October 19, 2012

A Romantic Getaway - October 2012

 Dear Kathy—

What a wonderful adventure! 

We just wanted to tell you how absolutely thrilled we were with our trip to Tuscany. The customized itinerary you assembled for us on very short notice suited our schedule, interests and budget perfectly. All of your recommendations were top notch.

We absolutely LOVED the Bed and Breakfast in Barberino Val d'Elsa that you selected for us. We just couldn’t get over the beauty of the area and the attention to detail in our well appointed room. Breakfast each morning in the covered sunroom/patio felt like an indulgence. Please send our thanks again to the management and staff for making us feel so welcome and comfortable.

Our week was a great blend of private and small group tours of Florence and Siena; including private tours of the Accademia and Uffizi museums, an authentic Tuscan style cooking class and vineyard tour; and time to just sit back, relax and enjoy our vacation. And you were right there for us all along the way. One evening, we found ourselves in the town of Greve ready to find a place for dinner. The solution? Simple! Call Kathy. Minutes later we were at a hidden gem of a restaurant located in the tiny hilltop hamlet of Montefioralle. We were early for dinner but they set us up with glasses of wine and invited us to sit and relax at one of their comfy outside tables. We sipped our wine, watched a dazzling Tuscan sunset and before we knew it—our hosts were ready for us. Let me tell you… dinner was off the charts!  

Our first day started with a private tour of Siena with the guide you had recommended. Susanne was exceptional. What made the tour so special was her eagerness and ability to help us understand what life was like for the people who lived their lives in and around Siena from its ancient beginnings.

Next, we were off to San Gimignano, another charming hilltop city that you had suggested. We took in the sights, had a light dinner finishing with "The World's Best Gelato" and then bought tickets to the “Dreaming Italy” recital that you had also recommended. A part of the Baroque Festival of San Gimignano, it was a great way to end a lovely day. After the concert, we followed the winding roads back to the Bed and Breakfast and fell into bed.

Monday was another highlight. At your suggestion, we signed up for a cooking class at a lovely organic farm and vineyard. The hosts, Silvano and Rita, worked hand-in-hand with our small group to prepare an authentic Tuscan style meal. Using fresh eggs from the farm, we made a “perfect-o” tiramisu, four different kinds of bread, and six different kinds of pasta, all the while sipping a delicious red wine from their vineyard. After a tour of their cellars, we dined on all of our hard work. To finish off our hand-made luncheon, we were treated to a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with 30-year old aged balsamic vinegar—right from their cellars—wow!

On Tuesday we were off early to Florence to meet Paola, the tour guide you had scheduled for us. She led us right past the long waiting lines and took us on a customized private tour of the Uffizi, helping us to avoid the crowds and enriching our tour with fascinating details on the Uffizi’s history and the amazing art of da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto, Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael.

Wednesday was our day off to tour Tuscany on our own. We slept late, then took a leisurely drive through the absolutely stunning Tuscan countryside—visiting the towns of Panzano, Radda and Greve.  

On Thursday we were back for a second dose of Florence. This time for a walking tour followed by a private tour of The Accademia—happy to be reunited with our guide Paola. Again we skipped the long lines and were treated to a wonderfully detailed tour of the world famous museum topped off by a fascinating in-depth explanation and history of Michelangelo’s masterpiece—David. After our tour, we strolled through the streets, visited quaint shops; stopping for a glass of wine, and then found a place for a light dinner.

On Friday, we visited a vineyard owned by friends of ours who we ran into at dinner on our first night! They treated us to a wine tasting and a back stage tour of their Tuscan vineyard at the height of harvest.

Our only regret was that our week in Tuscany passed so quickly. Now that we're back in the US, we're telling all of our friends... "If you're considering a trip to Tuscany, do yourself a favor... call Kathy!"

Best regards,
Dennis & Barbara K. – Westchester County, NY

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