Testimonials

May 2019~Tuscany Italy 

Thank you Ann Marie for creating and leading an extraordinary journey to Cortona, Tuscany for our group. It was BEYOND our wildest expectations and a life-changing experience for many of us.

The places you introduced us to were incredible, the people beyond delightful, and the experiences top notch. You are so easy to travel with and led our group with ease. The trip was well organized, interesting, fun … just perfect. We loved our hotel too!  My second group trip is already planned with Dolce Vita Retreats for September, 2020. I can hardly wait!  I highly recommend booking a travel adventure with Ann Marie. She embodies la Dolce Vita, the sweet life.

~Janell Pekkain 

San Francisco CA

I recommend this company and owner without reservation! I enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to Tuscany in May, 2019! Owner Ann Marie Packard’s integrity and attention to detail is unmatched! She carefully curated all details of our trip prior to our arrival in Cortona. She engaged knowledgeable drivers for our daily excursions throughout the Tuscany region. Ann Marie looked after each participant to insure their comfort and enjoyment and was always available for any questions or suggestions for desired stops or additions to our planned itinerary. We were able to enjoy relaxing time to explore Cortona as well as all of the special locations we visited.

I learned and appreciated much about olive oil, wine and food on this marvelous adventure as well as enjoying wonderful companions, local specialties in Cortona, the amazing history and peace and beauty of the Tuscan region, comfortable accommodations, and always friendly and welcoming Italians.

This trip far exceeded my expectations and was also a wonderful value! Do put travel in Italy with Dolce Vita Retreats on your bucket list!!

~Marian McLean
San Francisco 

September 2018~Amalfi

I went on a trip of a life time to the Amalfi Coast with Dolce Vita Retreats. This was my first trip with DVR and wasn't sure what to expect. I had been on one of those large tours a few years prior and knew I didn't want to experience a new country like that again. I'm glad I took a chance- It surpassed my expectations- the Villa was extraordinary - the chef that prepared our food at the villa catered to our groups needs, the drivers had so much pride in the City and loved telling us details about the areas he took us. Ann Marie took us places that only a local would know about and there were free days to relax. Even though, I didn't know everyone on the trip when I left, I felt like I had made some life long friends at the end of it.
I would definitely go on another trip with Dolce Vita and would recommend them to anyone who looking to get the most out of their vacation.

~Lisa Marroquin 

San Francisco CA

Private trip consult~Italy 2018

Ann Marie is one of the most meticulous retreat and vacation planners I have ever known. Her attention to detail and her heartfelt desire to create the most authentic and beautiful experiences is in a class of its own.  Her appreciation and understanding of Italy and its culture is palpable. It is incredibly obvious her primary hope is to share her love of this magical country, in all its richness, beauty and charm.

Thank you Ann Marie, for helping us to manifest the most enjoyable trip my husband, children and I have ever taken.Because of you, we now have priceless, life-long memories.

Grazie mille 

~Susan Pierce Freeman 

Laguna Beach CA

May 2017~Tuscany Italy 

 Thank you for all the planning and co-ordination that went into our Italian holiday. My friends and I had a marvelous time and made life long memories. Italy was everything that we imagined it to be and more.

The villa was lovely and comfortable, all the visits and activities planned were excellent... we got a real feel for the country and the culture. A highlight was definitely  our visit to Nostra Vita. Over all we had a blast. This certainly wont be our last trip...

~Melisha Peters

South Africa 

April 2017~Mendocino California 

Our group of 4 ladies enjoyed this picturesque location, and the accommodations were very comfortable. The coordinator and cook could not have been more gracious and pleasant to be with.  Our group enjoyed our view of the ocean and even heard the waves crashing with our bedroom window open. We loved the food, wine, and playing bocci.  A short walk to down town Mendocino turned out to be a fantastic shopping venture.  This trip is a "must do" for anyone.

~Lori Voyeur

San Bruno, CA

February 2017~Venice Italy 

Fun

Ann Marie's travel experiences are an absolute joy. So far I've been on two trips with her and plan on doing more! Ann Marie organizes the trips with a lot of thought and attention to detail. She was also great in giving good information prior to leaving so I felt relaxed and well prepared. Each trip has a structured well planned schedule/agenda with lots of fun things to do, but there's also lots of flexibility to fit in different personalities, moods and even weather!

The retreats and trips are reasonably priced and include many extra amenities, meals, daytrips, photoshoots, etc. which really make the experience special. Ann Marie has knowledge and experience with the different locations so we're able to appreciate the regions specialties and uniqueness. She's a great host who really makes you feel welcome. 

~Julienne Piankoff 

San Francisco, CA 

September 2015~Tuscany Italy 

Delightful

The week spent at Dolce Vita Retreats with Ann Marie was really delightful. She is a wonderful host who thinks of her guests needs and makes every effort to satisfy them all. She has a fun-loving spirit that is infectious and she is a pleasure to be around. The Villa itself is stunning and will fill you with a sense of calm and ease from the moment you arrive. The rooms are private and spacious and beautiful. The food was delicious and I looked forward to every meal, especially the one we helped prepare with our Villa hosts Japaco and Fabio. The excursions planned were amazing and the guides were well informed, funny and interesting. I learned a lot about the history and culture of Tuscany as well as some fascinating information about local wines and food. There were plenty of opportunities to relax or shop or swim, and we were encouraged to do whatever our hearts desired at any time. It was a lovely week with Dolce Vita Retreats.

~Tracy Teramoto

New Zealand 

Balanced

There is something beautiful about waking up for yoga, stretching and strengthening the body, calming the mind, and then walking into the kitchen for a huge breakfast. That was how we started every morning, and also the best way to sum up the whole experience - the perfect balance of reflection and indulgence. It really was a beautiful setting to relax and contemplate through journaling, reflection, and quiet conversations.  The yoga classes were (not exaggerating) my favorite ever - some classes make me feel like I'm doing "competitive yoga" but it felt like we could all get the most out of the class at the exact level we were at. Her classes definitely reinvigorated my yoga practice. Our Tuscan villa was gorgeous, and the fantastic hosts managed to be sensitive to my gluten free diet, and more importantly borderline force fed us in the best and most Italian way possible. Ann Marie curated the retreat to perfection - Reflection, relaxation, sightseeing, and enjoying delicious food were all perfectly balanced. By the end of it, we all felt like one big, happy family. Not just a vacation or a yoga intensive, but the best of both - I really really enjoyed my experience, and highly reccommend it to anyone interested in the sweet life of Italia!

~Molly Trad

San Francisco, CA

July 2014~Tuscany Italy 

Joy

I didn't find Ann Marie's retreat. It found me. I knew that I wanted to spend my 38th birthday away and was hoping to find an experience that nourished & rejuvenated me. After lots of online research  I couldn't find what I wanted and decided to just give up. The next day an email arrived in my inbox announcing a retreat in Tuscany, Italy on the exact days I was searching for! I immediately called Anna Maria for details & hung up the phone sold. My experience was more than I expected. This was my 1st time traveling  to another country solo but will definitely not be my last.  Through Anna Maria's retreat  I opened up my body while practicing yoga, opened up my heart by sharing & listening with the group and I opened my mind by experiencing the beautiful Italian culture. I laughed, cried, sang, ate & drank with people that I will always hold dear to my heart. I cannot think of a better place to be surrounded by beauty & love than Tuscany. Thank you Anna Maria for giving me the experience of a lifetime. I decided on my bday in Italy that I want to experience the rest of my life lessons through joy. Anna Maria's retreat was the perfect way to start. 
~Deanna Arnold

San Francisco, CA

Breathtaking

This is not just for the locale but the hostess, Ann Marie, as well. In all my trips to Italy I have never experienced Italy as I did on the July 2014 retreat. Wine tasting at a Brunello winery. Fresh truffles brought to our door in the morning. A trip to Sienna -- a perfect contrast to the beautiful sunflower valley setting we stayed in surrounded by small medieval townships. Daily trips to the local market for chit chat and small batch, local Chianti. Delicious food. Local surprises. On this retreat, I was given time to explore and relax relinquishing the ties of life back home, which at best is stressful. Thank you, Ann Marie, for showing me a side of Italy and myself I would never have discovered on my own. Grazie mille, Bella!

~K. Acosta

Hayward, CA

Amazing!

My trip with Ann Marie in Italy this past July was the greatest vacation/retreat I have experienced.  Her passion for Italy is amazing, she is well organized, thoughtful, kind, open and adventurous at the same time. She cares and catered to most of our requests while traveling to different sites which is important to me.  She has the ability to make us feel happy and comfortable which is essential for a first timer traveling in Italy. The sites, cafés, and restaurants she chose were a fun experience. I appreciate her thoughtfulness and professionalism.
I highly recommend Ann Marie's trip to Italy to anyone who wants to experience Italian culture, and the beauty of the country side. 

~Archimedes DeLeon

San Francisco, CA

Blissful

Last July, I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine to travel to Europe for the first time.  A long time friend, Ann Marie, invited me to join her on her retreat to Tuscany, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did.  The trip was fantastic; both peaceful and rejuvenating, with plenty of time to explore the wonderful countryside, small towns and cities.  The villa was simply amazing; comfortable with plenty of space and beautiful gardens and refreshing swimming pool.  A small package for each of us with informational cards on the towns we were to visit that week, is an example of the little extras that made Ann Marie such a wonderful host.  The excursions to Sienna, the Vineyard tour, and the many small hill top towns near the villa were well planned and wonderful.  I couldn’t have asked for a better first time experience to Italy.  Sign me up, I’m going back :-)

~Paul Wistrand

Juneau, AK

Photos from past retreats

Siena
Cortona
Cortona
Welcome apertivo cortona
Cortona
late night Gelato
Cortona
montemaggio-winery-lunch-radda
Nostra Vita
Montalcino
Montalcino
Umbria
Sbandieri
Sansepolcro
Anabale Nostra Vita
Pienza
Cortona
Cortona
Pitigliano
crostini
Amalfi 2018
Cortona
Vietri Sul Mare
Sante Marie
Amalfi 2018
Amalfi 2018
Sante Marie
Sante Marie
Sante Marie Winery
Pienza
Pienza
Pienza
Nostra Vita
Nostra Vita
Nostra Vita
Montalcino
montalcino
Montalcino
Nostra Vita
Cortona
Cortona appetizers
our chef in Cortona
chef's wine pairing dinner
Montalcino
Cortona
cortona
San Gimignano
cortona
Ann Marie and Robin
saturnia 1
pienza
Tuscan cypress grove
morning hike in Cortona
pasta
mendocino
Mendocino 2016
mendocino house
mendocino
maryanne kitchen mendo (2)_edited
Cinque Terre
Our apartment in Venice
Gondola under Bridge of sighs
Ghetto tour (2)
Treats of Carnevale
Early morning photo shoot
Ann Marie and Julie
Julie
Sunset photo shoot
Carnevale Venice
Guglie- Venice
Venice
venice
venice
Carnevale Venice
Venice

  Come have a love affair with Italy and the beguiling beauty of Tuscany   

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Gira sole (Sunflowers)