I will not book a flight any other way from now. It was a really good experience.
Wayne was absolutely amazing in understanding exactly what our requirements were. He delivered a first class service.
As always Raj did a fantastic job especially when BA decided to delay our flight by a day! He always comes up trumps and sorts things out without any fuss.
Always a fantastic service
Really efficient service from Nathan, thank you. Florence was a dream escape. Private car pick up was extremely comfortable and timely with lots of local info from our drivers. Loved the retained 15th century features in the bedroom and elsewhere. A fabulous memorable escape to a different world - and one which Covid-wise, felt safer than England!
Excellent, efficient support from Tristan.
It is bad that Vueling cancelled our flight out with three hours notice for a reason they had known for 24 hours. But that was not your fault.
We always use DialAFlight and recommend our friends to do the same
Would highly recommend to my friends and family. Jasper was very helpful throughout booking and in the run up to my holiday. Will use again.
A very good service and team so helpful and friendly. However Vueling they left all the passengers luggage in Florence third flight that day and ruined all the passengers holiday, mine and my friend's included..
Many thanks - we had a great time.
Vueling flights delayed both ways.
Have been using DialAFlight for over 15 years. I always receive an excellent service, very attentive and personalised. I often get a phone call before a flight to make sure everything is OK. Will be a customer for a long time to come!
Excellent service from Amy as ever
We were impressed with the excellent organisation and information provided by your company.
Well done again!
Florence Airport is HELL! And our suitcases were left off the return Vueling flight. Our stay at the Pitti Palace Hotel was excellent.
Chris was exceptional and provided brilliant service throughout
Car hire was not good - very slow and inefficient. But nothing to do with DialAFlight
Lovely people. Did what they said they would do. Can't ask for more.
I really appreciated the support I got when I recently missed my flight. They were excellent booking new flights and providing support and advice.
I have recommended your services to friends and one of them just recently used you for her holiday to Thailand....she too was very happy! I will certainly continue to call for help and advice as very much appreciated.
Very happy with the service. It was first rate. Thank you
A fantastic holiday. Only small concerns about the first hotel in Florence but not sufficient to spoil the holiday!
Ash organised the break well - excellent service
Ian is always very helpful and customer focused.
Very reassuring to have such helpful and professional people always on hand for any queries, much appreciated!
Debbie/ Kylie handled everything expertly, many thanks.
Italy makes me greedy. Florence is awash with deliriously good art, Milan is Italy's fashion and design hub, and both of them have outstanding food scenes.
However, it turns out that you don't have to make a choice when it comes to a long weekend break. These two cities are only a 90-minute train journey apart, so it's possible to explore both in one trip.
By happy coincidence, both cities have airports nearby. It is a just a 20-minute journey from Peretola airport in Florence to our hotel, the Helvetia & Bristol, in the heart of the city.
Opened in 1848, this former palazzo is the oldest hotel in Florence and is still a charmer, with deep colours, marble bathrooms and ingrained atmosphere. We sip aperitivos beside a log fire while elegant Florentines mill around us.
However, with just 67 rooms, the Helvetia & Bristol hasn't got attitude. Rather, it's as friendly as Tom Hanks (the Hollywood star stayed here while filming 2016's Inferno) and it's also handily central - the Uffizi gallery and the Duomo are just minutes away.
The view from my window is pure E.M. Forster, although there are signs that Florence is becoming hipper.
In Piazza della Signoria is the Gucci Garden. The Italian fashion house has taken one of Florence's palazzos and turned into an arty showcase, with slogans on the wall and where a box of pencils, made in China, costs an astonishing 90 euro.
Offering more of a bargain is Desinare, just off Via dei Serragli. It's a reclamation yard, restaurant and cookery school, where Maria has us making fresh tagliatelle with a saffron sauce, bruschetta with kale pesto, and a delicious flourless chocolate cake.
For a more rural experience, but just 15 minutes outside Florence and still with amazing views of the city, is Il Salviatino hotel. This is a beautifully restored 15th century villa in the rolling Tuscan hills. It has original frescoes, lush organic gardens - and offers the opportunity to go truffle hunting in the hotel grounds, as well as winery tours and family-style Tuscan dinners. This is an authentic, magical, Italian escape combined with sheer luxury, perfect service and a setting of pure grandeur - and Florence in easy reach.
Also in the stunning countryside near Florence is the Belmond Villa San Michele, a 14th century former monastery that's now recognised as one of the country's finest small boutique hotels. It's surrounded by lush woods and terraced gardens of lemon trees and fragrant roses, with stunning views.
The hotel is steeped in history - and seeing medieval architecture perfectly blended with modern luxury is fascinating. First, savour superb Tuscan cuisine on the alfresco loggia...then take lessons in Tuscan fusion cuisine at the hotel's famed cookery school.
A day or two later we clamber aboard the train and head north, and glimpses of glorious Tuscan hills give way to tunnels and finally to Milan.
Our hotel, the Rosa Grand, also has a prized location. From here you can see every knobble of the city's spiny Duomo.
If Florence is joyously tied to the past, Milan is a city that works. It feels sure of itself. There are crowds and paparazzi as we start to explore - it turns out that one of Italy's top chefs is getting married.
Staying so centrally brings all sorts of pleasures, mostly of the lazy sort.
I get to wander into the Reale Palace to catch an exhibition of Caravaggio and costumes from opera house La Scala, peruse mind-bogglingly expensive vegetables in Peck (a grocery story that displays its wares like art) and then slip into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the imposing glass and steel shopping arcade built in 1877.
In the middle is Marchesi. Milan's most famous pasticceria recently opened a branch here. Now owned by Prada, it's part cafe, part art installation. And wholly delicious - as are both of these cities.
First published in the Mail on Sunday - August 2019
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