We just returned from two sensational weeks in Italy. 5 nights in Firenze, 4 in Ravello and 3 in Roma. Ravello was new to us, but we’ve been to Firenze and Roma many times….and this trip was the best! We needed refundable tickets so we booked the 2 4 1 Business Class thru AmEx on Alitalia in Magnifica class. It was good. Not as refined nor as special as many of the Asian airlines, but certainly very comfortable. And we live in South Florida so flying Miami to Rome nonstop is worth a lot to us. We landed at Rome airport and the prearranged driver (I think it was www.rome-chauffer.com ) was waiting and ready. He took us to the Rome train station for our quick and easy trip to Firenze. Thanks to our Virtuoso Travel Agent, David O, all our hotels were spectacular and we started out with total perfection! We stayed at the St. Regis in Firenze and were upgraded to the Botticelli Suite. Big, beautiful and with an enormous balcony overlooking the Piazza and the Arno… I felt like I was living in a (very modernized!) Renaissance palace! Our wonderful butler greeted us every morning with huge delicious breakfasts wheeled into our suite. She, and her team were wonderful! We, except for breakfast, didn’t eat at the hotel, but the bar at the St. Regis is gorgeous and the bartenders, like the entire staff, cannot do enough for you! Nightly champagne and oysters are a wonderful way to begin each evening! The concierges were also exceptional. We had prearranged tickets to the Uffizi (my favorite in the world!) and train tickets to Napoli. The arrangements were perfect, as were their suggested nearby trattorias. Il Profeta was spectacular and Giovannis was so good we returned for a repeat performance. The owner of Giovannis is the brother of the owner of Il Latini (a long ago favorite). Local gossip is that the two brothers are fighting. By a slight margin, I vote for Giovanni….his carcioffi fritti, his porchetta and all his pastas are devine!! From Firenze we took the train to Napoli where the driver met us to take us to Palazzo Avino in Ravello. The Amalfi Coast roads are not for the faint of heart, but our driver was terrific and the scenery was of course magnificent. We wanted a few days of quiet and Ravello was the perfect location. The hotel, formerly the Palazzo Stasso, is gorgeous. Antonio runs the hotel effortlessly and so graciously… and the bartender serves fantastic martinis! Our suite was spacious, comfortable and had spectacular views! When we asked our concierge about suggested places to wander (our favorite thing to do in Europe!), he suggested we visit some beautiful gardens about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. In anticipation of becoming a bit tired at the end of our day, I asked him if it was easy to get a taxi to take us back to the hotel. He said "sorry no taxis in Ravello......we used to have donkeys, but not anymore"! The town is charming....probably especially cause of the lack of taxis....and donkeys! One night, after a few of the Palazzo Avino bartender’s proudly prepared martinis, we decided to eat at the hotel. Good move, cause we couldn’t ;-)! The food was outstanding! It was lobster night…an Italian version of Maine’s best lobster salad and pasta with lobster. We also ate at Cumpa Cosimo in Ravello. Didn’t have to worry about the menu cause Mama Nette, who has owned the trattoria for decades, serves you whatever she thinks is best that evening. And it is the best! We took the train to Roma and we stayed at the Portrait Suites. A very small boutique hotel, owned by the Ferragamo family. The location couldn’t be better... practically on top of the Ferragamo shop right off of Via Condotti at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. What a gorgeous hotel. The design of the suite, the rooftop breakfast area and the reception area were all stunning, and the service was exceptional! Our weather was wonderful! Late March/early April can be tricky, but we lucked out. Light jacket weather with only 3 hours of rain the entire trip! Those 3 hours were while we were in Positano for the day. Oh well, even in rain, Positano was lovely! I was geared up for euro shock, but it wasn’t bad. Except for a few special purchases, our shopping was mostly looking. We ate at (fantastic!!) trattorias so our restaurants were all reasonably priced. Yes, the hotel prices were a bit over the top….but so were the hotels we selected! It’s been ten years since our last visit to Italy…..and we won’t wait that long to return again! This trip was a perfect combination of beautiful scenery, delightful people, great museums, perfect hotels and delicious food!!