Having loved my trips in central and southern Spain, I was curious to explore the north. It turns out that this verdant, hilly region is a wonderfully handsome and unspoiled part of the country; the mass tourism that afflicts many beauty spots elsewhere in Spain is yet to arrive. Even the lovely coast and the beaches are uncrowded! One explores distinctive cultures that offer rich and ancient histories, fine monuments and museums, and delectable local cuisines without having to fight mobs of other tourists. The bigger cities are models of elegant urbanism; strolling through the older sections is an unmitigated pleasure. The luxurious hotels, both ultramodern and historic ones, offer splendid accommodations. The quality of our adventures was enhanced by the enthusiasm and knowledge of Sean, our energetic and outgoing guide. I was very glad to have headed up north! (But do bring a rainproof jacket with a hood; the rain in Spain seems to be concentrated along the northern coast.)
Comments Leave a comment
Our tour of Sicily was fantastic! The itinerary was generally excellent with daily activities that were both enriching and fascinating. The hotels were all unique, in older but well-renovated palatial buildings in the center of towns. But what made the tour truly top-notch was our tour director, MariaElena. We have been on at least a dozen tours, and she is as good or better than any other directors we have had. She is enthusiastic, cheerful, well-organized and informative, while making each and every person on the tour feel special! Virtually everything happened during the tour exactly as in the itinerary and on schedule, and when quick changes were needed on a rainy day, she made the arrangements seamlessly. We felt very fortunate to have MariaElena as our tour director. Our very positive experiences throughout the tour definitely makes us want to eventually go on another Amber Roads tour.
Superb Trip. Hotels are well placed, so you can reach the places of interest easily. Pace is moderate, with time out to search what you want. The places selected to see are what you need to see, with an emphasis the most beautiful churches in the world. Taormina is like being on the French Riviera. The guide, MariaElena is there to see that your journey is smooth, pleasant and informative. She helped when needed. She made everyone feel at home and relaxed. Local guides are good, especially those in Ortigia, Villa del Casale, and Taormina. This is the way to see Sicily.
Tour manager, Claudia, was wonderful. She worked tirelessly to insure that everyone enjoyed the tour.
We just returned from Sicily. This is our second Amber Roads Tour and it was a magical experience. The logistics were handled seamlessly. The hotels were centrally located and top of the line. The local guides were fun and provided in depth information at every site. Our tour guide was MariaElena. Her love of Sicily is infectious. She cared for each member of our group as if we were family. She was so eager to share the culture, language and places she loves. She brought our group together and she brought Sicily to life. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
This visit to Sicily in the spring is an unforgettably wonderful experience. Amber Road’s signature is highlighted by excellent local guides and well-chosen hotel locations with near-perfect free time access to fascinating sites and experiences. Tour Manager MariaElena provided the icing on the cake with her warm personality, interesting and entertaining information, and strong management of tour logistics. And our fellow-travelers were great company.
This was my third Amber Roads tour in 3 years. Like the others, it was outstanding. The guide Claudia was knowledgeable and professional. Most importantly she was extremely kind and made sure every traveler’s needs were met. The Douro Valley was our favorite place. It is gorgeous. Hotels were good and included meals were wonderful. Trip does require a good bit of uphill walking so probably not for people with difficulty walking or balance. Already planning another AR trip !
This was our 5th Amber Road Tour. It was a wonderful trip as expected. Our tour guide, MariaElena, was exceptional. She was attentive to the group, and also to each individual. MariaElena made this trip a special and memorable experience.
An amazing experience. As one of our many excellent local guides suggested, Sicily is Italy’s “best-kept secret.” This well-conceived tour allowed us to discover the island’s extraordinary and diverse physical beauty, its rich history, and its ways of current daily life. Mariaelena’s stewardship was absolutely impeccable.
Mariaelena is the best. She genuinely cares about everyone. We became a family because of her.
Having travelled with large groups through Europe and Scotland, I thought I was done with group tours but wanted to experience Tuscany, so gave a tour one last try. I did some research, found Amber Roads, read glowing reviews from people all over the world and decided this was the company for me. I was right!
Tiziana, our tour guide was exceptional, so knowledgeable, organised, patient and above all, welcoming and friendly. Giuseppe, our driver also made the tour with his humour, singing, superb driving and patience. The tour took us to stunning hill top villages with local guides to give us more of the history of the region, the art works, churches and buildings. We then had free time to wander or shop. Nearly every day there was a group lunch or dinner featuring the local specialities, delicious wines and the chance to sit and get to know the other members of the group. I was travelling solo and was anxious at first, but Tiziana and the superbly organised tour made everything stress-free and an experience I will always remember with great fondness.
All other tours say goodbye on the last day and you are on your own, not Amber Roads! Tiziana farewelled every member of the tour and we were all taken to the next stage of our journey, some to the airport, some to train stations or hotels. I was taken to the door of my Airbnb in Florence. Thank you Amber Roads.
This was my first Amber Road tour and I enjoyed it immensely. I arrived in Italy three days before the tour began, and Amber Road hired a car to pick me up from the airport and drive me over an hour away to a small village called Crema, where I was staying on my own at an Airbnb. The car service also picked me up from Crema three days later to bring me to Milan. It was very nice to be able to purchase this extra service before the actual tour began, and it was seamless. As a first-timer in Italy, I was nervous. But Amber Road made me feel like they were watching out for me even before the actual tour began. Then I finally arrived in Milan for the beginning of my tour. Our tour guide, Federica, was wonderful. She was attentive to all of our needs, was always there to answer any questions we had, made it easy for us to go from one location to another, and was extremely knowledgeable on history of every site we attended. She made our tour fun, interesting, and stress-free. The coach that brought us around the villages was comfortable, clean, and punctual. I also loved the people who were on the tour. They were lots of fun and it was nice that they were all from different U.S. states and even Australia, South Africa, and Canada. The four hotels that we stayed in were beautiful and centrally located. The boat rides were amazing and the included meals were well-thought out and delicious. It was so nice that Federica and Amber Road made sure that we sampled foods and wine that were local to each of our locations. I especially loved our hotels in Lake Como and Stresa, and particularly enjoyed our visit to a violinmaker’s workshop, a fisherman’s island, the wine and food tasting at a vineyard, and the farewell dinner. I will never forget this wonderful tour and I am looking to book another Amber Road tour in the very near future.
Amber Road has scored top marks again. The tour was full of variety – so many wonderful little towns full of history, amazing stories and picturesque winding streets. Anna was the perfect guide – charming, caring, efficient and funny. We thoroughly enjoyed being with her. Local guides were good too – particularly Emanuella. Top spot was probably Ravello, but towns in Puglia (e.g. Alberobello, Matera, Ostuni and Trani) ran it close.
This was our second tour with Amber which was just as great as our first in Tuscany. So we can say that all the hotels were well thought out and usually located in the old districts of the cities that we visited. What makes each tour so interesting and exciting is first, Amber’s choice of our tour guide/ administrator, and in this case did Sean ever deliver the goods.Not only does he have the most extensive knowledge of his country, but he also adds a special spice by sharing his opinions which sometimes may be controversial but has the effect of always engaging the group. Often his knowledge surpasses the local guides in each city and would later add more interesting information, especially over a glass of beer and tapas, which was the case everywhere we went. The things we learnt while having a beer was fun, interesting and was instrumental in getting to know more about Spain and the people in our group. For us planning a paella meal for the group on the second day that we were together was pure genius because it was a fantastic way to break the ice (so to speak) and really start to get to interact with each other, including Sean who was the master of this ceremony and right in his element. Another great highlight was the visit to the farm raising bulls for the bullring and learning about this fascinating way of life for many Spaniards. The host made sure that we saw a demonstration up close, and we even were shown a few basic movements by the matador. Leaving for home was an emotional experience, as saying goodbye to our group seems so final. Part of us wants to stay with each other and yet we know it’s time to go back home.
What a great tour! The landscape, food & hotel accommodations were exceptional. Tiziana was the best tour guide. She was very knowledgeable, caring & funny. We would definitely recommend this tour!
Anna “piano piano” Sagaria was a Tour Manager “fantastica”. She quickly empathised with the group and ensured that we all enjoyed a memorable Tour. I would not hesitate to award the “sassi” Anna – Five Stars! Hotel location and quality were to usual Amber Road high standards. All our local guides were excellent. The Tour Itinerary provided the customary Amber Road high quality mix of relaxing experiences, cultural stimulations and wonderful Italian food. The Tour offered a collection of superb differing experiences at every visit – with personal highlights being Ravello, Matera, Lecce and Trani.
Tuscan Hill Towns was my third tour with Amber Road Tours. The beauty of Tuscany was more than I could possibly absorb. Not only were we surrounded by astounding rolling hills and vineyards, but history was all around and visible as well. I was so surprised and impressed with the remains that the Etruscans left for us to ponder and appreciate. This tour had a nice combination of various activities and something for everyone. And Tiziana pulled it all together wonderfully. Not only is Tiziana extremely knowledgeable and articulate, but she’s a ton of fun. By the end of the tour, all of us were speaking a bit of Italian, which Tiziana patiently taught us. And I think most of us came away with a greater appreciation of Tuscan wines after several tastings at vineyards in the region. All in all, this was a fabulous tour with great food, wine, shopping and people … as well as a very knowledgeable and talented tour director and local guides.
This was my second tour with Amber; the first to Sicily, and both were exceptionally informative, relaxed, and pleasurable. Amber tours are special, not merely because of the itinerary, but the selection of the tour guide/ coordinator/ administrator – the master of ceremonies — who is engaging, personable, and who has extensive knowledge of the culture, the flavors and history of his country. Most hotels are full of local charm and ambiance (with modern comforts) and are well located. Sean’s enthusiasm and knowledge often surpasses the local guides in each city, adding interesting bits of information about the intersecting cultures sprinkled with humor and a bit of chauvinism. Beyond the multiple jaw-dropping monuments of past civilizations, and gorges carved by nature, highlights included the communal preparation of the paella meal, which encouraged the group to interact with each other, a first-rate flamenco performance, a visit to a olive mill press in a picturesque landscape where a memorable lunch was served, a visit to the Picasso Museum in Malaga, a visit to a horse breeding farm, and much more. Sean is exceptionally generous with his time, beyond the scheduled activities, ensuring that everyone in the group was engaged. This was especially welcome for a woman traveling alone.
The Croatia-Bosnia tour re-affirmed our appreciation for the quality of Amber Road’s offerings. Our guide, Andrej, was professional, knowledgeable, thoughtful, very helpful and always looking out for his charges. The various stops were all interesting, and the local guides superb. Accommodations were comfortable and convenient for the group tours as well as independent exploration. The meals were outstanding. We are especially impressed, and appreciative, of the self selection Amber Road promotes that results in diverse yet cohesive groups of people with similar interests, tastes and styles of touring. The Croatia Bosnia tour was a very good combination of challenging and thought provoking content with entertaining, beautiful and educational stops.
This was our third trip to Italy and the best thanks to Amber Road. The planning and follow up by Lisa was excellent. The trip agenda covered a lot! The best of Tuscany and Umbria were explored with our amazing tour director Tiziana and driver Giuseppe. We had been to some of the Tuscan towns on our previous trip but the local guides provided by Amber Road made the history and art come alive unlike doing it on your own. Our group (gruppo) made for comfortable and congenital traveling companions. The hill towns are “really high hills”but we all expended the effort with good humor. This was made easier with Tiziana’s knowledgeable and engaging direction. She made you feel apart of her region. She even helped me with my Italian. The meals were amazing and sharing them with a group made them more special. Before we started this trip we didn’t know if we would like traveling in a group now we can’t wait for our next Amber Road experience!
Andalucia was my second trip with Amber Road Tours in a four month period which indicates my regard for this small boutique firm. Again, as in Sicily, the small group was both interesting and very compatible. The itinerary was perfect offering enough free time for independence and enough planned time with our remarkable guide Sean. The hotels were well centered and quite interesting…the included restaurants offered plentiful, good food. The sightseeing was interesting and gave a wonderful background to all we saw. Sean was remarkable. His knowledge and pride in his country created an exciting background to all we saw and experienced.
This was my first time traveling with a tour company and Amber Roads was definitely the right choice and I was also blessed to have the best group of tour buddies. Andrej is truly a professional at his job and made our days relaxing, informative and fun. I feel like I really got to experience the authentic Bosnia and Croatia. Excellent food, accommodations and the perfect pace. I would definitely choose Amber Roads again. I had an extra early flight out of Pula and all was arranged for me. I was even provided a breakfast to take with me. Thanks Lisa for answering questions and planning before and after travel arrangements. Andrej will be a hard act to follow.
After two months walking the Camino, we were ready to relax, unwind and be pampered and that is exactly what Sean and Amber Roads delivered. The hotels where we stayed were not only central, they were spacious, luxurious and quiet. The bus was comfortable and spacious – no need for seat rotation, we all had great views. Our driver was friendly and punctual and actually extra helpful. Our guide Sean was just the best! What doesn’t he know about Spanish history and culture? His indepth knowledge, enriched our experience. Of course the Andalucia area is spectacular as well. We saw so many historical highlights both natural and man-made, which combined with Sean’s narratives, put the cultural aspects into context. The special lunches and dinners that were arranged, were well thought out and showcased the local cusine, the locations were spectacular and the food was sumptuous. The daily itinerary was busy, yet well balanced with free time. The local guides were excellent especially our guide in Ronda named Jesus who was funny but so professional. He gave us so many suggestions as to what to do in our free time, that our time wasn’t wasted. We had a great time and not only will we be returning to Spain, we will be returning to Amber Roads.
This was our third tour with Amber Roads and it was great fun. We love the small group, minimal time travelling, lots of walking, and “off the beaten path” approach taken by Amber Roads. One of the highlights was the trip to the violin maker’s workshop in Cremona…….something so different and not an experience one would have with a large tour. The concert after was wonderful. Our local guides were very informative and Rita in Bellagio had lots of interesting personal stories about the inhabitants that made the history come to life. Federica was amazing and so accommodating. John has several food sensitivities and couldn’t eat much of the local food but Federica was very helpful making sure that he was well fed. In addition, our local boat trips were well organized. Bellagio on Lake Como and Stresa on Lake Maggiore were so beautiful. I would suggest, if one is taking this trip, to read Beneath a Scarlet Sky. It is the story of Pino Lela, a spy during the war, and, again, brings the history of the area to life.
This was our fourth Amber Road Tour and it was bellissimo. Starting with our excellent and knowledgeable guide Laura along with our competent driver Claudio, this was a trip that was sure perfection. All of the hotels were luxurious and centrally located. The pace of the tour was very good and the Veneto Region along with Alto Adige was very diverse. Starting with beautiful Venice and going all the way north to Bolzano in the Dolomite Mountains made this trip truly unique and memorable. Lake Garda was also very beautiful. Thank you Amber Road for another great itinerary and many beautiful memories.