If you ever find yourself with only enough frequent flyer miles to get free magazines, I suggest you take advantage of Condé Nast Traveler. In it you’ll find, of course, the fabulous destinations reserved for the rich and famous, but you may also find something that will spark a desire for your own romantic getaway.
That is exactly how I found an exceptional professional to help me create an amazing itinerary to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Andrea Grisdale, CEO of IC Bellagio, and her amazing team are devoted to customer service. From the very first communication to our “welcome home” message, every detail of our trip that they orchestrated was absolute perfection. With one email I was able to provide enough information for the IC Bellagio team to put together itinerary options from which we selected destinations, accommodations and activities that best met our budget, time frame and interests.
It quickly became clear we were working with people who know how to truly listen and who are dedicated to far exceeding expectations. They did more than “wow” us! They showed us the love, and we love them right back with FREE ADVERTISING FOR LIFE. Thrilling doesn’t even begin to describe the service we experienced. Julie O’Donnell, our ambassador during our visit, provided our final land arrangement documentation, on which no detail was left unattended. She was in touch with us during our visit to make sure everything was going according to plan. Like she didn’t already know. ;) Each day was a dream come true made to order with loving care by IC Bellagio. Thank you all so very much!
Upon arrival in Rome, we were met by a friendly, English-speaking driver who chatted with us on the way to the hotel. Later that afternoon, we met our personal guide for a walking tour. We enjoyed three hours of personal attention, with Barbara as our guide, from the French Church atop the Spanish Steps through this famous international meeting place to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and so much more, stopping along the way to admire the grandeur of this ancient, yet modern city. An understandably proud native of Rome, Barbara shared the politics, culture and history of her city with us and even called ahead to get us a table for dinner at the end of our tour where we said buona sera to this charming, extremely knowledgeable, confident lady.
The next day it was a bit rainy, but that didn’t spoil our Roman holiday Vespa tour. We zipped around Rome with two professional drivers, saw the sights and experienced freedom and glory all in one Sunday afternoon! Belerio, our guide, gave us a passionate account of the life and times of the ancient Romans and their city devoted to Venus, the goddess of love. We took some roads less traveled, witnessed nuns singing sacred Gregorian Prayers and peeked through the keyhole into a country within a country, The Sovereign Order of Malta. We skipped the Bocca della Verita (mouth of truth) – too many tourists standing in line. We opted instead to stop for espresso and pastry.
On the third day we visited Vatican City, our guide again was Barbara. We moved through the museum, across a large courtyard and into the long corridor filled with sculpture, tapestry and beautiful architecture that leads to the Sistine Chapel. Barbara knows art; she’s been a guide for thirteen years. She shared her passion and knowledge, plus some interesting facts about Michelangelo’s uneasy relationship with the overseers of his work.
This tour took me completely by surprise. I had no idea my emotional reaction would be so overwhelming. Even though I’d seen photographs, the Sistine Chapel took my breath away. No photos are allowed inside. The place was packed. I tried to stand still and focus on just one section. We finally moved closer to the exit and stood silently. My eyes were drawn to the scene of Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden. Something came over me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I wasn’t sobbing, just unable to stop the tears. Original sin, the idea has puzzled me all of my life. I will NEVER understand it. Woman brought wrath upon all humankind? Give me a break! I saw too many penises in Italy to think for one minute that there isn’t more to that story. I could be wrong; I am from time to time.
That was some of the places of Rome. Next are the faces of Rome. More love, more beauty.