CHECK TESTIMONIALS OF FRIENDS WE HAVE MADE DURING THE LAST 10 YEARS
MRS LOIS WISE (USA), Sicily, DECEMBER 2017 A tour of Sicily is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. My husband has been reluctant especially since we don’t speak Italian and the driving is difficult. We needed to find a good tour of the island. You can understand that we did a lot of research into different travel options and tour operators before we decided on Secret Italia’s 12-day Land of Contrasts tour of Sicily.We wanted a tour that would offer a good variety of activities and insight into the people and culture.What a marvelous choice Secret Italia turned out to be for us.The tour met or exceeded all our expectations. It is a 10 of 10! Having Rosaria, who is such a knowledgeable and well-organized person as our tour leader, meant that everything went very smoothly throughout the tour. Her love of Sicily is contagious. She was always one step ahead in terms of coordination and ready to provide suggestions or assistance, but also made the trip fun and interesting. All of the staff we met affiliated with Secret Italia contributed to making the trip especially enjoyable and congenial and we also appreciated the special local tour guides who enriched our experience of the site visits. The Secret Italia Land of Contrasts tours was so special because of the way the itinerary was put together and the charming hotels we were able to enjoy along the way.We appreciated the careful selection of venues and the diversity of activities in the program very much and take a hat off to you. My husband and I both agreed that many gems and highlights of the tour were places we would have overlooked if we had planned the trip ourselves. The route was very good in terms of time and stops; a surprise was how stunning the road between Corleone and Lercara Friddi was. We had heard that the food of Sicily was very good, but we really weren’t prepared for how marvelous it is. So everything from seeing the fresh food in the street markets and the cooking class, to the wineries, wonderful restaurants and confection shops we visited was a delight for us. All of the restaurants selected as part of the tour were special and many extraordinary.We really feel that we indeed experienced the secret jewels of Sicily on this tour. The island was more beautiful, the sites more spectacular, and the food more fabulous than we had imagined. Last to say how much we enjoyed traveling through Sicily during the holiday season. It was a treat to see the cities illuminated for the holidays and the wonderful nativity scenes in the shops and hotels across the island. Certainly there are tradeoffs for traveling off season but for us, the mild temperatures and lack of crowds even at the busiest tourist sites were a special benefit of the December tour. If you would like more objective indicators:
Itinerary/Program design 10
Program execution/accuracy 10
Accommodation 10 (each a special place to return to)
Transport 10 (it was so nice to have the mini bus even for a small group and the drivers are amazingly skillful)
Guide Rosaria 10
We thank you for organizing such a marvelous tour of Sicily and hope to be able to travel with Secret Italia again sometime soon.It was a treat for us to be able to get to know Paola Palumbo and we would very much like to travel southern Italy with her. And of course there are other tempting tours in the Secret Italia program as well!
KATHY AND JOHN GILMER (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 What a wonderful trip we had with Rosaria and Marco September 23 – October 4! It was one of our best tours ever! We enjoyed Sicily with its history, stunning landscapes and seascapes, friendly people and delicious food. But most of all we enjoyed Rosaria and the little extras that made the trip unforgettable. Madeira sipping at the Valley of the Temples in the moonlight, tasting candy, cookies, and other little unscheduled treats along the way, taking group pictures everywhere we went, dancing on the cruise in Ortega, bypassing crowds at the Opera, all added to the wonderful itinerary. Aldo made it easy to book and helped us feel comfortable about our choice. We will recommend Secret Italia Tours to anyone
MRS BARBARA STALICK (USA), Sicily, OCTOBER 2017 Dear Aldo, I just returned for our Tour of Sicily and wanted to let you know how much I loved everything about the tour. It was well planned and organized. Everything was excellent!! Rosaria is a gem!! So delightful. She is personable, caring, fun and her love of Sicily is evident. She is an outstanding tour guide!! We loved her. Marco is an excellent driver. At no time did we feel unsafe. Everything about the tour was fantastic. I thank you for all your hard work in organizing such a great tour. The food everywhere was delicioso. Everywhere we went was fascinating. I will highly recommend Secret Italia Tours to everyone. Thanks again for everything. My wonderful memories of Sicily will stay with me always.
MR AND MRS HUXLEY (USA), Sicily, SEPT/OCT 2017 Our tour of Sicily was the first group tour we have ever taken and it exceeded our expectations. Aldo has done an exceptional job of selecting locations, hotels and the daily itinerary. He was always responsive to our inquiries and accommodating for special requests eg. additional nights, a room upgrade in 1 location. From the start, our exceptional guide Rosaria made everything happen, always with a positive attitude and her Sicilian joy for leading us as a group. Because of Rosaria and our lovely bus driver Marco, the group’s camaraderie and enjoyment multiplied. Thank you Rosaria for arranging special surprises along the way. There were so many memorable Sicilian food experiences to rave about: the home hosted meal with a very congenial family and prepared with local organic ingredients, the wine tasting and lunch at a beautiful winery at the foot of Mt. Etna, the lunch prepared and served fresh in the heart of the Siracusa market. All the local tour guides were very well chosen and well versed on their subjects, including Gino’s fascinating history of the Mafia. Overall the tour provided a very memorable experience of the people and places in Sicily. We highly the Sicily tour with Secret Italia!
MR AND MRS WHITE (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 We were brand new to the ‘group tour’ experience. Each new day had us thinking about how selecting the Secret Italia tour was so much the right choice for this trip. We had a terrific time. The itinerary, the mix and balance each day, the choices of sites, and the pacing showed that our tour was designed with care, not merely assembled. That we were getting a sense of Sicily, not just checking off sites to see. Rosaria was a wonder for her energy, enthusiasm, and unwavering helpfulness. And for transforming a mix of cautious strangers into a group of traveling friends.
MRS PERRON (USA), Sardinia & Corsica, SEPT/OCT 2017 We are finally back from the second leg of our tour. Rome and Nice were wonderful, too. We had an amazing time on the Sardinia and Corsica tour. Every hotel was wonderful. They were all clean, comfortable, and had gorgeous views. And it was great that a really good breakfast was included every day. We enjoyed all the cities, towns, and sites we visited. The pace was excellent where we got to see a lot, but were not totally exhausted at the end of the day! The tour guides were all fascinating and especially helpful and friendly. We learned so much! We enjoyed having the free time to explore the cities on our own, too. We had so many delicious meals that we told everyone we went on an eating vacation and did a little sightseeing, too. Our tour mates were terrific and our bus transfers were easy and comfortable. I’m so glad I didn’t have to drive on those curvy mountain roads, but instead got to enjoy all the fabulous vistas. It was a true vacation since we didn’t have to worry about anything. We just showed up at the appointed time and everything was handled seamlessly. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to take another Secret Italia tour again soon. Thanks for all you did for us, Aldo, we appreciated it so much. You exceeded every expectation in every way.
MR AND MRS CAVINESS (USA), Sardinia & Corsica, SEPT/OCT 2017 Charles and I very much enjoyed your tour, and will recommend it to others.You chose beautiful hotels to stay in, and their beds and the rooms were very comfortable and attractive. It was a treat too to be in several palazzi, near several beaches, and close to fascinating places.The variety of experiences, from seeing the Nuraghi, wineries, olive oil producer with the museum, and cheese maker, were very interesting, and educational. Being in the Bonaparte house was fascinating, and learning about Pascal (or Pasquale, my Dad’s name) Paoli was new to us. We hadn’t known that his ideas contributed to the writing of our Constitution. You gave much thought and research into putting the tour together. You presented a fine representation of two islands that were completely new to us. I should also add that the meals were delicious, and the bus transportation comfortable. We appreciate all your effort. After the busy time we are going through at home, including the California fires which are causing much smoke in the air, I will be writing a good review of our trip with you on Trip Advisor. Charles and I send our good wishes to you and your dear family
SALLY TUCKER (USA), Malta, SEPT/OCT 2017 Dear Aldo, Thank you so very much for one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken…MALTA You convinced me that the way to see the world is in small groups. Your Secret Italia Tours of Malta was perfection, touching on every aspect of truly getting to know and enjoy the area you are visiting and its history. I have already started to recommend you and your trips to my relatives and friends. It was a pleasure getting to know you and experiencing the personal commitment you have to your guests.
MR AND MRS MCHENRY (USA), Sardinia & Corsica, SEPT/OCT 2017 Hello Aldo, I hope you are recovering well from our tour and enjoying time at home with your family. Since I returned to work I have been raving about the tour! You run an excellent operation. All of the details are mastered and that makes it go so smoothly. We fully enjoyed both islands and all of the experiences. We can even get Sardinian Cannonau and Monica at the nearby wine store! Again, thanks for making it great. Andy McHenry
LAURA BETTS (AUSTRALIA), Andalucia, SEPT/OCT 2017 Dear Aldo and Katrin, Thanks so much for a my recently completed small group tour of Andalusia. This was my first visit to Spain and is the first time I’ve taken an organised tour – I truly enjoyed having someone else look after all the details! The local guides in each place we visited were exceptional as were the hotels and restaurants. Our tour leader Laura deserves a very special thank you for her personal attention and great recommendations for our free time in each place we visited. An unforgettable experience – highly recommended!
ROSEMARY VILLANI (CANADA), Sardinia & Corsica, SEPTEMBER 2017 Just completed the amazing Sardinia and Corsica tour with Secret Italia. Many many thanks to Aldo for this wonderful experience and his endless energy and cheerfulness to make this trip go off without any problems. The sites, accommodations, restaurants, size of the group and pace was top notch – way surpassed my expectation. He made sure all of the details were to your satisfaction. Thanks also to Ricardo for guiding us and Stefano for driving us around Sardinia. And to Sandy for drving us to our destinations in Sardinia.I highly recommend this tour with Secret Italia. It’s well worth it.
MR AND MRS PASSIONE (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 We want to thank Secret Italia for their organization, coordination and production of a GREAT TOUR. The 12 Days Sicily Small Group tour exceeded our expectations. The hotels were all very good. The excursions, food, wine and motor coach were all first class. The itinerary was full but worth every minute. Aldo was easy to contact, very responsive to our questions and concerns and a pleasure to work with. Our guide Rosaria was fantastic. Her professionalism, attention to detail, enthusiastic personality and knowledge made the tour amazing. Marco, our driver, was exceptional. He navigated the challenging Sicilian roads with ease. Thank you for a very memorable vacation
JACKIE MELVILLE (CANADA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 I am am writing to thank you for an amazing tour of Sicily. At the end of each day we thought it couldn’t get any better, and then the next day it did. Rosaria was so helpful, so knowledgeable and so lively. She was always in such good spirits. The hotels were lovely and the food tremendous.Thanks to your careful planning we experienced a variety of Sicilian foods and enjoyed a range of activities that were sometimes educational – and sometimes just plain fun. This is truly a trip to remember.
MR AND MRS WEISSMAN (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 We have to thank you so much for the terrific trip! Everyone in our group agreed that the tour exceeded our expectations! It was a delight from beginning to end. The itinerary was intense but all worthwhile. Of course, as I’m sure you know, Rosaria was wonderful. She managed everything beautifully; she put all her considerable energy into making sure that all went smoothly. All the hotels were very good and the food was always excellent. We didn’t have to worry about what we would do when we were on our own for dinner because most of the time we were too full from lunch to bother with dinner. Oh, and I should mention how good Marco was–an excellent driver. One suggestion for music on the bus–add a little classical and opera. Well, thank you again. We will recommend Secret Italia highly and I’ll do a Trip Advisor piece in the next few days.
SUSAN KANE (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 I just completed the Sicily tour and wanted to let you know what a wonderful experience it was. You have a real treasure in Rosaria. Her knowledge and enthusiasm were contagious. The whole group bonded and were unified in our admiration for Rosaria. The hotels were very nice, especially the final villa in Taormina. I could go on and on about the food, but that too was terrific. Many thanks to Secret Italia!
JOANNE CRAW (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 Dear Aldo, Please know that my recent tour of Sicily with Rosaria was wonderful!!!She was such a lovely person to deal with and took very good care of us all. She was quite knowledgeable about the country and all the beautiful sights we saw.I am telling all my friends here in the US about your tour company and would hope I can return to Italy myself one day soon and I would gladly use your tour company! Being of Italian decent ( Naples) I enjoyed all the food and wines of Sicily and was amazed how beautiful it was. Please send my regards to her and thank you for all your work planning and setting up this tour. The hotels were perfect and the service was outstanding. Best wishes for continued success with Secret Tours. Gratefully, Joanne Theresa Barlettano Craw
LUCILLE AMATO (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2017 I just wanted to take this time to thank you for the most fantastic tour ever. I have never been on a group tour I generally travel independently but I have to say you’re secret italia was by far one of the best experience I have had. We all fell in love with Rosaria She was forth coming and genuinely concerned for each and everyone of us. Each and everyone of us had a fabulous time we hated for it to end and Sicily is truly a land of contrast as you say. And I thank you for all your assistance and your prompt reply’s to my crazy emails. Grazie
MR AND MRS RYDBERG (USA), Sicily, JUNE 2017 Booking this tour off the Internet knowing nothing about the company except its own website was a little risky, but Wow, what a fabulous tour we had. Our guide, Rosaria, was knowledgeable, passionately enthusiastic about Sicily, very well organized, and attentive to the individual needs and requests of each guest. Highlights were the stunning mosaics in churches, a fascinating lecture about mafia history delivered in Cordeleon, outstanding granitas at the Bam Bar in Taormina, a home meal, excellent local guides at every site, and a bottle of champagne delivered to a couple in our group celebrating their 30th anniversary romantically lowered by 2 men with a bucket from a high dock during our boat cruise in the bay at Siracusa. Aldo and his crew deftly rearranged our itinerary to avoid G7 disruptions, yet we saw everything we expected to see and more.We had a wonderful introduction to the culture, food, people and rich history of Sicily while traveling in 1st class comfort with wonderful travel companions and a fabulous guide. A more outstanding experience cannot be had. This was wonderful!
MR AND MRS FLYNN (AUSTRALIA), Puglia & Sicily, JUNE 2017 We have finally returned home to Australia after two months in Europe/U.K. and we would like you to know how much we enjoyed our tours with your company (Puglia/Basilicata and Sicily).Very well organised . Everything ran like clockwork. Beautiful accommodation, delicious food, interesting experiences,comfortable vehicles with excellent drivers. However, the ‘icing on the cake’ were the two tours managers, Paula and Daniela. True professionals, excellent knowledge, enthusiasm and love for their regions and a great sense of fun. If the rest of your tour managers are of the same calibre as these two ladies you must have a very successful business. You appear to have the knack of choosing the right people and we hope you thoroughly appreciate them.We hope to travel with your company again one day.
MR AND MRS CAMPBELL (AUSTRALIA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply to you, but we are still very much on holiday, in rural France at the moment, with very limited and frustrating access to wifi. We very much enjoyed our Secret Italy tour. It enabled us to visit places in Sicily which we would never have been able to do on our own. Your organisation and attention to detail on the whole trip was just excellent, as were the hotels and all the varied delicious meals. However, what completely made the trip for us, was the delight of having Daniela as our tour guide. Not only was she an absolutely excellent, very professional, guide, but it was also a real privilege to get to know her. We would also like to highly commend Jean-Luigi. He drove extremely safely and smoothly, was incredibly considerate, and was, in addition, great fun and a lovely person.
MRS VIRGINIA MCCORMAC (USA), Sicily, JUNE 2017 Bonnie Morosi and I traveled with your tour in May and it was wonderful! Your planning and choice of hotels and sites were memorable. The lunch with Rita and Suzanne was excellent and what lovely people. Christian, our driver, was so professional and a pleasure to be with as we drove from one destination to another. Our guides were knowledgeable and informative and I streamed 245 pictures home with typed descriptions. Coming to Sicily connected me to my heritage and I felt as though I had visited family. Thank you for the pristine planning and for checking on everyday to make sure we were happy. I will visit Sicily often. I am encouraging my friends to visit Sicily and use Secret Italia tours. It was a remarkable two weeks!
MR AND MRS CUCINELLA (USA), Sicily, JUNE 2017 We just go back from our secret Italia tour of Sicily and yes it was fabulous as other reviews have said. We also were nervous about booking a tour group on line. And only being able to correspond through phone and internet. We had nothing to worry about. Every time I called with questions( and there were many) Aldo’s quick response showed we had nothing to be concerned about. In fact his response was quicker than agencies within the U.S. Rosaria was our tour guide. She is an outstanding, kind and loving person/ guide. She made all on our tour feel welcomed, secure and part of a family. The food was amazing. Don’t miss the pizza demonstration and tasting. My one regret was not having pen and paper for note taking. The pizza was the best we have ever had including the GF pizza. P.S. They really made sure they catered to all dietary needs.
MR AND MRS CALDER (NEW ZEALAND), Sicily, JUNE 2017 We were looking forward to this tour having heard and read so much about the history, the architecture, the food, and this tour delivered it all, and more. In the safe friendly hands of our guide, Rosaria, the layers of Sicily were revealed. Her knowledge and love of her home came through. ( She is a gem ) Great driver Antonio took us through Sicily, from Palermo, Agrigento, Syracuse and on to Taormina. His calm expertise behind the wheel was acknowledged by the group we travelled with. We have been home a week now and I still miss hearing Rosaria’s bright greeting each day of ” buongiorno”. Simple lunches of wonderful seasonal fresh foods, the best pasta in the world, dinners in local trattorias, and a very special meal with a family in their home. Don’t just read my review, go for it, book it, and experience for yourself. With Rosaria, and the knowledgeable local guides , you will have a great time.
MR AND MRS JOHNSON (USA), Puglia and Basilicata, JUNE 2017 I want to take the time to let you know how much we enjoyed our small group tour in Puglia. Everything about it was wonderful……the sights, the hotels, the food and especially Paola, our guide. She was knowledgeable and always looked out for our group. But the best part was her personality and the joy she took in her work. She was always cheerful, even when we asked stupid questions, and such a crazy, fun person. You truly have a gem in her and I would love to take another tour with her. The tour was well planned, not too many hours driving and interesting activities in which we could participate. Each day seemed to be better than the last one. I would highly recommend SecretItalia Tours and plan to take another of your tours in the future. Thank you for a wonderful trip and good memories.
MR AND MRS TAKVAM (USA), Puglia and Basilicata, MAY 2017 We have returned from our month in Italy with so many wonderful memories from your tour. They make us smile often. Everything about it was sensational. From the moment we met our guide, Paola, we were mesmerized by her charm, the depth of her knowledge about the towns and history, and her warm, caring attention to keeping us so happy every minute. We enjoyed her many stories and even her singing!! She captivated us with much fascinating information as we learned so much about Italy and Italian life. She opened our eyes to a fascinating Puglia. Paola is a very special person with whom you fall in love. She gave such meaning and depth to our experience. Every day with her was exceptional. We left having made a good friend that we hope will visit us in the USA. She is a treasure for Secret Italia Tours!! Aldo, the choices you made in hotels and restaurants were excellent. Being able to walk from many hotels to shops and restaurants enhanced our experience. Sleeping in a cave hotel was a once in a lifetime experience. Every meal was a sumptuous feast. You have created an admirable business. Every step of the way was superior. Two of the couples we were traveling with had taken your Sicily tour last year. After they had regaled us with such wonderful stories about that excellent trip, we all decided to do your Puglia trip together. Experiencing the pride you take in providing a special trip, we hope to take another one of your tours in the future. Thank you both for giving us such wonderful memories to treasure always
MR AND MRS DEMARINO (USA), 10 days in Portugal, MAY 2017 Our trip to Portugal, thanks to you was beyond perfection. Not a single thing went wrong. Adrienne and I travel a few times each year, but have never been in the special unique places that you included in our Portugal trip. The lunch spots were something out of a movie set! Carla was incredibly warm and wonderful and an EXCEPTIONAL caliber tour guide. We came home raving to our friends and family that Portugal is a wonderful place to visit and you must use Secret Italia.Please feel free to use us as a reference- We look forward to planning another trip with you again.
MR AND MRS MOON (AUSTRALIA), Calabria, Puglia & Basilicata, MAY 2017 Our tour of Puglia and Basilicata was perfect. The itinerary, accommodation and transport were excellent. The included meals were great but as always on Secret Italia tours we ate too much! Even the weather was perfect with warm sunshine every day. Then there was our guide, Paola. We knew from the first friendly greeting we had a treasure here. She shared her considerable knowledge with enthusiasm and ensured our tour ran smoothly. Her warmth and humour were contagious and by the end of our tour she had become not just a wonderful guide but a real friend. We have recommended Secret Italia Tours many times and will continue to do so. Our extension to Altomonte in Calabria was a delightful surprise. The little hill town is set in beautiful country close to the Pollino National Park. Our three night stay in the family run Hotel Barbieri was faultless. Our room was large and comfortable with a view to the old town with its castle and cathedral. The Barbieris have a passion for local food and culture and a commitment to fresh local produce much of which comes from their own garden. With great food and excellent service Hotel Barbieri is definitely a place we would recommend. The day trip to Albanian villages of the Pollino National Park also provided surprises. The scenery was spectacular and the villages fascinating.When I have downloaded and sorted our photos I will send through a couple of photos of Altomonte and the National Park. Altomonte is an extension I’m sure others would enjoy. Kind regards and ciao
MR AND MRS BAKER (USA), Puglia & Basilicata, MAY 2017 Dear Aldo,Peter and I would like to thank you for organizing a great tour of Puglia with a wonderful and exciting itinerary, fabulous food, great wine, unforgettable experiences and beautiful accommodations. Most of all, we would like to thank you for our tour guide, Paola. It was an absolute pleasure to have Paola Dodi as our travel guide for our amazing 10-day tour of Puglia. From the start to the conclusion of our tour, Paola’s effervescent personality, genuine caring, engaging enthusiasm, pleasant sense of humor, and passion her heritage endeared her to our entire group. As we traveled throughout Puglia, Paola skillfully intertwined the rich history, multicultural features, and enchanting local charm of each captivating region of the Italian boot. During our planned free time, Paola would engage each couple and recommend various sites to explore, ensuring that their personal interests would be accommodated. Saying good bye was particularly emotional for all because of Paola’s endearing kindness and sincerity. Our itinerary exposed us to the wonderful region of Southern Italy but Paola’s presence every single day dramatically enhanced our wonderful travel experience. Kudos to the Secret Italia Tours for having such a unique, one of a kind professional on their team.
MR AND MRS DREIER (USA), Sicily, MAY 2017 Aldo, Thank you, thank you, thank you! My husband and I had a fabulous time on your Sicily tour May 13. You, and your team did a fantastic job of accommodating our every need. It was first class all the way from the airport transfers, to the hotels, to the restaurants. Everything we did depicted the lifestyle and culture of Sicily, we experienced and learned a lot. It is hard to say what our most memorable time was because they all were memorable. Rosaria is a rare gem! She is a very good guide, always concerned that everyone is happy and satisfied. She is very upbeat and it shows that she loves her job.Thank you Rosaria for all you did. Aldo, thank you for going the extra mile to have champagne for us on our 30th anniversary, that was an unexpected treat. We look forward to touring with you again.
MR AND MRS GOLA (USA), Puglia & Basilicata, MAY 2017 Ciao Aldo, The itinerary of the tour was excellent as far as we were concerned. It was a nice mix of history, local sites, culinary delights of the area and the length of motor travel and walking each day. The various restaurants and “food stops” provided a great overview of the cuisine of each of the “mini areas within Puglia, and we enjoyed them immensely.We felt that the amount of touring we did each day was just perfect, some days were full from start to finish and others we were given a half day off to explore and eat on our own. This is an excellent idea as it gives everyone in the group the option of staying together or to explore/eat on their own. We also liked the way the tour integrated local people and businesses: the professor’s palazzo, the baker, the cheese maker, the wineries, the olive tree grower, etc.,. Everyone, of course, was an expert in their subject matter and that of course made it even more interesting! The choices for lodging were beyond what we expected…each location was unique and very tastefully decorated. Our personal favorite was Matera, even though this was the smallest room, due to the history associated with the caves. In fact the entire visit to Matera was my favorite, there was so much history and architecture to see and it has much to offer. To me, it is almost like a hidden jewel that not too many people know about yet unless they have visited the area or live in the area. We can’t say enough about Paola, her attention to detail every day to make sure everyone had a good time, supplementing what the local experts had to say or translating where necessary such as in the professor’s case were invaluable. When she served as the tour guide herself in a particular location, she was very knowledgeable and if she didn’t know the answer, she would follow-up. She is very even- tempered dealing with various situations as they arose, in a calm and collected manner. She also worked with each hotel to make sure that check-in was smooth, that the bags were delivered to the room and checked in on us before she left for the evening to make sure that everything was ok. She worked with each restaurant that was on the itinerary to translate the menu for us or give us some recommendations which helped expedite the process and the selection. In conclusion, as I think I said above, she is very professional, jovial, courteous, knowledgeable and also fun! As I think I mentioned to you, I suffer from motion sickness and not once did I feel sick on the bus. The driver was a very careful and moderate driver which also contributed to making the trip more enjoyable for me. We would definitely recommend the tour to anyone interested in this part of Italy. Thank you again Aldo for all your assistance at the beginning of the trip and I wish you much success with Secret Tours, it is a great concept and you will be very successful.
MR AND MRS BRAYBON (AUSTRALIA), Puglia & Basilicata, MAY 2017 Gary and I have just returned home to Melbourne and I wanted to express our delight with our recent tour in Puglia with Paola and 10 other wonderful fellow travellers. The tour covered so many different aspects of the area and we were able to gain a real sense of the area and the people. Paola is amazing, intelligent, knowledgeable and seriously personable.Her manner with a small group of people is respectful but very engaging, enabling each member of the group to feel catered for and acknowledged. Paola is one of the best guides we have ever had the privilege to share a journey with and her professionalism and warmth enhanced this small group tour. The itinerary was fantastic, enabling us to enjoy a great variety of experiences in an informed, interesting manner yet allowing enough time to explore and enjoy the different locations without a feeling of being rushed. The different meals were wonderful and the choice of restaurants and the variety of styles enabled us to appreciate the culinary delights of the region. A fantastic trip and we would recommend your tours to all fellow travellers. I have read you new brochure, [a very stunning presentation] and would now like some more detail about the tours in regard to dates. We are considering travelling to Portugal October – early November 2018 and would like some indication about small group tours you have available at that time of the year 2018
MR AND MRS CAMPBELL (AUSTRALIA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 Dear Aldo, I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply to you, but we are still very much on holiday, in rural France at the moment, with very limited and frustrating access to wifi. We very much enjoyed our Secret Italy tour. It enabled us to visit places in Sicily which we would never have been able to do on our own. Your organisation and attention to detail on the whole trip was just excellent, as were the hotels and all the varied delicious meals. However, what completely made the trip for us, was the delight of having Daniela as our tour guide. Not only was she an absolutely excellent, very professional, guide, but it was also a real privilege to get to know her. We would also like to highly commend Jean-Luigi. He drove extremely safely and smoothly, was incredibly considerate, and was, in addition, great fun and a lovely person.With best wishes, and many thanks
MRS JOAN KIEFER (USA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 Aldo, Sicily is a beautiful country. Fabulous trip, could not have been better, so much more than my expectations. First and foremost, our tour director Daniela was the best, competent, organized, considerate, informed on all aspects of the sites and history, and able to answer all questions. But, best of all she was great fun. We all fell in love with her. She kept our group of 15 totally included, and we all enjoyed being together. I have never seen a tour as cohesive as this group. We loved the variety of the places we visited, one more beautiful than the next. The meals were wonderful, bountiful, and well presented, with lots of delicious wine always included. All of the hotels were also great selections. We will heartily recommend Secret Italia tours to everyone. Many thanks,
MR/MRS SKILLICORN (USA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 Dear Aldo, The tour was flawless. Every detail was accounted for with the choice of hotel, selection of foods and wine, and the places we visited. It was the most complete visit to Sicily of many tour companies I looked at. We really felt like we had seen and experienced Sicily. The best part of all was our tour guide, Daniela who really gave us insights into Sicilian life from how to talk with our hands, to the history, to the culture, to the background on the Mafia, but most of all she shared her intense love of Sicily. She cared deeply about each member of the tour and was always available. We all loved her. We understand she was in constant contact with you which means you really were involved in everything we did. Bob and I are most grateful for all your planning and attention to details in planning this wonderful adventure. Palermo was very special and we had some free time to be able to walk around the area the day we arrived and loved the churches and history. The countryside from Corleone to Agrigento was spectacular and can’t imagine any tour not including this drive, but I know many don’t. The lecture in Corleone was moving and we had a better sense of the Mafia and the dangers he still faces today in sharing the stories and working for a total end of the practice. Daniela also gave us a talk on the bus about the Mafia as she did on different topics every day. I asked Daniela if we would be able to see the Valley of the Temples at night from our hotel as the tour books said it was quite beautiful lit at night. Our driver told everyone he would take us after dinner in the bus to the see it lit up and it was so wonderful. Our guide there was very knowledgeable and in no hurry to rush us. He shared a lot of knowledge with us. Piazza Armenina was spectacular to see. We have seen several Roman ruins including Pompeii, but this was a truly special place to visit. Syracusa was one of my favorite places and I loved the boat ride to the caves and around the island. It was less touristy and more authentic in its lifestyle that made it very charming for us. The trip up the mountain to see where the Godfather was filmed was tortuous, but the driver and accomplished it with great skill as he did on our entire trip. We enjoyed him and felt very safe. The drives on the trip were very enjoyable. The countryside of Sicily is varied and so beautiful. We were fortunate to arrive in early May with the arrival of the beautiful fields of yellow flowers and the red poppies and other wildflowers and the fields were green. We enjoyed the order of the trip, ending in Taormina where we could walk around, do a little shopping, and be near everything as well as relax a little. The hotel in Taormina was fantastic in its location and beauty and the room was very nice as were the breakfasts. There was such nice balance in every part of the trip. I loved the trip up Mt. Etna. Most tours don’t do this, but this was very special for us to be able to hike a little at the end of the bus route and enjoy the mountain that is so famous and we had seen from angles for several days. The Greek temple was wonderful as was our lunch in Giardini Naxos with musicians to sing for us. Being a non drinker, I was surprised by the wine that we had at meals and soon was a fan of every white and red wine offered. None of them gave me a “buzz” as do wines in U.S. that have sulfites in them. The wine served to get our little group to know each other better and at the end, we were all friends. The meals were all carefully planned to give us samples of Sicilian specialties, but with other choices if we didn’t care for one thing. That was very special as I would never have ordered much of what we ate, but found it all delicious.We LOVED Sicily. We loved Daniela, the bus driver and Secret Italia tours. We HIGHLY recommend you to anyone planning to visit Sicily!!!!
MR/MRS WASHINGTON-SMYTH (USA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 Glenn and I had an absolutely wonderful time on the tour. Great experience. Daniella is exceptional. She is an excellent guide but she is way more than that. She is caring, funny, smart and always looked for another way to take care of our group. She really made the tour special. Plus, I think we had and unusually a good group. Nobody was late, or had a melt down. It was congenial all the way. As for the tour itself. We really enjoyed seeing as much of the island as we did. The sights were well curated with interesting site guides. The food and wine and the amounts were simply over the top. I can’t begin to tell you how much we appreciated the range of foods and wines. I should mention that we really liked being in the same hotel for 3 or 4 nights. It made it easy to unpack and feel settled. Good idea! While I have not been on many tours you have really put together something special and unusual. I plan to recommend it to all my friends!
MRS MOROSI (USA), Sicily, MAY 2017 Giardini Naxos…a perfect ending to a perfect holiday odyssey. Thank you for your attention to detail. You certainly have high standards and high expectations of yourself and for those you choose to work for you. We so appreciated the very knowledgeable and interesting guides, the friendly, patient, and skilled drivers, the charming and lovely hotels and their locations along with the very helpful people running them, and the colorful and welcoming restaurants you selected for us. We enjoyed the opportunity to explore other restaurants on our own. We thoroughly enjoyed the cooking lesson and time with Graziella as well as the Susanna and Rita family visit.All in all it was a splendid and full 12 days. Sicily is beautiful and has so much to see and enjoy. For me, I love its melting pot history…a coat of many colors. We had such a fantastic time. I have been all over Italy and can honestly say that of all the places, regions, provinces I have visited, Sicily tops it for the nicest, friendliest and most welcoming people. Thank you from my heart for your diligence and hard work. Hope to use your incredible services in the future. Thank you Aldo.
MR AND MRS GUARINO (USA), Sicily, APRIL/MAY 2017 Aldo, what a fabulous time we had on our recent Sicily trip! Sicily is beautiful, everything went perfectly and Daniella was delightful. The group was friendly, the accommodations nice, the food great and the wine abundant. I must say that this was as near a perfect trip as you could expect. I will always look back on it with joy while looking forward to our next opportunity to travel with you
MR AND MRS WEAVER (USA), Sicily, MARCH 2017 Aldo, ciao, What a tour! Everything was perfect – the weather, the activities, the food, the gelato, the people, the scenery, the hotels (especially the one in Taormina.) As for our guide, Daniela – momma mia! She was everything you hope for in a guide – excellent English, great knowledge of and love for Sicily and a beautifully charming person. Well I have to stoppa now, my wife has my espresso ready. Arrivederci, Harold.
MR AND MRS SLOOP (USA), Sicily, MARCH 2017 Aldo, just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the Sicily trip and what a truly outstanding job Daniela did as our guide. I have been fortunate in my life to have traveled extensively throughout the world, and this was one of the best trips I have ever taken. Am sure the group size had a lot to do with this, and of course, Daniela who could not have been more gracious and accommodating.Will definitely recommend your services to others.
NANCY COATTA (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 Just wanted to let you know that we had a GREAT TIME…Everything was well coordinated, food was great, tour guides were exceptional and very knowledgeable…Rosaria was the BEST…Loved it and would recommend it to other friends and tell them to ask for Rosaria and Marco
VIRGINIA LONG (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 Dear Aldo,Thank you for making my first experience in Sicily so delightful and memorable. Your attention details from the cities, places, hotels, restaurants, etc. that we visited or stayed and the local guides were all perfect. Especially our tour director,Rosaria. Her fun and caring personality and knowledge of the area along with her enthusiasm and passion make it an enjoyable enriching experience for all of us. All the travelers were wonderful and we’ve formed some new friendships.Ti ringrazio di nuovo per in viaggio ben progettato ed indimenticabile.
MARY AND ERNIE HARDER (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 We will be departing Sicily in the morning after a most enjoyable travel experience lead by Rosaria. Our group was a very congenial group, in good part a tribute to Rosaria’s gifted leadership that helped meld diverse personalities with her open, good humoured, caring personality. She is a gem who demonstrated obvious passion for her work as tour director. We thought the tour itinerary was well designed and felt very safe and comfortable in the new mini bus, skillfully driven by Marco. Accommodation was superior, meals superb, with obvious care given to timing of venue visits . As seniors, no doubt all in our group appreciated Rosaria’s sensitivities for timely rest stops. We would mention that with one of our group struggling with mobility issues, it strikes us that this added considerably to Rosaria’s workload we thought, although Rosaria gave no indication of the added stress it must have created for her. We would unreservedly recommend this trip experience.
BETTY AND WALT BRAINERD (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 Walt and I just want to tell you what a wonderful experience we had on our tour of Sicily. What a beautiful island. We had the most enthusiastic wonderful group of people who enjoyed every minute of the tour. What can we say about Rosaria. She is the best. She is fun, smart, and has the most wonderful personality for a tour guide. We would like to compliment you on a superbly run operation from the transfers to the selection of hotels, restaurants and sights. We hope to go on another tour in the future. Thank you for offering these small group tours. Grazie Mille. Betty and Walt Brainerd
SUE TOELLER (USA), Sicily and Malta, SEPTEMBER 2016 Aldo’s itinerary is personally attuned to the traveler that wants to experience history, local sites and local culinary experiences. The small group travel is so special and personal, making it possible to go to unique and memorable sites. From prime centrally located hotels, to out of the way local experiences we traveled in history with local guides at many sites, that loved their history and country with passion and knowledge that brought us into the very life of the country. Special thanks to Our Sicilian guide, Rosarita who was attentive and extremely helpful. She constantly was on top of everything and a joy to travel with. Our Sicilian driver, Marco was a great sport and got us into and out of places skilfully and effortlessly. Lastly, our Malta guide, Simone was very helpful in bringing together the history of Malta. I am sold on the concept of small group tours. I highly recommend these tours because they give a thorough experience of the countries that a two city stop will never give. It is an immersion into a country with a locals experience. It is a journey that will leave memories for a lifetime. Regards to all your efforts and an experience that was beyond my expectations Aldo
ANN LOHRAND (USA), Sicily and Malta, SEPTEMBER 2016 We just returned from a 12 day tour of Sicily and an 8 day stay in Malta. Both tours were led by great guides, Rosaria and Simone. The hotels we stayed in were all located centrally so that you could explore on your own after a day of touring. The small size of the group allowed us to go to cozy and quaint restaurants frequented by locals. The meal with a local family was really that hosted by the son and cooked by the mother and daughter. The street food was fantastic. Everything ran as promised. The small buses were new and comfortable. We would highly recommend this tour company, and will probably book another tour soon
BARBARA MCNAMARA (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 Aldo, As we leave Catania for Rome and the flight back to the US tomorrow, just wanted to take a moment to let you know what a wonderful time we had in Sicily. Our Guide Daniela could not have been any better; friendly, knowledgeable, and obviously well organized. She was particularly attuned to individual needs. The local guides used were also very good. We take away very fond memories of Sicily, its history, charm and its beauty thanks to Secret Italia and to Daniela
PAULA NICOLETTI (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 We want to tell you how much we enjoyed the Sicily tour. Rosario was a fabulous guide. She went out of her way to make sure we were all well taken care of and that our needs were met.The food was always plentiful and delicious. All of the local guides were all very nice and knowledgeable.The hotels were in great locations . We especially enjoyed the Hotel Royal Maniace in Siracusa and the Centrale Palace in Palermo. They were so convenient to walk from to see the people and sights of these cities.The home-hosted lunch was especially enjoyable. Besides the food being delicious the family were really nice and it was so much fun to get to sit and talk with them.We loved all the tours. Marco was a very good driver and the bus was comfortable.You may want to consider a day at the beach in your future tours.We will have a new appreciation when we re-watch the Godfather movies !
LINDA TAGLIAMONTE (USA), Sicily, SEPTEMBER 2016 Ciao! I wanted to tell you what a wonderful time we had in Sicily! The hotels were in great locations and friendly. The food was delicious. We enjoyed all the local tour guides- so knowledgeable! Rosario was wonderful!!!! She made the trip so special for us. We love her! You are lucky to have such an adaptable woman who can get along with all personalities.
LINDA GRADO (USA), Amalfi Coast, SEPTEMBER 2016 Just a note to tell you what a wonderful time we had! Our trip was perfect in every way, from the excellent tour guides and drivers, great hotels and beautiful locations, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Several friends have asked about our tour and we’ve gladly referred them to your website and told them what a great job you do! We look forward to planning another trip with you in the future, but until then, thank you so much for making the Amalfi Coast such a memorable experience!
LYDIA AND MARTIN KAPLAN (USA), Sicily APRIL/MAY 2016 We signed up with Aldo Valerio, owner of Secret Italia Tours. Our guide was Rosaria. It was a fantastic tour in every way. My husband and I arrived a few days early in Palermo, staying in the Centrale Palace Hotel, which was arranged by Aldo. Upon arriving, we received a call from him making sure we’d been met by one of his people and all had gone well. The hotel is an 18th century Palazzo, located in the heart of Palermo. On our own, we visited The Sicilian Puppet Theatre on Pietro Novelli Street across from the Cathedral, which we highly recommend. Although we knew a visit to the market was on the tour, we decided to go and check it out on our own at our own pace, as I was having problems walking. A few days later, we met up with the two couples who made up our tour, one from Australia and one from Arizona, along with Rosaria. After touring Palermo and outlying areas, among the places we visited were Monreale, Corleone, Agrigento, Siracusa, Modica, Ragusa, Catania, Taormina, Castelmola, Mt. Etna, and a few other wonderful places. All hotels were excellent and the lunches and dinners that were included were delicious and enjoyable. The few times that we were on our own for eating, we were told of places that we might enjoy and/or we found a few on our own. Our driver, Salvatore was friendly and a very safe driver. Rosaria was wonderful in working with me because of my walking problem. We couldn’t have asked for a better trip and savored every moment every day. It’s clear that Aldo has put a lot of thought and care in putting together this trip. We have travelled all over the world and have done many tours. This ranks very high on our list. We highly recommend it and believe that you won’t be disappointed.
DAVID AND HILARY BIRTWHISTLE (AUSTRALIA), Portugal MAY 2016 My wife Hilary and I participated in the Secret Portugal tour conducted in May 2016. I was unable to give you my feedback about the tour when I first received your request but I am now back home and my comments about the tour are below. I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The carefully-designed itinerary covered many of the most of historical and interesting parts of the very beautiful county. The small buses were comfortable and facilitated access to areas such as the tightly-winding roads through the terraces of the Douro where the views were remarkable. Meals provided in the wineries were excellent: we shall always remember the superb dinning and wine tasting at Dona Maria and the scenic lunch at Quinta do Crasto. All of the hotels were very good but we particularly liked the Vintage House, with a lovely room overlooking the river, and the Palacio Das Cardosas right in the centre of Porto. We found travelling with a small, friendly group added to the holiday experience and our guide Carla gave us good insights into the history and the customs and way of life of Portugal. We found Carla outstanding as our tour leader, she was always pleasant, nothing was too much trouble and she constantly ensured that we were doing things that we enjoyed. I really appreciated her depth of knowledge and sense of humour. Her patient explanations and stories about the country considerably added to our enjoyment of the tour.
BRUCE MILLER (USA), Sicily MAY/JUNE 2016 My wife and I as “older” travelers enjoy taking small group tours and leaving the driving and planning to someone else. In selecting Secret Italia, I had hoped that this company would give us a good experience without hassle. And Aldo’s company came through! Rosaria, our guide, helped the fourteen of us on the tour learn about Sicily, providing seamless transportation and arrangements and making us all feel comfortable. She went the extra mile the one day I was under the weather, and I’m sure she did the same for others as well as they needed assistance. Her infectiously happy personality made us delight in the sights, sounds, and food of Sicily.The tour bus was a new, comfortable Mercedes Benz, and Marco, the driver, carefully maneuvered the bus through narrow lanes and passages. We were impressed by his driving skills and were also pleased that he interacted with us as well.We now know Sicily a great deal better due to Secret Italia’s arrangements. The hotels were most agreeable, with not a single problem in any of them. We also appreciated the fact that of the 12 days on tour, we only had one instance of a single night’s hotel stay; the rest were of multiple days. That allowed us to get our bearings and really learn to appreciate the cities and towns where we stayed. It was also very convenient that many of our meals were included, meaning that we were on our own for lunch or dinner only a few times during the tour. I have nothing but good things to say about Secret Italia, except its secret is out: it’s a great company which provided a great value to all of us.
JUDY COY & MARILYN GIRODO (USA), Puglia & Sicily MAY 2016 We are slowly recovering from the long trip home and the time change. The last of the dirty laundry is in the washing machine, and we have each gotten on the scale to find that we are both at an all time high, weight-wise, due to eating large quantities of excellent food and wine on our trip! We had a fabulous time discovering new regions of Italy, and everything exceeded our expectations. We felt like royalty on our private tour in Puglia. We had never traveled like this before, and it was quite an experience to have our skilled driver, Salvatore, and the black Mercedes and Paola to show us around. Paola was so good to us and so knowledgeable of the area. We thoroughly enjoyed her company. We laughed, told stories and really got to know one another. We don’t know when she found the time to tend to the details for the next day as we were together from morning until our bedtime. We will remain friends with her. The itinerary was perfect for the time we had and the hotel choices excellent.The Sicily tour, too, was outstanding. This was a first tour for us as we were on our own on previous trips. The group size, itinerary, pacing, bus and driver, and restaurants were perfect. We appreciated the multi-night stays in the fine hotels and that they were located in the old city centers (with the exception of the beautiful one at Agrigento). The evening visit to the temples at Agrigento and the Italian Opera evening in Taormina were highlights among many others. Rosaria, like Paola, is a gem. She skillfully managed our group . She is immensely fun and caring and enthusiastically conveys her love of beautiful Sicily. We never realized how much the guide would contribute to the overall quality of a tour. Rosaria and your careful planning succeeded in making this a most memorable trip for us. Thank you to you and your team!
DEBBIE DIETER (USA), Portugal & Madeira MAY 2016 I am back home and slowly adjusting to the time change. It was such a memorable trip. Portugal was beautiful and the people were so friendly and welcoming. Such beautiful country and our experience was so varied that I felt we got a great “feel” for all of Portugal . Carla was an excellent guide. She was knowledgeable, fun, and had great positive energy. She is such a positive addition to the Secret team. She added so much to the experience. This hotels were all excellent. I liked the variety and locations of all of them. The idea of a small, unusual hotel well located to the heart of the town was very appealing to me. The staff and the food at each were excellent. Our meals at the wineries were unforgettable. Not only were they delicious and located in beautiful settings, we had a chance to talk with the locals. I really liked the fact that the group was small. It made for great comradery and we could experience more and different things than a larger group can. The trip to Madeira was the frosting on the cake. It is such a beautiful, enchanting place. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it was so relaxing. The hotel was exceptional. It was beautiful and so quiet and peaceful. The staff could not have been better. I met Sara who was your contact and she was very welcoming. The restaurant there was very high quality and we enjoyed all our meals there including 3 dinners. Joao was an excellent choice as a local guide. He is a skilled driver and we rode in comfort in his Mercedes. He is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his beautiful island . He was punctual and flexible in adding things to our tours. We actually took an additional tour with him on one of our free days. Being with him allowed us to experience more than with a larger group. I would not hesitate to recommend him. Trust the Locals is an excellent way to describe your trips. We were able to have a quality and unforgettable experience. Great job to all your Secret team and a huge thanks to you. I could not summarize the trip in one experience in one sentence. You may use any part of this email in your communications. I am looking forward to seeing the Southern Spain itinerary and the new Italian Lakes Country extension. Hope all is well and a big hug and thanks to you.
ROBYN & ROSS KEIRLE (AUSTRALIA), Sicily/Portugal MAY 2016 In the morning our travel to Portugal unfortunately comes to an end. We want to thank you for providing such an intimate, professional, well planned & varied experience. The tour led by wonderful Carla was just so very much more than we expected & behind the scenes Aldo, we always knew you were a text or email away. The wonderful lingering winery lunches as we wove our way to the Douro Valley were truly memorable. We had a great group & Carla’s knowledge & care was immeasurable. We also thank you for getting us in to wonderful atmospheric hotels always in the centre of everything. Any friend, family or acquaintance wishing to come to Portugal from Australia will be strongly urged to make contact with you. Once again thank you Aldo for your care in making your tour company so professional & excellent.
WALLY & DONNA ADLAM (AUSTRALIA) Malta- MAY 2016 To Aldo and Anna: Thank you for a wonderful experience on our tour of Malta.We cannot speak highly enough of the whole trip. A special mention to Audrey, our unique tour guide who was absolutely fantastic in every respect. We have had a wonderful tour which will stay with us forever. Thank you again!!! Ciao Wally and Donna
BEV GREGORY (AUSTRALIA) Sicily- APRIL/MAY 2016 We have just completed an 11 days tour of Sicily with Secret Italia Tours starting in wonderful Palermo and concluding in Taormina with many wonderful sights and experiences in between. Everything ran like clockwork-just like the itinerary. All guides were informative and interesting and were always waiting for us at the appointed time. Our drivers were fabulous,included meals wonderful as well as the one with a Sicilian family. We were also allowed plenty of free time as requested.We cannot recommend Aldo and his team highly enough for their wonderful and impeccable organisation and regular contact throughout the tour. Thanks Aldo- we will go home to Australia and spread the word.
DICK AND CHRIS THOMAS (USA) Sicily- SEPTEMBER 2015 We have always been very independent travelers and have shied away from group tours. The Secret Italia tour was small enough that we all had very personal care and attention and we were never left waiting for the last member of a huge group to return to the bus or felt like part of a herd of cattle being led through the street. The choice of hotels was terrific. Very high quality and superb locations. Restaurant and menu choices were great as well. The selection of tour guide was exceptional. Do not let Rosaria get away! She is a terrific asset for your tours to Sicily. We have a local friend who is a native of Italy. He has worked in the travel business for many years and specialized in escorting local college and art museum groups on yearly trips to Italy. He helped us plan several of our previous visits, but unfortunately for us, he has retired. On our return from our tour I sent him some details and a copy of the long itinerary from the Secret Italia website. In his response to me he included a comment with “EXCELLENT ITINERARY” in all caps. As we look back on the tour we realize that we got to see and do many things that we would never have discovered on our own. We suggested to our friend that he recommend Secret Italia to others when he gets inquiries about trips to Italy. Chris has printed out the details for the Portugal tours, so you may well be hearing from us about next season.We wish that we could have traveled on to Malta with the group, but we had commitments back home that we needed to return to.We would like to thank Rosaria again for making our trip to Sicily so special. We enjoyed every minute of the trip and her knowledge, charm, and concern for each member of the tour group played a major part in making that happen. We are still speaking with our hands, know when the big earthquake occurred, and we will never be quite the same when we hear “Volare”.Thanks again for a wonderful experience. We literally stumbled across Secret Italia while searching the web for information on Sicily and we are so very glad that we did.
GERALD & GERALDINE MCCORMACK (AUSTRALIA) Sicily- SEPTEMBER 2015 Firstly Rosaria and Vittorio were the best possible combination. They knew the detail and added their personal experiences to each location and during the journey to the next one.Your choice of families and connections in the region of your home town of Gaggi and Taormina gave us a special insight to that area. Geraldine and I agreed with the multiple nights in the same hotel, it gave us a chance to do simple administration and get to know the location better. Also the general starting time of 9:00 am is sensible too.We also agree that the dinners and lunches that you arranged and that Rosaria implemented were a good mix of the specialties of the wine and food of the regions- and caponata is interesting, but now that we know it, we will not need to look for it in Sydney. Though I am sure the Sicilian community in Sydney would have it if we need it! The mix of time in the bus and on the ground was right for us because we saw the key elements of the Island but we will be forever amazed at the intertwining of history, nationalities, impact of locations ( such as Corleone, Erice, Agrigento, Syracuse) and culture. In our opinion the best lunch was certainly the one after the Salt Pans on top of the hill at Erice and even though the fog and rain hindered the view over the coast, and it was cooler than we expected, it was very enjoyable.The best dinners were at the hotel in Agrigento and then at the in the Seafood Syracuse restaurant.I was very interested in the Corleone time and was looking forward to the talk by Gino. I had read Peter Robb’s book, “Midnight in Sicily” and had it with me. Gino said it was the best preparation for a visit to Sicilian and the Mafia. One of the unexpected highlights of the tour was the night of Italian Opera at Taormina. Rosaria brought it to our attention and when all but one of us said we would like to go, she was able to book seats in the 3rd and 4th rows. It was an informal and relaxed performance that we all appreciated, thanks again to Rosaria.Thanks so much for making the tour to Sicily an amazing experience!
JOHN & ADRIENNE FORTH (AUSTRALIA) Sicily- SEPTEMBER 2015 My wife and myself participated in the Secret Italia 2015 Sicily Tour. From initial approach to Aldo through to the end of the tour everything was organised so smoothly and effortlessly that it was joy to participate. No matter the hour Aldo seems to be able to respond to emails. Claudia, his tour leader was a delight to travel with. Only by participating can you appreciate how much thought has been given to every aspect, from hotels, food, sightseeing and logistics. As a consequence there was nothing to do but sit back relax and enjoy. We can only thank Aldo for what he was able to provide.
NATALIE & COLIN LOGAN (AUSTRALIA) Sicily- SEPTEMBER 2015 Now that we are home we are reliving our trip looking at our photos and just wanted to say how fantastic the tour of Sicily and Malta extension was. I can’t speak highly enough of Rosaria who made even the wettest day seem a lot of fun. Veronica in Malta was also fantastic. All the accommodation had great locations in or near the centre of the old towns or scenic spots. Our Malta hotels were fantastic as well. The food experiences were wonderful and the places we visited had such an interesting history. We loved the Mt Etna day and felt very lucky to see it clearly from the hotel, as the previous couple of days had been very stormy and cloudy. Thank you for your organisation and correspondence.
ROSEMARY DAWBARN (UK) Sicily- JULY 2015 Just to tell you how much we enjoyed our recent trip to Sicily. Our travelling companions were like-minded people and we all got on very well together. Our guide, Rosaria, was superb – always brimming over with enthusiasm for her country (especially her home town, Catania), the welfare of her clients and the fact that we were all having a great time even though it was really, really hot. The hotels were excellent (one was rather quirky), were well situated in the various towns we stayed in and breakfasts were delicious and plentiful. I think you must have put a lot of time and energy into finding them and also all the different restaurants we went to and the various places we visited during our time in Sicily. It was much appreciated. Rosaria mentioned that you are thinking of going on holidays to Sardinia and Corsica? If this is the case, I think we would definitely be interested. Thanks for a really well-planned holiday.
MARIE BARNAU LOUGHNAN ( NEW ZEALAND) MALTA- JULY 2015 From the time was met at Malta airport until the time was taken back for my return flight, everything went according to the itinerary. I was most impressed with the organization of Secret Malta Tours. Audrey was the best guide, knowing the historical side of Malta, which was my reason for wanting to visit the island. I wanted to further my knowledge of its history, so I was well served. There were many highlights, it is hard to pin point just one or two. I must mention, though the experience of eating the local food and drinking the delicious Maltese wine, with the local people.I have many memories of Malta and its people. I will not forget my tour of this magic island. Also, Aldo, I must say thanks you for the photograph of the three of us wining and dining so well. I am not a good photographer, so that is a reminder of the great time I had in Malta.
BARRY & PAT SHANKEL (CANADA) Sicily- JULY 2015 We had previously been on a small group tour in Turkey and were looking for something similar. That previous tour was recommended by our travel agent who we had used on several occasions so we were comfortable with that arrangement. When we found your tour on the internet we had misgivings and asked our agent to make some inquiries. She felt comfortable with your company so we went ahead with this trip and we are really glad we did. We expected the tour would be as described, we hoped It would be better but it was even better than we hoped. Everything was organized perfectly and the standards of the hotels were much higher than expected. We saw our share of churches and museums and ruins but there is more to a country than these and we were really impressed with the broad range of other experiences you had arranged for us. This could only be done with a small group, a smaller vehicle and a good guide. Our guide Rosaria was the best we have had. Her knowledge of Sicily and everything we experienced was amazing, Google could learn things from her. She was warm, funny, enthusiastic and worked tirelessly to make our trip as good as it could be. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and we will be looking to see what else you offer, now and into the future.
LISA ORLANDO (NEW YORK, USA) Sicily- JULY 2015 Traveling with SECRET ITALIA is like paying a visit with a Italian cousin who takes as much care to see that you are comfortable, well-fed, having fun, and learning the local history which is far better than from a book. I can’t imagine a better team than Aldo Valerio the tour designer and Rosaria the tour manager. I worked briefly on the tourism industry enough to know that these folks do everything right, and with supreme quality. Our 12 day tour of Magical Sicily was hands down an A+!!What is extraordinary about SECRET ITALIA tours is that attention to detail is done to the level of perfection: the selection of cities and sights to visit, places to dine, exotic treats to sample, even a stop at vineyard in the foothills of Etna for a taste the best wine I may ever have. I don’t know how they are able to keep the cost reasonable and the quality so high. It was obvious wherever we traveled that all the innkeepers and restaurateurs are great fans of the company and they go the extra mile for Aldo Valerio’s travelers. An astoundingly amazing trip and plan to go on another in the future!!!
MARK DAWBARN (UK ) SICILY- JULY 2015 We had a wonderful trip.Hotels were comfortable and full of character. Places we visited were full of interest and the local guides all showed good knowledge and made things interesting for us. Food and drink were always of a high standard. Rosaria worked very hard and made sure all the arrangements went smoothly. Her personality did much to make the trip more enjoyable.In a single word: PERFETTO! We hope you will keep us in touch with future tours.
RONNIE AND RHONDA COFFEY (AUSTRALIA) SICILY- MAY 2015 We had a wonderful time with our small group 12 day tour of Sicily, with Secret Italia Tours.Everything went very smoothly right from the start. Our accommodation throughout Sicily was excellent and some of their locations were superb, e.g. the Baglio della Luna in Agrigento, the centrally located Boutique Hotel La Giudecca in Siracusa, and the Hotel Villa Paradiso in Taormina. The heritage listed sites we visited were very impressive as were the archaeological ruins and palaces. My favourite site was the Villa Romana Del Casale where the mosaics were amazing and so well preserved, and our visit to Corleone and the tour we had there was a wonderful experience. All of the chosen restaurants were excellent and the food superb. The local guides for each place we visited were very knowledgeable and our visits to the street markets and local tastings were very enjoyable.We travelled with a wonderful group of people who were a lot of fun and to complete the wonderful experience, we had Rosaria as our guide. Rosaria did an excellent job. She was at all times pleasant, informative and competent. Rosaria has an enthusiasm for Sicily that made our trip all the more enjoyable and it was a pleasure to travel with her.
RON AND JULIE FIEN (AUSTRALIA) SICILY- MAY 2015 Nothing could be further from Reality!!!We had a super time. I have been on many tours including Tauck, Smithsonian, OAT, Colette, River cruises……but this one tops them all. The boutique Hotels were wonderful. The group dinners were top notch…NO “rubber chicken” banquets. The best restaurants in town-each one better than the next with all the great local wine you could drink! The local guides were charming and entertaining.Our fellow travellers were all independently comfortable with their own holiday & it was a pleasure to share the tour with them. However, the real gem was Rosaria. She has great enthusiasm for Sicily & enough patience to handle everyone’s needs.Originally, I was disappointed that you were not being our guide. But Rosaria was a terrific guide for us.Can’t say enough great things about the tour, the guide and Secret Italia Tours
GAYE EVANS (AUSTRALIA) SICILY & MALTA- MAY 2015 Sicily, 7 women, a mini van and a driver … Does it get any better!!!!!!!!Well yes it does!!! Prior to the tour, all questions were answered promptly and friendly and I knew exactly what to expect. The online reviews were all right. Firstly an easy transfer before and after tour…Secret Italia fits in with your schedule not the other way around. Each day of the tour brought new sights and treasures and there is something for everyone. Being a small group we were able to see more of the “real Sicily”, learn a little of the language and get into the sites a lot easier. I was amazed at the different history and influences that make Sicily what it is. Every region was different. There was a balance of free and programmed time for those who like to wander. Of course you always want more. A favourite for me was being invited into a families home for a lunch and the temples. Mt Etna rumbling and seeing the lava at night is something I will remember along with Ragusa (just too many to list you will have to go).One of our fellow travellers was Rosaria our tour leader … She is a true treasure of Sicily…..she has a vibrant and loving nature and was very organised and flexible and handled all arrangements and questions easily. Although be careful when she says 5 more minutes (it became a joke of our tour) The local guides were also knowledgable and a big thank you to our drivers as well, especially Andre and his “taste” in music.Of course the food was to die for and it may be best to bring expandable clothing, a lot of meals were included and they were delicious and there were a few treats along the way. Thank you Aldo for the special seafood lunch xx T he accommodation was different in each place but was of a high standard and comfy. I’m sure each traveller had their favourite and not so favourite.Finally my lovely independent travellers made this trip wonderful, there were many laughs each day as we travelled through this unique region and got to know each other. I travelled solo and was embraced as part of the group from the start.Note there is a lot of walking but it is doable and there are many hills and steps but that is Europe. There were always breaks and a few times options where you could wait if you could just not do another hill!! All is done at a comfortable pace but it does get quite hot on some days, so a hat, water and comfy shoes is a must.A big thank you to Aldo and the team for allowing me to fall in love with Sicily it will be in my heart forever and a place I will definitely return to. Secret Italia tours was the right choice for me.
JEANNE JUDD (AUSTRALIA) SICILY & MALTA – MAY 2015 I’m just want to thank Aldo and his wonderful team for an extraordinary experience in Sicily, Malta and Sorrento. I have travelled extensively around Europe, and this trip has to be one of the best ever.First, they were both small tours, which was great. We were able to access all of the more remote destinations by vehicle, unlike when you are on a large bus. For most of us, over 50’s, this was a real bonus. I’m over 60 and it made all the difference for me.Secondly, we had some of the best food ever, and it was included in the tour. So very often the ‘Welcome’ and final ‘Group’ dinners are, well there’s no other way to say it, awful. On this occasion, not only were these meals a real treat, but every food experience along the way was the same! If I had a problem, and there really isn’t one, Secret’s version of a ‘light lunch’ was usually four courses! Starter, Primo, Secondo and Dessert. On another occasion, 2 Primo and 2 Secondo!! Their attitude to food is to eat what is in season and they did it well. Every where we ate they were totally committed to the best and freshest ingredients and were also very accommodating when it came to personal preferences. The hotels were great; central locations, good facilities, and lovely brekkies. On the occasions we stayed out of central towns, we were taken to dinner. This was a real wine and dine experience without the worry.Our guide in Sicily was Rosaria, who was lovely. Taking care of our every need, and then some. She was always near by, and at most, a phone call away, although, to the best of my knowledge, no one had a reason to call her. When she wasn’t guiding us, we had the most wonderful, informed local guides. They were both interesting and passionate about their country and the sites. If anything, at times, there was too much information. It was a treat.Finally, we had fantastic drivers. Not only did they negoiate the traffic but once we arrived at out destinations, they were generous and kind, always with a helping hand to get in and out of the vehicle.The experience continued in Malta. The extraordinary sites were amazing and our guide, Audrey knew everything there was to know about them. There is so much history in these two destinations, it was so rewarding.And finally, Aldo organised another two trips for me personally. I am finishing my Italian odyssey in Sorrento before continuing on to France. My only wish is that the rest of my travelling is as well organised and thoughtful as the last month has been.So well done to Secret Italia, Aldo and his team. Keep doing what you’re doing and I’m sure your successes will continue to follow.
GINNY & LINDA (USA) SICILY & MALTA- MAY 2015 Apologies for not responding to your email about a testimonial for the recent Sicily tour Linda and I participated in, but once I got back to the States, it was truly back to reality! We wanted you to know that we enjoyed your Sicily tour immensely. It was planned perfectly with just enough tour and free time. Linda and I particularly liked the free time in the late afternoons to explore on our own and then search out different venues for dinner.It’s difficult to choose what sights of Sicily we enjoyed the most — it was certainly varied — from the well preserved and amazing Greek/Roman ruins to the small town of Corelone (where we received a most interesting talk on Mafia history) to Modica, where we reveled in the wonderful chocolate (who knew you could have so many different flavors!), to the charming towns of Ortigia and Taormina. And not to leave out the unique town of Savoca where the Godfather wedding took place and the delightful Bar that was part of the film also. They were all special in their own way.It’s not so difficult to talk about the wonderfully fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit that are now in season throughout Sicily–and the street food! Wonderful! And that cheese/salumi platter we had one day–bellissimo!. Every meal that you arranged for us was a delight — a very BIG delight! We are not used to so much food, at one sitting, here in the U.S. But we loved every minute of it. The wine, too, was outstanding and the lunch at the winery was a big hit with everyone! I’m running out of adjectives to describe all the wonderful adventures we had!The hotels were centrally located, so it was very easy to walk around and explore on our free time. Your suggestion of visiting Cefalu the day before the tour started was a great start to our holiday in Sicily and got us ready for the next 12 days!However, the biggest and most impressive was Sicily itself (and its people, who welcomed us with smiles and open arms) — the beautiful countryside–mountains, hills and farmland. It also helped that we had beautiful weather that showed off Sicily’s lush greenery. We even got to see Mt. Etna erupt a couple of nights! Truly spectacular!But I most appreciated the personal time and interest you took from the moment I requested information on the trip to the final arrangements. It’s rare indeed to meet a person who is so invested in his business and cares about his clients to be sure all arrangements, down to the last detail, meet with their approval. You are this person. And, of course, thanks go to Rosario, also, who made our 12 days a pleasure.Aldo, we hope to meet again. Please continue to keep your tour groups small as it makes a huge difference in how a country and its people are viewed–at least for Linda and me.
Ron and Marie Sherk (Canada) Sicily April 2015 Sorry for taking so long to write to you. This tour has been an experience of a life time. We never imagined such a personable informative and interesting experience. Our tour guide Rosie is a real sweetheart with a great knowledge. She was so attentive to us and made sure everything went smoothly and on time. We want to thank you all so very much for tracking our lost bags and their return. Without your persistence I don’t think we would have gotten them so soon. Many, many thanks again. The accommodation, meals, tours and all the little extras made this tour a little extra special. The small group was very special. The Aussies were delightful to travel with. Small group is the way to go. The Sicilian people are delightful,your country is beautiful and what history you have. We will certainly recommend your tour company to our friends. All we can say is Many,many thanks again for your attention to us before,during and after the tour. All the Best to you and your company and hopefully one day we will meet again.
Helen and Ron Moon, (Australia) Sicily & Malta April 2015 We had such a wonderful time in Sicily. It is such a beautiful island. After a couple of cool windy days the weather changed and we had perfect warm sunshine for the rest of the trip. Our fellow travelers were great company and our crazy guide Rosaria, was delightful. Everything ran smoothly, hotels were excellent and our only complaint was we were fed far too well!!!We would certainly recommend Secret Sicily to others.We’re now at the end of our Secret Malta tour – another great week on lovely islands. Our hotel is excellent and it is very relaxing staying in one place. Audrey has shared her amazing knowledge of Malta and looked after us well. Thank you for a wonderful holiday!!!
Peter and Gail Smith , Los Angeles (USA), Sicily October 2014 The trip to Malta was just sensational..how can we forget the warmth, bubbly personality of your guide Charmaine..a first class service and so much knowledge..the tour was an amazing cultural experience that we will cherish forever.We will never forget the beautiful island of Gozo and all the cultural experiences you have put together for this amazing once in a lifetime. Thanks so much Aldo and Charmaine…we will consider the Sicily tour in 2015
Peter and Roseanne Pizzurro, Sydney (AUSTRALIA), Malta & Gozo July 2014 It was the first Sicily trip for my husband and me and I must say we had one of the most enjoyable and informative of group tours. It was a special riunion trip with five other of our family members from Australian and Singapore and we all enjoyed the tour very much. We were most impressed with Rosaria who was not only full of knowledge and passion for the place, but was very attentive to every bit of the tour and caring towards the different people (and personalities). Rosaria was entertaining and made the tour fun and worked well with the driver, Saro who as a team, cared for the people. Sicily was a lovely experience, the hotels were first class and the included meals our of this world. We would definetely recommend Secret and for sure travelling with you in Malta in 2015.A fantastic experience, thank you !
Linda and Robert Smith, LA (USA), Sicily June 2014 We recently travelled with you in Sicily and the tour was just amazing! The hotels, the tour itinerary, the scenery, the tour manager, the guides, the food all con tributed to make our Sicily experience a memorable one.We will certainly travel with you on another holiday, maybe South Italy or Malta.