Italy Tour: Stephen Woodall

Dear Jessica,

Thank you so much for booking such a wonderful holiday for us in Italy. We had a fabulous time and enjoyed every location we visited.

Every property you booked us into was unique, very comfortable, and surprisingly spacious by European standards and all of the hosts were obliging, friendly people to whom nothing was a problem. Dievole was our absolute favourite – what a place!!! Absolutely stunning. We could have spent a week there. It was so beautiful we didn’t even bother to visit San Gimignano or Sienna. The timing of our stay there was also perfect. After a few days of soldiering around Florence in 40 degree heat it was wonderful to relax in the Chianti hills, do the pool to death, and sample the Dievole wines before heading off to Venice for more foot-slogging (although our hotel there was so well located we even came back during the day just to use the loo!) The hotel near Lucca was also very special and we were nicely surprised to have the option of dinner at the B&B the night we arrived, and also the use of the kitchen facilities. We actually had either our own kitchenette or use of a shared kitchen at La Spezia, Lucca, Dievole ( if we’d ever use it), and Lake Como, which was generally unexpected but very welcome, particularly travelling with a child. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the B&B at Lake Como as I know it wasn’t on your original list, but it was lovely property with views of the entire lake, only renovated in the last few years, and the owners were a very welcoming family with young children. The advertising was a little misleading about having stairs leading to the nearby beach – it turned out to be a 10 min walk down and a car ride back up!! The actual house would not be ideal for anyone with mobility problems as it hugs the side of the hill and is on 4 levels with the owners occupying the first 2.

The only negative comment I have to make is in regard to the hotel in Venice (whose name escapes me). It was in a fantastic location, staff were great, room was spacious and clean, but it was let down by the breakfast facilities. The breakfast room was so small and cramped, people were having to wait in the hall or go back to their room and come back later. It was amusing the first day, ho-hum the next, and over it by the third. By the look of the hostess I think she was over it too! They do offer breakfast in your room if you prefer but there is no table to eat at so it’s actually easier to brave the breakfast room.

We had one small hiccup at the Agriturismo in La Spezia where a baby cot was provided, although we had requested and believed we had confirmed a bed for Jack. We paid the additional €72.00 for the extra bed and spoke to Sonia in your office the same day to find out what the problem was. She advised that she was aware of the extra charge if we elected to take a bed, but apparently the message had not quite made it to us. [Note from Umfulana: The amount paid for the extra bed has been reimbursed.]

We have already recommended you to another Australian family living here in Spain so I hope they have been in contact. As an ex-travel consultant of many years I have never let anyone else take care of my holiday planning, but I have been converted. You did a wonderful job and we were impressed with your selection of properties. I’ve been lucky enough to either stay in or inspect some pretty special places around the world, but, although it wasn’t 6-star luxurious, the charm of Dievole was quite enchanting and I haven’t stopped talking about it.

Thank you again,

Kind regards,

Mandy, Stephen and Jack