Thank you so much for arranging the trip of our lifetime.
A beat was never missed from the time we were met in the Rome airport by our driver until the time we were picked up in Venice by a water taxi for the return flight.
Both Mary and I were impressed with the hotel selections. Each one was unique and was a perfect fit in each location we visited. Mary was especially fond of the hotel in Rome for its quaintness and old world charm, while I enjoyed the hotel in Sorrento for its view of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius.
However, the real joy was the people we met along the way. Theresa was an absolute delight. She was the perfect guide at the Vatican and at the Coliseum/Forum. She brought it all to life and gave us great insight into Rome itself. She made us feel like family and for that I will be forever grateful. Alejandro, our guide in Pompeii, was quite a character and really made the city seem alive with his descriptions of daily existence on the day of the explosion. Ricardo, our Rome night tour driver, and Raphael, our driver to the Amalfi coast were equally as exceptional as well. You have quite a team and you should be very proud of the trips you put together.
A personal note, thank you for spending the time with Mary prior to the trip to answer all of our questions with regard to the ins and outs of Italy itself. Our trip was perfect. I look forward to seeing you soon to give you more accounts of our grand adventure.
Until we meet, Grazie and Ciao!
Donald W. Pieper, P.G.A.
General Manager/Director of Golf
Merit Club, Libertyville Illinois
Gina & Maddie, Where do we begin?
Our trip to Italy was the best trip that we have ever taken. From getting off the flight in Rome, we knew that we were grateful to you. "Takashima" written on a sheet of paper was a treasured gift to us throughout our entire trip. We knew every step of the way that we were being well taken care of. Two miles out of the airport, we were very aware that had we rented a car, we would have left it on the side of the road and called the Rental Car Company to come and retrieve their vehicle. Not just eating spaghetti in Italy, but driving like spaghetti in Italy, would have done us in. Dave had Open Heart Surgery a year ago, he has had Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure. To have someone else taking care of us and eliminating the chaos, confusion, frustration, danger, accidents, fear of driving, anger....saved his life and our marriage. We never argued about anything because we did not have to worry about being lost or having to drive or plan or navigate. You maximized our time in Italy by taking care of every detail that we would have wasted days in figuring out, in unraveling the travel route, in standing in long lines. In moving us forward planning, in transportation and in touring, you gifted us with an incredible tour of Italy. We are still talking about what you did for us in saving us so much time and aggravation. On our own, we would have had to have taken many more days to do what you scheduled us to do. Every single driver was incredible. They not only got us where we needed to be, but they imparted information, they told of their lives, they carried our luggage (thank you very much), they were always on time and totally professional while always driving very nice cars. Hearing of Marco playing footfall in the Vatican as a youth during our Night Tour of Rome was so fun. He knew people in the neighborhood. Young gorgeous Raphael in a Black Mercedes was my personal favorite though. (Nancy speaking here.)
The Tour Guides! They were well educated and funny and kind and personal. They paid attention to our needs and guided our every move. We happen to always be in charge all of the time with everything in our lives. Our business and personal life is demanding and we always have to be attentive and on. We loved not being in charge. What a treat! We loved having someone guide and direct and teach and lead us. It was a great experience to be taken care of and to follow. It was so peaceful. With just the two of us, being with a tour guide was very educational. We hungered to hear what they had to tell us. We were able to ask questions and to hear them. We giggled and laughed, we sat and talked and shared. We could digress from the normal tour a bit because it was only the 3 of us. They took extra time with us. They paid attention to David's need to rest or get a drink. Both they and the drivers shared the past of Italy but also the present. They shared the personal side that we were eager to hear about also . They shared their lives, their families, their stories. That was one of our favorite memories of our trip, that we were given a very warm, loving and personal side of Italy and the Italian people via the tour guides and drivers. Each Tour Guide did something special for us. We always felt as though this was their passion. They were never tired and worn out by doing this every day. Maria Teresa got us into a Mass in the Vatican where we received communion. She told us of the Pope giving a Papal Blessing the following morning. Without her, we would not have done those things. We did not know the Pope was in town and not on holiday but giving a Papal Blessing. We did not know that we could attend that Mass. We would have remained behind the barrier only dreaming. The Mass, Communion, the Blessing were highlights of our trip that we will be forever grateful to Maria Teresa for opening to us. She provided us with an incredible memory that we will continue to feel the tears and chills at receiving. Maria Teresa was a bold angel. Our Amalfi Driver / Tour Guide made us laugh and kept us filled with information of the history of the Amalfi Coast. Some dangerous times there. It was like traveling with an old friend. Thank you to Peter for a perfect day in paradise Debra, our tour guide in Capri was fun and charming and knowledgeable and we loved her sweetness. She was perfect for sunny Capri. She was absolutely charming. She was so attentive to taking care of Dave in the heat. That was a true blessing. She had to travel all the way from Naples to tour us. She was fabulous. Tanya is incredibly bright and talented. She should be teaching classes at a University level. She brought all of Florence to life for us. We feel we received an education that would have taken us many classes to garner all of the information, history and knowledge that she shared with us. She is a great teacher. She shared the history of Italy and present Italy in a warm and comfortable teaching moment in time for us . Very interesting. She is a true educator. The David with Tanya was thrilling. I cried at seeing David. Gianni in Florence, Greve, Chianti, Tuscany, Siena was full of asides that we never would have anticipated or found ourselves. He took us to the WWII Cemetery in Greve. What an emotional experience. My father spent his entire life centered around WWII. I would have given anything for my father to have visited that cemetery. We lunched at the top of Chianti and wish we could go back for that fabulous lunch again today. It was fun being with Gianni and hearing about his life. There was so much that he shared. Our tour was the last before his 2 week vacation. He had to go back home, take his father to dinner and then pick up his family and drive 2 hours to the sea for his holiday all after he dropped us off quite late. He was patient and kind and did not hurry us though he had another big agenda in front of him that evening. Thank you. We loved Liz . Not only is she well versed on the history of Italy and Siena, but she is very informed on current events. Sharing with Liz on this level was so insightful. We would love to sit with her to hear her talk about Italy yesterday and today. A long dinner with Liz would be a great experience. We told her that she should be running the Italian government. It would be all good for Italy. Berlusconi beware. Monica filled us with the most fascinating history on St. Marks and the Doge Palace that continues to haunt our memories. She lives a distance but there she was on a hot, humid day, on time, in happy voice. That hot day and she deserved a medal for her great and informative journey through the past with us. We were totally unfamiliar with this history of Venice and she opened our minds to information that peaks our curiosity for further pursuit of information and study. Private Tour Guides provided us with the Best of Italy. Their monumental knowledge and no waiting in lines were unexpected surprises! That was such a treat to not have to stand in long lines in heat and uncomfortable shoes. Everything that each tour guide did was better than the next. They continued to give us fireworks. A million thank you's to each of them. We are indebted to them for making our trip FABULOUS! Our investment in your Private Tour Guides and Private Drivers was invaluable. We can never thank you enough. They sparked our curiosity for more. We have now purchased books on Italy and Art and History from Amazon to continue learning. Who knew what we did not know. We did not know lots. Our boutique hotels! Roof Top Views, Incredible Sea Views, Charming Italian Gardens, Inner Harbors of Venice-Oh boy, we could not ask for anything better. We never could have secured those rooms. Thanks to you we have great memories of sweet and enchanting hotels of Italy and their comfortable caring staffs and the best views! There is a busboy at the Hotel Marcella Royal that should be given a promotion and at the very least a commendation for his attentive care giving. He watches and anticipates and takes care of every need that he notes. He is an amazing employee of that hotel. All are, but he is exceptional. All four of the hotels were perfect. Everyone took great care of everything and were silently behind the scenes providing for our needs. You made great choices for us in the hotels. They were within walking distance of everything and were delightful and magical tastes of old Italy. We would have not done well by ourselves. We would still be walking from distant hotels to the Vatican. Your time-honored contacts with the hotels, drivers and tour guides is worth a million dollars. You have done all of the screening and have the history of great relationships that only you could have secured. They are contacts to be coveted. Thank you for all of the detail, time, planning and the most perfect Itinerary of Italy ever. How will we ever be able to travel without you in the future? It was as though you were traveling at our side. For a short while, we were royalty. You gave us such a pleasant wandering though Italy. Your seamless tour for us was beyond our wildest dreams. May God bless you for your gift to us for our 40th Anniversary Trip. He works through you.
With our Deepest Gratitude and Love, Nancy & David Takashima