What a wonderful trip we had!!!!!! I thank you completely for all the arrangements you helped me to make to create a memorable and perfect vacation for Joe & I and for our entire group of 21 people. Everything went so smoothly for our entire three week stay, including all the transfers from location to location. Our accommodations were just right everywhere we went. Palazzo Bandino was just magical thanks to the attentive service of everyone on the staff. But most especially due to having Marta with us every day. Her personality was just so fun, her knowledge was extensive, and her ability to translate everything about Tuscan life to us in English made it all so perfect. Although there are a few small scheduling things I would change, everything went so smoothly and nicely. All the attention to details in the side trip arrangements was greatly appreciated and made for an outstanding experience. Everyone in the group was constantly amazed by the quality of the food and wine we enjoyed every night at the Palazzo, and our rooms were spacious and very pleasant. Thank you so much for everything!! You are a real gem to have worked with for all the months leading up to this trip. I greatly look forward to putting together another trip with you in the near future.
With Warmest Regards,
I wasn't sure what to expect. The first day, I knew we were in for a treat. Marta and Gabriele were the best hosts, along with Carlo and Tamara. You couldn't ask for nicer people. Food was outstanding. The spa was really nice after a lot of walking. Love to go back someday (maybe we can have a different itinerary for the second time).
See you soon!
We had a great time! The family and staff were very accommodating and generous. We loved the trips to the different cities. Bagno Vignoni and Pienza were our favorites. We learned a lot about the making of wine, olive oil and pasta, and enjoyed the excursions to the pasta factory, the sheep farm, and the olive oil mill. The food and wine were delicious! The spa was wonderful (beautiful building)! We will recommend Palazzo Bandino to all our friends.
We traveled by train from Rome to Chiusi and were met, just as you promised, by the owner of Palazzo Bandino, Gabriele Valeriani. I have to say I was really impressed by this as it was just a foretaste of the integrity that Gabriele, his daughter Marta and everyone at Palazzo Bandino demonstrated throughout our stay. We took the short ride to the villa, enjoyed a terrific lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing. Over our next days, we lived out the agenda just as it is described on your website. The food and wine were authentic, abundant and fabulous. The day trips were perfect. We walked and shopped our way thru Cortona, Pienza, Montelpuciano, Siena, Bagni Vignone and Chianciano. Please tell Gabriele and Marta how much we appreciate their hospitality. I don’t know the Italian word for integrity, but they certainly know how to practice it.
With our thanks for all your help,
Our trip to Italy was absolutely fantastic. All of the accommodations and transport/tour arrangements made through In Italy Online worked out perfectly, there was not a single glitch the entire two weeks. We also tried several of the restaurant recommendations included with our hotel information, and they were all wonderful. The centerpiece of our trip absolutely was the Food & Wine Lover's Southern Tuscany package at Palazzo Bandino, it was a great bit of relaxation in the midst of our visits to the hustle and bustle of Rome, Florence and Venice. If we were to make any change in our itinerary, it would have been to increase our time in Florence from one day to two, as we felt we just did not have enough time to get to know and see the city in one day. Venice turned out to be a wonderful surprise, as we had heard mixed reviews of it from friends and acquaintances who had visited there. We absolutely loved it however, it was probably our favorite city visited simply because it is so unique. We are urging all of our friends to go to Italy if they ever have the opportunity and to do their planning with In Italy Online.
Thanks for everything!
Diane & Preston J.
I have visited Italy many times before but never this way. To be staying in the Tuscan countryside on a working vineyard was so different and unique. The staff here – Filippo and Tamara – made us feel very comfortable. The service was excellent! The atmosphere is casual and family-like. We were lucky to have both Marta and Gabriele take us on our trips. Each gave wonderful information and personal side notes that kept us informed and amused. Gabriele is so proud of his home; his products; his Tuscan land and heritage; it was very special to listen to him. It is no surprise he has so many friends!
Our trips to Siena, Pienza, Cortona and Montepulciano were great. The lunches arranged by the Palazzo were very good in both Montepulciano and Cortona.
The information about wines, producing of wines, the olive oil factory visit, the pasta factory visit, the cheese factory, and the balsamic information provided were very interesting and a welcome addition to our trip.
We enjoyed the meals at the Palazzo very much. The quantity and quality were perfect, as were the wines. I love to cook and I would love to hear more about what's being served. For example, to say more about the ingredients and preparations.
The spa was great fun and should not be missed.
Thank you Marta for organizing everything. We were impressed with the details like the information packet, pre-purchasing tickets for the spa, etc. We had a wonderful time and would recommend to friends!
We enjoyed our stay very much! We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our accommodations. We appreciated the numerous times we were allowed to use the spa facilities. The building was beautiful and clean and relaxing. It was refreshing to meet people so passionate about their history and lifestyle. Compliments to the chef as the food was delicious. Also the wine was very good.
Thanks for everything.
Dan and Donalda M.
We enjoyed our stay very much. The food and wine were very good, and the day trips were just the right amount of travel. We loved being able to relax and enjoy our visit to
with all the details taken care of. Enjoyed learning about wine, olive oil and vinegar and tasting the difference. All the staff were helpful and Marta was a great hostess. Italy
Amy & Dennis S.
Staying at Palazzo Bandino was a great experience. I have been to Italy five times but this was the most relaxing trip. The entire staff was very friendly and made sure we were happy. Gabriele and Marta were very knowledgeable and shared with us about the food, people and history of Tuscany. Tamara and Filippo were especially great hosts as well!
Thank you for a great trip.
David Michael F.
It was a wonderful holiday and opportunity to share my experience of four years ago at Palazzo Bandino with my family. We have been planning this for over a year and this trip met all our expectations. City tours, relaxation, wonderful food and personal stories and lessons learned from Gabriele and Marta. We most appreciated your passion for helping us to understand the Tuscan culture and the need to preserve it. The restoration of the Palazzo Bandino is exceptional. It is obvious you took the time and care to make certain the apartment had many modern conveniences like air conditioning, yet retained the traditional look and feel of the palazzo of many years ago.
Thank you for the many last-minute surprises and visits to the countryside. The Val D'Orcia was spectacular as was our personalized tour! Thank you, Gabriele, for answering all our questions. It was wonderful to see the fun you and Marta have with one another and to have shared some of your family stories.
Tamara is so sweet and very gracious; Filippo works very hard and is always smiling and accommodating. As I experienced once before, the cuisine was wonderful!
Thank you for another wonderful vacation. I look forward to taking more of my family and friends to visit.
Our week at Palazzo Bandino was filled with friendly, helpful people who worked hard to satisfy our needs. We ate delicious food and wine that never disappointed us. We ate very well -- Tuscan style! We particularly enjoyed learning about balsamic vinegar, the vineyards and the making of extra virgin olive oil. Our accommodations were spacious and comfortable and we enjoyed meeting fellow travelers from all over the world during our stay. The hill towns were beautiful if not a bit challenging in the unseasonal heat. We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Palazzo Bandino!
Jim and Debbie G.
A special thanks to Gabriele, Marta, Emanuela, Tamara and Filippo for making our stay extra special.
This was a very relaxing vacation. The meals were wonderful and gave us a variety of dishes to sample. We also enjoyed all the wines that were served. The excursions and factory tours were interesting and we loved the beautiful countryside. The accommodations were very pleasant and comfortable. We would recommend this highly to friends who wished to take a vacation in the country.
Joe and Shelley E.
It was great to meet you and share dinner at Palazzo Bandino. Ron and I just got home yesterday, as we continued on after the Tom's and Linda and Penny left. As soon as I can unpack and tend to my photos, I'll be glad to send you some. I'm moving a little slow though.
We loved Palazzo Bandino!!! Marta and Gabriele and Emanuela did everything they could to make our stay enjoyable, including turning on the heat in our apartments before they were legally allowed to apparently. Tom and Penny are early risers and like most Americans like their coffee first thing. When they couldn't figure out how to work the mokka, Marta gave them an electric coffee pot. They were truly a joy. Actually, everyone we met in Italy was extremely helpful and nice.
The food at Palazzo Bandino was absolutely delicious, albeit way more than we're used to eating but we perservered ;-)). We loved all their wines and they were so generous with it. I don't think we had a bad wine in all of Italy. We ladies also loved our cooking class with the Chef. He is a hoot! I would totally recommend PB for anyone who loves food and wine. Now it's back to reality and Lean Cuisines. Bummer.
Dear Kirill,The accommodation was very nice and Gabriele, Marta and all their staff were very accommodating. The food was excellent, good wine and a great central location to many of the cities in Tuscany. We felt we truly lived the Tuscan experience as evidenced by the many Italian families staying at Palazzo Bandino. Very good value and a wonderful experience overall! We would definitely come back again.
Mark and Joan H.
Dear Kristin,Thanks for all your help. We had a wonderful vacation, found the people at Palazzo Bandino to be very helpful and nice. The countryside was absolutely beautiful. The food was really good and fresh and plentiful, as was the wine. They took us to most of the places we expected to go and we were blessed with wonderful weather. We liked the balsamic vinegar lesson and the trip to the old mill where they press the olives into oil. We were a little disappointed that we couldn't actually see the making of the pecorino cheese (I think for health reasons). We would have loved to have an olive oil tasting. The mattresses at the Palazzo could use an update, not so great on our backs. The only other disappointment was that there wasn't anyone else on the tour….it would have been nice to have other people there. There was another couple staying there (not on the tour, but I believe they stayed there before booked through you) whom we met and enjoyed having a dinner or two with. All in all we had a really great vacation and are now planning our next trip and are thinking of going to Northern Italy and the lake region and maybe CinqueTerre (sp?). By the way, through your website we booked shuttles to and from the airport and that worked out well, too. Staying in Rome when we first arrived and the last night also was a great idea. Thanks again, and feel free to use any of our comments on your website.
Dear Kristin,We did have a marvelous time in Tuscany. I think we especially enjoyed the fact that everything was planned out for us so we could just relax and go with the flow—no figuring out which roads to take or where to go each day. That made it easy to relax. The consensus was that some of the visits to the towns could have been a bit shorter. It seemed we were always ready to go back at least half an hour before the appointed time. We especially enjoyed the visit to the pasta factory, the ceramics (Rocchi) and the olive oil factory. Perhaps there would be other places such as these to visit. The food and wine were, of course, delicious and abundant. We did think that the first lunch could have been included in the total price and not an extra. The only complaint we had was the shower. We are not skinny folk and the door to the shower was rather tight. My husband talked to Gabriele about this and even had a solution for him. Gabriele promised to look into it, but he said if we came back we should call first. (We really did enjoy his sense of humor!). On another note, the links you provided for obtaining the train tickets and the airport transfers were most helpful. We booked the tickets online and had no problems with the train. The shuttle service for us from Rome to the airport was on time and the driver was courteous and accommodating. We ended up not using the first ATS reservation (from the airport to the hotel) because we volunteered to be bumped from our original flight and didn't get to Rome when they expected us. Your e-mails and help along the way were most appreciated as well. We will keep you in mind if we decide to go back to Italy in the future.
Hi kristinMy mother and i loved the trip! gabrielle & his daughter marta were wonderful hosts. the food was terrific as was the wine. tamara and alfedo were wonderful as well. i celebrated my birthday while i was there and alfredo had champagne and a yummy birthday cake for me--- a wonderful celebration!My mom loved it all and was able to walk the hills without difficulty.
Thank you so much
Jeanie h.& ruth g.
Ciao Kristin!Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, upon our return from Italy we all managed to get back into our usual hectic life. Wish I could just wiggle my nose and wish myself back to the Palazzo Bandino. What a joy the Palazzo was. It was everything you told us and sooo much more! Owner Gabrielle and his daughter Marta were gracious hosts and made us feel like we were old friends visiting their home. The same goes for all of their staff, and the meals.......WOW! Every meal was well thought out and absolutely delicious. Then there was the WINE.....They make their own wine and it was wonderful, not to mention free-flowing. The Palazzo was perfectly kept, Gabrielle takes great pride in maintaining the feel of the original farm, while managing to provide the comforts of the 21st century. One of the highlights of the week at the Palazzo was the day they piled us into their van and took us to the local cheese factory for a tour. While there they picked up some fresh cheese and then off we went to visit the La Rocca Tower in Radicofani. Gabrielle and Marta prepared us a glorious picnic on the grounds of the tower. The picnic included fresh fava beans, sliced cantaloupe, sliced salami and assorted meats, a wonderful assortment of wines AND the fresh cheese that they brought from the cheese factory. There was no one else around and It was so relaxing. The weather was perfect, the wild flowers were in bloom all around us and any cares from the outside world were just a faint memory!We highly recommend the Palazzo Bandino to anyone who wants to experience the lovely Southern Tuscany countryside.Before we arrived at Palazzo Bandino we spent two days in Rome, two days in Venice and two days in Florence. This first week as a very whirlwind tour of Italy and we were really glad that we spent the second week of our trip at the Palazzo so we could wind-down and relax.A note to Initaly.com, We got the name of Cartolina Tours from your website to help us set up the first week of the trip. Our relationship with them began very well, Chris, the owner of Cartolina Tours, was most helpful in arranging hotels, city tours and making train reservations. During the trip several little discrepancies happened, any one of which would have been just an "oops" but added up became rather annoying. We were also double charged for our rail tickets and had to go through a lengthy process before those charges were credited back into our accounts. I would not recommend Cartolina Tours to my friends, too many little things went wrong, the least of which were the duplicate charges.I highly recommend Initaly.com to anyone who is planning a trip to bella Italia. Your website is packed with fantastic and useful information. Thanks So Much!!
From the WooWoo's of Southern California
Linda B., Linda S., Karen M., Mary K., Dorothy K., Faith F. and her sister, June A. from Maine
Dear Kristin:My wife and I just returned from our vacation (May 2006) at Palazzo Bandino, and we could not be happier! I booked our trip based solely on your website and the email exchanges we had. To some folks this is a risky thing to do – spend a bunch of money on something sight unseen, with a vendor they've never dealt with before. I can, however, assure anyone reading this that Kristin was very responsive, gave accurate information and everything was exactly as advertised.In fact, the trip was even better than we hoped for. The people at PB were so nice (Gabriele, Marta, Alfredo, Elena, Tamara), willing to help out in any way to make our visit memorable. For example, my wife celebrated her 40 th birthday while we were there. A few months before the trip, I had asked Kristin via email if it might be possible to have some fresh flowers and a bottle of wine waiting in our apartment at PB. In my excitement about the trip, I had forgotten I had made this request. Sure enough a nice bottle of wine and a huge vase full of freshly picked flowers were awaiting our arrival. When dessert was served that night at dinner, they had put birthday candles on the cake and wheeled it over to my wife so she could blow out the candles.The apartment we had was very large with a full kitchen, dining room, large bedroom and full-sized bathroom. It was very clean and comfortable. The food was simply amazing: 4 course lunches and dinners, covering a wide variety of local foods. We have never been better fed! The wine and olive oil, both of which were made at PB, were awesome (we brought home as much as we could carry!) You can taste the love that goes into the making of their products.Gabriele took us around each day to lovely hillside towns, driving us through the stunning countryside while telling us about the history of the area and providing a local's insight into how all the wonderful food and wine are made. It was just the right balance each day – we never felt rushed and we came home happy each afternoon after a fun adventure. We would then eagerly anticipate what treats would be served for dinner that night.We also had the chance to meet and enjoy time with several couples during our visit, who were from all over the world: Holland, Germany, and the US to name a few. Overall we loved our visit and have made all of our friends very envious upon our return home.Thank you for arranging such a fantastic trip for us. We will definitely keep you in mind when we plan our next trip to Italy.
Dear Kristin, I just want to let you know how perfectly all the plans worked out on our recent trip to Italy. Everything was just great, the Casa Toscana B&B, the Palazzo Bandino, the Villa Cinqueterre, and all the transfers that you so carefully worked out. The Food & Wine Lover's trip was superb.....Gabriele and his staff just couldn't be nicer. I know that this was a complicated trip and presented many challenges. In Italy was able to fulfill our requests and made our trip go without a hitch. I will be adding my reader feedback to your website, and believe me, I have nothing but the highest praise!
Mille Grazie to you all!
We had a marvelous time in Italy and very much enjoyed Palazzo Bandino. We would go back in a minute and recommend it to anyone interested in wine, food, and a little sightseeing of the beautiful Tuscany countryside. Bob and Helen (another couple at Palazzo Bandino) had great things to say about In Italy, as well.
Thanks for your help. Your email and website are bookmarked for future reference.
Hi Kristin,Helen and Bob S.
There is lots to tell! Palazzo Bandino was just what we hoped for: rustic and scenic with all the amenities. Because of their great reputation we met interesting people from Switzerland, Italy, England and the U.S. There was a larger dining room for the groups that came in nightly from France, Germany and Norway. One night, we were invited in for dancing. Our villa was Il Vigneto, overlooking the vineyards and the mountains. We took tons of pictures of, and from the property itself. As mentioned on the website, our hosts Gabriele and Marta were wonderful and informative, as were our guides, Marco and Sonja.
The food was delicious, as was the wine - both flowed generously all week long. The trips to the olive oil mill, cheese factory and wine cellar in Montepulciano were all very good. The hill towns were beautiful. We found that Cortona, while pretty, has become touristy and expensive. Siena is difficult to see in a day without a good plan. In general, we would have liked a more in depth guide to the towns of Pienza, Montepulciano and Siena. In Siena, we spent time wandering, shopping and seeing the Duomo which is spectacular. Our favorite town was a small, lesser known one - Radicofani. We ate in an unassuming restaurant with a great view, Ristorante La Torre where the food, service and home-made wine were surprisingly good.
We both came away with a better understanding and appreciation of the Tuscan wines, foods and history. What was the biggest surprise and fun part of the trip was the great group we were with. While small - only five people - we had so much to talk about (and laugh about). As busy as we were, we found time for ourselves - after all, it WAS our honeymoon. And an exciting, romantic one it was.
I almost forgot to mention Rome. We had but one afternoon and night. Unfortunately there was torrential rain so we spent the day soaked. The Hotel Gladiatori was just a delight. We ended up with a first floor room with only the in-ground ruins and the Coloseum outside our windows! We ate in a restaurant that was recommended and that meal was definitely one of the highlights of the trip - even given the great food on the tour. The name is La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali on Via Madonna dei Monti, 16. Their phone number is 06 0679.86.43. This was definitely the best food that we had in two trips to Italy. Possibly one the best meals and absolutely the best service we have had anywhere in the world. The chef/owner Alessio makes sure to visit all of the tables to make certain you are satisfied.
Thanks for all of your help and for your website, which I recommend to everyone even remotely interested in Italy.
With Warm Regards,
What can I say other than everything was magnificent! Truly!! Tuscany...by far the absolute best place I have ever been! Gabriele and Marta are the most wonderful hosts anyone could ask for. They had everything ready for us and the apartment was perfect. The food at the Palazzo Bandino was so delicious, I really can't explain in writing how wonderful the food was!! I ate so much! We were very lucky, we were the only 4 people on the tour, so we had the driver, Marco, all to ourselves! He was a gem!!! His girlfriend, Sonia, was a wonderful interpreter, (she's from Scotland) and just beautiful people all around. Marco, Sonia, Gabriele and Marta made this vacation the best we have ever had! I will, without a doubt, return to Palazzo Bandino, and will tell EVERYONE I know to do the same and to work with initaly.com. Your expertise was right on! No flaws whatsoever throughout the entire process. Thank you so much for everything...I could go on and on about the whole experience!
Hello,We recently returned from a long awaited trip to Italy. We stayed at the Palazzo Bandino on the Food and Wine Tour and you have asked for our comments. We were there the last weekend of the season. It was billed as "olive harvest" week. In reality, they were just starting to pick, so it did not influence anything we did and we did not get to see the olive mill in action. The weather was beautiful, high in the 60's each day. The only down side was that it was too cool to swim, and there was some down time all but the last day. I would have preferred more time each day in the hill towns. We were the ONLY ones on the tour! There were a few other people at the palazzo most days, but they were Italians, so conversation was limited. The food and wine was beyond our expectations. The meals were splendid. And so was the atmosphere the staff created to dine in. The short, informal classes were interesting and informative, and at just the right level for semi novices. The staff was friendly and went out of their way to accommodate us. The rooms were large and had a nice kitchen for those not on a tour. And all but the vehicles were clean. The vehicles that we were transported in each day were filthy. I know we were in the "country" but, my clothes actually became dirty from riding in the vans. We will recommend this or similar trips with your company. We may go to Italy again, also.Thank you for your interest,Sincerely,
Now that I have unpacked and settled in, my husband and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a good time we had during our stay in Florence and at Palazzo Bandino.
All of our expectations were met. The staff at the PB was friendly, attentive and had that old world hospitality that we found refreshing and charming! The tours were well organized and planned. The meals and wine- well what can we say-- they were the BEST!
We would also like to extend our thanks to Patrick, who watched over our group and made sure that we got the most out of the sites visited.
At the end of the trip, four of us continued on to Rome by train to Termini. Patrick rode in with us, helped us with very heavy luggage and made sure we made it to the city hassle free. He then showed us some of his favorite neighborhoods and sites.
Thank you again. We look forward to using your services again if we ever find ourselves fortunate to return. We will also certainly recommend your site to our friends and family visiting the country.
Teresa and Bob B.
Just got back last night as we did a Venice/Po River cruise after Palazzo Bandino. We loved the Palazzo and the wine was extraordinary. All staff were great and Fabio was a great driver and the towns we saw were beautiful. We thought it was going to be air conditioned and were a little scared coming from Texas, but we had a fan and were very comfortable.
I would be happy to write a review on your web site. In fact I have referred a group of 10 for March and 2 other couples to you.
I thank you again for your understanding and help in changing our dates. It was most enjoyable having just the 4 of us on our tour.
Thanks again for your help.
Hi, Wonderful! That sums up our stay at Palazzo Bandino for the Food and Wine Lover's Tour of Southern Tuscany. Gabriele and Marta were excellent hosts. (Please say hello to Marta. I hope she is enjoying LA). The Palazzo itself was charming, so full of history and better than photos could ever show. The pace of this tour was just what we were looking for. Visiting the small towns with people from the area made it extra special. Visiting Montepulciano with Alfredo, visiting the church where he was married was one such instance. Having a delicious lunch in Siena at a restaurant of Fabio's friend, coaxing Cristina into doing the flamenco of her native Madrid were others. I could go on, but I won't. Suffice it to say everything was perfect.
Jessica - We are sorry that it has taken so long for us to reply . . . just too much going on with work and all . . . probably time to plan a decompression trip to Italy again! As you probably know, this was our second time with the Food & Wine Lovers tour at Palazzo Bandino. We wanted to explore the hill towns in more detail and see the wonderful folks at Palazzo Bandino(PB) again. We were thrilled; we felt comfortable getting off the beaten path and exploring some of the historical sights and culture in more detail. Not only were all the people at PB glad to see us again, but the itinerary was varied enough from our first trip that we rarely repeated any events. Our drivers/guides, Fabio and Carlos, were so much fun and willingly helped us with our struggling Italian. These guys put in long hours and did a fantastic job of getting us all safely to our destinations and home again. Barbara and Enrica have to be the most friendly and helpful people in all of Italy - they help make PB the comfortable and welocoming place it is today. Gabriele was an absolutely charming and generous host. Even though he was busy transferring his new Vino Nobile wine from the fermenters to barrels in Montepulciano(as evidenced by his purple hands) he found time to meet with our group, make sure we made it to all of lunch and dinner locations, and provide our group with a taste of the "new" vino nobile wine as well as a 35 year old Chianti/Sangiovese from the PB wine cellar. They both were heaven! We kind of remember the Grappa too, but it's a little hazy! On our first trip, we had a couple short cooking lessons with Luciano, but on the second trip there were none . . . we kind of missed this opportunity the second time around. Dinner at Sylvania's home in Chianciano was fantastic. She remembered us from last year and we almost felt like family. Everyone in our group helped make gnocchi in her kitchen. What fun and fantastic food we had. Everyone in our group appreciated Sylvania's hospitality and willingness to open her home to us. The olive oil factory tour and lunch were great. We brought home a five liter can of their olive oil. No, it didn't leak in our carry-on bag, and we treasure every drop. I think we only have a liter or two left. We shipped home some Vino Nobile Reserva from Crociani and it all arrived just fine. Everytime we open a bottle and smell the aroma it takes right back to the Crociani cellar in Montepulciano and their great wines. After we left PB, we took the train to Firenze for four days. Here's a helpful suggestion that Pat and Gerry from our group helped us with . . . stop in a travel agent's office (they're just about everywhere) and purchase a train ticket a day or two before you'll be leaving. Most of the travel agents speak English and you can get a reserved seat on the train and avoid the lines at the train station. Our hotel in Firenze, Florence B & B was very nice. It was very close to both the Duomo and the Academy. Being in the center of the city it got a little noisy at times at night, but everything was easily within walking distance. The lines at the Academy and Uffizzi can be long at times, and reserving tickets ahead through In-Italy can save some time standing in line. Because most of the museums and galleries are closed on Mondays, we arranged a day trip to the Chianti region with Massimo's group for Monday. It was just the two of us and our driver/guide, Maurizio, picked us up from the B&B right on time in the Mercedes van . . . pretty nice. He told us that almost all of the wineries in the Chianti are closed to tours on Mondays (a pretty big disappointment at first), but that he could take us to Pisa, tour the Chianti region and stop in Greve for lunch and wine tasting. We had a great time and Maurizio provided us with a good history of the regions we visited. But if you really want to go to the Chianti wineries, don't schedule the trip for Monday. We took the train to Rome and spent 1-1/2 days revisiting some of our favorite places, as well as discovering some new ones . . . such as Alfredo's for lunch . . . yep, it's the place that claims to be the birthplace of fetuccini alfredo, and it's fantastic! We stayed at Hotel La Rovere and found the room, terrace and service to be as charming as our stay with them the previous year. A light dinner on the terrace in the evening with some olives, bread, pesto, cheese and a bottle of good wine seemed the perfect way to bid good bye to bella Roma and Italia. You folks at In Italy do a great job of arranging things and making these trips so hassle free. Do you think you might be putting together some trips/packages like the Food & Wine Lovers for Cinque Terra/Liguria, Venice or Piemont regions? If so, when can we sign up? Grazie,
Rick & Stephanie J.
Kristin, I'm very sorry I'm so late in answering your email. We stayed on a little while in the Santa Margherita then on to Nice. But I must say the stay in Tuscany was the best vacation I ever had. I have traveled often in my work as well as vacations but none so enjoyable and relaxing as this one. We enjoyed meeting and being with our new friends in our group, Rachael and Darren from Los Angeles. Darren and our driver, Fabio, kept us entertained as we enjoyed the beauty of the land and the hilltowns. At the end of the day it was like coming home as we arrived back at the Palazzo Bandino. Everyone was so friendly and cheerful and the weather was perfect. Enrica is a joy. Gabriele is amazing. Luciano made us laugh as did Fabio. Everyone made us feel at home. We were very sad to leave all our new friends at the end of the week! We enjoyed all the wonderful food--the cooking school's peci, homemade gnocci made by our hostess in her home in old Chianciano Terme, pecorino cheese, basil pesto sauce, the wonderful lunch at the Olive Mill, Luciano's specialties and bread with that special Tuscan olive oil. The wines were great. We enjoyed Gabriele's presentation about the history of the house and the explanation of the wines of the region, how they are planted, harvested, processed, and regulated. He has a passion to produce the very best wines. We wish him luck with this year's yield. We got a taste and it's going to be great! I have sent many people to your website. I, too, hope to take advantage of another of your tours. Thank you for all your help. From Cloud Nine,
Dear Kristin, Just had to let you know that our honeymoon in Tuscany could not have been better. The Food and Wine Lover's Southern Tuscany tour was everything you advertised it to be and more. The accommodations at Palazzo Bandino were outstanding. The owner and staff were totally accommodating. They did everything they could to make our stay memorable. They were successful in every way. The warm welcome and friendly treatment we experienced were beyond what we could ever have expected. We will definitely consider traveling with your organization in the future. We cannot thank you enough for the wonderful experience we had in Italy. Sincerely,
John and Sandy F.
Kristin - We had an absolutely fantastic time! The six of us in the "Food & Wine" group hit it off within the first 30 minutes of meeting each other - we had such a great time together (along with Roberto our driver who joined us in, or at least tolerated, our craziness). The hotel La Rovere in Rome was exactly what we were hoping for - thanks so much for the recommendation. Stephanie and I will be sending you a more lengthy message with additional comments and praises; I just wanted to send you a quick reply to know that we had a fantastic time made it home without any problems. Thanks so much for helping to create such a wonderful experience for us. We'll be in touch soon. Rick J.
Hello Kristin! We wanted to let you know that our trip was so fantastic we are already talking about returning to Italy next year! Hopefully the trains won't be on strike the day we arrive! We ended up taking a little detour to Firenze for a few hours because of a train mix-up. It didn't stop in Chiusi--YIKES! But we got to the Palazzo Bandino 3 hours late but just in time for the wine tasting. We loved the Palazzo Bandino--the view from our window was postcard perfect. We loved opening the shutters to welcome the morning sunshine into our room. The people at the Palazzo: Gabriele, Enrica, Angela, Dominic, Barbara and especially Roberto, really made our vacation enjoyable, relaxing and hassle-free. The dinners at Elsa's agriturismo, at Silvana's home in Chianciano, and Elenora and her mother's home in Siena were beyond our highest expectations. We truly felt welcomed by each family and enjoyed being a part of their family if even for a few hours. The cooking lessons by Chef Luciano and dinner at Restaurant Silene were fantastic! Our group of 7 (including our new friend/driver Roberto) polished off 8 bottles of wine, 3 at the Cantina in Montalcino and 5 at the restaurant--DELICIOUS! Oh--plus the vin santo and grappa. We sang Rolling Stones songs in the van all the way back to the Palazzo. Needless to say, we had a fun group! We also loved our Hotel La Rovere in Rome and are so happy we decided on a room with a terrace. We walked everywhere in Rome--never needed to take a bus or cab. Of course, it helps to have sensible American shoes vs. the pointed toed, stiletto heeled boots fashioned by the Roman women. We ate at several of your recommended restaurants, e.g. Cesares, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The hardest decision of the day was deciding where to buy focaccia, olives, cheese and wine for an evening snack on our terrace. Thank you again for a fabulous trip and for our newfound love of Italy. Next time, we want to explore Firenze and Chianti and revisit our friends at Palazzo Bandino. We'll be in touch! Ciao,
Stephanie & Rick J.
Ciao Kristin, I am so glad that you wrote to me. I intended to write when the jet lag wore off which was just yesterday. I like to give all my energy when on vacation so it takes awhile to get it back. After three exciting days in Rome we were looking forward to the change of scenery of the countryside. We took the train to Chiusi during which we met our new friends John and Sandy who live all of 20 miles from us here at home. At the time of booking you had asked if we knew them and we hadn't, but we do now. John loves to cook so we plan on getting together with them where he will attempt to copy the wonderful Tuscan dishes we ate. We were picked up at the train station by Dominic and Gabriele himself, a most charming man and very gracious host. Upon arrival at Palazzo Bandino we were greeted by Enrica, Anna and Barbara. They treated us like guests in their own home making sure that every need was attended to. They took us to our room and as you had said the view from our kitchen, living room and bedroom was stunning. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure that I was not dreaming. That evening was a wine and cheese welcoming party. The following day we met Roberto, our driver for most of the week. Fortunately for me he was trying to improve his English as I was trying to improve my Italian. We had lots of fun talking and talking and talking. My passion is to perfect my Italian so I was making use of the opportunity. Unfortunately I was relegated to the back of the van when the rest of the group (my husband included) decided there was just too much being said that they did not understand. We went to so many different hilltop towns each with something special to offer. The people I talked to everywhere were very, very friendly. John, Bud and I soaked our feet in the water at Bagni Vignoni. An elderly Italian man asked if he could take our picture. A couple of nicely dressed elderly Italian ladies walked over to talk to us and they smiled when I reached down to scoop up water for them to put on their hands, it was magical. They were telling us that these were healing waters. After we removed our feet we had no doubt that it was true. Everyday there was so much to learn. The trip to the frantoio was very interesting and the lunch that Gabriele prepared over an open fire was to die for. My husband and I walked back to Palazzo Bandino from the frantoio just to see the countryside up close. We were almost there when a little "big" semi truck going up the hill stopped for us thinking we needed a lift. Friendlier people you could not find! The families who served us dinner in their home were so very friendly and all of the food was absolutely scrumptious. One afternoon Gabriele gave a two hour lecture about wines and olive oil which was very interesting, he is so knowledgeable. I suppose that is why the Palazzo Bandino wines and olive oil are so good. The cooking lessons with Chef Luciano with Angela translating, were fun and informative. They are both full of personality. There wasn't anything that we did that was not special. The guided tour by Dominic of the Etruscan museum was very, very interesting. Montepulciano, Assisi, Perugia, Siena, San Gimignano, ettcetera were just overwhelming with history. I guess you can tell we had a great time and hope to return next year. Thank you very much for having your wonderful website. If you want to know any specifics please email me anytime. I live in Ohio but my soul remains in Italy. Grazie mille,
Kristin, Gary and I just got back last night from Italy. You have to know what a fabulous experience we had at Palazzo Bandino/Gabriele. Your description of what we were to expect was outweighed by our experience.....it was just heaven!..and then some. Right now I am feeling the pull of time difference, etc., but am so very high on this experience that was given to us through this tour, that I just had to let you know. We did not want to come home! I, personally, will share our words with you and for this incredible tour to help send the message, because, honestly, we thought the description looked great, but Oh My God, the reality, the caring, friendliness, PEOPLE, accommodations, etc., was top notch. Thank you so much. Maggie M.
Buongiorno, Kristin! Thank you for being in touch with us. We returned home just this week after spending 9 wonderful days and nights in Italy. After spending one day and night in Florence we headed to Chianciano Terme to spend the week at Palazzo Bandino. Everything was absolutely fabulous...perfect. Gabriele and his staff at Palazzo Bandino were warm, hospitable and efficient. What a wonderful group of people. Everything went well and without incidence. We had wonderful weather, being able to enjoy the beautiful countryside of Toscana. The excursions around Toscana were plentiful...interesting, fascinating and well-paced. The others in our InItaly group (which by the way were great company) and Bob and I have also agreed that the food and wine were beyond our highest expectations...Very impressive! We feel absolutely spoiled. The meals in peoples homes certainly touched us all. One excursion we took, which was not part of the original plan, was to Assisi. This took the place of Perugia. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Assisi and recommend this outing to your clients. This trip has been (by far) our best trip yet. If we should win the lottery, we will definitely be buying a villa in Toscana and live out our lives drinking that wonderful Italian wine, eating fabulous Italian food, enjoying the beautiful Italian craftsmanship and soaking in the beautiful scenery of Toscana! We are more than happy for you to share our comments with other clients. We know that they will have as wonderful an experience as we did. Ciao,
Laura and Bob D.
Dear Kristin, We would like to thank you and also the staff of Palazzo Bandino, who could not have been nicer or more helpful - and nothing was too much trouble. We both had a fabulous time, and would like to thank you for all the help you gave us in making this such a special trip. Barbara K.
This has been the trip of a lifetime! The staff has been so gracious and accommodating. Our every wish has been their command. The tours we were taken to were exactly the kinds of things we wanted to see. The food has been outstanding. It seems to me that everyone here has an eye on detail and it's been wonderful! Thanks for a very memorable vacation. Millicent B.
Palazzo Bandino was fantastic. The owner and staff couldn't have been more helpful and fun. The food served and rooms were excellent. Trips to surrounding villages were very rewarding (beautiful, bargain shopping, fun, interesting). Meals out were excellent. Beau and Jim D.