24 Aug 2014 - 04 Sep 2014
It was my first time with Contiki and also my first time travelling solo. I had the time of my life!!
First of all, our tour manager, Margherita, was the best ever!! She made everything to make every moment unforgettable! She gave us a lot of information about history, italian culture, best places to eat, best drink, maps with all the tips we need it. Our trip wouldn't have been as amazing without her!!!
Our driver, Enzo, did a great job of driving safely despite the crazy traffic of Italy. He also did his best to communicate with us despite the language barrier. He was always ready to get in and even when it was not their obligation.
I made a lot of friends from Canada, USA, Australia, France, Puerto Rico. Although my English was not fluent, I could talk, laugh and have a lot of fun.
The itinerary couldn't be more perfect! We discovered differents Italies in each city we went to.
I'm really in love with Italy, their food, people, culture and everything!
Thank you Contiki, Megghy and Enzo!
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
15 Jun 2014 - 26 Jun 2014
As a solo traveller having never used Contiki before, I did not know what to expect. However, based on this trip, I'd have no hesitation in travelling with Contiki again.
We had the best tour manager (Maité) and bus driver (Alessandro), who made sure everything on tour was great - even when dealing with difficult dietary requirements in the restaurants we visited (such as vegetarianism and allergies). As much as Italy was an amazing country by itself (the places, food and wine are beyond extraordinary - the highlight for me being the family-run restaurant we ate at in CinqueTerre suggested by Maité ), it was the Contiki staff that made this tour unforgettable. I've been home just 2 days and miss it already!
I would definitely recommend Contiki to anyone, especially this tour (fingers crossed you will get Maité - honestly the best tour manager I've ever had). Brilliant sights, food, wine and people!
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
01 Jun 2014 - 12 Jun 2014
This tour was amazing!! And as my first Contiki I could not have been happier. First of all, Megghy was the most amazing tour manager you could possibly ask for. She went above and beyond in everything she did to make sure you were looked after and got to see what you wanted. As a Celiac she made sure I had gluten-free food at all the included dinners and was able to answer any and all questions you may have had. I booked a couple of things on my own that I really wanted to see and she was able to make them fit with the schedule and ensured I got to see everything I paid for, even though I didn't book them with Contiki. She was always super upbeat and positive and really made the trip what it was, which was awesome!
Alessandro was also a fantastic driver. He managed to squeeze a 50 passenger coach through spaces I wouldn't have attempted with a smart car! He tried his absolute hardest to make sure the coach was always comfortable and clean and I'll miss his shouts of Energy Energy!! whenever we were passed out, comatose, in the heat.
The people on the trip were also all fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people. Everyone got along really well and were all so fun and accepting. This really wasn't a party tour (something I'm very glad of) but we always managed to have a really great time. I met so many amazing, like-minded people who made me appreciate more fully just how big the world is and how many things there are to do and discover. I already miss all my new friends but now have 50 more couches to crash on all over the world!
As for the tour itself, it exceeded my expectations tenfold (and I had some pretty high expectations). Even though we were always busy it was a good busy and I never once felt rushed. We had ample free time in every city (even the one hour in Pisa was long enough to get pictures and grab a quick bite to eat) and there was a good balance between touring and wandering. We didn't do all the optional dinners which gave us more free time to explore the cities, eat some amazing food at local restaurants and really get a good feel of Italy. My Mom and I did a bus tour a few years ago and we both felt rushed and like we didn't get to see anything. This tour was the exact opposite. I felt like I've seen and experience Italy (not just one of two cities but the country as a whole) and while I'd love to go back (does tomorrow work?) I certainly don't feel like I need to go back. We saw and did all the major attractions everywhere we went and still had loads of free time to explore on our own.
This trip was the most fun I've ever had and was one of the best experiences of my life. I definitely came home a different person from the shy, introverted girl who left Canada a few weeks ago. The combination of people, sights, experiences (and amazing food) really made for the best time possible. If you're debating with yourself about whether or not you should do this trip (like I was) I can assure you the only disappointment you'll face is if you decide to stay home. Just do it, I promise you won't regret it!! Or as Megghy would say: Dominate, don't hesitate!
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
04 May 2014 - 15 May 2014
My Tour Manager Elisa is the best person in the world. She never stopped working, she was amazing. I met the most incredible people on my Simply Italy trip. It has inspired me to do a yearlong trip. I plan to use contiki again to go to Australia and New Zealand.
Contiki was the best experience I've had on holidays ever. I will recommend it to everyone I know.
I want to live in Capri someday. The backstage passes, and me time optionals were perfect. A great amount of time to do everything you wanted.
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
20 Apr 2014 - 01 May 2014
Just came back from the Simply Italy tour (April 20 - May 1) and I have to say the majority of us had an excellent time on this tour. Without going over long on this review, here are some pros and cons of this tour.
- Meet a group of like-minded, fun and friendly fellow travellers. True, the majority of the group are girls and they came on this tour by themselves. It's a good thing cause we look after each other and we had a great bonding during and after the trip.
- Great itinerary. For those who always say they can pay less and travel on their own...I can only say that if they want to follow the same itinerary and visit the same amount of places we've been, that's almost near impossible. I've travelled on my own with friends before and just trying to find the right train station and check in to a hotel in a small town can take you more than half a day, especially when you are in a foreign place with people who don't speak much English...We honestly saw almost all the major attractions in Italy on this trip. Plus you can always stay a few more days after the trip to go at your own pace.
- Tour Manager and Driver: I've been on 2 contiki trips now and both Tour managers are fantastic people. They are young, smart, friendly and knows their way inside out of all the cities they are in. No matter how long they stay up late with us, the next stay they manage to get up early on time and get us going. I have huge respect for the professionalism that they bring into this tour. I've never felt like they would force us to buy/purchase anything from a vendor.
This trip we have 2 people's birthday and my tour manager bake them cakes and planed special surprise for their night out. She's not ask to do that and she really doesn't have to...it really came from her heart and the birthday boy/girl are over the moon happy.
- Free time: I know people said with that much free-time why bother to join a tour. Again, if you have a group of people travelling with you I suggest you don't do a tour. If you are travelling on your own, free time is good as we get brief while we are on the bus commuting to the next destination. By then we can choose what we wanted to see and the people we want to see it with. Everyone has different ideas of what they wanted to see so that's actually the best way to go about. At the end of the day everyone is happy with the path they took.
Okay, a lot of pros, now let's go with the cons:
- Hotel choice and location. Well in Italy you really have to lower your expectation in terms of hotels...most of them are outside of the city and would require taxi ride to get back to your hotel. The hotel near Cinque Terre is terrible, worse hotel I've stayed in. However when I do my research for all the cities that I've stay, they are pretty much the same within the price point. So just really don't expect much of the hotels you stay in and remember that this is a budget tour.
- Optional meals: If you can, skip all the optional meals. Italy have tons of good restaurant so you WILL have better luck just walk into any place with a menu you like. Optional meals are over price and usually very average as it's hard for the chef to cook good food for 50 people at once. All the optional meals are bad to us and the restaurants in small towns have the best food.
- Autogrill lunch. Again, because we are on the bus a lot we tend to get drop off to the gas service station called "Autogrill" to have our lunch. The food is average and expensive. If you can wait, I suggest you just get some snack and waited for a small at a small town or the big city to have a proper meal. Just because it's noon doesn't mean you need to have lunch. We all kind of hated Autogrill after having it many times on the road...
But honestly, overall this has been an amazing journey and I would definitely join coniki again in the near future.
Review written May 2014event 0.3
06 Apr 2014 - 17 Apr 2014
Simply Italy is an amazing tour to go on if you are looking at seeing the highlights of Italy in the cheapest way possible. The tour manager and driver (Enzo and Lino) made this tour something special. This was the second tour that had done together but you never would have picked it up if they didn't tell us. They ran like a well oiled machine. Enzo and Lino made us a family. Enzo knowledge and passion about his country was like no other. He went above and beyond what a tour manager should do. Always checking to see if we were well looked after. I am a coeliac and this was not a problem. Every meal was delicious and wheat free :).
The sights and experiences that you get on this tour is definitely value for money. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and will forever remember the people (now my family) and memories made forever.
I would like to thank the crew because I think that if we didn't have them, this trip would not have been the same.
Review written May 2014event 0.3
23 Jul 2013 - 04 Aug 2013
I just got back from my third Contiki trip. My first was Russia, Egypt was my second and Simply Italy was my third. Russia was pretty good, Egypt was excellent, but Italy was unbelievably amazing. Simply Italy was by far the best Contiki trip I've taken to date. Our tour manager Laura and our driver Cornelius were an excellent team. Laura was what really made the trip fabulous though. She provided us with maps at every stop and always explained things so well. She always answered our questions and her Italian was amazing and beautiful even though she was a kiwi. Everything was so well organized and Laura, our tour manager, always made sure to balance sightseeing with partying. She made it clear to us that it was our holiday and that we would also help make it what we wanted. If we wanted to party she'd take us and if we wanted to sightsee she'd recommend things for us. Boy, could that girl walk though! We ate tons of food on this trip, but boy did we burn/walk it off.
The tour overall was excellent. The only thing I'd change is our stop at Pisa and the mall. We had 1.5-2 hours at a design outlet mall, which I didn't really care for. In Pisa, we were only there for about an hour. My friend and I really wanted to climb Pisa, but an hour didn't leave us with enough time to do so. We thought it might have been because of driving hours though. That day we drove from Milan, I think, all the way to Rome so it was a long driving day. More time in Pisa would have been super though. I could have easily used another day in Florence and especially one more in Venice. Venice is so amazing it's almost a shame to only spend a good full day there. I really enjoyed this one country focused tour though. We did spend some time on the bus, but it wasn't overly excessive. I think focused tours that spend time in one or two countries only are the way to go.
Overall, the food was amazing. My recommendation is to go off the beaten path and find a place where locals are eating and away from tourists. Some of the places we went with the whole group were hit and miss. This pretty much sums up food on Contiki in general. After three contiki trips I can safely say that dinners you find on your own will be better. They aren't trying to mass produce food so you get better food and service. We had an amazing all you can eat pizza dinner in Sorrento, but another night in Sorrento we had an optional dinner we paid like 40 euro for and it was just way too salty and we went home hungry. We had some undercooked pasta in Florence in an included dinner, but that was were the bad meals ended. Every other meal was quite good. The included and optional dinners were, however, better on this tour compared to Russia and Egypt so I was happy with that. Watch out for the places closest to tourist areas. This sandwich/pizza place across from the Colosseum in Rome was very pricey and not too great. Our Sprite was literally 5 euro, which was like 10 dollars Canadian. I guess I can check off another point from the bucket list as I can officially say I I had a 10 dollar Sprite. The pizza was as hard as the colosseum there too, but we only had 45 mins for lunch that day and there wasn't much else around. The best pizza and pasta we had were places we found on our own. Be careful of ordering in Le Spezia as we ordered pesto pasta thinking we'd have enough time before our meetup time and we were wrong. We literally had to inhale our food and were chugging our drinks and devouring bread sooo fast as I think the servers are on island mentality. One other couple we talked to also experienced slow service there so I'd recommend eating lunch in La Spezia first and then seeing the castle or swimming. The beach in the Cinque Terre was amazing though. Our guide said it's rarely super hot and nice so we were very lucky. The fruit shake place across from the beach is amazing too! It's expensive, but it's all made with real and fresh fruit right there in front of you. You can also order ridiculously huge alcoholic drinks. There was an optional hike you could do instead of the beach, but my friend and I were tired of stairs so we opted for relaxation at this point in the tour. I'm glad we went here too as I don't think I'd have known about it from just exploring on my own.
Overall, the hotels were really good. Wifi was hit and miss. Wifi in Italy is like food in Cuba. Overall, Wifi connections just sucked! Some hotels connected well, but at the Regent literally it would get overloaded and the wifi would have to kick someone out before it logged someone else on. The Regent in Rome was just okay. It was far better than the horrible Victoria hotel we stayed at in Egypt. Basically, if I have running and hot water on a Contiki now it's pretty much fab, so it was okay in Rome. The hotel in Sorrento, the Grand Flora, was decent and had a pool which was great, but I didn't care for a tile floor. Then in Florence the Club hotel was super. Rooms were small, but very nice and the lobby was very stylish. The Holiday Inn by Venice was fine and the beds were bigger and softer, which was nice. The local pizza place down the road was really good too, but they didn't know how to handle such a large crowd. It took forever to order. If you go there, I think it's called Pizzeria Al Calesse, then do take out as everyone that did got the food right away and didn't have to wait forever and ever just to order. Le Spezia had an okay hotel. The lift was so small here though that we could only fit one person and a bag in the lift/elevator at a time though. I think the pipes were very old though as our shower just turned on in the middle of the night. Either it was water pressure or this hotel is haunted... We also locked the door at night to find it unlocked in the morning. Okay, maybe I'm going for haunted/ghost on this one?! The hotel in Milan, the NH, was amazing. It's too bad they couldn't all be that great and then we headed back to Rome.
In terms of souvenirs to bring back, leather is big in florence. We went to leonardo's, which was pricey, bur you know it's the real stuff. With contiki you could get your initials imprinted in your purchase for free so that was cool. They also had these really cool puzzle rings that have to be put together like a puzzle in order to wear them. I think that's the only thing I regret not buying. It's hard because you want to balance out your money and it's not like you can window shop in italy and then go back and buy stuff. Venice is where to get glass and masks. If I had more money I would have bought an expensive glass piece. They can ship right from their shop and they have insurance incase anything happens. One couple got a lovely love bird piece. I ended up just getting small earrings. It's expensive, but in the demo this guy like throws the glasses around very hard and they don't break so you know it's good quality. Overall, the demos on this tour were very good and I really enjoyed them. We did skip the lace demo in Venice though. Some people went for the air-conditioning, but lace wasn't really our thing. Masks were amazing in venice. Basically, just look for paper mache as sometimes the italians will order masks from china and sell them. If they are paper mache or you see someone making them then they are the real deal.
Well, I hope I encounter more amazing tour managers like Laura. She did say our group was really amazing and everyone got along so well. I am a teacher so I can understand how you could get a bad group, okay group or amazing group. I suppose that part is all luck, but overall I've been lucky and had some really good groups. Egypt was just okay though when I went as a huge family of cousins packed over half of the bus so it was harder to meet people. It all kind of depends on who signs up for your tour. I am turning 26 in a week and hope I can save for and do a few more contiki trips before my time is up and I'm too old. I also went with a friend on this trip who did contiki for the first time and she just loved it so now she's also recommending contiki. I'm so happy we had a great tour manager and driver that really helped to make the trip amazing. I can't wait for my next trip! I just hope I don't get sick again. I've come home sick all three times I've done contiki. This time I got hit especially hard as it's been almost two weeks now that I've been sick. I think next time I will bring more money for souvenirs though. I took 1000 euro to spend, but I could have easily spent 1500-2000 euro between leather, glass, masks, drinks etc. If you are looking to make new friends and are looking for a safe, organized, fun and amazing time then do a contiki! You won't regret it!
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
07 Apr 2013 - 18 Apr 2013
My first Contiki, and what a way to start! Visited so many incredible places with incredible food. It never felt like we were on the coach for too long at a time either, as all of the longer journeys were broken up with shorter excursions, e.g. Pompei and Pisa. Me Time optionals are well worth the extra, especially the meals, as it allows you to sample the typical fare from each area, and there is always lots of wine on the table! Make sure you book The Last Supper viewing in advance, so as not to be disappointed when you visit Milan (they only let in a few people at a time, so it tends to sell out a couple of weeks in advance). The hotels were good. Some better than others, but all were perfectly reasonable and comfortable - we even got upgraded a couple of times, which was nice! Tour manager and coach driver were amazing as well. This trip is definitely fantastic value, and a great way to see the highlights of Italy
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
26 Jun 2013 - 07 Jul 2013
It's commonly known that Italy is a beautiful country; and for a first visit there, it was exactly what you can expect and even much, much more! The trip was truly action-packed and memorable thanks to our incredible and brilliant Contiki staff (Enzo and Giuseppe) and our fun and friendly group (we all bonded very easily, it was great and it made the whole trip so much more fun!)
In 12 days, we covered so much ground (from Rome to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Florence and then Venice, Verona, Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Vatican, etc.) that you get the feeling you get to see it all. Everywhere we stopped, we wanted to stay longer (especially in Sorrento and Capri!). Beautiful cities and landscapes, amazing food and wine (Yes, I'm a French woman who enjoyed Italian wine much to the amazement of our tour manager, Enzo!), fun nights out, lots of culture (I recommend the walking tours in Florence, Venice and Rome) and playful moments at the beach (great memories from Portovenere and Monterosso). Accommodation-wise, it was incredible. We stayed in great places. My favourites are the rooms in Sorrento, Florence and Milan. Fabulous! Best value for money!
Time flew by in an instant but all these great memories will stay forever. I strongly recommend you do all the optional activities, they're worth every penny (especially the dinners such as the fancy one in the restaurant on the hills of Florence and the farewell dinner in Rome). All in all, you get to experience La Dolce Vita and you won't be willing to leave at the end of the trip but at least you know what places you want to return to (for me, Sorrento, Capri, Florence and Cinque Terre). Ciao tutti!
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
26 May 2013 - 06 Jun 2013
Fantastic 12 days! Saw so much of Italy, learnt about the culture, ate some truly amazing food and met some great people from all over the world! Got to see the big cities like Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence but also the smaller places like Lake Garda and the Island of Capri. It was well organised and our tour manager (Erica!!) went out of her way to make sure we had the best time!!!
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
26 May 2013 - 06 Jun 2013
It's actually incredibly hard to actually put into words my true feelings towards my Simply Italy trip that I've just come back from. Especially as right now, I'm back home in the UK and having some holiday blues. But let me take it to the beginning.
It's fair to say that most people going on this tour must have been a little nervous beforehand. And I certainly fit the bill for this. The apprehension that you might not really get on with your room-mates / fellow tour members was certainly one that was strong in mind.
Our tour manager, Erica, gave an introduction - and her bubbly, energetic personality just got absorbed by the room. Before long, we started to meet our fellow travellers and within a few minutes, I knew that this trip was going to be perfect. And it was.
My roommate was probably the craziest/out going guy on the tour - which is far from my personality. But I wouldn't have changed him for the world. We clicked within a few seconds of our introduction - and I feel privileged to have spent 12 days with him.
The way that our tour worked was that within a few days, natural friendship groups formed around the travellers - which was great. As exploring each city/place as a big group of 40+ was always going to be a no go. So in your friendship groups, you generally go off together and see the things that you all want to see. But at the same time, there are enough group activities going on (and on the coach) to really get to know everyone else at the same time.
There's not one person out of the 40+ members of our tour group that I didn't like. I felt there was a lot of like-minded people to me there and it was great to have spoken to every single one of them throughout the 12 days.
It’s hard for me to give you a flavour as to my favourite day – because I feel like it would be unfair on all of the other days! Florence was probably my favourite place to visit, peaceful and completely beautiful. But having said that, every single place we visited had something different to offer and gave another unique perspective on the fabulous country which I now know Italy to be. I feel content that I’ve seen the major highlights of Italy and really got a great flavour for the culture – thanks to the trips and from our Italian tour manager Erica (who gave us helpful advice; speaking Italian, gestures, recommendations of places to see in our free time).
I purchased all of the optionals on the tour. And generally, a large portion of the group did as well. My only initial concern with the optionals was for the prices of the meals. But in hindsight – the places we went were excellent, the food great (although a set menu) and usually unlimited wine. I’m honestly glad I paid for all of these as it was another great way to spend some time with my new ‘Contiki family’.
Without a shadow of doubt, I would urge anyone who is even remotely interested in seeing Italy to book the Simply Italy tour with Contiki. The Contiki motto is 'No Regrets' and I can promise you, there will be no regrets if you are lucky enough to get to go on this tour.
As for me, I'm already looking at future Contiki tours and how I can fit that into seeing my new found friends from around the world!
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
25 May 2013 - 06 Jun 2013
I loved having Erica as my tour guide. She went above and beyond with her efforts to make sure everyone was comfortable and having the time of their lives. Her happiness and enthusiasm was contagious and made the trip unforgettable. She is the reason I am so many others on the Italy tour had the best trip of our lives.
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
18 May 2013 - 30 May 2013
This tour was among the best trips of my life. I was a little nervous at first about the age bracket given I'm 32. Even though the majority of the group was under 30 age was not a factor because everyone bonded regardless. There was a good combination or both singles and couples, although I wouldn't have minded if there were more singles. The variety of places we visited was truly the most exciting thing about the tour. If you are interested in seeing lots of Italy this is definitely the best one to do. I am basically obsessed with the Italian culture and couldn't get enough. Our tour manager Christina was outstanding. She brought us to see so many great things including a super hot nightclub in Milan where I met the most gorgeous guy I have ever seen. Another of my favorites was Sirmione on lake Garda at the foot of the Dolomites. So incredibly spectacular. If you are on the fence about booking this trip, my best advice to you is do it a soon as possible. You will not regret it.
Review written May 2013event 0.3
12 Jul 2011 - 24 Jul 2011
I went on the Simply Italy trip in July 2011 and had a fabulous time. We visited cities, swam around the island of Capri, sailed across lakes in the north and visited vineyards in the Tuscan countryside. We went site seeing, shopping, sailing, and partying. It was a perfect way to see Italy, and the company was fantastic (as was our Contiki tour guide)! I highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants a taste of Europe and the Mediterranean!
Review written May 2013event 0.3
19 May 2012 - 31 May 2012
Best vacation ever. Worth every penny, and more. Great value, food, sights, and people! The age range was perfect-- so easy to make friends. Most of us went out almost every night. There was always something fun to do, and even chilling was great when we were too tired to party. Our guide, Laura, was awesome! She helped us find the best food and entertainment, and she had as much fun as we did.
Italy is fantastic on its own, but the Contiki tours, dinners, and other group activities really enlivened the whole experience. All the optionals I participated in and the accommodations were great. Drinking in a gondola in Venice is a MUST-- I only wish it had lasted longer!
The entire trip was a perfect length of time. By the end of it, we were exhausted.
I would recommend this trip to anyone.
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3
01 Jul 2012 - 12 Jul 2012
This tour is honestly the most perfect way to explore Italy. It was so in depth and I left Italy feeling like I had properly explored the country and really got to experience the culture.
The day trip out to Capri from Sorrento is just incredible, one of my favourite places. I highly recommend doing the optional boat trip around the island. Jumping off the cute wooden boat into the gorgeous ocean was an awesome experience. Sorrento is so cool as well, explore the smaller side streets for local products and buy some limencello! The coastal towns of Cinque Terre are amazing as well.
The nightlife in Florence is incredible! The hotel was super close by as well so take advantage of this and have a crazy night out! Venice was just breathtaking and so surreal. Definitely go on the gondola ride for a true Venitian experience. Of course Rome was fascinating, its literally a walking muesum. You will enjoy every moment in this city. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to increase your chances of returning to Italy!
The food is simply delicious too! Pizza from the Naples region is the best as they are famous for their tomatoes, so so yum.
Matt and Cornelius were the best crew anyone could ask for, so informative, cheeky and so much fun! Lots of Aussies on my tour and we all got along so well and had a blast.
This was the perfect Italian experience that I'll never forget!
Review written Sep 2012event 0.3
01 Jul 2012 - 12 Jul 2012
The Simply Italy tour is a rich mosaic of unforgettable experiences. From small towns and isolated islands to great cities, from excellent beaches to enriching museums, upmarket shopping and sublime dining, the jam-packed schedule lacks nothing. There is enough to suit party animals and relaxed travellers alike. The trip maintains a perfect balance between free time to do your own thing and fun group activities. But one of the truly outstanding factors, for us, was the tour manager: Mathieu Morelli. His style, flair, personal dedication and inexhaustible energy adds a touch of magic. From what I have read from other reviews, and heard from other travellers, this is simply not always the case. This manager is unique.
Review written Jul 2012event 0.3