Read testimonials from happy clients, below. Testimonials are divided by type of service.

“I was amazed at how smoothly everything went. “

Your hotel suggestions were excellent, My husband wasn’t excited about going to Europe because of time and money, but now he can’t wait to go back. I honestly couldn’t have done this planning without you. I’m quite sure I would have thrown my hands up in frustration and indecision, because I really knew nothing about Italy or about traveling abroad. Your knowledge was incredibly extensive and detailed. Also, having the time frame for coaching kept me on track; I couldn’t put things off for days or weeks, which I might have done otherwise. Our trip truly was fabulous, and I attribute that to your coaching. So thank you again, Madeline!

Karen Greider, July 2013


“We loved, loved, loved our trip and I never could have come up with our itinerary based on internet searches and guidebooks.”

Madeline took my foggy notion of a 10 day trip to Italy and translated it for us into the best-planned trip I’ve ever taken. She provided us with options for every detail: where to go, what to do, where to stay, where to eat, and how to get to and around the locales we chose. Every recommendation was special, from the hotels we stayed in to the tour guides we used, the cooking school we went to, the winery we visited and the restaurants she suggested. There wasn’t a single miss. “It’s a Madeline recommendation” became a phrase oft repeated during our trip. Madeline took the guess work out of trip planning and made the process efficient and enjoyable. I highly recommend Italy Beyond the Obvious; it’s worth every penny.

Carrie George, May 2013


“I just wanted to tell you how TERRIFIC your coaching service has been.”

I felt totally overwhelmed trying to narrow things down (and research from over here)!

I am so happy that we have a plan figured out and can get the most out of trip.

We really appreciate your hard work and responsiveness!

L. Jacobsen & D. Stal, Ottawa Canada, March 2013


“Madeline’s coaching service ended up being one of the best travel decisions we ever made”

You can do so much research online that we never would have thought we’d end up hiring someone to plan a trip for us–but Madeline’s coaching service ended up being one of the best travel decisions we ever made. We knew we wanted to spend two weeks in Italy, but sorting through a whole country’s worth of itineraries and accommodations online turned out to be so daunting that it was almost paralyzing. So we decided to try Madeline and she took what had become a stressful process and sent it back to being fun! Her coaching service cut through the flood of options, so we just enjoyed ourselves cherry picking the ideas that seemed most right for us. Madeline was organized and insightful. Within one week we had the whole trip pretty much planned. We absolutely recommend it to anyone considering piecing together their own jaunt through Italy.

A. Winer & L. Leu, New York, March 2013

“The trip went so well and we have you to thank for it.”

We are home from Rome and had an amazing trip! The hotel was perfect. Everyone was so helpful. My father-in-law said our guide was the best tour guide he ever had. Thanks again.

M. Donahue, February 2013


“Our trip was amazing! I think it was my favorite trip ever.”

All the special tours and experiences you helped us to book were fabulous. The cooking day was unbelievable. The Vespa tour was – I’m at a loss for superlatives! The hotels were all fabulous. A wonderful trip! Thank you so much for all your suggestions and advice. It was everything I was hoping for and more.

S. Batista, November 2012


“This has been a wonderful experience.”

You are personable, knowledgable and have a talent for organization and analysis. You are perceptive in discerning where the client is with travel planning and the timing of your questions and suggestions helped me to move forward in the process. Your words helped when I got a bit frustrated when it wasn’t coming together…the counsel to sift through it all and the important things would be left. You are a good listener: which can be a big challenge with email! Another piece that was invaluable was when you explained the actual process: itinerary, accommodations, activities, restaurants. Makes total sense now!

I think you know how much I have appreciated your coaching!! I look forward to working with you again.
C. Aarsby-Edwards, Wyoming USA, January 2012


“I loved working with Madeline on our trip to Italy!”

As we started to plan our trip to Italy, I quickly became overwhelmed with the number of great places to go in Italy, but I was short on time to figure it out. So I was really excited when I came across “Italy: Beyond the Obvious” – the name described exactly the kind of experience we wanted to have.

I could tell from the beginning that she knew what she was talking about, and was a truly committed partner to us in this planning. She understood our interests in food, wine, and ‘local’ culture and had some fantastic ideas related to those interests that I know we would not have found on our own, for example a wine festival outside of Padua, chicheti and wine pre-dinner in Venice, a truffle hunt, etc. etc. So many great ideas that aren’t in any guide book I’ve seen. Madeline definitely delivers on ideas beyond the obvious!

The specifics: Our hotel on Lake Garda was perfect! The woman at the front desk, super helpful! Also took the boat and walked up the mountain – spectacular views, sounds of cow bells, also interesting to see parasailors and sheep herder there at the top! We loved Padua for the architecture, the ‘local’ feel, energy and people watching. Our hotel was perfect! loved the staff, the room, and the location. Saturday food market – wow, fun! Venice: Wow, tourist season still at ‘high point’ .. but stumbled across less touristy areas and then able to enjoy ourselves. San Marco area – ugh. overrun with tourists. LOVED Campo Santa Margarita – we ate breakfast at Orange one day, and dinner the next day at another place there. LOVED the recommended Enoteca. Not what we thought it would be, so at first we were like ‘oh’ and then we quickly grew to love the place, the ‘system’ and chicheti! we ate and drank wine outside, against the canal and everyone was happy.

D. Calfo, California USA, September 2011


“Her Coaching service… has paid off ten-fold”

Based upon a recommendation from another friend, we contacted Madeline to help plan our trip to Italy. We used her “coaching” service, and it has paid off ten-fold. [Madeline's note: this client posted their testimonial on their Italy trip blog. Read the entire testimonial here!]

Mark & Donna Baker, Wisconsin USA


“You are a rock star!!”

We are back from Italy and wanted to touch base to tell you that you are a rock star!! Absolutely all accommodations that you recommended were PERFECT!

Ponza was dreamy (although we really were “off the beaten path” being the ONLY anglo’s on the island). We actually elected to stay an extra night. Our Vespa tour in Rome as great as was our hike along the coast. Madly in love with Positano and our meal was insanely good value and yummy. We had a great day trip to Capri which was a blast. Also loved Naples. Our hotel in Naples was beautiful.

You were really bang on Madeline, thank you so much. We passed your name on to many others along the way who were impressed with what we were doing. I hope you are well! Cheers & a few more photos to follow.

You can use us for a testimonial ANYTIME!
Thank you so much Madeline for helping us plan an amazingly wonderful trip.

Cari & Rob Steinberg, Toronto, Canada, June 2011


“It has been a pleasure working with you, one of the best decisions we made in our trip planning.”

Your ability to take the jumble of our wishes, concerns and indecision and make sense of it is a gift, and we appreciate how much you’ve helped us to create a trip that is uniquely ours, along with the comfort of knowing that someone who knows what they’re doing thinks that our plan works! Thank you.

Kate & Richard Vander Wende, May 2011


“I highly recommend Madeline.”

Madeline provides an intellectual look at Italy, a perspective that I very much appreciated when planning our journey. Her knowledge of history, gastronomy, logistics and culture was essential to shaping our enjoyable vacation.

James Zellmer, Madison, WI, January 2011


“Madeline helped us plan out a wonderful trip!”

I was lucky enough to come upon Madeline and her wonderful Italy Beyond the Obvious web site and travel business. Madeline helped us plan our adventures in Florence, Venice, Lucca, and Pisa. She recommended hotel options, along with their direct web sites, best ways to get around the cities, tour options and many links to museums, and where to get the best Gelato! I had felt so overwhelmed with my travel plans, but Madeline set that all at ease and helped us plan out a wonderful trip! I am so grateful for her expertise! Thanks Madeline!

Vicki Mitchell, Scottsdale, Arizona, September 2010


“Thanks so much for your help. It has been absolutely invaluable.”

We are both so pleased with all the help you have given. The coaching service you offer is a real value, saving amazing amounts of time for us and headache and heartache.

We feel much more confident about our ability to enjoy our trip; one set up now for our specific needs.

Your advice has allowed us to plan a trip that will be right for our family not just what is recommended in the travel books. Thank you.

A. & C. Alftine, Oregon, May 2010


“The guide you recommended was well worth the time and money…”

Just a quick note to say thank you for the wonderful recommendations/itinerary for Roma. The guide you recommended was well worth the time and money… our docent was fun and very knowledgeable. After getting lost we finally found the restaurant, which was lovely…lovely ambiance! We did take time to stop at the wine bar you recommended and thoroughly enjoyed the wine and location. Off we go to the next night’s dinner restaurant and loved this place! We made friends with the owner/family and had a great time. Overall we loved Italy and on our travels to Murano we bought a beautiful glass sculpture …so I’m happy!

P. Priniski, Arizona, May 2010


“We had a great time in Sicily – much to your credit.”

We had a great time in Sicily — much to your credit. The cooking class was great, the rental car situation was awesome, and we LOVED all of our hotels. Thanks again!

J. Clegg, Los Angeles, CA, April 2010


“Madeline has lived in Italy and traveled many places in the world.”

We recently took a trip to Italy. Our trip took us to Sorrento, Pompeii, Rome, Florence and Venice.

Thanks to Madeline for helping us organize our trip and giving us great advice..One of the best pieces of advice she gave us was to forget driving in Italy and to use the train and subway system. Oh! How right she was. We found the train and subway systems very easy, comfortable and safe to use. We were so glad we were not driving in Italy. My brother, on the other hand, tried driving. While he was spending 3 hours trying to find his way to us in Florence, Gary and I were enjoying breakfast at an open air restaurant and basking in the Italian sunshine. After 3 hours of frustration trying to get from here to there, my brother gave up trying to meet us and went back to the vineyard. Meeting in the train station in Venice was so much easier. The bottom line is Madeline has lived in Italy and has traveled many places in the world. Her advice is practical and on target. She is great!

Florence and Gary Erickson, Kansas City, MO, March, 2010


“We had a fabulous experience exploring the Veneto region of Italy”

Thank you to Madeline for helping us plan our family trip to Italy this past summer. My husband and I, along with our two children, aged 5 and 7, had a fabulous experience exploring the Veneto region of Italy. The highlights of our trip were Madeline’s recommendations: the day spent swimming at Lake Garda, the adrenaline packed day at Gardaland, the night spent taking in Aida in the Verona Arena, the daytrip to university town, Padua, and the lazy days getting lost in Venice. We can’t thank her enough for helping us experience Italy and enjoying la dolce vita!

Hazel Choy, Vancouver, Canada


“Your planning was meticulous, and everything unfolded exactly as planned.”

Madeline helped us plan our family’s first trip to Italy (a family of 4, with 2 girls ages 10 and 12). Madeline was great to work with – very responsive and always willing to provide good advice and a range of options to choose from.  The result was a trip custom designed to our family’s interests and pace. We experienced all facets of Italy, including cultural and historical sites, outdoor adventure activities, cooking classes and fantasic meals. And all with a touch of luxury that made the experience special and memorable for all of us. This was by far the best planned holiday we’ve ever had, and working with Madeline was the smartest decision we could have made.

Stephanie Meyer & Mike Wilson (and 2 girls), Ottawa Canada, July 2014


“Absolutely, without a doubt, the best thing I ever did was to hire you!”

It was truly the most amazing trip! I never could have planned this so seamlessly on my own.  It was truly a stress-free trip for me which is very unusual! Every day really seemed to work out perfectly and go off without a hitch.  Now I just need to find somebody exactly like you to help me plan a trip in France and any other country we decide to visit.

Keira and Rand Blazer (and 4 teenage boys), Potomac MD, July 2014


“Grazie Mille!! We had a great time!! You did a great job with all your recommendations!!!”

Ofelia Ruiz & Irma Barron, Miami FL, December 2013



“We had a wonderful trip.”

We had a wonderful trip and all the arrangements worked as scheduled. All the guides were good and professional. We are thankful for the insights you provided us particularly with respect to the hotels all of which were good or better and in my view money well spent. We thank you and will be in touch when we return to Italy.

Edward Mandell, New York City, May 2013


“We thanked you many times over during the trip as we enjoyed the fruits of your planning.”

We all feel like having your guides, suggestions, numbers, etc. made for easy travel in a foreign country. Thank you!!

Nancy Heiser & friends, Wyoming USA, October 2012


“I highly recommend hiring Beyond the Obvious for your next trip to Italy.”

Madeline is not only a delight to work with, but she is detail oriented, thorough and prepares you for a one of a kind Italian adventure. Her background and experience living in Italy ensures you will have the best tour guides, restaurants and hotel recommendations.

P & B Alley, Chicago, IL, September 2011


“Thanks again for all your help with the trip, it was a big success, and your services were a big reason it went well!”

A few highlights for us included:

Getting lost in Venice. As you pointed out, it’s half the fun, and we really got to know the neighborhoods and prominent landmarks along the way.

  1. Hiking in the Dolomites.
  2. The bike ride.
  3. Our hotel in Spoleto.
  4. The sights of Rome.
  5. Using guides at the Coliseum and the Vatican. It really worked out to be a great counterpoint to all the independent tourism that we did in Rome and elsewhere.

I.B., Colorado, September 2011


“My expectations for this trip were extremely high, and the trip exceeded my already-ridiculously-high hopes.”

We just returned this evening to Munich, and I wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that we had a fabulous trip to the Amalfi Coast.

Thank you thank you for:

1) Guiding us away from staying in Positano — I was so relived when all of the American tourists got off of the bus from Sorrento at Positano and left us to enjoy an amazingly tourist-free life down the coast.

2) Picking a PERFECT hotel in a PERFECT location.
3) Great Restaurant Recommendations. I knew we were in good shape the first night when all we heard were conversations from boisterous Italians enjoying great food and company. It was a perfect first meal on the Amalfi Coast and set the bar high. This bar, however, was blown away by lunch the next day. Loved the view, loved the staff, loved the food. We ended up just letting them give us food of their choice, stuffed our faces, and then ate some more.

4) The Walks of the Gods hike was by far our favorite thing we did on the trip. If I had my choice, I would’ve done that walk every day that we were there (and next time, I just might).

5) Drinks in Ravello! The overpriced-as-expected drinks were absolutely worth it. We had a great view, great drinks, and the staff, instead of making us feel like squatters who weren’t true hotel guests, were really friendly.

Madeline, I can’t thank you enough for planing the perfect trip for our last family “Hurrah” before leaving Europe. You are a rock star goddess!!!!

Morgan Walters, Munich, Germany, May 2011


“I can’t thank you enough. This trip will forever be embedded in my kids’ minds, and also ours.”

Some detail:

Rome: The location of our hotel was great. We did everything on the program and maybe a bit more. Pizza was the best in Rome! For me the ballet was the highlight, it was excellent and what seats we had!

Elba: Another highlight of the trip, what magnificent beaches, I’m from the Bahamas and I believe I love the water so Elba more. The hotel’s dinners were gourmet, absolutely delicious! The beaches were out of this world, we rented a boat and went exploring around the island, swimming out in the middle of the ocean, ……all of us. Off to Camogli with the GPS and got there like going to the 7-11.

Liguria / Cinque Terre: Great hotel room, was spacious and a/c. The restaurant the first night was fabulous. The transit strike you had warned us about on the second day was on so we drove, with the GPS. I am used to traffic, especially in the middle east and found driving easy. The boat tour was very good, and we had a blast swimming and jumping off of cliffs. The Cinque Terre was great, could have stayed there for a week. Loved the shopping and whole feel. Definitely going back – next summer – and will stay in Cinque Terre itself.

Tuscany: Stopped at Lucca on the way, it was great. Made it to the hotel like 7-11 again.Hotel looked like a castle!. The rooms were very spacious.The cooking class was great, and was the highlight of the trip for my wife. We found San Gimignano and Siena too touristy but I guess it’s good to have seen them..We loved Florence, the shopping, the market etc. First night dinner was great, my wife loved it. The Uffizi was fabulous! The shopping in Florence is fabulous. I could buy up the town.

Michael Stark, Los Angeles, CA, July 2010


“I cannot say enough wonderful things about working with Madeline and the itinerary that she put together for our trip!”

I recently had the experience of working with Italy Beyond the Obvious while planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast. I cannot say enough wonderful things about working with Madeline and the itinerary that she put together for our trip! She was very thoughtful and asked several questions to discern exactly what things we liked to do, and not do, while on vacation. She kept in touch regularly as she planned our trip to Positano, Ravello, Sorrento and Amalfi.

When we left for Italy, we had a full schedule of things to do in each city which included sightseeing, walks, local festivals (with dates and start times), restaurants and even parking lots where it would be safe to park our car. Each city was accompanied by a map which showed us where all the relevant places were in that town. The itinerary included important tourist attractions as well as out of the way sights that we wouldn’t have found on our own. Madeline provided us with timely information, such as the fact that the road between Positano and Amalfi was under construction and only open for fifteen minutes every hour. I would highly recommend Madeline and will use her again when we plan our next trip to Italy!

Carolyn Muszynski, Chicago, IL



“Words cannot express my gratitude for your creative and flawless planning of our trip of a lifetime.”

It was incredible – your help with locations, hotels, activities, train and boat schedules, rental cars, maps – was over the top. I’m looking forward to our next trip to Italy – with your help, of course!

BJ and Herb Hess, Boston MA, July 2014


“Overwhelmed with happiness over the trip. So beautiful, thanks to you.”

D. Delany & D. Weber, USA, October 2012


“Planning a trip to Italy? Before you do anything else, call Madeline!”

Madeline carefully planned a fabulous, personalized 19 day itinerary (Lake Garda, Dolomites, N/S Tuscany, Rome) that enabled us to be travelers, not tourists. Great restaurants, amazing hotels, wonderful guides, and out-of-the-way jaunts made our trip more than special. All of Madeline’s contacts were of the highest caliber, and went out of their way to please us. For example, one restaurant owner called us several days ahead of our reservation at his open-air restaurant to give us an option to come on Saturday rather than Sunday, since rain had been forecast (we took the option and were glad we did; it poured on Sunday). Each day provided a unique experience that took our preferences into consideration, yet our trip was well-balanced, with active days followed by not-so-active ones, enabling us to enjoy the trip without being exhausted. Knowing Madeline was only a phone call away gave us the peace of mind we needed to thoroughly enjoy our trip!
Madeline is a delight to work with, easygoing, yet detail-oriented. We put our trip in Madeline’s hands and had the time of our life, stress free.

R. & C. Boas, Wilton CT, September 2011 and September 2012


“Our trip was just fantastic! We had the time of our lives and just loved Italy! We will definitely go back!”

You did a superb job and we will recommend your services to any people that are going there for a trip! It was so nice to have no worries, make no reservations and just avoid all of the potential pitfalls and hassles while planning an international trip.

L. & D. Walla, Omaha, NB, May 2011


“If we said it once we said it over and over how well organized this trip was and what a mess we would have been in without your help.”

We made it back ok on Sat. night around 8pm. We enjoyed everything and all of our guides and drivers did a superb job in taking care of us. We were happy in all of our hotels and the food well we will never be able to eat pasta in the U.S again without complaining.Thank you for doing such a great job! We hope to visit again and see more of the beautiful country and we will be contacting you again in organizing our trip. Thanks again we really had a wonderful time thanks to you.

D. & R. Neumann, Omaha, NB, May 2011


“We’ve never before worked with a travel planner, and you’ve set a high standard.”

Thank you again from all three of us for your help in planning such a delightful trip. I know that we were a challenge, since I’m an experienced Italy traveler (this was my seventh time there), we wanted to visit a region that is off the beaten path (Emilia-Romagna) at a peculiar time (the week between Christmas and New Year’s) , with an 11-year old child, and had some very specific ideas of what we did and did not want to see and do. Every detail that you arranged came off without a hitch, including our polite and prompt driver Roberto, all our many tour guides (especially Manuela in Ravenna and Elisabetta in Parma and Modena), the pleasant trattorias and especially the two terrific hotels you recommended – the Commercianti in Bologna and the Palazzo della Rosa Prati in Parma. Our itinerary included plenty of time and variety and allowed us to enjoy all the many things we sought, including Romanesque cathedrals, Jewish synagogues, food shops in Bologna, mosaics in Ravenna, learning to make tortelli di erbette, watching the “birth” of Parmesan cheese and tasting balsamic vinegar straight from the barrel. We appreciated your patience and flexibility as we changed plans up to – and beyond – the last minute. You made the planning for this trip a breeze, and enabled us all to enjoy it more fully than we otherwise would have. We look forward to planning our next Italian vacation with you, and wish you the happiest of New Year’s.

Jeremy, Suzette & Eli Jacobs, New York, New York, January 2011


“Madeline was a joy to work with as she helped us plan an outstanding 10-year anniversary trip to Italy.”

Her knowledge of the areas we visited included, Lake Como, Tuscany, Florence & Amalfi, was impressive as she developed an itinerary that suited our interests and activity level.

Being well versed in both Italian culture and language, Madeline made wonderful recommendations and reservations to hotels, restaurants and sites not frequented by foreigners, providing us with a unique and memorable visit. We enjoyed a romantic and fun vacation we will remember for years to come. The success of our trip was due to the amazing scenery and food of Italy and Madeline’s expert planning.

Andee & Jon Harris, Chicago, IL, August 2010

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