Our family trip to Italy was amazing – and one that we will be talking about for quite some time!
One of our favorite experiences was going to Ostia Antica. After all of the museums, beautiful churches, and traditional sites of Rome, the outdoor/natural state of this excavation was a much-welcomed experience. The awesomeness of the size and state of the ruins was phenomenal. We drove a rental car because we were heading north to the Tuscany area directly after our visit anyway. Had we not had a rental car, we would have easily/gladly taken the quick train ride from Rome – it is well worth spending a day at this site!
Palazzo Bandino was a wonderful place to stay as a family. The four of us stayed in a separate little 2-bedroom/2-bath apartment above the wine cellar. We had our own space, including a little kitchen. The estate is lovely, the hosts are friendly, and the property is EXTREMELY conveniently located for day trips to almost anywhere in the area. We easily visited Chianciano Terme, Chiusi, Montepulciano, Volterra, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and SEVERAL other small towns in Tuscany/Umbria. We purposefully chose Palazzo Bandino because of its on-site restaurant and spa. However, we stayed March 30 – April 6 which is apparently not a popular tourist time – so the restaurant and spa were closed and not available to us but for two days during our visit.
From the moment we arrived at Hotel Abbazia, my wife and I were very impressed. Great location and close to the City Center. Venice has close to 400 walking bridges and I can assure you that we probably saw most. Our guide Patrizia was great and very knowledgeable about the city and great history. The gondola ride at the end of the walking tour was a perfect way to end the afternoon.
Verona Winery was a perfect place to stay. Paulo and his family were great hosts and the accommodations were excellent. Would highly recommend if you want to visit Verona and the surrounding towns and cities which we visited.
Palazzo Bandino in Chianciano Terme was outstanding. Spent 5 days and toured numerous towns in Tuscany. Pienza, Montepulicano, Montechiello, Cortona, Montalcino, and numerous others. When in Tuscany you must see Siena which we did and spent the entire day. The food, the wine, the people, a great experience to enjoy. Met several other couples at this Palazzo Bandino and hooked up with them for dinner on our last night in Roma. We met at the Trevi Fountain (of course) at 8:30 and went for dinner. Awesome!
Lake Bolsena in my opinion is one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Italy.
Our trip from start to finish was great. Both my wife and I are grateful for all your suggestions and we had a wonderful time. We would highly recommend you for anyone travelling to Italy.
Morris & Heather B.
We had an excellent trip to Italy from May 15 to June 15, and enjoyed the entire time we spent there.
On June 1st we drove to Ravenna in the rental car that you arranged for us. Europcar gave us a BMW 120 diesel, which had plenty of power and got good mileage on the expensive European fuel. I was pleased that they gave us such a nice car.
We stayed at Ravenna Centro Hotel, and it was the nicest hotel room on the trip. Ellen at the desk welcomed us, and spoke fluent English and Italian. She was a real pleasure to talk to, with a great attitude, much like Isabella in Bologna. Parking in the centro was a bit odd, and a bit of a hike, since it was down near the Basilica of San Vitale, but it was very workable. The World Heritage mosaics were wonderful, and I took lots of pictures for keepsakes. Our favorite mosaic sites were the Basilica of Santa Apollinare in Classe, the Basilica of San Vitale, and the capella in the museum. Dinner at Il Melarancio was terrific, in spite of slow service - the food was spectacular. All in all, we enjoyed Ravenna a lot. On the way back from Il Melarancio on Friday night, we found a band playing in the main piazza and stood around listening for an hour before heading back to the hotel.
Driving to Chianciano Terme took a while, since we took the scenic route through Gualdo Cattaneo, Bastardo, and Bastardo Estupido before going on through Orvieto and finding Palazzo Bandino. It rained much of the way, so it wasn't perhaps as scenic as it might otherwise have been. We found Palazzo Bandino without any problem, and Emanuela got us checked in and set up for dinner. Dinners were quite nice (we ate there all three nights) and the company was congenial. Breakfasts at Palazzo Bandino were just about as good, particularly the omelets, which were exceptional. Palazzo Bandino was a little remote, but we successfully used it for visits to Montepulciano, San Quirico d'Orcia, Pienza and Montalcino. This was a beautiful area to drive in, one of our favorites for the trip, and we visited Villa La Foce to tour the gardens on our way back to Chianciano Terme and Palazzo Bandino. On another day, we went to Siena for the day and enjoyed our visit to the Campo and the Duomo, plus driving around the Crete Senese countryside.
Finally, we left for Florence, again taking the scenic route, visiting Monteriggioni and San Gimignano before fighting our way into Florence, where it only took two passes around the block using the GPS in order to figure out where to turn the car in. Turns out that you pretty much pull up on the sidewalk, grab your bags out of the car, sign the paperwork with the assistants in the teeny Europcar office, and get the heck out of the way. Then we decided to take a cab to Fresco Palace since we were hot and sweaty, and this was just as well, since there are red and black numbers on many old Florentine streets (they're not the SAME number, of course), and the driver had to call his office to find the doorway.
Once there, we were welcomed by Daisy and taken to our huge room on the second (third in the US) floor. Fortunately, there was a lift, and we don't carry large suitcases, no matter how long we're gone! Daisy and Daniela (the owner) treated us wonderfully during our five night stay, and arranged a taxi to pick us up at 4:30AM on our last morning to get us to the Florence airport for our horribly early flight to Frankfurt. They also recommended Za-Xa Ristorante near the hotel as being both good and reasonably priced, and it was so good that we ate there three times! Turns out that we had eaten there on our previous visit to Florence with Elderhostel, which took us there because it prepared excelled Tuscan food. And they still do! I had a chicken dish with truffle sauce that was just superb. And let's not forget the excellent gelato at Grom, over near the Duomo.
The other things we did in Florence included two cooking lessons arranged by you - one at lunch where we worked as teams to make the pasta by hand, and another two days later where we again worked as teams to make a nice dinner. These were fun experiences, working with nice people (all of them Americans, some on their honeymoons), and we enjoyed them tremendously.
Bill and Linda B.
Thanks for reaching out to Katie and me, following our honeymoon in Italy. Everything was fabulous! The weather cooperated and it wasn’t too hot for August!
Of the hotels and service we booked though In Italy, everything worked out perfectly and was exactly as described. The car rental from Auto Europe and Hertz worked out perfectly and we were given an automatic as requested. We were even able to rent a GPS, which ended up being a lifesaver!
We found the hotel and staff at Villa Garden Hotel in Sorrento to be top-notch!! The amenities were endless and the views were breathtaking. It was a great way to kick off our honeymoon and we would defiantly stay there again.
Our stay at Palazzo Bandino in Chianciano Terme was also amazing. It was situated within some of the best views in Tuscany. Its location to other cities in Tuscany was perfect, as we were able to visit: Montepulciano; Siena; Chiusi; Arezzo; San Gimignano; and Cortona. We experienced an Italian (Tuscan) cooking class that we found to be really informative and we plan to use the recipes that were provided to us following the class. Additionally and to our surprise, Palazzo Bandino has constructed a brand new Wellness Center. It’s essentially a day spa, complete with: Sauna; Steam Room; Indoor Pool with 5 separate hydro-massage stations; exterior infinity salt water pool with underwater music therapy. They also offer numerous massage options, although we were unable to utilize that part of the service as we were too busy visiting Tuscany. It’s very, very nice and was definitely a enjoyable part of our visit.
Thanks again for all your help and guidance throughout our booking process. You were very easy to work with and we will look to you in the future for our next trip to Italy.
David and Katie G.
I want to write my comments to this fabulous trip we had. First of all, thank you for making this trip possible and for arranging everything there was thinkable and unthinkable. Without you nothing would have been as easy flowing.
Transfer from the airport at Rome to the apartments--- definitely perfect timing and necessary with kids and luggage. Our easy trip has begun!!
Rome Terrace Apartment --- nice apt, wonderful localization near Piazza del Popolo and walking distance to everywhere. Neat apt with terrace and 3 big bedrooms. Two of the A/C did not work at all and the shower drainages were clogged; otherwise, clean, well-equipped, and secure to get in and out. Loved Rome!!! A little expensive, but we suppose that it has to do with the central localization.
Private half-day tour to old Rome --- Manuel was our guide. Very knowledgeable and passionate with his city, willing to help with ideas of surroundings and easy-going.
Private half-day tour to the Vatican --- Andrea was our guide. Even though his knowledge was exceptional and interesting, he failed to incorporate the whole group in the tour (we were 6 counting adults and children). It was really a private tour to my husband!! (Not bad at all since the trip was to celebrate his birthday, but we were kind of lost!!). He gave us a restaurant suggestion that came to be the best in Rome, which was Sicilia in Bocca.
Europcar--- no problem at all with our car rental. Everything flowed easily. Thank you, Patrick.
Palazzo Bandino--- simply stated, this is PARADISE on Earth!!! From the moment we got there, we were pampered and taken care of. I can definitely get used to this treatment!! They make everything possible to meet your needs. For example, I am a vegetarian and the first day I told them, so that they did not count me on the meat dishes, not expecting anything at all (and I told them that it was no problem to skip that plate for me). Since that moment, every day they had something different for me!! Food is incredible, local wines are the best, attention is unthinkably the best...!!!
Half-day private tour to Uffizi and Accademia --- Elisabetta is the best tour guide we had!!! Her knowledge and education is incredible, as is her appeal with the kids. They enjoyed these museums so much!!! And it was all because of her!!! She was in contact with everyone in the group, meeting every need and grabbing the attention of every person in the group. Her recommendations for restaurants and place for gelato were perfect
Castello B&B --- Walking distance to Piazza S. Marco (8 mins walking easily), impeccable, clean, beautifully decorated, wonderful attention. Nassir and Andrea make everything possible to make you feel pampered, Rooms are neatly clean and decorated, with wonderfully cold a/c, in the middle of a super warm summer. Recommendations of restaurants were very good. Definitely would recommend to others.
Definitely, there are so many things left unseen, that we will be back as soon as possible (threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain hoping it works...). No doubt that we will be using your service again. You made everything possible and easy. Now I will recommend you to others!! No easier way to fly to Italy, when you know nothing about it. I hope that our comments help you in suggesting things to other clients.
My daughter and I had a wonderful trip! We loved the hotels (Palazzo Bandino in Chianciano Terme, the Plaza in Sorrento and Hotel Abbazia in Venice) you recommended for us. The locations, staff and rooms were perfect and helped make the trip really enjoyable. You all really do know Italy! Thank you so much.
Rome: I highly recommend getting a tour guide for the Coliseum and Forum. We didn't and just rented the audio guides at the site. Those were useless as it was too difficult to match up the map with the audio. Loved seeing the ruins and Pantheon.
Tuscany: We used our Tom Tom GPS with Italy maps downloaded for driving which made it so easy. I don't see how you would drive there as a beginner without a GPS. Palazzo Bandino was perfect for day trips to Florence (2nd favorite city next to Venice, as they were both manageable), Volterra, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and Siena. Pictures don't do Tuscany justice. Just beautiful.
Sorrento: We loved the Spinach gnocchi with salmon and vodka cream sauce at Cafe Latino! (We ate there twice.) The setting was in a garden. Lovely. We didn't think the day trip to Capri was worth the money or time. We enjoyed the rooftop pool at the Hotel Plaza for little breaks and they also had 10 euro passes to Leonelli's Beach.
Venice: My favorite city. So fun to walk around and ride the water bus up and back down the canal at night. We bought an all-day pass which was great. Our 2nd favorite meal in Italy was at the Gam Gam Kosher Restaurant. We were walking, just stumbled on it and decided we'd like a change from pasta. The hummus was incredible. The salmon with lemon sauce was great too.
General tips: 1) I had really bad jet lag because I didn't drink enough water and was enjoying the free wine on the plane over there! Getting a massage at Palazzo Bandino's spa really did the trick in helping me get over it. 2) We got reloadable debit card in the U.S. before leaving with Euros on it that we could use to withdraw funds at any ATM there without fees. This was great. We encountered several restaurants that took Euros only and no credit cards. 3) I bought a pair of Echo sandals that made walking everywhere so comfortable and easy. 4) There are 33 stops on the train from Sorrento to Naples, so it takes awhile.
It was just the kind of trip we were looking for (not too overly planned like a tour group with bus) and the hotels were quaint/charming, not sterile.
Hi Kristin & Kirill,
Thanks so much for helping me put together a truly magical vacation.
Palazzo Bandino can be summed up in one word – wow!!!! I can't think of anything negative about this place. The location in the Tuscan countryside is beautiful and the perfect place to go to relax after being in Rome. The accommodations were excellent. Our apartment had a big window that opened up to the vineyard & a deck where you could sit overlooking the vineyards – beautiful. The people are as friendly as can be. They treat you like family. We took the cooking class and had a wonderful time. We also ate dinner there almost every night. The food is great, the wine is excellent and unlimited, and the location is perfect. There are a ton of beautiful towns within a short drive. We took day trips to Perugia, Siena, Montepulciano and Pienza.
The Hotel Abbazia was very cool. I was worried about the location so near the train station but you truly cannot hear the train – you won't even know it's next door. Another plus of the location is that the hotel is at a vaporetto stop. The hotel itself is very comfortable & interesting as it was once a monastery. The people at the front desk are incredibly friendly and helpful. The magic of Venice and the very nice Hotel Abbazia helped us to quickly forget the car drop-off fiasco. The breakfast included at the hotel is very good and the courtyard in the back is a very nice place to relax. As mentioned in other reviews, the church bells ring very early in the morning. I thought they were beautiful and was happy to get up when they started ringing. For people who would disagree, I recommend ear plugs. They seem to have done the job for others in my traveling party.
The Verona Winery was another excellent countryside location. The location is very convenient - just a ten-minute drive from Verona and even less time to the autostrada. The grounds and buildings are absolutely beautiful. The courtyard is a perfect place to sit in a lounge chair or a hammock and relax. For people like me who prefer not to sit around, there are hiking trails up the hills to the vineyards and very simple bikes that can be ridden along the country roads. It is difficult to find a place that is good for both relaxing and being active but the Verona Winery is one. Breakfast is simple but quite good. All of the people working here are very helpful and kind. The wine is quite good and the wine tour/tasting is fun. As with Palazzo Bandino, I don't have anything negative to say about the Verona Winery.
I give a huge thanks to you and the rest of the In Italy staff. Thanks so much for convincing me to stay at the wineries in Tuscany & Verona. I almost decided not to stay at either and those places turned out being the highlights of the vacation. A special thanks to Kristin for responding to my late-night emails from the airport when my flight was cancelled. Making sure that my airport pickup would be there when I arrived three hours late was an incredible stress reliever. You were a life saver.
I could go on and on about In Italy and the places we stayed, but I'll just leave it with one final thought. I am thrilled with the service In Italy provided me and I am equally thrilled with the places we stayed. I will surely use your services again for future trips to Italy and I will not hesitate to recommend them to others.
We had a fantastic time thanks to all of the efforts of the staff at In Italy Online.
The accommodations at Florence Ciompi, while spartan, were adequate and very centrally located. Walking to everywhere we wanted to go was always a pleasure. Our tour with Elisabetta was quite informative and she even asked our favorite Uffizi guitarist to play at her wedding.
The Lerici Seaside Hotel was great. Fourth floor views to the water and just far enough on the edge of town to make for a beautiful evening stroll to town for dinner. The hotel was clean and well maintained and everyone was very helpful. The fact that it is family owned and operated certainly helps. We took a day trip to Carrara to visit the marble mines where Leonardo selected his piece for David. Quite a process.
Palazzo Bandino in Tuscany was centrally located for day trips to all of the sites. We did take a trip to Deruta for majolica pottery. Watching the hand throwing and hand painting gave us a better appreciation for the pieces we purchased.
Campo de' Fiori in Rome was again right in the center of ancient Rome. Easy walking to everything and we visited many of the sights several times. We had plenty of time to sit, relax, and enjoy the scenes around us. Hassan, who oriented us at the apartment, left no stone unturned in describing everything about the apartment and the surrounding area. He was quite helpful, although we noticed there was no soap or paper towels after he left. Massimo gave us the Vatican tour with early entry to the Sistine Chapel. He was very knowledgeable and went into great detail. The early entry is the way to go as there were 500 people there when we passed through later on our way to St. Peter's. Eva, an archeology graduate, did a good job with the Colisseum and Forum tour.
The car rental, garmin rental, and phone rental went off without a hitch.
One special find was Ristorante La Grotta, a fantastic restaurant across the street from the "hidden jewel", San Biagio. The outdoor dining area was a great place to spend the afternoon with excellent food and fantastic wine. Had to buy a bottle of their olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
In the end, we had another wonderful trip to Italy. Friends can't believe that everything could be done online without talking to a single person. Modern technology, isn't it great. Now if someone can just do something about that long plane ride. Thanks again for the help. I will recommend you to anyone planning a trip to Italy.
I have been meaning to contact you and compliment you on your recommendations and guidance for our recent Italy trip. The tours were terrific, Palazzo Bandino wine tour was a bit pricey but worth every penny to have such an in-depth as well as hands-on experience in the fields, winery and then tasting. By the way, the dinner here was excellent! The Florence cooking tour was fine, especially the time spent in the market. The car rental went smoothly, so overall, every part of our trip that In Italy planned, came out well. Thanks again! We will be working with you again the future.
I'm finally writing to tell you about our fabulous trip! We were so pleased with your services and would highly recommend your website.
We began our trip in Tuscany and then made our way to Florence, Cinque Terre, Lake Como, and Venice. We stayed at Palazzo Bandino in Tuscany and enjoyed our little private cabin "Noce House". We especially loved our cooking class with Chef Luciano and Emanuela. Due to the daily rain we had and getting lost everyday in our rental car, we feel it might have been better for us to have stayed somewhere more central like Siena perhaps. We did have an amazing day when the sun finally peaked out and we drove to the Altesino winery in Montalcino. Our favourite restaurant was in Chiusi called "L'Osteria La Solita Zuppa". Absolutely fabulous! We enjoyed a half day at Terme Di Chianciano Spa. A perfect thing to do on a rainy day.
Our favourite spot was Cinque Terre. We stayed at Lerici Seaside Hotel right at the water. From there we boated, went by train, or walked to the different seaside towns. We had 2 amazing dinners not far from the hotel. One was at "Golfo Dei Poeti" and the other, "Straluna". We also loved a seaside restaurant in Portofino called "Delfino".
We spent the last 2 days in Venice and wished that we had a little more time there. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at "Trattoria Da Gianni".
Thank you Kristin for always being there when we needed you. You were always ready with suggestions and information ( and directions !!!!).
Two very important lessons we learned were:
1) Have good directions and maps
2) Research some of the history and architecture before you begin your trip.
There was so much beauty that would be more meaningful if you did your homework. Thanks again Kristin and In Italy!
My daughter and I had such a wonderful trip, everything was perfect. Thank you so much for helping us put this trip together, you made it so easy. We started out in Florence, probably our most favorite city in Italy. We stayed in the Florence B&B – great hotel, really nice staff and the best location possible. We spent four days in Florence and got to see a lot, the Accademia, Boboli gardens, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica di Santa Croce. We walked to the Piazzale Michelangelo to take some great pictures of Florence and also visited the Museo Galileo. The Museo Galileo is very impressive, nice museum and very interesting. We also used one day to go to the Cinque Terre. We took an early train - the train system in Italy is so easy to use – and came back at night.
We drove from Florence to Chianciano Terme and stayed three nights in Palazzo Bandino – such a charming place. Again nice staff and wonderful food (we had dinner there every night). We visited several hill towns before we took the train to Rome. The hill towns are fun to visit and not as crowded as Florence and Rome. We visited Cortona, Montepulciano, Siena and Pienza.
The absolute highlight in Rome was our semi private tour of the Vatican. Our tour guide was a guy from Dublin (I'm so sorry but I forgot his name) who was writing his PhD paper about 17 th century Roman art. He knew so much and told it a very engaging way. The group was very small, only three people plus the guide which was really nice. We usually avoid tours, especially the ones with 30 people or more where you need a headset. I'm so glad we did this tour because we would have had no idea what we were looking at, there is so much to see in the Vatican. Before we left we were back and forth on taking the tour, I'm so glad we took your advice and did the semi private tour.
Thank you again for all your help and great advice – this was my third trip to Italy booked with your help (My husband and I went to Rome in 2007 and Florence and Chianciano in 2008) and I hope to go back again in the next few years.
This is just a little note to tell you how much fun we had during our trip to Italy. The wineries that we stayed in were fabulous, the food was exquisite and the cooking class at Palazzo Bandino was memorable.
In Tuscany, we stayed at the Palazzo Bandino for 5 days. The location, the accommodations, the staff and the food was fantastic. Since they offered a 4-course meal every night with local wine included, we enjoyed the late dinner and, because we did not have to drive to go to bed, we were able to enjoy all of their local wines, including the Vin Santo! The room was clean; the breakfast had plenty of variety with a personal touch. From our room, we had a great view of the city of Chianciano Terme and the vineyard and olive trees.
In Verona, we stayed at the Verona Winery. We picked that location because they make our favorite wine called Amarone. This location was, once again, perfect - short driving distance to downtown Verona and to another gem city called Soave (which makes wonderful white wine). Paulo gave us a winery tour and we participated in their wine tasting, which was wonderful. And let's not forget their balsamic vinegar! The room was so beautiful and romantic; from the back window we could see and hear the creek. The whole facility was great. Breakfast included everything. Our only minus was having to drive for dinner, as there is not a restaurant on site. However, Paulo suggested fantastic restaurants with local food that were just a small taxi drive away.
Using Initaly.com was so easy and we were very satisfied with the locations that we selected using the web site. Also, the tips provided on the web were very helpful, such as the tips on how to drive in Italy. Thank you so much for helping us plan our wonderful trip and for the great memories. We have already recommended your website to friends. We are looking forward to go back again and again.
Herb and Julie
We had a great trip!
We loved our accommodations and the people at Palazzo Bandino. That was an incredible experience and I look forward to returning.
We loved visiting Volterra, my personal favorite. We rented a car and did a lot of driving, the roads were incredibly pristine, EVERYWHERE! Hence the tolls, I like their way of having those that do the driving pay for or supplement the cost of road maintenance. We found the tolls to be quite tricky, we think we figured it out and hope no tickets of sorts follow us home.
Thanks again, it was an incredible experience!
Palazzo Bandino was the highlight of our vacation - everything I dreamed of and more. Our room was excellent with a beautiful view of the vineyards. Marta was a gracious hostess and the cuisine was the most delicious we ate in Italy. Thank you so much for the recommendation.
Thank you for the recommendation, Palazzo Bandino. Marta was a marvelous host and very welcoming.
A must is the cooking class. The experience & memories are well worth it. As a side note, after the cooking class you get to have the meal you prepared. Originally, my husband & I were going to dine by ourselves, however, after completing the cooking class, the experience & the stories were best shared with the rest of our family. Since our adult children had given us this class as a gift, we really wanted to share the amazing meal with them. There was an additional cost for them, but it was well worth it.
We also were able to enjoy the wine tasting that night. Lots of fun.
The accommodations were great, our apartment Girasole well suited for my husband and I and our two adult children. The apartment kitchen has all the necessary utensils, etc. Be sure to do your grocery shopping at the small mall in the area. Very cost efficient.
Know that Palazzo Bandino also has a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. You have to let them know you will be joining them for the meal. We did not take the opportunity to enjoy the special dinner nights, as we were out & about. These nights would be a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the other guests.
The pool is wonderful after the day trip.
We would highly recommend Palazzo Bandino to anyone. The area is beautiful. The owners and staff wonderful and very helpful. You felt like one big family. Thank you for this fantastic recommendation.
Shawn & Cathy C.
PS: To all travelers trying to plan your own holidays: I am a very diligent and organized planner, who spent many, many hours researching accommodations, etc. and using several different online companies to plan our 2 ½ week Italy/Spain vacation. I highly recommend using In Italy Online as a trip planner. They have access to many different locations which are not listed anywhere else. Palazzo Bandino is one of them. They have simplified the process and provide you with complete information. They communicate very well and are efficient at getting back to you quickly. Some of the accommodations may be more costly, however, in the long run, it is well worth having them do the leg work and the peace of mind that all is exactly what they have told you.
Ciao friends at In Italy.. .well, our trip was beyond marvelous and we're already wanting to go back next year! Here's a bit of a review:
The first "In Italy" property at which we stayed was Palazzo Bandino. Wow. Fabulous, warm, friendly are all meager words to describe the hospitality. On our first evening we enjoyed dinner prepared in their kitchen, and we were literally so full of food we couldn't move. We joked for days about the reaction my husband Don had to the roasted guinea fowl, flinging his head back and closing his eyes as he ate each succulent bite with crispy skin! Wine flowed and food kept coming and coming. At 24 Euros/person it was great value for money. The next morning I asked Marta if we could pick some vegetables from their garden, and in a moment she re-appeared with a huge bowl filled with zucchini, cucumbers, and greens. Later when we were cooking we asked if we could purchase some olive oil or a garlic clove, and both were provided immediately at no charge. But the biggest surprise came on the morning of July 6 when we had planned to leave early. We thought we'd do a last-minute check of our e-mail on their computer, and we learned that our daughter-in-law had given birth to our first grandbaby, two weeks early! Amidst tears, hugs, a phone call from the US, Marta immediately presented us with a bottle of their champagne, which we opened and shared with other guests. We would heartily recommend Palazzo Bandino, and we hope to return there ourselves!
We rented our car through you, picking it up in Siena, then driving through Tuscany, CinqueTerre, back to Florence airport. There were four of us in our party, and we had a nice-sized car with plenty of room for luggage. When two of our party returned home to the US, we then exchanged it for a smaller one for just two of us. That was your suggestion, and it was a good one. My husband was happy to drive a cute Fiat 500 for the last part of our trip. The rental was seamless, even though my husband had forgotten his US driver's license. He had gotten an International Driver's License and thought that was all he needed. Somehow we never saw on the IDL that it clearly states you must ALSO have your valid driver's license with you. A misunderstanding we encountered was with pre-payment for gas. We took the pre-payment option, but on the written contract, the wording was confusing. We ended up filling the tank before we took it back, and the agent said we would receive credit for it on our CC, but that didn't happen. So, a word to the wise.. .take the pre-payment option and return the car with an empty tank!
So, Arrivederci for now. We'll be returning to Italy, I'm sure, and we'll be in touch.
Linda W. and family
Our recent trip to Italy was perfect beyond belief. Palazzo Bandino was beautiful, personal, quiet, and yet had everything we needed. Our cottage had lots of room and a storybook view of the vineyards. The pizza cooking class we participated in with Luciano was so much fun! We couldn't wait to get home and share our newest culinary talents with our family! This trip was truly a perfect experience to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Thank you for your help in planning it.
Brian and Kelly D.
We just got back from our trip to Italy last Friday and I just wanted to let you know all went very well and we had a great time.
In Florence we stayed in Florence B&B; great hotel, nice staff and so close to all the sights. And it was very quiet at night even though it is in the middle of town.
In Chianciano we stayed in Palazzo Bandino; our absolute favorite place. What a great place to stay. We stayed in for dinner every night (3 nights) since the food was really good and we met some nice people over dinner. The staff again was very nice and our room (we stayed in the little cabin next to the main house) was great.
Next we went to Lido di Camaiore were we stayed at Villa Riviera Toscana. The hotel was very nice and we had a great room with a large balcony. The downside was that the season was over and there were only very few people in the hotel. I had read before that they serve really good food at the hotel but not this time of the year. There was only one restaurant open in Lido di Camaiore; the place was just closed for the winter. We had booked the hotel for four nights but decided to leave a day early and go back to Florence for the last two days.
The car rental and museum tickets worked all out perfectly. And also the Airport hotel worked out great at the end of our vacation (we had a 6:00 am flight out of Florence).
Thank you for all your help, you made planning our trip so much easier. The website was also of great help as we printed off many pages with info to bring on our trip. Thanks again and we hope to travel to Italy again in the next years. We had a wonderful trip.
John and Joke N.
Thank you very much for the good advice on choosing the accommodation in Palazzo Bandino! We really enjoyed our stay there! It felt home-like from the very beginning as we had to arrive very late. I called them beforehand to inform of our late arrival, and they left the key on the door so we could just come and let ourselves in. Which we did shortly before midnight on our arrival day. The two apartments (Mandorlo and Minosa) together formed a large apartment with all the things we needed. The air conditioning was a big help, as the weather was a bit too warm for us (sometimes nearly 40 degrees). It stopped working for one night as it was then too warm to have a good night sleep, but they managed to fix it within 1 day! Super! My daughter (6 years old) enjoyed the swimming pool in the yard to cool down. We spent 2 days together at the pool swimming and sunbathing. The rest of the trip we spent driving around in Montepulciano, Siena, Chiantiano Terme, and finally in Rome.
Tuscany has the best views in Italy, it was really beautiful. My husband, who is not usually so keen in taking photographs, stopped the car several times for breathtaking shots.
Thank you very much! I believe it was not the last trip we will take to Italy. And thank you for the good services, when considering coming back to Italy, I will certainly use your help again!
We enjoyed our stay at Palazzo Bandino. We had a small house, Olivo, and it was perfect for two couples. We had dinner twice and participated in the wine-tasting tour. Both were enjoyable and the food was very good. The family who run it could not have been more pleasant or helpful. It is a good location for visiting southern Tuscany. A visit to La Foce is a must. On Wednesdays, they give tours of the garden. It was the home of Antonio and Iris Origo. Iris has written several books about her life and they are very interesting. I would recommend reading one before your visit so you can appreciate all they accomplished in developing La Foce. I also would recommend a visit to the Etruscan Museum in Chiusi.
We wanted to send you a quick thank you before returning home and getting absorbed in the life we left. In Italy and your personal responsiveness and helpfulness made our brief stay in Tuscany such a great experience. We stayed at the Palazzo Bandino near Chianciano Terme and found this to be a wonderful place in itself, let alone a great point from which to explore southern Tuscany in particular. Great access to splendid hill towns, restaurants, the autostrade and in between Florence and Rome. We had the quant "La Noce" cottage at the Palazzo and we woke up each morning "under the Tuscan sun" as it rose in view through one of our shuttered windows with a great view of the hills and valleys and vineyards in the area. The hospitality of our hosts was perfetto. We swam after midnight each night to refresh from a full day of travel, great food and warmer July climate (although evenings were quite pleasant). The dinner at the Palazzo was terrific with great wine made right there on their personal vineyard, and great food cooked by their chef and team.
We enjoyed day trips to the hill towns of Montepulciano and Pienza and found them to be charming and quaint. We had dinner and lunch on separate days in Chiusi. The La Solita Zuppa restaurant was terrific. The quality of food in their four course offering, wine selection and overall hospitality was worthy of your recommendation. We also enjoyed pizza at Osteria Etrusca that was authentic and inexpensive.
Once again, we are so grateful for your assistance offered through In Italy's website and moreso your personal attention to the questions we had for our trip. We celebrated our 25th anniversary during this trip and it will be a memory for a lifetime.
Tim and Colleen C.
We recently returned from our trip to Italy and were very pleased with the accommodations at the Palazzo Bandino in Chianciano Terme. The place is just perfect for those who want to experience the real Tuscan lifestyle. The staff is very friendly and helpful and made our stay there very pleasant. The breakfast was great and Marta and Tamara were always there to make sure we had everything we needed.
Thanks again for the best part of our trip.
We had a wonderful 3 weeks in Italy and the accommodations we made through In Italy were first rate. Our week at the Palazzo Bandino farm stay in Central Tuscany will never be forgotten. This little family winery was so much fun and what a location for exploring. Our favorite hill towns were Pienza and Gubbio. Thanks for your help.
Dick and Marjie T.
We had a really wonderful trip. A few comments below...
Rome - Roma Centro apt - very well-located, with lots of character and amenities in the 'hood. It was wonderful to stroll to the Piazza Navona and to try all the restaurants only steps away. The grocery downstairs was very convenient as well, and with our kitchen we were able to do breakfast daily at home before venturing out. We also felt very secure there, which was a plus in more ways than one. Our daughter needed to stay back from sightseeing to rest a couple of times, and we were comfortable leaving her there alone for a couple of hours.
Stefano's tour of Pompeii was a highlight of the trip. He did a marvelous job, and the experience really sparked my imagination. The whole commercial city came alive for us. Stefano is very pleasant and knowledgeable. He also related well to our 11 year old daughter and helped enliven the trip for her as much as possible.
Palazzo Bandino was the second major highlight of the trip, and hands-down our favorite week of the vacation. We were treated like kings and queens in every way--coffee any time for the asking, fabulous meals where our every desire was remembered from one day to the next and anticipated, lovely people on staff, well-planned outings to complement cooking school. My daughter and I enjoyed the cooking classes very much. Chef Luciano and his translators were informative and helped us understand Tuscan cooking traditions and culture as much as recipes and preparation. Gabriel and Marta were a treasure; my daughter was almost in tears over leaving Marta behind. The scenery is gorgeous, and the setting was very peaceful. And again--the FOOD! Unbeatable. We also enjoyed the wine tasting; PB has some very good ones. A great place to sight see, relax, breathe deeply, and eat well.
Our outings to Pisa and Venice were good; Venice better than Pisa (was a long walk from train to the tower in hot weather; I recommend a cab for folks with kids). We spent a quick overnight in Venice and stayed at the outstanding Hotel Abbazia. It is around the corner from the train station, and the staff here was the best of any hotel we experienced. They went out of their way to ensure we had a wonderful time in every way possible. While we gave up our room in the morning, our train wasn't until evening. They offered us their comfortable lobby with nice bathrooms at any time during the day, and provided drinks etc. at the bar while we waited for the train. Above and beyond the call of duty. Our triple room was small, and we were glad we weren't there long, but it was nice and the beds were good.
Our final stop was Milan and the most underwhelming of the trip. It was awesome to see the Last Supper, however.
Hope all that is helpful. Thanks again for everything! If I have missed anything, I will ask my husband to fill the gap.
Palazzo Bandino was more than I had hoped for! It was gorgeous, the apartment was huge and so comfortable. We loved the location as we were close to many of the great hill top towns and wine tasting shops. The property was really nice, the pool was refreshing and it was the highlight of our entire trip to Italy (we visited the entire country) and rank Tuscany our favorite. Montepulciano and Pienza were our favorite little villages. Montichiello was adorable as well. The dinners at Palazzo Bandino are well worth it, no need to go out. The food is amazing, and you will eat way too much and all you can drink wine is too good to pass up. The host Marta is great. It would be worthwhile to try to organize a winery tour next time. Thanks for a great trip.
Our stay in Italy was wonderful, and Palazzo Bandino couldn't have been nicer! We were able to blend sightseeing in nearby Siena and Assisi with chilling out by the pool in a gorgeous setting. The owners were friendly, helpful, and have a very professional operation going there! The van rental worked out for us as my husband is brave and handled the extra large size well (except for breaking off a side mirror on a very narrow street). We were glad we had the insurance, and the return went without a hitch. Just so you know, it is a 6 gear manual transmission with both foot and hand brakes. There were times when stopping on a hill my husband wished he had a fifth hand to steer with! It was spacious and very comfortable inside for our party of 7. We ventured to Ravenna to see the magnificent Byzantine mosaics, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Referred to as a Backwater of Italy in the few guidebooks mentioning it, it was a delightful respite from the crowded tourist filled cities. The city is perfectly flat with a relaxed atmosphere and more bicycles than Vespas. The people were very friendly and clearly proud of the treasures housed in their city. When asking for directions (it is similar in layout to Venice) people were helpful and unrushed. I plan to go back sometime and spend a couple of days.
YOU WERE WONDERFUL!!!!! The car you suggested and the way you handled our arrangements couldn't have been smoother. We had a fabulous time and it will be a vacation to remember. More than once we said to ourselves how helpful your advice was. Thanks a million to Kristin.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Palazzo Bandino. They were in the midst of pressing grapes during our stay and our comfortable apartment was right upstairs.
The Palazzo was a great location for daytrips around Tuscany and Umbria. Close to the A1 and convenient for all of the small towns. I want to note an especially nice little trattoria in Chuisi that we found. It's run by a young couple who also run an enoteca (wine cellar). They, like Palazzo Bandino, participate in the Slow Food movement. When it came time to choose our wine for dinner he took us into the wine cellar and helped us choose. The name is "Il Grillo E' Buoncantore" and is located on the main square. Phone 0578 20112 Fax 0578 296019. In addition to full meals there's 6 pages of Pizza! Fabulous.
Hi there Kirill,
We absolutely LOVED Palazzo Bandino!! We were there for 3 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The accommodations were perfect for our family. My husband took cooking classes for 2 days. The option to have dinner and breakfast there was a BIG PLUS!! The food and wine were AWESOME too! I would recommend staying there to anyone. We just had a wonderful time. Thank you also for your recommendations for restaurants too as we used many of them and they were great.
Here are a list of our favorites:
Gallo Nero - you recommended this and it was awesome food
La Solita Zuppa - another wonderful place!
Estrucan Museum tour - well worth doing
Pienza - I would recommend people going here
Sarteano - We found this to be the least friendly town
Thanks so much for your help!!
Overall Palazzo Bandino was all we could ask. The staff are uniformly pleasant, friendly and helpful. Having breakfast and dinner with the other guests at large tables was great fun--I got to try out my extremely limited Italian and they got to use their far better English. Plus we met guests from Belgium, England, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and the US.
The wine tasting the first night was really nice--they poor generous glasses, much to my son's delight--and the wine is very good, as is the olive oil. Plus a bottle of wine is provided in your room as a welcome gift.
All of the meals were excellent. Breakfast is continental but there is plenty to choose from, breads, sweets, meat and cheese, fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice and coffee (by the way, the server always remembered after the first time how you liked your coffee!). Dinners were very abundant and delicious--plus more wine of your choice.
The cooking class was a ball. The chef spoke very, very little English but a charming translator was provided. And the techniques, etc. were obvious anyway. Plus we got to eat what we cooked for lunch. And the chef was as charming as the translator.
In Italy's directions and map were perfect--had no problem finding the Palazzo.
Minor comments--the showers are very small--but we found that was true of one of the other places we stayed during our trip, so it may be the norm. My room, which was truly comfortable, was also a little noisy at times. A small child was upstairs and began running around with a rolling toy fairly early every day. Plus, with the windows open, you get early morning noise from outside. However, the noises were not at unreasonably early or late times, so not really a problem.
The nearby town of Chiusi is a very pleasant day trip. A small Italian hill town with an excellent Etruscan museum and a wonderful restaurant--Osteria La Solita Zuppa.
We also very much enjoyed Orvieto--another charming hill town.
I want to thank you and all of your staff for making this one of the best vacations ever. We found all of the reservations you had booked for us to be not just good but Great!! The staff were so friendly, especially at Palazzo Bandino. They went out of their way to make you feel like family visiting from out of town.
We recommended your site to so many people we met along the trip. They had all used different travel agencies and did not have as great accommodations as we did.
The cooking school at Palazzo Bandino is so much fun! Our 2 college age daughters joined me for one day on cooking. They loved it! Our host chef made it so much fun for all of us. They were even able to change the menu for my vegetarian daughter.
**We did not know about their spa until we got home. Let people know about that in the future.
Molto ringraziamenti per il vostro aiuto! (my poor Italian)
Mary and Bob J.
The trip was great. Everything exceeded our expectations. The days we spent at the Palazzo Bandino were absolutely wonderful. Our hostess Marta could not have been nicer. To our surprise they now have dinner available all days. At first we were reluctant, so we cautiously settled in for our Sunday night dinner. Were we surprised, we had a 5 course dinner all the wine we wanted with a closing cordial. We ate and drank from 8 PM to 10 PM, the food kept rolling out. We could not have received better service in a 5 star restaurant. Just for a change of pace we had dinner in two local restaurants, they were nothing in comparison to the meal at the Palazzo Bandino. It did not take us long to realize we had the best deal in town.
I am a marathon runner, so everyday I took a nice long run. It was a little dangerous on the main roads, but once inside the Chianciano Terme city limits it was safe. Some real challenging hills, but lots of fun.
The accommodations we had were acceptable. Nothing fancy, but nice. The small shower we had could have been a little larger, but it was acceptable. While we were there they were proceeding with adding air conditioning to accommodate, as they put it "our American guess". The days we were there the weather was cool, so no air-conditioning was required. While we were there they also treated us to a wine tasting and a tour. When I say wine tasting, I mean wine tasting. It was a good thing we did not have to drive anywhere afterwards. We toured the countryside, saw some great sites, ate small lunches knowing that we were in for a treat at night. We left the Palazzo Bandino with boxes of wine and oil. Their oil, that flowed like wine at dinner, was out of this world. You haven't tasted good olive oil until you taste fresh oil, you can have it by the spoon.
We had a great trip. I would like to thank you for everything. The trip was smooth, no problems with any vouchers or confirmations, and our hosts were exceptional. I would not be hesitant in recommending the same trip and the same accommodations.
I must say that I was glad I had the foresight to book my accommodations before reaching Italy, especially through the In Italy website! Hotel Abbazia and Palazzo Bandino were both really great and lovely.
Palazzo Bandino was a true gem for us. Conveniently located near Chianciano Terme town, it allowed us to have a taste of living at the countryside without the hassle of driving for miles locating for a grocery store or restaurant. Also the towns near there especially Pienza and Montepulciano were really lovely and different from the big
cities such as Rome and Naples. Gabriele was very helpful and gave us a lift to Chianciano when we missed our connection due to a train delay. A pity that it was too cold for us to enjoy the natural surroundings.
Italy was really beautiful and memorable. Wished we had more time to spend there though...
Well - I think my trip to Italy just ruined me! The food was too good, the scenery too beautiful and the people too nice!! I fear that I will never again have such delicious mozzarella cheese! I had no idea that a caprese salad could be so delicious! And Tuscany was the way to go. Even Italians from other areas (we had a chance to visit Venice and, as you know, did the Amalfi Coast) said that the food in Tuscany is fantastic! You could throw a dart and hit a good restaurant. I seriously considered moving there.
As far as our accommodations, I have included my comments below. Thank you for all of your help on planning the trip, Kristin, and for responding to ALL of my e-mails so promptly and with so much information. Will you do InFrance now? And then InGreece, etc.??? Thanks!!!
The breakfasts were DELICIOUS! Best sunny-side-up egg I've ever had! We stayed in Vigneto, which is the downstairs portion of one of the small, stone houses on the property. It was quiet large and had TWO bathrooms which was great since we were there week! It was a little...sterile (as I noted another guest pointed out), but the views more than made up for it. The bathrooms and showers were just fine, the bed comfy and the armoire was HUGE, which was great because I definitely overpacked! The main house was absolutely beautiful. Our hosts were great - friendly, helpful and very sweet. I did get a chance to see the upstairs portion of the stone house in which we stayed - I think it is Cipresso - it was more warm and cozy, with a very cute bathroom. I would probably stay in that one if we returned (when we return!).
But the best part about Palazzo Bandino was its proximity to so many great hill towns in Tuscany. Kristin was absolutely right in that it was a perfect home base for many, many day trips!
Oh, and the pool was great also. The whole place was just heaven. I went for morning runs, and saw pheasant and huge jackrabbits. I've been daydreaming about it ever since!
Thank you and everyone at In Italy Online for helping us have the best vacation ever! We have been privileged to do a lot of traveling and have been to Italy many times before, but this trip and our stay at Palazzo Bandino was so very special, we will remember it always. We traveled with another couple, friends of ours for more than 30 years, and selected to stay in the little house, Olivo, which was just perfect for two couples. The website picture of Olivo doesn't do its charm justice. We loved the view from our breakfast table over the vineyards and Tuscan hillside. We were there in April so the weather was getting warmer during the day but nights were still cool. We loved enjoying fires in our own fireplace several nights while we sipped Palazzo Bandino or Montalcino wines. Olivo has two bedrooms each with bath separated by the center living area so each couple had privacy, but all we needed in terms of the shared living space with well-equipped kitchenette and TV with lively, entertaining Italian shows.
Every member of the staff at Palazzo Bandino was very friendly and helpful, giving suggestions or directions for day trips, and meeting our needs for firewood or fresh towels. We loved the Tuscan dinner they serve which was an amazing bargain at 25 euros for four courses, several kinds of wine and after dinner drinks. That day was my husband's birthday and mine the day after so the staff surprised us with a cake and song (we now know how to say Happy Birthday in Italian--Buon Compleanno!) We were very touched by this special treatment.
We took great day trips driving from Palazzo and its location is perfect. We found the travel time to some of the places is slightly longer than estimates given on the website but that may be a product of narrow roads and unpredictable traffic, although our friend who did all the driving became an excellent Italian driver within hours of our arrival in the country. We rented the car through In Italy and bought a detailed map as suggested from your website and that helped a great deal. We enjoyed the many sights in Tuscany, especially Siena which was magical, Pienza where we loved the market, Montepulciano where we went to mass, and San Gimignano where we had my birthday dinner at the great restaurant La Cisterna. But we were pleasantly surprised at how close Umbria is to Palazzo Bandino and it's a beautiful region. We were moved by Assisi even though it is full of tourists as warned. We very much liked Orvieto which we found to be very close by via the autostrada. We used the train to go to Florence and would recommend that although the trip is actually 2 hours rather than 1 hour.
We used your website to pick restaurants, making a list of ones that were recommended several times in your comment section. That proved to be a great idea because the meals were exceptionally good and of great value. We LOVED La Solita Zuppa in Chuisi (the service, food, and wines recommended for each course were perfect). We also enjoyed very much Osteria di Gagliani in Sarteano, and Restaurante Alle Casale (right near Palazzo.)
Your website was so informative and helpful. We appreciated the recommended list of things to bring. We've already recommended your website and Palazzo Bandino to many friends and will continue to do so. Thank you very much for all you did to make this such a memorable trip for all four of us. It will be very hard to top,
Ciao Jessica and Kristin!
We had an absolutely wonderful trip, filled with excitement and adventures! Luckily, none of those adventures involved our hotel accommodations! All the arrangements worked perfectly without any problems, including the car rental, guide and advance reservations. We were somewhat apprehensive about what to expect and told ourselves we could handle any problem that may occur, so we were mentally prepared for "unexpected" adventures. Working online for the first time to plan this trip is a bit like jumping off a cliff, blindfolded, but your company came through with flying colors! All of the arrangements were exactly as described and waiting for us to enjoy. We especially enjoyed Palazzo Bandino. All the hotel staffs were helpful and accommodating, but especially here. Enrica at P.B. is a jewel! She was very personal and made us feel at home. She joined us for our private cooking lesson to translate for us, so we got to spend a little time with her and pick her brain about Italian life! There is so much to tell, we haven't even sorted it out in our own minds. As thoughts come up, we'll pass them on to you.
Thanks A Million for all the help planning our trip! We have already referred you to people, both in the U.S. and those we met traveling in Italy! As I said, so many memories are swirling in our heads so if we think of further comments we'll let you know!
Until next time! Ciao Ciao!
Kelly and Kathleen O.
Thank you ---we all had a great stay --warm sunny weather-- except for a freak hailstorm which hit the farm and wiped out about 60% of the grapes--they were devastated and we all felt for them.
The service, hospitality and friendliness of the staff could not be faulted---they confirmed our flights and assisted greatly with train travel.
A WONDEFUL LOCATION--great meal at La Solita Zuppa, Chuisi----great supermarket and your directions and comments were terrific--we will use you again.
Sorry for the delay in responding to your inquiry. We had a wonderful time in Tuscany and Palazzo Bandino was not only a wonderful place to stay but the location was great for touring. We met other guests who wished they had rented a car in Chuisi, as we had. Driving in Rome was avoided and we had the added benefit of leaving the car at the Avis lot while we took the train to Florence. All in all a great decision.
Palazzo Bandino was a beautiful place. We stayed in Il Cipresso and I never tired of the view out our windows (I wish we had a patio or balcony so we could enjoy the scenery al fresco).
Our favorite restaurant was La Grotta just outside of Montepulciano. The service and food were excellent. Actually we had great meals in all the hill towns. It was difficult to get "weaned" off our 1.5-2 hour lunches. They're quite addicting!
In conclusion our entire trip was fantastic and In Italy was a great help. We will definitely use your services for future trips to Italy.
We both loved Palazzo Bandino. Our hosts were very gracious and accommodating, and we found our room to be very clean and comfortable, with a beautiful view of Montepulciano in the distance. It's a very peaceful place, and a welcome change after hot and busy Rome. Breakfast every day was fresh and good, and we were very pleased to find a bottle of complementary Bandino wine in our room on our arrival. Of course we bought more to take home, after we had the chance to taste it at their wine-tasting party.
A restaurant to recommend: Osteria da Gagliano, in Sarteano, just 7 km from the farmhouse. It's tiny, and everything is made inhouse -- it was one of the best meals we had in our two weeks in Umbria and Tuscany (and inexpensive, as well!). The website information was very accurate, and the countryside around this place is truly beautiful. We loved it and would return in a minute.
Donna and John M.
We had a wonderful time in Italy...it was perfect. Palazzo Bandino is awesome and we've been raving about to everyone back home! Recommended it to local travel agents too...
The hosts were very gracious and we were allowed to participate in the harvesting of the grapes! The food was excellent, and we also took a cooking class from chef Luciano (he was also one of the men who harvested grapes for Palazzo Bandino)...the class was fun and interesting.
Just one comment...we tried to eat at one of the restaurants that was recommended by InItaly.com in Chiusi (La Solita Zuppa). Unfortunately, we didn't make reservations and had to eat elsewhere. We were disappointed but i thought it might be helpful if you mentioned that it's a good idea to make reservations whenever possible. So others might not be disappointed as we were.
Bridget C. J.
Palazzo Bandino was EXCELLENT! Their very helpful hosts and excellent accommodations were stellar and I'd go back in a second. Wonderful fresh baked croissants every morning filled with almond paste, the best caffe latte I've ever had, and a great time with their cooking classes and wine cellar tour and wine tasting. Brought back many, many bottles of wine from the palazzo! We were advised (and booked) to go to Mondo X, a restored Franciscan monastery which was a touch expensive but worth every Euro. 9-course gourmet meal served in exquisite surroundings, and a tour of the premises to boot. I couldn't bring myself to eat one of their courses though which was pigeon.
Thanks for the outstanding service you provided as an online travel agency. We did have a marvelous trip (the trip of a lifetime!) and especially loved Italy and Palazzo Bandino. I am more than happy to give you some comments for posting on your site (after all, I relied heavily on them for deciding on Palazzo Bandino). Here they are:
First of all, I am extremely impressed with In Italy's web presence, ease-of-use and delivered results. After checking with the BBB to verify the company's credentials, we decided to "take a leap of faith" and do all of our booking through them. The directions, maps, restaurant recommendations and other information they provided were extremely useful and accurate.
Secondly, Palazzo Bandino is an ideal destination. The centralized location (an hour away from Florence and Rome), extremely friendly staff, postcard-perfect views and outstanding wine (grown, harvested, aged and bottled on the farm) made for the perfect respite and second honeymoon for my wife and I. Enrique, Franz and Dominic (a great young guy doing his "work-study" program on the farm) were extremely friendly and helpful. Although you are essentially living in a house, there is still a feeling of privacy. Our hosts were always there at the right time and we enjoyed their company.
Balazzo Bandino's location made it easy for us to drive or train to three great Italian destinations: Rome, Siena and San Giminano. We spent one day in each city:
Rome was very busy and bustling, but is a must-see for anyone interested in spending some time in the "seat of Western civilization." If visiting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, make sure you spend some time enjoying the Museo Vatico, which contains perhaps the most comprehensive collection of religious art throughout history - from Etruscan urns to Salvador Dali's "Crucifixion." We noticed that a lot of guests rushed through the Museo in order to get to Michelangelo's masterpiece.
Siena is a treat for the eyes and senses. Enjoy a glass of Brunello on one of the sidewalk cafes ringing the Piazza del Campo. There was a great street comedian playing tricks on tourists for all of the cafe patrons. The Museo Civico is also very interesting and covered with gorgeously-detailed frescoes entailing the city's rich history.
San Gimignano was our favorite day trip. Although a bit more touristy than other Tuscan hill towns, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon picnicking (with good Tuscan meats, cheese and wine) in the park outside of the city walls, and then wandering through the winding streets, peeking into great shops and listening to a harpist in one of the town's Piazzas.
In addition to taking day trips, spend some time basking in the Summer sun at Palazzo Bandino's pool. Also, take a late-night hike with your honey with a blanket and bottle of wine to the vineyards for star-gazing and fire-fly watching.
I would recommend In Italy and Palazzo Bandino to anyone desiring a great time in the Tuscan Countryside.
W. Scott & Ursula K.
Also thought you might enjoy this journal entry I wrote while on the farm (at sunrise from our window):
Sun rises gently over buffeting green hills
Pink mist on the horizon
Moist dew drips from the vine
A million birds scream with joy
Cypress stretch toward dust blue sky
Tuscan Sunrise, Tuscan Dawn
Sleeping dreams merge with waking
We had an excellent time in Italy and very much enjoyed our accommodations at Palazzo Bandino. We stayed in the apartment, Il Vigneto, in the separate building. It was lovely - we were pleasantly surprised by having two bathrooms. Before arriving in Tuscany, we had spent a great week doing the Rome, Florence, Venice tour - so, the week-long stay in the Tuscany area was a nice change of pace, and well-timed in our itinerary. By the way, Venice is a high point for any trip to Italy - it is truly like no other place - both impressive and romantic. After Tuscany, we drove to Sorrento - where we stayed for 4 nights and visited the Amalfi coast and Pompeii - this was another great area, and we would recommend it.
As for Palazzo Bandino, it was wonderful to wake up and sit out on our patio, as the sun rose over the hills, looking out at the vineyards and listening to the birds. Il Vigneto provides some privacy, since it is separate from the main building, and faces away from the rest of the accommodations. The location in Chianciano Terme is quite convenient for travel to surrounding towns. We visited Montepulciano, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, San Quirico, Assisi, as well as the old and new sections of Chianciano itself, and a bunch of smaller towns. Some of these are a bit of a ride (San Gimignano and Assisi), but worth it. We enjoyed just driving around looking at the countryside, with a watchful eye for drivers coming from the opposite direction (who have a habit of veering over the center line into your lane).
The restaurant recommendations were all very good - we especially enjoyed the Osteria Vecchia in Cetona - as well as the others where we dined - L'Oasi, Il Rabarbaro, La Solita Zuppa, Il Buco. We also found a rather elegant, and a bit expensive, restaurant, La Chiusa, in Montefollonico, which had excellent food and a beautiful and charming interior.
Some of the nice things about having this lovely little apartment were being able to make coffee and breakfast when we woke up and not having to wait for restaurants to open; doing our touring for the day and then being able to come back and relax by the pool or on our patio (and not just a hotel room), knowing that we always had our hostess for any advice we needed, and the wonderful setting.
Thanks for all your help. We had a great trip!
Jill and Jose F.
I just want to tell you what a wonderful trip to Tuscany my husband and I had. Palazzo Bandino suited us perfectly. It was centrally located to all the places we wanted to visit (Montepulciano, Montalcino, Siena, etc.). One place that you don't mention in your write-up on Palazzo Bandino is Chiusi. Chiusi is right next to Chianciano and has really interesting Etruscan ruins. And just a bit beyond Chiusi is Citta della Pieve which I discovered thanks to a recent column in The New York Times travel section on viewing art in Tuscany off the beaten path. Citta della Pieve is the birthplace of Perugino and still has some of his important paintings. I know that we were vacationing off season, but there were so few tourists around. We were so spoiled by the lack of crowds in the places that we visited.
I really can't say enough positive things about our vacation and our stay at Palazzo Bandino. We are already thinking of returning as soon as we can so I'm sure that you will be hearing from me again.