Reviewed by Julie and Doug Wooley July 2014
We and 4 others joined Russ & Elke this year on their fabulous Bella Toscana tour! Knowing the group that went last year added to the anticipation for us! The small group (max of 6 plus them) immediately felt like family (that really like each other) and not a "tour."
We stayed at Le Cetinelle, a most delightful B & B in Greve in the Chianti region, high up on a hill about 5 km outside of the little village. The accommodations were great, and the pool, which overlooks the beautiful valley provided refreshing dips! Simonetta runs the B & B and makes a lovely buffet breakfast w/fresh baked goodies. We even had our own personal cooking class one evening at the B & B; made pasta, and crostini, and strawberry tiramisu!
Each day we took trips to various hill towns, castles, wineries and such. We had some wonderful, personal tours w/very knowledgeable, passionate and charming docents. We were not the group w/the tour guide holding up their flower, or umbrella or stick! We were the privileged group who had our very own guide! We ate some of the most delicious foods! These were meals to write home about! wild boar ragu over pasta; wild rice risotto; fresh farm vegetables and the most incredible salamis, prosciutto, and cheeses you'll ever taste! And don't forget the gellato! Hold onto your hats!!! And of course, the vino! Wow oh wow! If you're one to have any kind of side effects to wine; don't worry, it won't happen there! And if you fall in love w/any of them, Russ is more than happy to help you ship some home! (we're waiting!) .
Just when you think you've seen the most amazing view, or most magnificent church, you are wowed by the next turn in the road, or walk around the corner to see the Duomo in Florence! Russ & Elke have arranged the intenerary so that you don't have to worry; everything is paid in advance and arranged ahead of time so you don't have to do anything except show up! No bill to figure out at the end of each meal; all done! No worries about how to get someplace; all done! No entrance fees to see these magnificent duomos, and architectural wonders; all done! no tipping the docents, or waiters; all done! No figuring out what to do each day; all done!s a No driving or reading maps; all done! Russ is a master behind the italian steering whee! It's ALL figured out by these two amazing, personable, charming, knowledgeable, fun loving people that will be guiding you all week! If anything doesn't go as planned, you won't know about it until much later, as they finesse their way through those occasional hiccups in the schedule. They've done their homework and they are the ultimate host and hostess and will not disappoint!!!
Julie & Doug