I am excited to say I just returned from a great trip to Italy full of fabulous properties, culinary adventures, and historic tours. Part of being a travel advisor means I get to check things out first hand for my clients. This inevitably means I will experience the best (and the worst) the hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators have to offer.

One of the best hotels I visited was the Gran Melia Rome Hotel. The property is just delightful, very modernwith a lovely swimming pool, and convenient transfers to the Spanish Steps. They have a 2 star Michelin restaurant, Vive Voce, with Chef Alfonso Iaccarino, and wow! Their service was amazing and probably offered one of the best meals ever! I would definitely recommend it to anyone going

In terms of tours, some were great and some were not so much… The first tour, adequately nicknamed “The Vatican,” was a six hour tour that encompassed the gardens, the Bramante Staircase, the Raphael rooms, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peters Basilica, etc. Our guide was absolutely amazing. She was so professional that I can’t imagine a more knowledgeable person.

When it comes to tours, the breadth of knowledge and personality of the guidecan make all the difference. Unfortunately, our second and third tours, a Jewish tour of the Travestere and an afternoon tour to Tivoli to see both Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) and Villa d ’Este, were led by poor guides. In the former, we had 2.5 hours of churches and dirty allies, and while the girl was charming and a local, she only talked about the night life, or how lovely it is to have an aperitif or dinner. Perhaps some travelers would be more interested in hearing about the night life, but it certainly wasn’t my purpose in attending this tour. In the ladder, our guide simply lacked adequate background information to really give us a full and comprehensive history of the Villas. Every guide should be able to customize their tours to the appropriate interests of their guests, and regrettably these two fell short.

Thankfully, each experience, good and bad, prepares me to make better recommendations for my clients. My next set of clients traveling to Italy will be able to avoid bad guides while eating and dining in the best the country has to offer.
-Marcie Kotler