|14 days and 13 nights|
Italy (Venice, Ferrara, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Orvieto, Rome, Pompei, Positano, Amalfi, Sorrento, Capri, Cosenza, Taormina, Agrigento)
Day 1 Venice area
Arrival in afternoon in Venice area. Check-in at your hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Venice area.
Day 2 Venice
Today Venice! Our guide will introduce you to some of its most famous sights of this extraordinary city built on a maze of more than 150 canals and 400 bridges studded with palaces and Renaissance architecture. In St Mark’s Square you will find two of the most important buildings in Venice, the Basilica di San Marco with its Romanesque carvings and beautiful mosaics and the Doge’s Palace, once home to the Venetian rulers, with its well-known Bridge of Sighs, the Clock Tower and the Campanile. We take a walk over the Rialto Bridge, one of Venice’s most famous sights, to watch the activity of the boats on the Grand Canal below. You are free to do as you please after the guided tour, you can explore the maze of canals and bridges without any specific destination, or you may also take a boat to Murano Island, famous for glass factories. Alternatively, why not take a seat in a local café and watch the world go by. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Venice area.
Day 3 Ferrara
You'll journey south across Emilia-Romagna, today, towards the rolling hills of Tuscany. En route, stop to the exquisite Ferrara, former home to the wealthy and powerful Este dukes. We will visit the cathedral and the Castello Estense, the moated medieval residence to the ruling Este family, followed by Palazzo Schifanoia, the Este pleasure palace which is home to Ferrara's most famous frescoes. Arrival in late afternoon in Montecatini Terme, where we will spend three nights close to the heart of the celebrated spa-town.
Day 4 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 Montecatini Terme.
Day 5 Siena, San Gimignano
We head to 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. 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. We will travel through the Tuscan countryside to reach the walled town of San Gimignano, whose stunning skyline of towers is seen from afar. From the originally 72 towers built by rival nobles during the 13th century, only 13 are left today. We will stroll through its cobbled streets and stop in the main squares, Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo. You will have free time to visit the church La Collegiata or the civic museum. You may also climb the big tower, see the fortress and the unusual torture museum, enjoy the great shopping on the San Giovanni and San Matteo streets or simply absorb the fascinating medieval atmosphere of the town. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Montecatini Terme.
Day 6 Orvieto
You'll leave Montecatini and head south into the Apennine hills for a two-night stay at the spa town of Fiuggi. En route, we will visit Orvieto, which rises out of the Umbrian countryside. The city tour includes the Gothic cathedral and chapel where pilgrims and art lovers alike come to see Luca Signorelli’s colorful frescoes vividly depicting the Apocalypse. Orvieto is just as interesting below ground as it is above. The creation of the underground city started over 2500 years ago by the Etruscan and continued beyond the middle ages. There are thousands of grottoes along with cisterns, medieval old presses, millstone among other things. Orvieto is also famous for its museums, ceramics, and wines (most notably the Orvieto Classico). Return for dinner which will be served in the hotel this evening. Overnight stay in Fiuggi.
Day 7 Rome
Spend an unforgettable day discovering Rome, the 'Eternal City', where over two thousand years of history come alive. 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, as well as the Vittoriano, a huge monument dedicated to the first Italian King, Vittorio Emanuele II. Of course we will admire the famous Trevi fountain ad will explore the Spanish Steps area before we 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 and the Twin Churches. Remainder of the day is yours. Take a coffee in the famous Café Greco, once the haunt of Keats, Byron and Wagner, walk along the window shops in the Via Condotti or simply wander where your feets take you stopping off where you wish. In the evening return to Fiuggi in time to dine out in one of its many restaurants.
Day 8 Pompeii
We will head to the Bay of Naples, beneath Vesuvius' brooding cone, to spend three nights close to idyllic Sorrento. En route we will visit the ruins of Pompeii, the Roman city buried under ash during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. We all know the story of Pompeii, however, it is more than a series of ruins: the state of preservation is astonishing and even if you are not interested in history you cannot fail to be moved by the scale of the city, especially when you consider machines were unavailable. Much of our knowledge about the way of life of the ordinary Romans, their habits, class systems and domestic arrangements has come from here. Some buildings have not only mosaics and frescoes, but also graffiti describing political events, romantic entanglements and gossip of the time! Dinner and overnight in Sorrento.
Day 9 Amalfi Coast: Positano, Amalfi
Today we journey along one of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful coastlines, the Amalfi Coast. The 50km stretch of stunning coastline winds its way along the Sorrentine peninsula from Sorrento to Salerno with breath-taking vistas of land and seascapes. The cities and countryside towns of the Amalfi Coast are different one from the other, each with its own traditions and peculiarities that render them singular and unique. We will enjoy the charming Positano with its colourful Moorish-style houses, narrow streets and winding alleys, local shops, ceramics tailoring with fashion. You will be without doubt fascinated by the beautiful Amalfi with its stairways and roofed passages clinging to the mountainside, once a mighty Marine Republic that rivalled Pisa, Genoa, and Venice. Return for dinner and overnight in Sorrento.
Day 10 Sorrento, Island of Capri
Today you rest and relax in Sorrento: perhaps you explore its two tiny ports, take a seat in a Piazza Tasso café or stroll stylish Corso Italia. You can also visit a fragrant lemon and orange grove located in the town centre, where you can sample and purchase limoncello, a local lemon liqueur, among other products. Alternatively join today's optional excursion to the famous Isle of Capri, and explore the picturesque Anacapri, beautiful Villa San Michele and chic Capri Town. While there, why not take a boat trip to the famous Blue Grotto, the large cavern which can only be reached by boat and by a freak of nature is bathed in incandescent blue light, hence its name.
Day 11 Cosenza
After a restful few days, you'll have a very early start, today, as you begin the 'final leg' of your Italian odyssey. Make the long journey down to Italy's 'toe' in the province of Calabria. En route, stop to Cosenza, the region’s main town. We will admire the Romanesque architecture of the cathedral and the Baroque exterior of the exquisite Teatro Rendano. We cross to the island of Sicily and arrive to our hotel near Taormina, where we will stay for the final three nights of our holiday. Enjoy a relaxing evening – maybe explore or simply spend time in your comfortable hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in your hotel in Taormina area.
Day 12 Etna, Taormina
Dominating eastern Sicily is Europe’s highest and active volcano, Etna, and this morning we take the drive to as near to the snow-capped summit as possible to admire the strange landscape of petrified lava and old craters dotted across its slopes. We will continue on to Taormina, one of the smartest and most exclusive small towns in Italy. Retaining much of its medieval charm, wonderfully situated on a high balcony, facing Etna and overlooking the sea, it is renowned for its beautiful gardens and charming atmosphere. Today, its main street is lined by smart, designer boutiques and exclusive jewellers, with the tiny side streets, some of which are so narrow you can touch both sides at once, leading to intimate piazzas, lined with atmospheric family-run restaurants. As you would expect in a country so famous for its cuisine, speciality food shops are everywhere, selling fresh pasta, olives, Sicilian wine and the local Marsala. Taormina’s greatest claim to fame is its amazing theatre, a legacy of the ancient Greeks and still in use today, wonderfully preserved with its panoramic view of Etna in the background. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Taormina area.
Day 13 Agrigento
On today's final chapter of your Italian journey we will explore Agrigento, swimming in tiny stepped streets and quiet shady piazzas overlooking the blue Mediterranean in the distance. It home to some of the best-preserved Ancient Greek relics outside Greece itself. Magnificent temples are laid out beneath a ridge upon which an acropolis once stood. Return to the hotel for a last evening meal and the chance to reflect upon the many highlights of a wonderful holiday. Overnight stay in Taormina area.
Day 14 Taormina area
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:
2 night accommodation in hotel in Venice area on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in Montecatini Terme on a half-board basis, drinks not included
2 night accommodation in hotel in Fiuggi on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in Sorrento on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in hotel in Acireale on a half-board basis, drinks not included
Local English speaking guides in .Venice, Ferrara, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Orvieto, Rome, Pompeii, Taormina, Agrigento. Other languages are available on request.
Entrances: the Cathedral and the Castello Estense in Ferrara, the Cathedral in Siena, the Cathedral in Orvieto, Basilica San Pietro and Vatican Museums in Rome, the archaeological park of Pompeii, the Cathedral in Cosenza
Transfer by ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina in Sicilia
Transfer by boat to the Isle of Capri
Drive to the summit of the Mount Etna
Bus GT for the entire tour with arrival in Venice airport and departure from Catania airport, including all expenses (check point and parking fees, board and lodging for driver)