|8 days and 7 nights|
Italy (Rome, Florence, Siena, Arezzo, Assisi)
Day 1 Arezzo
Arrival in afternoon in Arezzo, in the heart of Tuscany, an ideal base for our series of visits during the next few days. Check-in at the hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 2 Siena
We will travel through the Tuscan countryside to reach the historic city of Siena, built on the hills, in the middle of the pilgrimage road Via Francigena. Our guide will lead you through the city’s history and local culture strolling the streets lined with medieval and Renaissance palaces to the Piazza del Campo, unusually formed in a half-moon shape, where the famous Palio horse race is held twice a year. We will visit the outstanding cathedral, one of Italy’s greatest, a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Built in black and white marble it has fine and intricate carvings by Giovanni Pisano and boasts works by Donatello, Pinturicchio, Nicola Pisano, Bernini, Michelangelo and others. A pleasant break for wine and oil tasting is organised at the Medici fortress. During the afternoon, you are free to explore as you wish the town, or just enjoy a coffee in the main square watching the world go by. Don’t forget to taste the local typical panforte (fruit cake) or other Tuscan sweets, perhaps in the long tradition pastry shop of the famous singer Gianna Nannini’s family. Return for dinner and overnight in Arezzo.
Day 3 Florence
A full day dedicated to the beautiful city of Florence. We will have a guided tour covering some of the city’s rich history as we pass famous landmarks like the beautiful Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and more. The rest of the day is at your leisure for self-exploration. Climb the hill to the Church of San Miniato al Monte for wonderful city views or see other important sites like the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important art museums in the world, the Accademia Gallery to admire some of Michelangelo’s works including the famous Statue of David, the Bargello museum, or the Pitti Palace and Boboli gardens. Florence is not only an art city, but also a great place to indulge in a spot of shopping, so see if you can pick up a bargain among the side streets and markets. To ensure your return to this delightful city, rub the nose of ‘Il Porcellino’, the bronze boar in Mercato Nuovo and throw a few coins into the grating at his feet. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 4 Arezzo
In the morning we head to Arezzo, a wonderful medieval town nestling behind its imposing stone walls as it has for centuries. We will have a walking tour during which we learn about the town’s illustrious past and there is a host of things to see. The Romans built an amphitheatre here, Arezzo’s glassware was famed throughout the empire and the workshops still exist. The city flourished in medieval times, coming under the rule of the Medicis in the 15th century and today the town is a complete kaleidoscope of architectural styles which somehow blend together harmoniously, with such charm. We will discover fascinating places rich in art and history and will visit the famous Church of San Francesco, where is shown an extraordinary collection of paintings by Piero della Francesca, considered as the maximum expression of Renaissance Italian painting. We will admire also the Church of San Domenico housing a Crucifix by Cimabue, the Pieve Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral, the church of San Donato. The Piazza Grande bordered by Vasari's loggia is nothing short of a masterpiece and without doubt must be one of Europe’s most stunning. In the afternoon you are free to explore this lovely town as you wish, absorbing its astonishing charm. Dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 5 Assisi
Today we leave Tuscany driving firstly to Assisi. This delightful medieval town, with its flower-hung streets, lovely views over the Umbrian countryside and fountain-splashed piazzas is famous for a single event – the birth of Francis, the most revered saint in Italy. The man himself was an extraordinary figure. He had a privileged upbringing, leading a very un-Christian lifestyle, but whilst imprisoned, God appeared to him. After release, he renounced his inheritance, living the life of a beggar, and mixed with lepers, but ultimately found his vocation founding the order of monks which bears his name, the Franciscans. Two years after his death, the basilica was built, becaming one of the most beautiful shrines in the Christian world. The building today is actually two churches, one on top of the other with St. Francis himself lying under the floor in the crypt. The lower Basilica was decorated by the greatest painters of the 13th and 14th century: Cimabue, Giotto, the Lorenzetti brothers, and Simone Martini. The upper Basilica is adorned by Giotto’s frescoes illustrating the life of St Francis. We have ample time to visit the basilica together with the town, arriving in Rome early evening.
Day 6 Rome
Today, we will discover a treasure trove of art, history and religion: the Vatican. The Vatican Museum’s art collection, one the most important in the world, houses the wealthiest privately owned collection of masterpieces, showcased in rooms with walls decorated by Raffaello. The real masterpiece, however, is next door: Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine chapel is still shaping the future of the Papacy: this is where the cardinals lock themselves in to elect a new Pope after the former one has passed away. Our Vatican tour ends with the tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. The magnificent complex spans back to 4th century BC, when it was commissioned by Emperor Constantine, though the new cathedral took over 100 years and all of Italy’s greatest artists to build. We will admire here Michelangelo’s Cupola, his famous Pietà and Bernini’s amazing bronze Baldacchino. Dinner and overnight stay in Rome
Day 7 Rome
This morning, we will have a sightseeing tour of Rome whisking through the city’s most important neighbourhoods and sites, from the ancient to the modern. We will hear fascinating stories about the Colosseum and see the Arch of Constantine and the Forum, once the administration, business and commercial center of Ancient Rome. We will continue to the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, the Palazzo Venezia, the headquarters of the Fascist party and Mussolini, the Vittoriano, a huge monument dedicated to the first Italian King, Vittorio Emanuele II, as well as the Pantheon, Italy’s best-preserved dome and the biggest in Europe until the Renaissance. Of course we will admire the famous Trevi fountain ad will explore the Spanish Steps area before we quickly reach one of the most famous balconies of Rome, Pincio Terrace. From here, you can see above Piazza del Popolo, one of the most elegant squares in Rome, with its obelisk, the Twin Churches. Remainder of the day is yours. You are well placed to explore Rome further at your own pace today. Take a coffee in the famous Caffe Greco, once the haunt of Keats, Byron and Wagner, walk along the window shops in the Via Condotti for some of the finest clothes you will find anywhere, or simply wander where your feet take you stopping off where you wish. Dinner and overnight stay in Rome.
Day 8 Rome
Breakfast and departure for return journey. End of our services.
Accommodation, depending on your option, in good 4* hotels centrally located or 3* not centrally located hotels, double occupancy rooms, as described:
4 night accommodation in hotel in Arezzo on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in Rome on a half-board basis, drinks not included
Local English speaking guides in Siena, Florence, Arezzo, Assisi, Rome. Other languages are available on request.
Entrances to the Cathedral in Siena, Church of San Francesco and Church of San Domenico in Arezzo, Basilica San Francesco and Basilica of St Clare in Assisi, Basiica San Pietro and Vatican Museums.
Bus GT for the entire tour with arrival and departure from Rome airport, including all expenses (check point and parking fees, board and lodging for driver)