21 Aug 2016 - 01 Sep 2016
Italy is stunning and this tour is a fantastic way to see a snapshot of the regions. Mixing ancient wonders and lazy beach-side days, this tour was a good mix of fast and relaxed days. Our tour guide Maite was fantastic, she was passionate about her country, always willing to go 110% for us and you could tell she loved sharing her Italy with us. If it wasn't for her, I would not have had as good of a time.
Some of the inclusions were not great (i.e the walking tour in Florence) and the wine tasting in Tuscany. The optional extra's were good, the paid dinners were fantastic!
Really recommend this tour for those who want to explore one country that has a unique and welcoming culture. Hopefully you will get Maite and have a fantastic time.
Review written Sep 2016event 0.3
02 Jul 2013 - 14 Jul 2013
Honestly still one of my favorite trips and ive been on three other contikis since this. The views and culture is amazing, the food will meet every expectations you have and the wine is fantastic ( try the limoncello as well). Do all the options, try all the food and get ready to have the time of your life. I would for sure go back to Italy and now I know my favorite places. You will meet the best people and have the time of your life. Our day song was Macklemore- cant hold us and it still brings back memories years later.
Review written Aug 2016event 0.3
15 May 2016 - 26 May 2016
This was my 3rd Contiki trip in Just over a year, I left the day my first trip started.
This was the first time dealing with a different language and I had been told not to worry to much... almost everyone spoke english or could figure out what you wanted.
I had such a great group of people! My bus driver Enzo was Italian and didn't speak much english. Our tour manager Vivienne didn't tell us into after we did the trip reviews that it was actually her first time with Contiki! She had done smaller groups before but our group was 51! A few things got switched around and we never would have known!
The best part was spending my 23rd birthday traveling to Pisa then having an afternoon and evening in Rome! Everyone made it such a great day for me!
I just have to figure out where to go next! Tiki tiki! :)
Review written Jun 2016event 0.3
02 Aug 2015 - 13 Aug 2015
This trip was awesome! Had a great time beginning to end. Though it says easy pace you are moving and hopping around to the different cities within Italy at a fast pace. You are pretty much in each city for a day so try to maximize your time and plan out 2-3 things you would want to see/do. I recommend adding a day or two at the beginning or end of the tour in Rome.
We had a nice group of 50 including couples, solo travelers and friends joining from all over and diff age ranges. By the end of the trip we were tied at the hip.
It was hottt in August so dress light/airy, wear comfortable shoes and carry water and a fan.
Most of the optionals were worth it especially the dinner in Sorrento, the Tuscan Feast and the last dinner in Rome. The dinner meal in Verona was probably the least tasteful. Hotels were decent. If you stay extra days in Rome I recommend getting a hotel that is more center city. When you are in Cinque Terre at the bed and breakfast, if you are offered the homemade meal....have it! Best lasagna ever.
Our tour guide Maggie did a great job of keeping the group together and on schedule. She made sure we got to know each other, using the hours on the coach to play games. She was also super helpful and shared many tips and tricks.
Overall would recommend if you want to see a lot of Italy in a short time with the goal of one day returning to your favorite places.
Review written Feb 2016event 0.3
24 Aug 2013 - 05 Sep 2013
This was my first major trip I've ever taken and decided to trust Contiki. Smart choice!!
I was not expecting to see SO much with the time we had and I loved every bit of it. I got to see all the major cities and hot spots that I know on my own, I wouldn't have managed it.
Ill give you a bit of my view for each day and some advice on how to prepare your self for this trip.
Day 1: Its a chilling day. If you land the day of then you wont get much time to check out Rome on your own. You do however get time again in Rome at the end of the trip. However I would have liked to arrive early and go out for a bit - so recommend you do the same!
Day 2: Pompeii Tour was great - highly recommend it. If you dont, then your kinda stuck on your own and cant do much either. Plus this is a great time to know the rest of your travel pack. You learn alot about what happened in Pompeii.
Day 3: 100% - DO THE CRUISE! Omg the sites, the water and the Blue Grotto - WOW. Capri is a beautiful city; one of my favorites. And as suggested, you must try Limoncello - just for the sake of it!
Day 4: The wine tasting was fun - a bit disappointed that we didnt get to see more of Tuscany. Be prepared...youll be in the coach for a long time. Another thing I did not like. The siteseeing was amazing but being locked up inside was a bit of a downer.
Day 5; FLORENCE - My absolute FAVORITE. I fell in love with this city. If I ever decide to come back to Italy, I would go to Florence. The club was really good but I dont think it was the Space club we went too. However this night was the BEST night. Did the group dinner - it was spaghetti and meatballs and my oh my...mouthwatering DELICIOUS! Start of the day we did go see the leather crafts man - dropped a few bills there. Leather is amazing - try to get something for yourself! And the Secrets of Michelangelo's Florence was really informative and had a great time. While here - BEFORE you leave to Venice, you MUST climb the INFINITE stairs. When you reach the top - the city view is amazing. Ask your tour guide about this!
Day 6: This was an okay day. If you like to shop, then hav fun! Its like a shop market - all cobblestone and everything. You do see Juliets Balcony but its not an 1hr thing. Its quick so make the most of your time here and check it out.
Day 7: Get ready to SHOP! Another great place to shop - so many vendors! And you MUST take the Gondola ride. I think for this day, I opt out the Walking Tour. Go on your own - explore. Have fun. Check out St. Mark;s Square - some really good restaurants.
Day 8: If you want to drop some major $$ on name brands - this is the place. Top name brands and very poshy. I wasnt too impressed with Milan. Again Im not a major spender. I enjoy siteseeing so this was more of a chilling day for me which it is actually.
Day 9: To be honest - I cant remember what I did this day...sorry!
Day 10: Ah yes - the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You wont spend too much time here - hopefully your tour guide will make you take funny pictures and compete with one another. Glad they included this on the way to Rome. However again - another long ride in the coach!
Day 11: Back in ROME! Def check our the Colosseum if you didnt arrive early and do it on your own. Its a must see and just learning the history behind it is great. Make the most of your day as this is your last!!
So, things I wasnt too impressed/or would like to change:
1) Long coach ride - cant avoid it and its nice they added in pit stops (Tuscany, La Spezia). But prepare yourself...bring something to occupy you or catch up on some MUCH needed rest...why...
2) Get ready for EARLY mornings! If you are not a morning person or like to take it easy, prepare yourself for a rude awakening. This is after all an 'In-Depth Explorer' style. I didnt mind it but at times it does get to you. But you get to catch up on SOME sleep on the coach...
3) Was not impressed with breakfast at all. I LOVE my breakfasy - one of the meals I will TRULY pig out on. There is only SO MUCH bread I can consume :(
4) If you like cheese, bread and oil for dipping then great! If not - as Im lactose intolerant and sensitive to wheat...then oh boy! lol Its Italy - what was I thinking! Home of PASTA AND PIZZA.
5) WATER WATER WATER - buy a water bottle and REFILL when you can. With the heat and walking, you will get dehydrated.
6) Washrooms - YUP - you gotta pay in order to use them unless you dine in which then you can use it for free!
7) Coffee - YUMMY! However I guess I forgot that they serve coffoe/americano is small cups - not what Im used to here 8OZ or more actually :)
Oh and DEF try the GELLATO's! I think everyday I treated myself. BEST one is in Florence and Rome.
Overall -this trip was amazing! You wont have regrets - the early mornings pay off...eventually ;)
Review written May 2015event 0.3
19 Apr 2015 - 30 Apr 2015
Let me start off by telling you I didn't want to go on this trip. I had bought it as a surprise gift for my boyfriend. You see Italy was on his bucket list, not mine. However, he said no to the trip and I went anyway. Contiki is about no regrets and I wasn't going to let buying a trip for someone be one of mine.
Am I ever glad I went! Italy is such a beautiful country with so many things to see, experience and eat! Boy oh boy, do you ever eat. So many pastas, pesto, gelato, pizza, wine and more!
I had Margherita as my tour manager and Enzo as our Driver. Margherita is an amazing person with such a passion for her job and it shows. If you end up with Margherita you wont be disappointed. Enzo is such a lovely driver with some serious driving skills. Italy has got some tight bends to it and I never felt unsafe in his bus once. A big shout out to both as they both made this a unforgettable trip for me.
The places you will visit are breathtaking. This is a trip where you make it what you want it to be. Rain or Shine! We had a day of rain in Rome, and let me tell you it dumped buckets. Be prepared for the wet, but also for the beautiful sun! Italy has a beautiful personalty to it and it will give you many great memories.
I don't have much bad things to say about this. The only thing I didn't like was the Autogrill. Like mentioned by others, you make a few stops at them. You do spend some time on the coach and as a result you will have to make stops. You could complain about the stops but you will probably be to busy sleeping on the coach, laughing with your new friends, or watching Italy go by to really notice.
Contiki is about adventure, memories and no regrets. This trip had everything and more then I had expected. To be honest with you I had no idea what to expect when I booked it, but I'm glad I booked it and I can't wait for my next adventure with Contiki.
Review written May 2015event 0.3
05 Oct 2013 - 17 Oct 2013
This review is a bit overdue, but this tour was Simply Awesome!
This tour has it all--art, laughter, culture, dancing, great food and of course, friendships. You're definitely limited to the amount of time you spend in each area (only got to see the Pantheon for 15 min and did a quickie tour of the Vatican), but that's a small price to pay for all the amazing sights and adventures you have. You can choose not to do the Contiki optionals, but I definitely recommend it--from classic monuments/sites like Pompeii, opera singers at an underground restaurant to dancing to old school hip hop in Rome--no regrets! It's true that some of the optionals are pretty pricey, but it gives you a chance to experience something different--like seeing a braised pig lit up with sparks in an elegant restaurant overlooking the water.
Pics: Here's some pics from Capri http://shaireproductions.com/photos-capri-island/
Hotels: Generally nice accommodations, except the first night in Rome--the vent/air-conditioning was so loud, I couldn't sleep, while my tourmates next door complained of some flies buzzing around in their room, but aside from that it a was pleasant experience. In Sorrento, we were booked at a hotel right next to the beach--incredible! It was like a dream, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. In some of the hotel locations, you'll have to carry your luggage up/down stairs, so try not to pack a super heavy suitcase :)
Tour Guide: Enzo. Great character and so accommodating. He blasted Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" every morning on the bus, so it's forever etched into my brain as the Italian Trip song, but he added a great vibe to the tour. We picked up fun facts and history like Italian hand gestures and such.
TIPS: Bring a small first aid kit--tissues and some Vitamin C tablets or something. With 50 people packed onto a bus for hours & hours together, everyone got sick by the end of the tour :( Though, it was worth the trouble--lifetime of memories!
Chocolate Lovers--there's great quality of chocolate in Italy, so load up! Keep an eye out for Ferrero's Pocket Coffee too (small chocolates loaded with liquid espresso)--amazing treat! I wish I bought more.
Overall, this tour has a good mix of large cities, small towns and beaches. You can choose to check out the museums, party or just kick back with a drink. There's definitely something for everyone. Good luck!
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
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