Thanks for the fascinating newsletter… brings back many fond memories. I have been singing Amber Roads praises! It was an awesome trip. Thanks for the first class adventure.
Comments Leave a comment
Barbara and I wanted to let you know what a fabulous time we had in Sicily. Mariaelena was a fantastic host/tour manager and the various guides we had throughout the tour were excellent. We were all seasoned travelers, having done our share of travelling with various tour companies and I believe that Amber Road Tours belongs in the top three (as good or better than TAUCK). We chose this tour to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and we were not disappointed. The small size of this tour (14 good wine drinkers) made it manageable for all of us as and gave everyone an opportunity to get to know each other. The sights that we visited were well chosen, the restaurants were excellent, and the hotels were terrific. I forgot to mention one very important person, our bus driver. What a pleasant, patient and helpful person. Hopefully, we will be able to do another Amber in the near future. …..and thank you for letting us taste the many bottles of wine we consumed at the many restaurants.
Myron and I thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Sicily. Mariaelena is a wonderful, caring tour director. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better! She is so informative, has a terrific personality and is a delightful woman. The itinerary is perfect and we learned so much about Sicily and its history. The local guides, especially Laura in Palermo and Luigi in Agrigento and at Villa Romana, were most informative and interesting. And we can’t say enough about Giuseppe, our driver! He did his utmost to make our travels comfortable. Thank you for your help in arranging our stay on the Amalfi Coast (which we thoroughly enjoyed) and our flights to and from Sicily. We certainly will recommend Amber Road to friends who are interested in visiting a specific region of Italy. Thanks again for a wonderful adventure in Sicily.
My wife and I have now been on 17 tours and we can honestly say that yours was the best – just perfect. The itinerary was great, well planned out and just what we were looking for. Mario was splendid. All you could require of a tour guide. His concern for each traveller was obvious. As an example, we were the last to check in at the airport at the end of the tour and had the time to watch Mario round up the people for the next tour. We had said our goodbyes well before but could see Mario load up the coach through the window. When they were all accounted for and on board we saw Mario leave the bus and come back into the airport. He knew where to find us and had only come in to once again wish us well. A small gesture but typical of his approach to his job. We wished we were going off again with him. It was great to meet you and Sonya.
This was our second trip with Amber Road and, just like the first one, it was delightful. The Amalfi Coast is much more spectacular than pictures or movies can communicate. The towns of southern Italy, from Ravello, to Trani, to Matera and Ostuni are all beautifully scenic and have fascinating history, all of which was explained by our knowledgeable local guides. The hotel in Matera, once a cave dwelling, was one of the most unusual lodgings we have had anywhere, and the town itself is unlike anything we have ever seen in our travels. We enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow travelers from, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Just as on our trip last year to Tuscany, the meals furnished by Amber Road, and that was many of them, were outstanding in the quality of the food and wine. Fortunately, there was enough walking during the day to counteract all the seafood, pasta and gelato! Our guide, Luca, was terrific. He was personable and helpful and most of all, patient. We appreciated him immensely. The quality and service of Amber Road Tours is truly outstanding.
My sister & I were on your recent tour Sept 29th. I loved everything about it. Mario was such a great guide. With his infectious smile & great laugh, he kept us thoroughly entertained. He handled everything on the tour with ease. The first night’s dinner in Lucca was top notch. It was just the thing to get us all together. We were instantly friends with everyone from that night and throughout the entire tour. I think my favorite day was the Northern Hills Medieval Walk. It was so nice to be the only tourists, or for that matter people, throughout the hike. Mario even climbed a fence & picked figs from a tree so we could sample them fresh picked. The lunch at Corno Rosso was fantastic. They treated us like royalty. I really enjoyed the small hotels off the beaten path. The staff at Hotel Ilaria were very friendly. The view from our balcony at Porto Roca was spectacular. And I loved the banquet room at Hotel Il Convento. It was great meeting you both and enjoying a dinner together. All your research for the tour made it a first class trip.
The Tuscany/Liguria tour was exactly how I wanted to experience Italy for the first time. My decision to choose Amber Road Tours really centered around the 3 night stay in the Cinque Terre. I love the ocean but surprisingly Lucca was my favorite town. This tour was very well thought out and organized. Coming from Vegas I know a great hotel and the hotels we stayed at were very nice. I’m a roamer and I love to walk so this tour was perfect for me. Hiking the villages was great!! The other towns were equally nice to visit. Carrara was high on my list and the quietness of Il Convento in Pistoia was very relaxing. And then there’s Mario, what a great guide…so charming, funny and knowledgeable. Sonya, thank you again for researching the location of the original hotel in Rome I was going to stay at and suggesting that I change it. Amber Road Tours is a great company.
We had a great time on the tour and it was better than we expected. A few years ago we had gone on a tour but it was a much larger group and was not as well put together as your tour was. We enjoyed your hotel & restaurant choices very much. One can tell that you and Sonya take pride in your business. Luca was great and should get a medal for putting up with all the “hassling” we gave him. Thanks again for a great vacation and Sicily will be our next destination.
This was our 3rd tour of Italy and our 1st tour with you. All we can say is “Perfecto”!!! You delivered exactly what we were hoping for: small medieval towns most people don’t get a chance to visit. Your attention to detail and caring was evident throughout the tour. Furthermore, what a delight to not have to pay extra for “excursions” since all local tours and locations were included. And, of course, Mariaelena made the trip doubly exciting for us as she continually gave us an education of the history of these small towns and their local culture. Bottom line: this is the tour to take if you really want to enjoy the beauty of Tuscany. Ciao.
I wanted to tell you again how much I enjoyed the tour and the experience of Italy it offered. Everything was well planned and paced, the accommodations excellent, and the meals delicious. Already certain images are rising in my memory: valley vistas and mountain-top villages, old churches and beautiful art, long tables filled with happy tourists enjoying Italy and food and wine. And then there was Mariaelena. As you say in your website, she is lovely and charming; she is also intelligent and informed, always concerned for the well-being of her charges, and both fun and funny. In my memory I hear yet her wonderful laughter. I hope to hear it again in person on another tour somewhere down the line.
Well, here we are, back to our “real” lives and fondly thinking, and still talking, about our time with Amber Road Tours in Italy! The trip was everything we had hoped for – organized, well planned, relaxing, invigorating, and thrilling! We showed up, and you took care of everything else! Every night we went to bed with our bellies stuffed with great food and our heads stuffed with all we had learned and seen that day. We felt so well cared for by Mario (Liguria) and then Mariaelena (Umbria) – they really went out of their way to help everyone on the tour get the most from each place we visited. Their recommendations for places to eat and things to see in our “free” time made it possible for everyone to customize their experience. The time shared with the group was wonderful – we thoroughly enjoyed meeting people with similar travel interests. There were lots of great conversations and laughs!
The hotels we stayed in were top notch – you’ve done an excellent job choosing the very best. The views from our windows frequently took our breath away! The group meals were an experience not to be missed. We tasted black truffles, wild boar, rabbit, guinea fowl – things we never imagined we’d eat. (Or drink – Prosecco, grappa, limoncello!) You’ve really gone all out to insure we had an authentic experience!
We fully intend to come back and continue our Italian adventures. Congrats for having such a well run company! It was a pleasure meeting you and Sonya. Charming doesn’t even begin to describe our experiences!
Bruce and I would like to thank you for the excellent planning and preparation you put into making our Tuscany/Liguria trip so memorable. Not a day goes by that one of us doesn’t begin our sentence with, “Remember when…..,” and we relive some wonderful memory of our trip. Our tour was the right balance between relaxation and activity – beautiful countryside on our Medieval Walk and the Cinque Terre, alongside the architecture and excitement of old Florence. The accommodations were top-notch (the view from our room in Monterosso was incredible!), the meals were delicious and so representative of Tuscan cuisine, and we couldn’t have chosen a nicer group of people as tour companions. Mario had everything so organized each day, and he went above and beyond to assist in any request we had. You could tell he enjoys what he does, and enjoys sharing “his Italy” with others. We are looking forward to touring again with Amber Road, and would recommend you to anyone looking for an incredible Italian experience. Thank you again for our wonderful Italian memories!
We Brits are not generally known for our effusiveness, but I would just like to thank you for a most fabulous tour of Tuscany and Umbria; fabulous food, fabulous itinerary, fabulous guide, fabulous everything! Such a seamless tour cannot happen without huge amounts of organisation and careful planning – we hope to see you in Sicily in 2011!
We can’t thank you enough for all that we experienced on our tour and we have certainly fallen in love with Italy. The small-tour experience was everything we had hoped for. We saw some less-touristy, out-of-the-way places and really got to see more of Tuscany than we would have on a regular big-bus tour. I have to tell you that breaking us up in to 3 smaller vehicles for Siena and San Gimignano was inspired. We felt like VIP’s as we were whisked up the hill past the other tourists who had to hike it. Your attention to detail and your personal philosophy that tours go on even if not full is to be commended.
We had a great tour with Mario and Carmelo. No wonder to us that you have so many repeat clients. Mario was a terrific tour director, providing many interesting facts and stories and some personal insights and vignettes about the places we visited. He was very entertaining. Carmelo was the ultimate professional driver. And the expert guides that added their knowledge to their explanations as we visited towns and wineries were also informative and entertaining. I also want to compliment you on your professionalism in the administrative area. You responded to our questions same day, and the payments and other details were handled without any problems. We think that you have a wonderful place to live: Beautiful weather, scenery that looks better than travel books and postcards, and gracious, helpful people all around. I would be happy to talk with anyone about our trip.
Many thanks from both Marjorie and myself for our recent wonderful tour of Tuscany. You have an excellent operation combining local knowledge and contacts with itineraries and hotels carefully chosen to appeal to everyone and we enjoyed every minute. The small numbers make all the difference and we had a great group and enjoyed meeting everyone on tour as well as you and Sonya at the end. Once again thank you for the assistance and a superb tour – hope to try another one someday!
Our “Week in Tuscany” was an amazingly beautiful journey through the hill towns and countryside of Tuscany, led by our incredible guide, Mariaelena. A native of the area, with a wealth of information about local history, culture and social issues, Mariaelena shared so much with us, from Etruscan ruins to towering fortresses, to local wines and Tuscan food specialties. She introduced us to her friends: chefs, shopkeepers, wine makers and craftsmen. She provided maps so that we could explore the classic towns on our own, as well as suggestions for sampling the regional cuisine at local restaurants–all this with tremendous warmth, an irreverent sense of humor and irresistible enthusiasm. Our small and diverse group of travelers came from several different countries, and we bonded quickly. We cannot imagine a more creative or comprehensive exposure to the many wonders of Tuscany. Our travel arrangements were beautifully planned and organized, our coach very comfortable, and our driver, Carmelo, skilled and charming. Our lovely hotels in Pienza and San Gimignano, with terraces overlooking the Tuscan hills, were unforgettable, and our shared meals delightful. Our final celebration–a memorable and delicious dinner, with Mariaelena and tour directors, Jonathan and Sonya, ended with laughter, tears, hugs and grappa! We were sorry when the tour ended (but grateful for the well-organized transfers to Florence) and hope to travel again with Amber Road Tours, knowing we would, once again, have an adventure to remember for the rest of our lives. With our profound thanks and best wishes.
Anticipation and expectation often outweighs the actual event – not this time! The week I spent in Tuscany with Amber was everything I could have hoped for and more. The itinerary had been carefully put together, wonderful places to visit, lovely accommodation and plenty of free time to soak up the atmosphere. Our tour guide Mariaelena was a gem, a fount of knowledge always imparted with a smile and peppered with little anecdotes. She went out of her way to make sure that we enjoyed ourselves, not only recommending great restaurants, but providing specialities of the region for us to taste. Carmelo our driver, ever smiling, always ready to find just the right spot for our ‘kodak’ moments, and driving us on beautiful, if somewhat narrow routes with consummate skill. Thank you Amber, the holiday maybe over, but the memories are not!
I wanted to write and let you know what a fantastic time I had on my Week in Tuscany Tour. This was my first trip to Italy and my first time ever taking an organized tour and I can tell you that it definitely will not be my last! The whole experience right from the start was great, from my communications with you when we were planning the trip all the way to the transfer to the airport in Pisa for my flight home. Everything about the tour was so well organized and thought out and I feel so fortunate to have had Mariaelena as my tour guide and Carmelo as my driver. The size of the tour was just about perfect as well, the group was large enough to be diverse and small enough to allow us flexibility and the ability to eat as a group at some amazing restaurants and visit some great vineyards. I think one of the best testaments to what a great time we all had on this tour was the dinner on the last night with you and Sonya. Even when we finally got back to the hotel, we still lingered in the piazza for a while not wanting it to end. I cannot thank you enough for making this trip everything I hoped it would be and I am already thinking about taking another tour with Amber Road Tours. Ciao!
The Week in Tuscany tour itinerary was well planned with plenty of free time, wonderful food, and great accommodations in central locations that lent to day trips into the countryside to visit other villages. And for the photography enthusiast – it was the best. We had a wonderful group of fellow travelers coupled with the best guide, Mariaelena, who made sure we were all well taken care of, and the trip was everything I had hoped. And not to forget our driver, Carmelo, who also helped make this experience a wonderful one! Thank you for such a quality tour.
Linda and I are finally winding down from what was one of the best trips we’ve ever had. I must say we’ve been blessed with being able to take very nice trips over the years so we have many to compare the Tuscany adventure. From my observation your management of Amber Road Tours occurs early on with the planning of the itinerary and attention to detail. What is refreshing is you appear to leave the actual day to day operation of the travel to your incredible tour guides. Linda and I have fallen in love with Mariaelena and are super biased. I cannot think of a better way to get the feel for such a beautiful area like Tuscany than by taking the back roads you so expertly defined. We got a taste of why the Tuscans are so proud of their incredible valley(s). We were treated to the outstanding food and drink of the area. By staying three nights in the wonderful establishments you chose we were not hassled with excessive packing and unpacking. I know I left something out because you covered all the bases and there’s nothing to suggest making the trip better. You can rest assured we will recommend Amber Road Tours to everyone we know that is going to visit Italy.
What a trip we had in Tuscany/Liguria! The itinerary, the accommodations and the food were great!! Kudos to Mario for being so very attentive to our every need. He is a lot of fun and really kept things going like clockwork. We were really impressed that he got up at 4:30 AM to make sure we got our early morning taxi to the Florence airport. Now that we know firsthand the quality of trips that you offer, we will not hesitate to recommend Amber Road Tours to our friends and relatives. Thanks so much for putting together exactly the kind of trip we enjoy so much.
Quite simply, it was a wonderful trip. This was my sixth trip overseas which involved a tour, and this one was simply the best. We liked the small group, the high quality of food and lodging, the varied destinations, and our tour manager Mario. He had personal contact with each person in our group every day, and worked hard to ensure that we were comfortable and that our needs were met. It was also important to us that we had free time to exercise, shop or simply decompress at a cafe with a bottle of wine. Thanks again for helping us to have such a great vacation.
I am writing to thank you for the great tour of Tuscany and Umbria I attended in late May. The scenery and sights were spectacular as is expected of Tuscany and Umbria, but add to that the great small hotels, small tour group size, great food and, last but not least, probably the best tour leader on earth! Mariaelena is phenomenal. (You could have her lead us on a tour of the Cloaca Maxima in Rome and we would probably enjoy it.) This was the second Amber Road tour that I have taken and I loved both. Besides a great tour concept, the tour leaders of each, Mariaelena in the most recent and Luca in the Amalfi Apulia tour, are a huge asset and big part of the success of the tours.
We experienced beautiful scenery, historic and delightful medieval and renaissance towns, amazingly situated and extremely comfortable accommodation. Our group meals were wonderful with the very best of some great Italian red wines (not only we two “token” Aussies but even Marie – a white wine drinker – were converted.) The wonderful “mother hen” Mariaelena interestingly passed on the history and culture of the region and at times the language- who will mispronounce bruschetta and Michelangelo again!. All of the above were important, but it was the people who really made the trip an unforgettable experience. Firstly Mariaelena- her individual attention and genuine interest in, and care taken of every member of the group was exemplary. We will always have fond memories of her warm manner and her expertise as our tour leader. She was more than ably supported by our affable Tuscan driver, Giacomo. It was also great to meet up with the company principals, Sonya and Jonathan both at Spoleto and at our farewell dinner in San Gimignano. Their warm welcome and hospitality complemented their superbly organised itinerary. Finally our fellow travelers- it was indeed a pleasure to meet and enjoy the company of some special people from the US and Canada. In summary it was a fantastic tour, extremely well planned and coordinated with more than a touch of luxury. Perhaps our waistlines were the only things to suffer!