October 20, 2015

Chianti Wine Tour

It was a pleasure meeting this nice group from Finland. The five couples requested a full service itinerary to discover Chianti and its wineries, so we gave them just that. Lovely accommodations at a boutique hotel, a private dinner at a renowned castle winery, tasting tours at some of the area's most impressive cellars and an outdoor lunch at a small, family-run organic vineyard and farm - to really give them a feel of the diversity that exists among Tuscany's wine producers. 
We're very happy to have received their messages telling us how much they enjoyed their visit!

Dear Kathy,

We returned yesterday late in the evening from our Tuscany trip. We wish to thank you for the excellent arrangements and program you designed for our trip. I am certain that this kind of a trip will interest our friends as well. We have visited vineyards before but these vineyards were all different and very interesting. The drivers were also great. 
All the best for your enterprise in the future!

Best regards,
Ismo and Eva S. - Rusko, Finland

Dear Kathy,

Once more many thanks to you for all those magnificent arrangements you had done for us. All the wineries and places were so fine and extraordinary. And the drivers were also so exact and friendly and everything! We really enjoyed our visit in Tuscany! Thanks to you!

My best regards,
Tuija L. - Turku, Finland

October 16, 2015

Traveling Solo to the Amalfi Coast

I just returned from my amazing vacation on the Amalfi Coast planned by Kathy at New Tuscan Experience. As a women in my 50’s traveling alone and going abroad for the first time, I had been nervous about planning my trip because I do not speak Italian and I wanted to be sure my hotel and activities would be safe. Kathy came highly recommended by friends who knew her, had used her services, and said their trips were fabulous. BUT….they were not traveling alone. 

From the moment I contacted Kathy she was really easy to work with, she listened to my concerns and the things I wanted to see, and fit everything in perfectly. She also made several of her own suggestions which all turned out very well. Her great attention to detail and the fact she lives in Italy, speaks the language and knows the ins and outs that only locals would know, ensures that everything runs smoothly.

My 5 day stay in Positano was fabulous. I loved the small hotel Kathy suggested right on the beach. It was immaculate and the room size was much larger than I expected from what I have heard of European hotels (I even had a private little veranda with a view). The staff were very pleasant and attentive and there was a lovely restaurant and a beach café, with stunning views of the sea. While the hotel wasn’t luxurious, it was exactly what I wanted and what I could afford and it was safe and spotless - a place where you go to sleep and wake up with the waves crashing a few yards in front of you. The only caveat is that since it is ON the beach you need to get down to it from the main road by walking A LOT of steps! If you are in good health or walk slowly it is not a problem, but it is quite a bit of mandatory exercise. Luckily, they provide a porter to carry all your luggage up and down the steps.

Since I was trying to stick to a budget, and because of course you can travel by bus, trains and ferries, I was hesitant when Kathy suggested I use a private car service on the coast because public transportation is often unreliable and over-crowded. However, I am so grateful I took her advice. I want to point out that Kathy was really helpful in explaining how to get the trains from the airport in Rome to Naples where my driver was waiting - since it is much cheaper to use a driver from Naples than from Rome. She had also advised me to purchase a flex ticket for the train, in case I needed to make any changes, which proved to be a great idea since my flight arrived an hour early! I contacted Kathy, who jumped into action and called the car service - and like magic, my driver was waiting for me in Naples almost an hour ahead of schedule. That’s the kind of service she provides, exceptional. If I had used a travel agent from the US, the agency would not even have been open and I would have stood around for an hour either in Termini or Naples.

I totally recommend using the wonderful car service she suggests - it was outstanding. The drivers are locals who speak English and know the area. They are professional and experienced drivers, so important on the narrow Amalfi Coast roads where driving can be insane. My driver was delightful; he pointed out many things, and would stop the car, get out and take my picture at beautiful spots.

I had scheduled my own visit to Pompeii with a group tour during the week, but last minute I ended up following Kathy’s original suggestion and asked the the driver to stop at the site on my way to Positano from Naples. The driver was very accommodating and brought me there for two hours for not much more than it would have cost me to do it on my own taking two buses and a train each way.

I arrived at the hotel with enough time to change before I met the loveliest local tour guide, Lucia, another fabulous recommendation of Kathy’s. Lucia walked me around Positano pointing out some of the local delights and shops, including a gelateria run by a family for three generations. Lucia was well known by all the locals and such great company. She felt like a friend even though I had just met her. Thanks to her studies in archeology, she had a great grasp on the area with information you would never get from a regular tour guide. Lucia is a must have on your trip to Positano. She gets an A +++!

Wednesday, Kathy arranged a full day boat tour to the island of Capri. It was a lovely boat that held 12 people and our Captain, Pepe, was terrific. We stopped at the white, green and blue grottos, and swam on the way to and from Capri with beautiful electric blue fish. Once we got to Capri, we took a bus to the top and then a chairlift to Anacapri where the views were even more breathtaking. It was easy to mingle with people both on and off the boat, and I never felt alone. On the way back, Pepe treated us to homemade limoncello shots which were divine and some great little pastries. You don’t get that kind of service on the big ferry which may be quicker and cheaper, but you miss the complete experience. Another A+ tour.

Thursday was the day I had originally planned to go to Pompei, so I contacted Kathy for some suggestions besides strolling and shopping. Of course she had a fabulous one: to take the bus from Positano to a little town on top of the hill called Nocelle - away from the tourists so you really get a feel how the people live. For 1.80 euro each way, I took the bus up and down with the local people, who were really friendly and wonderful. I hiked around some rural trails with beautiful views for about three hours and found it was a perfect way to spend the day.

The following day, Kathy arranged a full day tour with the driver all the way down the Amalfi Coast. We stopped in Amalfi and went to the paper factory which, believe it or not, was really very interesting. I also stopped in the church which was gorgeous. We continued to Ravello which was lovely and I enjoyed visiting the church and one of the gardens. It was a beautiful day, and at the end of it I really felt I had seen the coast the best way possible, with my trusty driver beside me. Another A plus rating! This is really worth the money, be sure to take advantage of this full day tour.

On my last full day, we went to Sorrento. We toured a beautiful inlaid wood museum which I really recommend. My driver had friends everywhere he went. He took me into this great shop that had all kinds of free tastings and I had a lot of fun.

In the afternoon, I went to a cooking class at a restaurant on the beach that Kathy had booked for me. The class was awesome, there were only 5 of us and it was totally hands on. While we cooked, they kept the prosecco flowing. At the end of the class, the five of us ate what we had cooked in the restaurant with a beautiful view of the sea. We ate and chatted for about 2.5 hours and it was nice not to eat alone. 

My favorite dining experience was at Rada Restaurant. It was fabulous - really over the top. It is a three story building located at the end of the beach with live music on the top floor, sushi and a dining room with really unique fusion foods. The awesome food, view and service make it worth every penny. 

In conclusion, I give Kathy an A+++ for her knowledge, experience and  ability to understand my needs and situation. Everything she booked for me was perfect. If you want a local who knows the ins and outs of how to plan things AND you want an expert who really cares if you have the best vacation possible and does everything in her power to be sure that happens, then there is only one person to contact: Kathy Perunic from New Tuscan Experience - even if you want the total Amalfi Coast experience.

Cynthia M. - New Jersey, USA

October 7, 2015

High School Reunion in Tuscany

I really enjoyed working with this group of friends that chose Tuscany as the destination for their reunion. Former high school classmates gathered from 4 different US cities and got the chance to introduce their spouses and reminisce. It didn't take long for everyone to gel and the fun to begin.  
Thank you, David,  for writing such a thorough review of your experience. It was a pleasure meeting you all!  - Kathy

Eight of us recently spent about two weeks in Florence and Tuscany, and had what was a memorable trip. Much of the credit for this goes to Kathy Perunic and New Tuscan Experience. I began working with Kathy in February of this year planning the itinerary for the trip. Kathy listened to me (all of us, really… I was the voice) and put together an itinerary for the group for the time in Florence and Chianti. There was a lot of back and forth over several months before arriving at the final schedule for the week. 

We found the villa in Tuscany fairly quickly with Kathy’s help, and it turned out to be as advertised, and perfect for the group. One of the things that stood out throughout this process was Kathy’s intimate understanding of the area, and the fact that she was American and spoke English, which sounds silly, but made it so much easier. There was really no detail that was too small for her attention. She did not just focus on the big stuff because the devil is really in the details, and trips can be made or unmade by the small things that go right or wrong. She clearly gets that.

Kathy met us on arrival in Florence and took us on a walking introduction to the city, then joined us for dinner. A great way to start. It made a new and unfamiliar place (to most of us) far more familiar. We then spent two days in Florence focusing on the history, art and architecture of the city. Kathy arranged for two guides (Joanna and Helen); one focusing on the city at large, and the other on the Uffizi and the art. Both were spectacularly good at what they do and absolutely made those two days meaningful. We came away with an understanding of Florence and the artistic traditions of the city that I do not think many other visitors achieve.

Our driver for the week, Simone, met us at the hotel on Saturday and took us to the villa outside of Florence where we settled in. Simone was perfect. Always cheerful, careful on the roads which seemed rare, and an excellent guide. Each day he showed up at 8, ready for the day. How he got into and out of some pretty tight spots in the hilltop towns of Tuscany I will never know, but he did.

The week was varied with something planned for each day. Most of it involved food and wine, but not all. Again, the guide (Antonella) that worked with us on three of the days was outstanding. Very knowledgeable, great sense of humor, and quite Italian which we all enjoyed. Without her we would not have come away with the depth of understanding we achieved. We also would not have found the good gelaterias.  

Kathy scheduled us for a couple of wineries each day on several of the days and always made sure that they were different from each other. One large, one smaller. Invariably, we preferred the smaller, more intimate option. One of them in Montalcino, Poggio Rubino, was the highlight of the trip. The guide, Anthony (an American!) was the best….so entertaining, but also so full of knowledge and so able to convey how the area surrounding the vineyards was going to create the wine in the end. We way overstayed there, but we just could not leave. Lunch was served on a beautiful patio/pavilion, and the wines were excellent.

Finally, the chefs for the week. We decided to have chefs (Leonardo, Monica, and Stefania) come in each night to make dinner in the Villa, and it was a perfect choice. I recommend that to anyone considering a stay. They made beautiful Tuscan food each night after talking it through with the group in advance, were personable, and became something that we all looked forward to. We did not have to think about what to do for dinner after being out and about all day.

Were there problems during the week? Yes, but so small that I am having trouble remembering what they were now. Kathy took care of most of them, and followed up on the others to make sure they do not repeat. If planning is a strength of hers, follow up is no less important and she does it so well. 

We would work with New Tuscan Experience again in a heartbeat, and I have a feeling we will have that chance. Something to look forward to. 

David H. - Washington, D.C. 

October 3, 2015

Tuscany Vacation with Friends

Hey Kathy - 

Thanks so much again for organizing everything. We had a great time and loved the villa. 
The owner was super nice, the place was super clean and kitchen off the charts. Could have spent a month there! 

Great wine tours you arranged! Super selection and diversity. Lunch was a place I had wanted to check out also so perfect that worked out.

Lucca was also fabulous. Loved the town and the food and great biking north of there. The apartment was fine for us for a couple nights. Not much of a kitchen, but plenty of easy, close food options there. The manager was very nice and we enjoyed our time there.

Also, thanks so much for the recommended hotels in Florence.  Quite enjoyed our night there.   

Will hopefully be back soon!

Mike C. - West Vancouver, Canada

September 11, 2015

Our Amazing Honeymoon


Andrea and I had the most amazing honeymoon. It was quite simply the most amazing two weeks of our lives, and we have you to thank for it.  

All of the many and varied activities were so well-executed,  from the private tours of Amalfi and Siena to the great bike tour in the Tuscan countryside. 

Considering we spent equal amounts of time in Florence, the Tuscan countryside, and on the Amalfi Coast, it seemed like 3 honeymoons in one.

And thanks for helping us get into the right place in Florence during the heat wave! Without you we would have been sleeping in un-honeymoon-esque conditions!

The trip provided us with memories for a lifetime. 
We want to go back!

John & Andrea - New York, USA

September 7, 2015

Family Vacation-Reunion in Tuscany

Hi Kathy,

We are back home from our trip to Italy and wanted to THANK YOU for all your help planning our great vacation! We had the best time in Tuscany with our family and friends! The villa was just amazing! So comfortable for our party of 14 and in such a perfect Tuscan setting. 

Your knowledge of the Tuscan region was such a great help! We followed all your great advice for itineraries and restaurants and we were never disappointed! You saved us so much time in our planning and research that we couldn’t have enjoyed it as much as we did without your help! 

Thanks for going above and beyond and suggesting so many other great things for the rest of our stay in Italy! 

We can’t wait to plan our next vacation with you. We just fell in love with Tuscany!

The best thing I can do for friends when I tell them about our vacation is to say, call Kathy for help if you are thinking of going to Italy!

Thanks again and we will stay in touch!

Sabrina L. -  New York, USA

August 26, 2015

Our 18 Days in Italy!

Hi Kathy,

Sorry that it took me so long to get this review to you. We returned home to a very busy period! 

As I had told you in my previous message, we truly enjoyed our trip and hope to return one day! Thanks again for all of your suggestions and planning! 

I have been telling people about you and am glad to share our experience with others:

My husband and I spent 18 days in Italy in May, 2015. Kathy worked with me for months choosing our activities and accommodations. I thought I knew exactly what to expect, but I was wrong. 
Our stay in Italy exceeded our expectations!  

We had one unique experience after another. 

The B&Bs were perfect in Montalcino and Chianti. Kathy also helped arrange for drivers and planned our itinerary, where we enjoyed the right amount of touring and relaxation time.

There are too many highlights to name one as our favorite. We loved all of the winery tours, each being unique in its own way. We felt like royalty at the private castle winery tour and lunch in Chianti. 

The food at many stops was fantastic.

We also enjoyed our stay in Florence - the accommodations were very nice and central to all the sights. Our private tour guides were excellent.

After Tuscany, we had an amazing week visiting the Amalfi coast. We stayed at a wonderful small hotel in Ravello, right on the sea (the sun pad on the water and being able to jump right in the sea was a highlight!) The location was perfect for us, as this area was a bit more quiet and we could easily walk to towns like Amalfi, Atrani and Minori. We also had a great time on our guided walking tour of Positano and the Path of the Gods. 

We will never forget the spectacular view while having drinks on the patio under the lemon trees back at our hotel! 

Our final destination was Rome, where we used some unconventional means to visit the Eternal City which really gave us the feel for it as we explored the back alleys, various parks, piazzas, gardens and overlooks. While Kathy has never taken a golf cart tour of Rome (which I highly recommend) she arranged for it at my request. She always went out of her way to accommodate anything we wanted.

She has taken time in choosing all of the drivers and guides she works with. They were all friendly and knowledgable. They made each day with them a great learning experience while not being exhausting. We really felt that we had a feel for the Italian people and their culture, which is what we wanted to get out of our vacation.

Whenever I tell anyone about our trip to Italy I am sure to mention Kathy and New Tuscan Experience!! 

Liz W. - Alabama, USA

August 21, 2015

Family vacation/celebration in Tuscany!

Hi Kathy,

We are finally getting settled here after our great trip to Italy. As I told you, the villa was fantastic - and what a view! I thoroughly enjoyed sitting by the pool and smoking my cigar! We also really loved the town of Panzano, it was the perfect location for us. 

The cooking class you arranged at the organic farm was fabulous! We all loved it. The owner was gracious and there was only one other couple with the four of us. What a great suggestion for us to do on our 30th wedding anniversary. Thanks!  

Having the driver take us to Florence for the day was a treat! So good not to have to drive into the city. The private tour you arranged was excellent. We really liked our guide and learned so much. It was great to meet you afterwards, and thanks for the gift. We will definitely use the frame for the family photo you took of us in Piazza della Signoria! 

Sienna was great even with the rain. Our private guide, Antonella, was fantastic and treated us great. 

On Thurs. we decided to take it easy. We got up late, went into town and had a long lunch on the piazza. We made good friends with a shop keeper,  found a great little place for drinks at the top of the hill next to the church with a fantastic view of the valley. It was a great family townie day. We’ll save San Gimignano for next time!

Thank you so much for all your help planning this amazing trip and for taking care of us during the week!

Warm regards,
Michael S. - New Jersey, USA

P.S.  I have been sharing my trip experience with friends and associates. Once I explained your help with the organization and planning of our family vacation and showed them the itinerary you prepared for us they loved the idea of it and are interested to learn more, so I shared your contact info and website.

August 20, 2015

A Family Visit to Florence

Hi Kathy,

Florence was wonderful - and the apartment you found for us was one of the nicest places we stayed!  It was steps away from all the action but quiet and peaceful. It was so nice for our family to have plenty of space, air conditioning, tv, wi-fi etc. The manager was so accommodating and helpful. We really felt like locals being able to slip into our own apartment.

The private guided tour you organized was very good also, she was perfect for my teens. Thank you again for all your arrangements!

Hana M. - California, USA

May 7, 2015

Family Reunion in Tuscany

Dear Kathy,

You made our week in Tuscany for a family reunion last summer an absolute dream! You were an incredible help with 13 people coming from all different parts of the US and Europe during a horrible thunderstorm, the last group arriving at the villa at 2am. And thanks to your pizza night the following evening, the nightmare turned into the beginning of a vacation that was an absolute success.

I have recommended you to my in-laws with full confidence that you will be able to help them plan a trip to Tuscany with a group of friends next summer. I am sure they will be in good hands! 

Valeria A. - London, UK