We had an amazing time in Italy, largely thanks to you. The winery outside Verona was amazing. We couldn't leave. So we stayed an extra night and had a crazy, frantic drive to the Milan airport the morning of our flight. But it was worth it. We also went to a restaurant in a nearby villa, an amazing place: Le Cedrare in Illasi (www.lecedrare.it). Didn't love Verona, the city, anything like Siena or the other Tuscany places.
The other amazing thing was everything about Siena. That hotel Santa Caterina was just wonderful. And Radda was a special place.
The hotel you reserved for us in Siena, Hotel Santa Caterina, was a great selection. The staff were very nice and helpful. The room was very comfortable. The outside garden offered a great place to relax. It was just a short walk into the center of the city and to the Campo. Overnight parking was provided for a fee. Overall a very good experience for a visit to Siena.
Julie...Julie...Julie....our trip was first rate in all respects. All of the hotels were great...in particular, the Grand Hotel Imperiale in Lake Como, the Santa Caterina in Siena and the Villa Garden in Sorrento. They were all terrific and I would not hesitate to stay in any of them again. The decision to drive from Venice was perfect. We could move at our own pace and see the countryside. Thank goodness we rented a GPS before we left...it was absolutely invaluable...particularly when I missed a turn here and there. I would definitely encourage future travelers to go the GPS route...we would have been lost (literally) without it.
I would add Papei to the restaurant list in Siena...recommended by the hotel Santa Caterina. I would also recommend the Chianti Tour offered in Siena. It was a great primer in the area and we visited 2 wineries and were treated very well. I felt it was a very good value.
Thanks so much and we are already thinking about a return to the Amalfi Coast and a stay in Sardinia....not next year but thereafter. Thanks again and Chow!!!Haha.
We just returned from our 10 day trip to Italy on Thursday Nov. 15. We were on our fifth annual mother daughter trip. The mothers had never been to Europe. The ages in our group were 80,77, 57, and 54. Our overall experience was wonderful and the trip was memorable, with one exception.
The first half of the trip we stayed in Siena at the Hotel Santa Caterina. Everyone loved the hotel. The staff was very helpful, the location was excellent with an incredible view. Everything was as reported with no problems. We took a local tour to San Giamgiano and enjoyed ourselves, however wished we had had more time there. It felt too rushed as the tour included a winery, but all in all a fun day.
We booked two tours through InItaly, a 3-hour walking tour in Florence and a 4-hour Vatican Museum tour in Rome. Our guide Valentina in Florence was excellent, very sensitive to the mobility and hearing issues of our group. She focused on the important items and seemed to know what would be of the most interest to us. Barbara was the guide in Rome and we enjoyed her as well. Both were delightful and knowledgable tour guides and met us at the appointed times.
The one bad experience with our InItaly booking was the transportation we had arranged from the Rome airport to Siena. The driver was not there when we landed and we were not able to reach anyone by phone at the numbers provided.
Debbie S., Terri C., Gloria M., Sue A.
The entire trip was fantastico, especially the hotel in Siena. That place was probably the most well-appointed hotel we have ever stayed at. The location was perfect, the room wonderful, the breakfast sublime and the staff helpful. (I ran out of superlatives).
Will write more when we think of more to comment about. Expect to hear from us very soon for our next trip to Italia.
Regards, Dennis and Barbara LaB.
The trip was great. I was especially pleased with the Hotel Santa Caterina-Lorenza and the staff were outstanding we really did get a very high level of service. The breakfast was excellent and the view from the apartment was beautiful. I can't say enough about the stay at the hotel.
Everything was ready and the car rental was easy. The parking lot is a tough one to negotiate-fortunately, after the first day of having to back up the hill onto the street with mirrors folded-in, the next day. I was first in and turned the car around facing out for an easy get-away. I was a little surprised to find no iron-but I had my hand steamer so it wasn't an inconvenience.
We also took a cooking class which was fun since we ended up eating on a roof-top terrace when much of the local singing was going on Thursday night.
When I get a chance I plan to send both you and the hotel something that is a little better written.
Thanks for all you help –I was quite pleased with your assistance.
We wanted to let you know that our trip to Italy was wonderful. All of the vouchers worked fine and made things easy for us. We especially enjoyed the Daniel's Hotel in Rome and the Hotel degli Orafi in Florence. We hope to return to both and will recommend them to friends (as we have recommended your website). Hotel Santa Caterina in Siena was perfect for our exploration of the area outside of Siena. The staff was warm and friendly. We took their recommendation for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant down the street called Fori Porta. We ate there two nights. We would also recommend Dorando (expensive) for a great meal in San Gimignano and Osteria Sette di Vino (cheap) in Pienza. We came home thoroughly exhausted and satisfied. Thanks for helping us create this memorable trip. We will be using you again.
John and Maureen U.
The Hotel Santa Caterina was a gem! We enjoyed our stay immensely. The room was fine (not outstanding but cool, comfortable and roomy enough for the four of us). The service was excellent - very friendly and helpful at all times of day and night. The view from the terrace was definitely the highlight. This was one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. The
terrace itself was beautifully landscaped and the view beyond of the Tuscan countryside was breathtaking. Breakfast in the morning or relaxing with a drink at the end of the day on the terrace were highlights of our stay in Siena. We did not want to leave. Even though it was a bit of a hike into the center of Siena (buses and taxis were available as alternatives) it was much better to stay here than in the city. I hesitate to give this recommendation as I would like to keep it as our own secret!
For anyone who has not been to Tuscany recently and is planning a trip I would definitely recommend Siena as home base rather than Florence especially if you stay at the Hotel Santa Caterina. The environment is much more relaxed, the food excellent and the shops great. Keep your eye out for a bottle of an excellent Tuscan wine - Villa Antinori from Antinori vineyards. Also there is a place near the Campo (on the street with all the shops running around the back of the Campo) where you can place international calls for 0.10 Euro/minute - a great find when traveling with a teenage daughter!
A couple of things to note. If you have a car and want to park at the hotel you need to reserve a parking place (10 Euro/day at the time of our stay) when you reserve your room (they have 22 rooms and only 6 parking places) or you will have to park on the street. We did this and did not have a problem finding a place fairly close to the hotel so it is not too much of a problem - just something to be aware of so you are not surprised as we were. Also just for general info the Campo is much more beautiful and relaxed when the barricades and stands for the Palio (the horse race in the plaza) are not erected which they set up about a week before each Palio. Fortunately for us this was only the last day of our stay.
I also wanted to comment on the private tour in Rome that we booked through your site. This was a full day tour with the Catacombs and Via Appia in the morning and the Vatican and St Peters in the afternoon. This tour was excellent - actually beyond excellent. It was one of the best points of an overall fantastic Italian vacation. Peter, our tour guide was very knowledgeable and made all of the things we saw even more interesting with the background perspective and information he provided. He was very good at engaging our two daughters (ages 11 and 17) and making sure to present information in a way that would hold their interest and keep them curious.
At the end of our trip we asked the girls what their favorite part was and they both said the tour in Rome was near the top of the list. My wife and I agreed. Two of the best items on the tour - the San Clemente church and the most famous keyhole in Italy were things I was not even anticipating as highlights. I had some reservations about booking this tour because of the
cost but it was well worth the money!
The only negative was the area we stopped for lunch. This was near the Vatican and extremely touristy with the unfortunate element that can attract. My wife's purse was stolen from between her feet while we were seated at a cafe and from the reaction of the restaurant staff I don't think they were the least surprised. Fortunately, since we had anticipated the possibility, other than a small amount of cash there was nothing of value in the purse but it obviously could have been much worse. This was not a negative reflection on the tour (in fact it was so good that even with having her purse stolen in the middle of the day my wife still loved the tour) but they might want to pick a different mid day rest point.
Overall I found your website of immense help in planning our trip and if I had come across it earlier in my planning process I would have used it to book all of our arrangements and avoided some of the minor snags we ran into with the parts of the trip we set up using other resources.