Luxury Travels in Italy: Part 3 Rome

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People love Rome for the history, art and architecture. They loathe Rome for the ever present crowds of people. Popular destinations have earned that distinction for a reason. If you would like to check Rome off of your list, but want to avoid the masses, then private touring is the perfect fit for you.

Speaking of the masses, we spend the last two nights of our trip to Italy at the Westin Excelsior. Technically, this is a Virtuoso hotel. However, the reality was that my room was in need of a deep clean and a refresh. The hotel is in a great location, has lower rates than other Virtuoso properties, and if you love the SPG program you can earn points for your stay.

Exclusively for Virtuoso guests:

For 2016

      • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
      • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
      • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
      • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

In addition to my stay at the Westin Excelsior, I also did site inspections at the following hotels: St. Regis Rome, JK Place Roma, the Portrait Roma, and the Hotel de Russie.

Our first morning in Rome was an early start. We were ready in the lobby by 6:30 AM for our transfer to the Vatican, where we had breakfast before starting our tour. This is an must-do experience when you are in Rome and is well worth the additional cost.

The other must-do activity during our visit to Rome was the Vintage Vespa Tour. It was so much fun! It is the perfect way to experience the city and soak up life in Rome.

Leaving the Westin Excelsior on the Vintage Vespa Tour
Leaving the Westin Excelsior on the Vintage Vespa Tour

Of course there are many other excellent tours and sites to see in Rome, plus lots of wonderful shopping and dining options.

We said goodbye to fly home the next morning and took our private transfers to the Rome (FCO) Airport. Due to the fire that occurred in the in the international terminal in May 2015, and the large number of passengers on a Saturday, the airport was an absolute zoo. Allow plenty of time to get to your gate, even if you have status or are flying Business or First Class.

First you checked in at a counter with your passport where you are asked several security questions. Then I was handed a tiny plastic bag which was basically the size and quality of a plastic vegetable bag  with handles and told to place all of my electronic equipment in it, including cables and chargers.

Then I went to another area where I waited in line to check my bag. Then I got in line for about two hours, holding my plastic baggie of electronics, to go through security. This was followed by passport control, and then a bus ride to the terminal. I arrived to the airport three hours early, and made it to my gate fifteen minutes prior to boarding.

The wait was so bad that American Airlines held the plane and we departed about an hour late to give people time to clear security.

All in all it was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back and experience more of Italy.

Are you dreaming of a vacation in Italy? Give me a call at 508-485-3061 or send me an email and let’s turn your dream into a reality!

See Also: Luxury Travels in Italy Part 1 Florence and Luxury Travels in Italy Part 2 Tuscany

Luxury Travels in Italy: Part 1 Florence

Ponte Vecchio
US Airways 718 PHL-FCO Business Class
US Airways 718 PHL-FCO Business Class

In October 2015 I went on a whirlwind nine day trip to experience some of the best of Florence, Tuscany, and Rome with one of my favorite Virtuoso on-sites, Italian Dream Incorporated Travel (IDI).

I found a great deal on Business Class tickets to Rome, so I set aside my general aversion to flying out of my way and booked the tickets from Boston via Philadelphia. Technically, I was starting my trip in Florence, but when I looked at the flight times and costs it made the most sense to arrive into Rome and take car service the rest of the way.

I spent my first night in Italy at the exquisite hidden gem that is Villa Cora in Florence. Wow! This hotel is often overlooked because it is slightly outside of the heart of Florence. However, it is truly an oasis that is just minutes from the Ponte Vecchio. There is complimentary shuttle service, or you can take a taxi or even walk.

Villa Cora
Villa Cora

I had a beautiful well-appointed suite with views of the gardens and outdoor heated swimming pool.

Suite at Villa Cora
Suite at Villa Cora

The true highlight of my stay was the Food & Beverage team. The dining experiences were second to none. At every meal they knew that I was a vegetarian and offered me personal suggestions and recommendations. They didn’t make a big fuss about it, nor did they expect me to remind them or specifically ask for accommodation. They simply offered excellent service and gracious hospitality. It sounds simple enough, but is in reality it is quite rare.

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Exclusively for Virtuoso guests:

For 2016:

  • Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary buffet breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Children’s amenities available, welcome gift per room, per stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

I spent the next two nights of my stay in Florence at the beautiful Portrait Firenze. The suite interiors are all painted a soothing dove gray and each one has a kitchenette. Located on the Arno River, the hotel is a half block from the Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio
Sunset over the Ponte Vecchio

Exclusively for Virtuoso guests:

For 2016

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • A bottle of Italian sparkling wine in room upon arrival
  • Complimentary one-way transfer to airport
  • Complimentary internet access
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

There is so much to see and do in Florence that three nights is not enough time to have the full experience. I definitely recommend using private guides and planning your stay well in advance. This will ensure that you are maximizing whatever time you have and are getting the most out of your experience in Florence.

The highlight of my sightseeing was an exclusive visit to Michelangelo’s Secret Archive. Beyond words!

There is no shortage of gorgeous art and architecture in Florence. Here are a few photos from the Accademia Gallery, the Uffizi, and the Duomo.

In addition to my sightseeing activities, I also did a number of hotel site inspections which included the Hotel Savoy, Villa la MassaHotel Lungarno, Gallery Hotel Art, and the Continentale. The first three are Virtuoso and come with usual complimentary amenity package. The latter two are lovely four star hotels for those on a smaller budget. Of course, I can VIP you at all of them!

If you have questions about luxury travel in Italy, please do not hesitate to give me a call at 508-485-3061 or send me an email.

Grazie!

See also: Luxury Travels in Italy Part 2 Tuscany and Luxury Travels in Italy Part 3: Rome