Judy Baker

Roseland, New Jersey Travel Agent


Often, when someone says they want to go to Europe, what they are really looking for is Italy. It is an easy destination for Americans to love. First of all, Italians tend to be very open and friendly and feel a natural connection with Americans. Plus the food is wonderful--just different enough to be interesting, and definitely pleasing to an American palate. And of course, the history, the beaches and the mountain and lake resorts are all spectacular.

One of the nice things about Rome is that it’s fun to explore on your own. One of my favorite places to stay is the Westin Excelsior, Rome. It’s located on the Via Veneto, between the Spanish Steps and the Villa Borghese and Borghese Gardens, one of Rome’s largest and loveliest parks. It is a palatial hotel in the heart of the city, and there are great restaurants within a few blocks but it feels a bit removed and romantic. You can go out for a stroll and not have to be watching out for traffic. 

Rome is a great walking city, and many of Rome’s top attractions are a short walk from each other For example, the Colosseum is about a 40 minute walk from the Excelsior, and the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are just minutes away. To visit the Vatican, however, I suggest reserving a pre-opening entry because the crowds and lines can be tremendous.

Venice is also on most people’s wish list. There, the Hotel Danieli is my favorite home base. It’s very Italian, yet they understand Americans and it is in a beautiful and convenient location, with all kinds of canal boats and St. Mark’s Square practically at your doorstep. Plus, the hotel is actually three renovated palaces dating back to the 14th, 19th, and 20th centuries whose guests have included kings and famous writers including Charles Dickens.

Everyone has their wish list of Italian destinations, from Florence and Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast and beyond. Whether you want to drive, travel by train or fly, I can create a trip that takes you to the Italy of your dreams.

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