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:"
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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