On the road again amid the rolling hills of olive trees, grapes, wheat, plums, lemons, oranges, and olive trees punctuated by olive trees and did I mention the olives? I have difficulty believing there are enough people in the world to harvest them all… We sailed into the City of Matera, one of the more interesting places in Italy. This town has a large canyon in the center of the city called the Sassi, and people had been living in caves carved in the soft limestone sides of this canyon for many centuries… We enjoyed it all! Many thanks to Jonathan and Sonya for the planning and execution.
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Compared to the big bus hustle of other firms we have used, Amber Roads is a gem. Our small group got along well together. Mario was always making a good time for all. Hotels were memorable (morning views from our rooms in both Pienza and San Gimignano will always be treasured). And the daily stops in cities, back roads, churches, museums, wine tasting etc did allow a beautiful glimpse of Tuscany. All in all a great itinerary. Thanks for providing such great service.
Sicily in May was our second Amber Road Tour after doing Tuscany 3 years ago. May is a wonderful time to visit Sicily with flowers and also the snow still on the top of Mount Etna. Our guide, Mariaelena ,was the warmest, most informative and full of fun guide one could wish for. The organization of the tour was first class. Each place visited, both major and minor sites, and the wine tastings were so well picked and timed that each day was a learning experience, an adventure and pure fun. The local guides were also so good. The accommodation was excellent, great hotels in the right spot every time. Thank you for another great holiday we will never forget.
Your recipe for the perfect tour is a prizewinner! This visit to Tuscany and Umbria is probably my last overseas trip – and what a finale! The tour was beautifully orchestrated and the inclusion of Luca and Giacomo was a masterstroke. We were the happiest bunch of travelers, and these young men endeared themselves to us all. It was a great pleasure to meet you and Sonya and I wish you many blessings.
What a trip!! We are back home and are still very much on a natural high from two weeks of an absolutely great vacation!!! What we especially liked was: Obviously, the choice of back-road locations, including hotels and sites. The knowledge and friendliness of the local tour guides. The personality of Mario, who was a delight – so very funny, but also so tuned into each traveler’s unique needs. He gave us an insight into real Italian culture and made the trip an experience rather than a tour. We will always smile as we remember our time with him. Incredibly delicious and local settings/menus for the tour-provided meals. We really appreciate having less meals provided but of such high quality and variety. A nice selection of tasty breakfast options. Flexibility for special dietary concerns. Getting to meet both of you. Thanks to you, Mario and some wonderful new friends, we will have memories of Italy to last a long time and hopes of returning some day.
I would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for a wonderful tour experience in Sicily in June 2009! Our family of 16 including brothers and sisters and all the assorted families traveled together across much of Sicily with Mariaelena and Giuseppe (bus driver). Many of our group had not traveled before or had not traveled overseas and they had a great time. Even if we don’t get to come back again for a long time the memories of our trip will last a lifetime! Thanks again to Amber Road Tours for a wonderful time and the care and concern you showed us when setting up the tour and making sure we got to see things we wanted to!
Had a FABULOUS time. Thanks again for the BEST vacation EVER!!It was a wonderful trip. Thank you for helping to make it happen!
We wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our experience with Amber Road Tours on our week tour of Tuscany. This was our first organized tour and we would definitely recommend your tours to our family and friends. The pace was perfect there was enough free time and meals on our own to satisfy our need for some private time. When we were together as a group Mario kept us informed and entertained. He was very informative about the sites we were visiting and was able to answer all of our questions. We had a wonderful group and everyone got along well. We felt spoiled and well taken care of the whole week. It was the most enjoyable trip we have ever taken.
I was looking for a small group tours and specifically I wanted to see Tuscany in depth, not the big cities but the countryside. The tour was all what we were hoping for and more. There was no “big bus hustle” which made the whole experience a great pleasure. The trip was wonderful! Jonathan and Sonya did a fabulous job in creating itinerary for this trip. It was a great combination of sightseeing, personal time, relaxation and walking. There was no rush, no very early departures, everything was very comfortable. The winery and wine museums were very educational and lots of fun, especially wine tasting. All included dinners and lunches were delicious and all restaurants were very well selected. Accommodations always were excellent. Our small group got along well together. Meeting Jonathan and Sonya was another pleasant experience. Very rarely, if ever, you have a chance to meet the” bosses” and most importantly express your comments about the trip. We enjoyed very much their company. It is obvious that they love that region and want to share their love with us. Thank you Jonathan, Sonya and Luca for creating a program that gave us an opportunity to experience Tuscany and Umbria at the level that we were dreaming of. We will never travel with big groups again. We will recommend your company to everyone who wants to enjoy beautiful Tuscany, excellent wine, great food and fun Italian tour managers.
We loved Lucca, the marble quarries, Cinque Terre, olive groves, Portofino, etc. etc. While we thoroughly enjoyed all the meals, the evening ones you offered were truly memorable, and ones we hope to emulate for our friends here. The hotels were also superb. The staff in the hotel in Lucca could not have been more charming and helpful. Il Convento was like a fairy tale. My imagination ran wild as I wandered the grounds and building. It most certainly is a place to which I would love to return … and stay much longer ! Last of all, and perhaps, most important was our tour manager, Mario. He was extremely helpful and made the trip so memorable. Being out of the cities gave us a better feel and understanding for what it is to be Italian. The long walks through the countryside were nothing I expected, but in retrospect are probably my favorite memory … well, that and all those wonderful meals and all the fantastic wine and …. We are definitely singing your praises here in Massachusetts. Thank you.
It was another fabulous Amber Road tour & we really enjoyed it. We were so lucky with the weather – only rain on that one day in Matera. Thank goodness for Luca & all the assistance he gave us. He really is a star & we appreciated (again) how he goes the extra mile for everyone. Nothing ever seems to be too much trouble & he manages to make everything “fun”. The group on the tour were lovely people & we all got on very well. It seems to be the norm with Amber Road Tours. They are something special. We especially liked the hotel in Ravello (what views from our room!) & we hope to go back there one day. We look forward to another Amber Road Tour in the future & look forward to seeing you again. Thank you for a happy, interesting, well-planned holiday.
Thank you for making it possible for us to tour this region in such style, comfort, and with great companions. We have returned to Canada with about 500 photographs of our trip, and they make us want do it all again! The Castel Del Monte got my imagination going and we particularly enjoyed Ostuni and Ravello! Keep up the good work!
We continue to reflect on the terrific time we had while on your Amber Roads tour of Sicily. We had traveled independently to Sicily during the month of May, many years ago. We both agree that May or early June is the ideal time to visit Sicily because everything is in bloom, and the profusion of colors is breathtaking. However, traveling with the Amber Road group in November was well worth every minute. The weather was perfect (only one day of rain and that while we were in the shelter of our bus). The food and wine was sumptuous; and all of the hotel accommodations were top-notch. We especially loved the Grand Hotel et des Palmes in Palermo with all its grandeur and history. Another of our favorites was Hotel Il Barocco, a new, very small & cozy, family-run hotel in Ragusa. Last, but not least, our tour escort, Mariaelena, was her usual upbeat self. She left no stone unturned to make sure that all of our group had the best time ever.
Overall, what we enjoy and appreciate about Amber Road Tours is that you all do such a thorough job in covering all the major tourist sights, and then surprise us by taking us to some great out-of-the-way places — such as that neat little “museum”,
Museo della Pietra, carved into the side of a hill by the owner who is a mason, a surgeon, does acupuncture, and is a fantastic host who really knows how to put together a fabulous Italian meal. And how can we forget the visit to a local winery. The owners gave us a wonderful guided tour, and then hosted a beautiful reception. Bravo! Jonathan & Sonya! You did it again.
Ralph and I want to thank you again for the care, expertise and love you both so obviously put into organizing our tour to Tuscany and Umbria. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that did not surpass our expectations. It was the best trip of our lives. Mariaelena would not fit in my suitcase, or I would have brought her home with us. What an extraordinary and generous soul she is. Our best wishes and gratitude to you both…..lovely, and most appreciated that you took the time to come and meet us.
It requires a leap of faith to deal with a company entirely over the internet, but you put us at ease and we are very fortunate that we found you. Thank you both for a unique tour experience. The quality, care and attention to detail made this a memorable trip to cherish for years to come. It was a perfect blend of fabulous food and wine, breathtaking scenery, fascinating towns, history and just the right amount of free time. Each hotel we stayed at was unique and had a location convenient to all of the sites and amazing views. The opportunity to experience Tuscany and Umbria with an intimate, small group led by Maria Elena and her knowledge of the region, its history and treasures was absolutely priceless. We had the most fun mix of touring companions and met some truly wonderful Italians who made the trip incredibly personable. Maria Elena took us for wonderful walks (willingly making adjustments to our fitness level) and showed us parts of Tuscany and Umbria we never could have discovered on our own. Her warmth, enthusiasm and love of Italy are contagious, especially for Val D’Orcia, her “valley.” We could not have asked for a better guide. Carmelo was an amazing driver, impeccably dressed, courteous, always on time, and happy to make unlimited stops for “picture moments.” Your local guides were all entertaining and informative.
Days filled with great experiences, tastings of excellent wine, olive oil, and cheeses, touring monasteries and ancient hilltop towns…and did I say excellent wine tasting? Our best memories are always of small things, and on this trip we felt that we had become involved in the local life in some little way. We became immersed in the Italian culture through artists, winemakers, tour guides, restaurant hosts, and innkeepers and tasted dishes we never had before – wild boar, truffles, spelt. It was a pleasure meeting both of you in Spoleto and chatting over dinner. Julian and I loved every minute of our trip and cannot wait to go back again. In fact, we are already planning our next one with the rest of our mates – perhaps the Amalfi Coast or Sicily! Again, thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience life as it was in the past and still is in Tuscany and Umbria.
What a great trip! We enjoyed every day with the help of Maria Elena and Ilario – their friendliness and professionalism made our holiday very special. Highlights for us were the cookery lesson and the Medieval Festival. Best wishes for the continued success of Amber Road Tours, we hope to join you again in the near future.
We all had a truly marvelous time. The tour exceeded our expectations in every way. We could not have been more pleased with Amber Road. Grazie, grazie, grazie. Again, Amber Road did a superb job. If and when Jane and I, or any of our group, return to Italy it will be with Amber Road.
First, let me tell you how thrilled Chris and I were with the tour. We hope to return to Italy soon and take another of your tours. Luca and Ennio were a great team. I have no doubt that other small-group tours of Italy’s treasures are good and available, but Amber Road will be who we turn to when we do return. I can offer no higher accolade. I can tell you we are the envy of all who we have spoken to about the trip and have been pressed for Amber Road details many times.
We had never been on an organized tour before and were a little hesitant to try one – visions of large groups of annoying tourists leaving at 6 am each day for a new destination. We were pleasantly surprised that this was not at all the case. It was great to have a base from which to tour and only change hotels every two to three days. The size of the group was perfect and the individuals were very easy to get along with – as you could probably tell from the fun we had the night you joined us for dinner. We had a terrific time and we would not hesitate to recommend your company to others, or to use your services again ourselves.
My Italian ‘interlude’ was enchanted – and absolutely enchanting – thanks in no small measure to the mega marvellous tours of Tuscany/Umbria and Tuscany/Liguria that I went on with Amber Road!!! I revelled in every moment I spent with the two groups, very different though they were – and relished every morsel of the delectable Italian delicacies (including the ‘divine’ wines – they undoubtedly qualify as heavenly libations!) that the two of you laid on for us. Superb selections in terms of venues (both places visited and restaurants in which we wined and dined) as well as consumables/’potables’! Must also pay tribute to Mario – what a pleasure to have someone like him, with his delightful sense of humour, his infinite patience and his intimate knowledge of the country and its history, art, architecture, culture, customs, etc, as your tour leader. Oceans upon oceans of appreciations for everything the two of you did to make my time in Italy so truly memorable – an elating and utterly exhilarating adventure from start to finish!
What a great trip this was. Ravello was beautiful! Apulia was interesting, different and charming. Choices of hotels and restaurants were excellent. Thank you for making the trip to Ravello. It was wonderful seeing you and Sonya. Luca was very knowledgeable and charming. Looking forward to trip number four with your company.
Having had a marvelous tour with you in Tuscany in ’05 we were excited to see that you were offering Southern Italy on a new tour, we were not disappointed. It was a perfect balance of sightseeing and relaxation, each and every location was chosen with care and offered something different and interesting. From the moment you met us in Rome to the last ride from the hotel in Ostuni every detail was taken care of we never had to worry about a thing. We were spoiled from the first day, when we arrived at Villa Maria in Ravello and saw the spectacular view and the beautiful accommodations we knew we were right in choosing Amber Road Tours again. The group was small, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of travelling companions, we shared many a glass of vino together, the rooftop of Palazzo Mosco Inn in Gallipoli was a perfect setting for pre dinner cocktails! We had some wonderful dinners, always beautifully cooked and presented as only the Italians know how. We loved especially the Amalfi coast and when Mr. Palumbo gave us an impromptu tour of his latest venture, the villa of Gore Vidal, we were just blown away by it, that this busy gentleman would take time out of his day to entertain and show our little group around his beautiful properties was just incredible, he is right, he does have the most beautiful view in Ravello. Thank you all so much for a wonderful memorable holiday – we tell everybody about you. Grazie e arrivederci!
We were well pleased with the tour and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We found the cities we visited, the accommodations, the food and wines all to have been carefully chosen. We were also very pleased with the enthusiastic and ever conversant Mariaelena. She gives a spirit and insight many other leaders lack. She is always looking for ways to enhance our experience, and succeeds very well. We will travel again to Italy. When we do, it will be with Amber Road.
Amber Road Tours is an amazing, very organized, small tour company. I had the time of my life on this trip, and we had a great group of people; it was unbelievably terrific in every way. We stayed in the best hotels, ate the best food, and visited more things than were on the itinerary.
It was so lovely to think back on our wonderful holiday and especially our time with Mariaelena and our Amber Road group. When asked by friends and family the highlight of our 8 week trip which included London, Ireland, Italy and Paris, I always say the 12 days with Amber Road gave us the greatest insight into the art and culture of Italy and immersed us in life in Tuscany and Umbria. It is clear that you both love to share your country with others and cater for visitors who wish to do more than just ‘see the sights’. Thank you for a wonderful experience! It was a pleasure to meet you both in your beautiful Spoleto and we hope to save up and join an Amber Road tour again.
We cannot begin to thank the two of you and express our deepest gratitude for all the time and effort you and Sonya put into making our tour so enjoyable. Neither of us could ever imagine a trip that could exceed the previous tour we took with you to Tuscany, but we both feel the Amalfi experience was superior in so many ways. Your personal touches were everywhere, from hotel room selections, to entre recommendations, superb vintages, and of course, tour guide Luca – a treasure no one can forget. In reviewing the 700 or so photos we took during the tour, including those taken during the unexpected private tour of the villa of Gore Vidal in Ravello, the superlatives which so aptly describe this tour are endless, as will be our memories of this trip.