Love Letters

Barbara and Staff at ItalySource:

Sue and I wanted to share some thoughts with you, and our deepest appreciation, for helping us realize a lifelong dream – a first time trip to Italy along with our three now adult children. The whole experience surpassed our highest expectations and you and your team made that possible.

As you know, my wife and I wanted to take this trip for many years but the demands of work and life just kept getting in the way. Our real dream was to go as a family but the reality of doing that with our three children, now young adults with jobs and spread all over the country, made it seem improbable. However, the moon and stars eventually lined up so that all five of us where able to take this 10 day trip in late November, 2015, although the logistics were challenging. That is where I think I appreciated the guidance, and patience, of ItalySource the most as your staff worked with me as we first planned a trip for three, then four, and finally five. You flexed with us and our plans changed and made sure that the hotel rooming would work and recommended tours and locations based on our changing needs. The best example of this was your personal suggestion that we include a two-day stop in Siena and then tour Tuscany with Azzura and Christian. It turned out that this was the best part of a trip that had no low points.

The relationships you have nurtured over the years with your tour guides – Paola, Barbara, Christine, Azzura and Christian – made this trip one that we will never forget. I simply cannot overstate how professional, warm and engaging each of them were as they carefully sensed and anticipated our desires and interests. Somehow it felt as though they were just an extension of our family and they allowed us each to absorb the sights and sounds (and tastes!) at our own pace. The highest praise I can offer is that, when (not if) we make return visits to Italy, that we would gladly engage their services again (for the many things we did not see and experience in this limited time). More than that we would unreservedly recommend them and ItalySource to anyone who truly desires a highly personalized and independent guide/companion experience.

Thank you again for helping us realize this trip of a lifetime. We will engage ItalySource if we are fortunate enough to return to Italy and happily serve as a reference to anyone who is considering using your services now and in the future.

Tom and Sue ~ November 2016


Dear Barbara –It’s been nearly a year since our wonderful trip to Italy and Amy and I were reminiscing about it. We then realized that neither of us sent you a thank you note. Please forgive us! We returned to Houston to face the acquisition that delayed our trip the year before and completely forgot to send a note (please don’t tell our mothers :( )

So, with that being said, thank you so much for planning a magnificent vacation for us! You chose absolutely wonderful guides, Aniello and Barbara, and fantastic hotels. Also, thank you so much for helping us celebrate Cynthia’s birthday in Ravello with dessert and wine at a stellar hilltop restaurant. And for Kyle’s and Amy’s birthday celebration in Rome with dessert. You made them feel special on their special days.

We will remember our lovely trip to the Amalfi Coast and Rome for years to come! This one will go down in history.

Barbara, please accept our apologies for the delay in sending this note. Thank you again for everything. We appreciate you and all you did for us to make our vacation special and memorable.

René and Amy ~ October 2014


Hello Barbara, Mary, Rebecca, and Tiffany.

Before we begin, hope we didn’t leave anyone out but if we have, please share this with them. With all of the detailed things to see and do that you provided to us,  you have made our vacation truly memorable.  We can’t thank you enough for organizing the train vouchers and transfers.  All who met us in each city were waiting for us promptly. Our hotel views were breathtaking in Tremezzo, Venice, Tuscany & Sorrento.  Artemide Hotel in Rome was so comfortable.  The staff in every location went out of their way to make us feel like family. The cooking class in Tuscany with Paola and Simonetta de’ Mari was wonderful.  They were so entertaining and hospitable we’re still talking and laughing about the afternoon. (by the way, our food tasted great) The private tours with Barbara in Venice, Paola in Florence, Christine in Rome, and Aniello our driver in Sorrento were so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and personable.  We could not have seen all that we did without them.

We had a wonderful time and once again GRAZIE!

Mark & Janice and Tony & Rosemarie ~ September 2015


Barbara,

We’re back and I wanted to tell you how great the trip was! All of the guides and drivers were great.  I was nice to see Christian and Paola, again, and the tours were just as good as last time, if not better.  We didn’t repeat anything except for a quick trip to Radda, which was fine.   

The Coliseum tour was good but the check in line was horrible.   They had one person checking in everyone for all the tours and they had tours going off every 15 minutes.  We arrived 25 minutes before our tour was to start and waited in line almost an hour to get checked in.  We missed our tour and they put us in another group.  We weren’t the only ones, they were moving people all over the place because one person had the clipboard and they would not split the people into groups according to their tour times.  People kept leaving the line to ask if they could check in now because their tour group was leaving and everyone was told to get back in line and wait.  The tour guides weren’t happy because their group sizes kept changing and they were having to wait and were going to miss their timed entry in the ‘groups’ line.   Once we finally got into the Coliseum almost an hour later than planned, the tour was really good.

Altiero was really nice and it’s in a beautiful part of Tuscany.  Good food and wine and we got to see them stirring up the Merlot that was fermenting and taste a little of the sweet liquid.  Ray was fascinated – his masters is in microbiology and his grad school cultured yeast for Anheiser Busch, so the technical aspect was really fun for him. 

Paola took us all over the place.  We bought the Firenze card since we were going to spend 3 full days in Florence.  (We decided to skip Lucca/Pisa and stay in Florence.) It worked out great for us and Paola asked us to tell you to recommend the card to people staying in Florence for 3 days.  I would buy it even for 2 days because skipping the lines alone was worth the price of the card.  We spent 72 euro each and we visited at least 18 museums, so we did come out well ahead on the cost.  Paola took us into several smaller museums we probably would have passed by if we didn’t have the card in hand, just to avoid paying a bunch of small entrance fees.  If it hadn’t stormed the last day, we would have made it to a few more places.   We went to the Galileo museum, which was right next to our hotel, and had a fabulous time at a museum we probably would have skipped without the card because I would not be interested in paying 9 euros for a science history museum.  The card put us in the reserved line at the Uffizi, duomo, Accademia and Pitti palace, saving us a long wait, and we skipped the ticket purchasing line at a lot of venues.  The wifi wasn’t great and we didn’t make use of the bus pass, but it was still a good purchase.

Hotel Degli Orafi had fabulous customer service. Our room had a couple of maintenance issues when we arrived and they resolved them very quickly.  They also gave us a bottle of champagne and some appetizers for our anniversary, which was nice.  They also helped us secure a driver for the 5 a.m. ride to the airport because the taxi companies went on strike the day before we left.   Palazza Ravizza also had great customer service.  The staff was very helpful and the hotel was beautiful.   The GPS needed Piano del Mantellini, not Pian to find the address.  I don’t know why, but Piano was the magic word.  You couldn’t beat the location for either place.

The Pompeii guide was really interesting.  She’s a Pompeii native and knows the place like the back of her hand.  The driver was a good tour guide, too.  Cristina was a fabulous Vatican guide.  The private morning tour was so much better than the group tour we did last time.

Thank you so much for putting together such a great trip.  We’ve already decided that we need at least one more Italy vacation, maybe northern Italy/Switzerland next time.  I’ll be sure to contact you when we’re ready to travel, again!

Thanks,
Deborah ~ September 2015


Hi Tiffany and Barbara,

Wanted to let you know what a GREAT time we had in France.  Thank you for all your planning to make our trip perfect!  We loved our hotels, they were quaint, comfortable, and the staff were very welcoming.  In Paris, our guides were very informative and fun – made the most of our short time at the Louvre and historical Paris tour.  In Provence, we thoroughly enjoyed the wine tour, and the tour of the small villages.

Thanks again to all of you at Italy Source for another excellent vacation.  We are already thinking about where we would like to travel next year !

Best regards,
Chris and Bob ~ September 2015


Hello Barbara,  we are late at letting you know we had an absolutely fantastic vacation with
all of your and your assistants help (please thank them).  Everyone was exactly where
they should have been to make our trip so organized and pleasant.  The only comment and
not a complaint is the driver from Florence train station to Radda and back to Florence did
not speak any English.  We had a quiet drive and looked out at all of Florence.
 
All of your hotel suggestions could not possibly been any better.  The one in Positano was
facing the ocean and just a wonderful room.  We had asked about a larger room but decided
to stay where we were and loved every minute.  Their restaurant was terrific and we ate
there 2 nights.  Radda’s was old and exciting to stay there and see the village center.
The cooking class was perfect and Ed made raviolis from scratch and enjoyed every
minute.  We had a lovely lunch with the 6 other people which were all very nice.  The others
went on a tour of a winery later and some went to another location so we sat and had a great
talk with both sisters as one of them was driving us back to the hotel.  Please note that they
raved about you Barbara as you take the time to go see them like other travel agencies don’t
and some of their customers are disappointed as they weren’t told it was a “farm house”.
We couldn’t have been happier.
 
Florence is now one of our favorite cities.  We were enchanted and having the hotel within
walking distance of any place we wanted to go was a great advantage.  The hotel was also
very nice.  Of course we had plenty of Gelatos.  Due to all of our walking, we didn’t gain
a pound.  Thank you for suggesting the reservations for both museums as the lines were
quite long.
 
All in all everything couldn’t have been better and we will definitely suggest your services
for anyone that is headed to Italy.
 
Thank you very very much,
Althea and Ed ~ September 2015

“It is the final day of our trip, and I wanted to send you this very heart felt thank you. I am amazed at how many things we did in our week — Colosseum, Forums, Trevi Fountain, Vatican, Pantheon (we went to mass there!), Ostia, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples Museum, Etruscan Museum, Piazza Navona, Open Bus tour, Spanish steps, Monument De Victor Emmanuel, etc! Christina, Aniello and Antonella were amazing. You all are awesome and I will never be able to thank you enough.
Amy ~ June 2015


“Where do I start? From the first time I contacted ItalySource to getting our feet on the ground back home, I have nothing but kudos and applause for the organization and dedication of the staff that arranged our trip. Our transfer from the airport in Rome to our hotel was there as advertised and our experience with our private guides in each city was simply amazing. Subsequent transfers went off without issue and the drivers were engaging and knew much about where we were heading. Our private guides – Paola, Cristina, and Christian were top notch! I’ll be checking out their Yelp pages to let them know how happy we were too! There’s nothing like engaging with an expert in their field and for them to pass on their excitement and exuberance for the subject matter at hand. If anyone is reading this review, know that you are in good hands and that your vacation/trip will be one to remember!”
Dan & Sharon ~ May 2015


“So, just a quick note to let you know that the trip was absolutely fantastic. Delicious. Sublime. Darren and I had a great time, and I must say…everything went off without even a single hitch. Not a hiccup nor a bump. The organization and attention to detail that you guys believe in, works. And it allows planners like me to take a breath and just enjoy the adventure. I had full confidence before I left, but as it was unfolding, I was even more impressed with how beautifully you orchestrated all the arrangements. So thank you VERY much. It was such a treat.

By far one of the nicest parts of the trip was spending time with the guides. Cristina, Paola, Azzurra, and Betta were all wonderful women, full of knowledge, humour and a willingness to answer our many questions. Very lovely people! Each of them took the time to ask about how we found ItalySource, and each of them spoke so highly of their long term relationships with you and how much they enjoy working together. It was so validating for me, and certainly echoed exactly the experience I had working with you. I have attached a picture with Christina -who with great sadness spoke of the passing of Barbara’s husband (as did they all). It was really special to see how you have touched others!!

I wish I could hire you to plan ALL my vacations!! :)

With that ladies, it has been my absolute sheer pleasure from the beginning to the end. I won’t hesitate to endorse and recommend you. If there is anything I can do to formally contribute a testimonial, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am more than happy to support and celebrate your excellence.

Thank you again…from the bottom of my heart!!! “
Kelly ~ July 2014


 

“I personally wanted to thank you, Barbara, Rebecca and anyone else I may have forgotten for such a wonderful trip to Italy.  Our trip was perfect from start to finish, the tours, the hotels, the transfers, I am still talking about it with my husband over how much we enjoyed ourselves and will definitely go back.  We especially enjoyed our tours/transfers with Russo in Positano and the young lady (can’t remember her name, Azzura I believe) on our Tuscany tour, she was wonderful!!  In fact , I would suggest you offer this as a package on your website it was so perfect!  Jason is still bragging on it, and he is very hard to please :)  Now my question is this, do you book packages in other places besides Italy for next year?  Many, many thanks again, and please thank Barbara for her time given to me over the phone with her tips and explanations. “
Amy and Jason ~ May 2014


“We just wanted to send a quick note to thank you and your staff for all of the assistance on our Italian vacation! Everything went very smoothly, from the flights to the hotels to the trains to the transfers to the tours. Thanks to all of your assistance and planning, there were no surprises or glitches. On the contrary, we recognized many areas where your planning and experience proved invaluable — the locations of the hotels (especially in Venice), the advice on the trains and hikes in Cinque Terre, and the input on the sites in the various cities. We could see that you had reasons for making certain selections or giving certain advice and that advice was based on years of experience. Between our trip last year to Switzerland when you so helpfully voluntarily referred us to the Hotel Alpenrose (now one of our favorites of all time — and when there was hotels in each city but highlighted the Villa Steno in Monterosso, we have come to unequivocally trust your advice on hotels. But beyond that you really do an excellent job on all of the arrangements and we wanted to let you know how much we recognize and appreciate that.

Thank you again for making our trip to Italy such an enjoyable and memorable one!”
Rich & Jessica ~ September 2013


“A rather late email but wanted to let you know how happy we were once again with your hotel selections on our vacation to France. Even with all the rain and cooler than normal weather, we had a great time. The hotel accommodations were wonderful & it would be difficult to pick a favorite. Each one was special in its own way. Of course, some breakfast were better than others, but didn’t meet a croissant I didn’t find delicious. Our tour guide in Nice, Ingrid, was our favorite. She was personable & professional & we enjoyed her tour very much. We felt the same way about Francois in Avignon. Not only did we learn about wine tasting, Francois was quite a character & made the tour so much fun. I would highly recommend both.

The walking tour on our return to Paris was amazing. He was knowledgeable & even added time to the tour since he wasn’t busy.

Again, all the hotels were wonderful & we especially enjoyed the staff at Hotel Britannique. The grounds of the Hotel Le Manior Les Minimes was breathtaking beautiful & what a great location. Experienced a day of sunshine so we took advantage of a bike ride which I would highly recommend.

Thank you both again for putting together a fantastic itinerary.”
Calie ~ May 2013

 

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