Robert W

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Robert W

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Jun192014

Tour/Activity

Florence Super Saver: Best of Florence Walking Tour, Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery and Florence Duomo

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Combining the three tours of Duomo, Uffizi, and Accademia into one day is the best way to see these wonderful sights. Guides were knowledgeable and friendly. Tours were right length and did not seem hurried. Only disappointment was that they cancelled in advance the free gelato!

Jun192014

Tour/Activity

Experience Florence: Tuscan Dinner in a Florentine Home

Florence, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This experience turned out to be a great surprise and was the absolute high point of our vacation in Greece and Italy; I would give it TEN POINTS if I could.
The residence is a small bed and breakfast in a pleasant, largely residential neighborhood in the Otranto (other side of the river) district. It is an easy walk over the Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery and a ten or fifteen minute taxi ride from the Florence Centrale train station area (about $10E each way). Patrons tend to dress nicely casual. The dining room seats 10 people or so depending on table ccnfiguration and encourages both intimacy and friendly conversation between tables; it is very nicely decorated with lots of bookcases, antique furnishings, and a marble fireplace with quite a bit of tasteful art on display. The room has high ceilings and tall narrow windows for lighting and ventilation by fresh air that open into a leafy tree canopy on an adjacent property. The preparation and presentation of the gourmet northern Italy food dishes made from local fresh ingredients is imaginative (no pasta or tomato sauce) and so far above typical nice restaurant fare as to beg comparison. The host and chef are most engaging, gracious, and charming...we loved them and their interaction with the guests. The only small hiccup was that there was a miscommunication between them and Viator regarding my wife's dietary preferences which they solved most expeditiously and courteously, e.g., "no problem, don't concern yourselves, tell us what she likes, and we will do it with what we have on hand!!" We were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and having dinner here was the perfect way to end our last day in Florence. If you don't take advantage of this reasonably priced experience you will really be missing out on a wonderful dinner in a wonderful setting with wonderful people!

Jun182014

Tour/Activity

Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This was a most enjoyable tour with knowledgeable and friendly guides. Siena is a very picturesque combination of some modern but mostly medieval buildings but I could have easily deleted Pisa (which doesn't have a lot to recommend it other than the novelty of the leaning tower) and replaced it with another small medieval hill top village (available on a companion tour) to compliment San Gimingano. The latter is like stepping back in time and I just wish we would have had more time to explore it instead of my wife getting side-tracked shopping. Lunch at the organic farm/winery was quite tasty although somewhat typical, the tour of the facility was fun and instructive, and the wine tasting was great...a bottle for each of five different wines shared by 4-6 guests and you could take home the left overs!! Scenery was very pretty and quite similar to the area where we live in the foothills east of Sacramento, CA.

Jun172014

Tour/Activity

Cinque Terre Hiking Day Trip from Florence

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This was quite an experience and we had knowledgeable and fun guides. Travel to area by bus with short train ride between first and second villages with a literally breathtaking climb up switch back stairs to reach village #2 for lunch at a picturesque Pensione with a wonderful outdoor sitting area high above the Mediterranean Sea. Food was quite good. Hike to villages three and four was a little strenuous mainly because of heat and there are several places on trail where high steps are cut into bedrock (picture doing knee squats...e.g., your hips are below your knees), my knees are pretty far gone anyway, and recall that you also have a full stomach from lunch!! That being said, you pretty much set your own pace, and the guides tend to hang back with slower folks so don't fear this...my wife is 62 and I am 71 and we pretty much were in the front 25% the whole way. Villages four and five are connected by a short train ride. Return to Village #1 from Village #5 was by boat which is weather dependent (smooth sea) and was a great way to finish off this adventure. I recommend highly going to this most scenic area whether you do hiking version or train version...would have liked to have had a couple of days to stay here and explore.

Jun162014

Tour/Activity

Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence: Tuscan Hills and Italian Cuisine

Florence, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

For shear, unadulterated fun this cannot be beat...a TEN POINTER on a fun scale. The cars are nicely restored and well maintained "drivers" that are just a kick in the pants to drive whether in town or countryside. Scenery was amazingly varied considering we were never outside shouting distance of downtown Florence...would have thought a number of times we were way out in rural Tuscany. Wine tasting (suitable for a driving tour) and food were both good and in a very nice setting. Guide, Stefano, was most engaging and quite knowledgeable. Our outing was combined with an outing of scooters which tended to keep speeds down quite a bit, but even at only 45KPH in third gear these tiny little cars have espiritu automobile italiano (we are died in the wool Alfa Romeo owners!!). This was the most fun thing we did in two and a half weeks in Greece and Italy! A SUGGESTION TO VIATOR...On your website you should have ALL YOUR FIAT DRIVING TOURS IN A DEDICATED LISTING in addition to where you have them currently sprinkled about...if we had not been specifically looking for a half-day afternoon tour that meshed with our arrival from Venice by train we would never have stumbled onto this great particular tour!!!

Jun152014

Tour/Activity

Dolomite Mountains Small Group Day Trip from Venice

Venice, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This is a GREAT sightseeing tour out of Venice! I really struggled between doing this and making a side trip to Milan to tour the Lake Country. Although I obviously do not know what I missed in the Lake Country the Italian Alps are spectacular...easily equal or superior to the Sierras, Cascades, American and Canadian Rockies, and the Tetons. Pictures, as good as they are, simply do not do this mountain area justice! Lots of quaint villages and small lakes throughout the area make for a fun day trip. Our guides were very knowledgeable and pleasant and food was good at lunch stop overlooking lake. If you enjoy mountain scenery and are going to be in Venice take an extra day just to do this trip...it was well worth the cost (especially when combined with the One Day Venice/Boat Tour). I would recommend a little clearer instructions on where in Tronchetto the tour started...it's at the main transit plaza at Tronchetto stop 2.

Jun142014

Tour/Activity

Venice Shared Arrival Transfer: Marittima Cruise Port to Central Venice

Venice, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This is the ONLY way to get to your hotel from Cruise Port, albeit a tad expensive (as is ALL water transportation in the lagoon). The crowds and waits for public transport at the terminal are unbelieveable when a cruise ship docks. For all intents and purposes this is door to door chauffeuring in a very nice launch and is quick plus it's a good way to see the Grand Canal without being on crowded public water transport (which I am not knocking, it's a good way to get around for $7E per person per direction) or a tour boat. Plus our ride sharers were a lot of fun to be with and we joined them later in the evening for drinks.

Jun142014

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour

Venice, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This is a good tour if your time in Venice is limited and our guide was knowledgeable and engaging. Major hiccup in the description of the tour is that there is an approximate one free hour between the end of the walking tour and the beginning of the boat tour. In order to make our gondola tour we had to skip the boat tour portion of this trip. If I had known about this scheduling I would have booked a 7:30 gondola ride instead of a 6:30. There is an irony to this...our 6:30 gondola tour got a rain delay until 7:15 as it turned out anyway...so I am doubly sorry I missed the boat section of this tour! In addition the Basilica was closed for a special event so we didn't get to see that either. If you have more time or your schedule otherwise allows (neither of which applied to our Venice visit) I think I would recommend combined Doges Palace/Walking/Boat Tour for which you need a full day and on particular select days of the week.

Jun142014

Tour/Activity

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

Venice, Italy

My Rating
2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better

My Review

This is like falling out of an airplane, landing on a haystack, but right where the needle is! We were scheduled for 6:30 but it was raining. Fortunately this simply resulted in a delay to 7:15. Unfortunately, this in turn resulted in the gondola ride only being 30 minutes instead of 60. We ended up sharing a gondola with a fun couple we met instead of doing it solo. Be aware that you do not have a single singing gondolier per gondola, rather you have a flotilla of gondoliers with a single serenade (who was in fact quite good). The bottom line is if you are going to Venice to celebrate a wedding anniversary you've got to go on a serenaded gondola ride, right??? And it was quite a fun time all in all although not especially romantic. So just do it and pray for better weather!!!!

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