Here are some websites and services that we have used in our travels and been extremely pleased with. We will add to this list on an ongoing basis. We'd be interested in your feedback on these services as well -- simply leave a comment below.
We include the year we used the service, so you can tell how recent the recommendation is.
Umbria Holiday Rentals: Rent a holiday getaway in the lovely, central-Italian region of Umbria. Norma and Laurie take excellent care of their guests, and their portfolio of rental properties ranges from small in-town apartments to large country villas. In 2014, as part of a group of 11, we rented Vista del Mondo, a medieval hermitage in the mountains outside Spoleto, and could not have been more pleased. Tell them you were referred by Ed Perrone and you may even get a discount...
Rome Private Excursions: If you want to see Rome, this is a great way to do it. You basically build a customized private tour for your group. First you select one of the "standard" tours, with recommended sights, stops, etc. And then you modify it to your heart's content -- perhaps adding new points you'd like to see, eliminating ones you're not interested in, changing the timing, etc. In 2014, four of us did the full-day Rome and Vatican tour. But we added on both the Catacombs and the Appian Way, and extended the tour by an hour. Pricing is such that the more people you have, the lower the cost per person. And RPE does not even want a deposit -- you pay your guide at the end of the tour. The guides themselves are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. RPE does lots of other tours as well -- both tours around Rome and its vicinity, as well as day trips from Rome to places like Naples, Assisi, and others.
Viator.com: We have used Viator.com a LOT, and we have never been disappointed. If there is some activity you want to do (and many activities you've never even thought of!) in virtually any part of the world, they probably can set you up. Want a tour of Florence? They have it. Want to see Athens at night on a Segway? Not a problem. These are just two of the many tours we've arranged through Viator (Florence in 2014, Athens in 2016). Their guides are top-notch, and in many cases they can arrange for you to "skip the line" and get right in to the attraction, while dozens or even hundreds of other tourists wait in a long line for tickets.