettable experience! I am also pleased that you enjoyed your private transfers from Rome Fiumicino airport to your Rome hotel, from Rome to Ravello, and from Positano to Pompeii with our two driver-guides, Marco in Rome and Marco on the Amalfi Coast.
Finally, it’s not always entirely straightforward and easy to find a truly good , authentic restaurant in Rome: I am very pleased that you enjoyed our personal favorites! It was my pleasure to make the reservations for you.
Warm regards,
Ally
General Manager
Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours LLC

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Reviewed September 17, 2013

Our family recently toured northern Italy. Ally, of Italy hotline, arranged a number of delightful and memorable tours for us, including a visit to Florence with Lise. Anyone who travels to Florence must take a tour with Lise. Having grown up in America, Lise's English is flawless. We arranged for her to take the women in out family on a fashion tour of the Gucci and Ferragamo museums, which they enjoyed immensely. Afterwards, she walked around with our entire family and displayed her encyclopedic knowledge of the city's art and history. I plan to return to Florence one day, and I hope that Lise is available when I do!

3  Thank 378FredF
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 reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Dear Fred,
I would like to thank you for taking the time to write a review of the private 3-hour Fashion Tour you took with our tour guide Lise in Florence.
Lise’s original tour can be customized to focus on anything fashion-related, from visiting small local artisans and designers, to the study of the history of fashion at the Antique Silk Factory, to – as you chose – admiring the history and masterpieces of today’s famous designers, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo.
I hope to be able to welcome you and your family back in Italy very soon!
Warm regards,
Ally
General 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.

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