This morning we arrive in Rome. We are met by our Tour Manager and transferred to our hotel in Rome. Rest of the day is at leisure. Welcome drink, dinner and overnight at the hotel.
This morning, it’s a 5 minute drive to another country – Vatican City! With our expert local guide we’ll tour the Vatican Museums, a treasure trove of ancient Greek sculptures, medieval tapestries and Renaissance paintings. Our visit ends in the Sistine Chapel, the room where the Pope is elected. We enter in total silence, to not disturb Michelangelo’s famous frescoes depicting stories from the Bible and the ‘End of Times.’ You’ll be fascinated in discovering who among of Michelangelo’s contemporaries has been assigned to heaven and who to hell. Visit at St. Peter’s Basilica, the cradle of Christianity. We’ll see Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted when he was just 24, as well as St. Peter’s Baldachin, a large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy located above the main altar. Lunch on your own and free time for shopping. Return at the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Hail Caesar! All aboard our chariot for a panoramic tour of Imperial Rome including the Roman Forum, Largo Argentina (where Caesar was stabbed by Brutus), the Jewish Ghetto and the Circus Maximus. Then we’ll enter the Colosseum, reliving the brutal entertainment of the gladiators and the lions, refereed by the Emperor himself. Dinner show wines in a great local restaurant.
This morning, we drive to Naples, birthplace of Caruso and Sophia Loren. Have your cameras ready because we will arrive in Naples via Vomero Hill overlooking the sapphire Bay of Naples, Capri and proud Vesuvius. We descend to the heart of the city along the sea front promenade, seeing Castel dell’Ovo, San Carlo Opera House, Santa Lucia, Town Hall and the Angevin Castle where today’s date appears in flowers! Then, it’s off to Pompeii. Imagine, a city perfectly preserved as it was on that fateful day 2,000 years ago, when ash and lava literally stopped it in its tracks. You’ll see the tragic fossils of people attempting to escape. What an unforgettable day! Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
SORRENTO – CAPRI
Naples at our stern, Capri at our bow, this morning we cross the Bay of Naples to the world’s most enchanting island. The vacation spot of emperors and movie stars, you’ll be equally captivated by the charms of Capri. Tonight, still glowing from the sun, we’re off to a Sorrento restaurant for a delicious dinner. Overnight at our hotel.
Departing Sorrento, our deluxe motorcoach navigates the rolling hills, scenic vineyards and postcard-perfect vistas of Umbria and Tuscany. Along the way, we’ll travel by the beautiful Tiber River Valley and the medieval villages of Orvieto and Orte, reaching Florence in time for a relaxing dinner at our hotel.
FLORENCE – PISA – SAN GIMIGNANO
The bell tower of Pisa is among the most instantly recognizable structures on earth. Architects say it would be world famous even if it were perfectly straight. This morning we’ll see for ourselves, along with the beautiful Cathedral and Baptistery. This afternoon we’ll visit a typical Tuscan winery in charming San Gimignano to learn about the grape, the ‘nose’, food pairings and most importantly – which glass to use! Cin-Cin!
We’ll enjoy our Florentine dinner out at a great local restaurant.
Florence – the fountainhead of the Renaissance; city of Dante, Boccaccio, Botticelli and Da Vinci! Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city from atop of Piazzale Michelangelo, followed by an extensive tour of the Uffizi gallery, one of the oldest and most important art museums in the world, including Botticelli’s famed Primavera and The Birth of Venus. Next we visit the majestic Cathedral built in 1296, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery with its renowned “Gates of Paradise” doors. We follow the medieval streets to the most striking square in Florence, Piazza della Signoria and external view of Santa Croce Church, Michelangelo’s final resting place. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at one of our favorite Florentine restaurants with great local wines.
FLORENCE- PADUA- VENICE
Visitors to Padua are often surprised by a sense of deep spirituality. St. Anthony (patron Saint of lost objects) is interred here in the serene Basilica which dates back to the 1200’s. Venice arrives to us as in a dream. Time stands still as massive gothic buildings float by in a shroud of mist. Gondolas drift along, not just for show, but to deliver the staples of everyday life. Our arrival is also by boat, as we’re eager to start exploring. Tonight’s dinner is easy and relaxed, right in our hotel.
VENICE – GONDOLA RIDE
This morning we’ll meet our expert local guide for a walking tour of St. Mark’s Square, the great Byzantine Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and an inside visit of the Doge’s Palace, one of the world’s most stunning examples of Gothic art. New this year, we’re happy to include a free Gondola ride (weather permitting). You’ll explore the romantic canals of Venice, serenaded by your gondolier! This afternoon you’ll have a chance to “get lost” in the city’s labyrinth of canals, bridges and tiny piazzas. Fear not. Being a small island, it’s impossible to stray very far. But it won’t hurt to master the phrase “Dov’e’ Piazza San Marco?” Tonight, we’ll enjoy dinner out at one of our favorite Venetian restaurants with fine local wines.
VENICE- VERONA- LUGANO
This morning we’re off to Switzerland! But our drive to Lugano is delightfully interrupted by a visit to romantic Verona. We’ll stand in the courtyard below Juliet’s balcony where Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers professed their love. While Lugano is firmly in Switzerland, the beautiful alpine town still clings to its Italian roots. Her pristine lake, surrounded by the majestic Alps, have made Lugano a magnet for the rich and famous of Europe. Upon arrival we’ll check-in and enjoy an easy dinner, right in our hotel.
LUGANO – LAKE CRUISE
This morning we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour through the traffic-free historic center. You’ll see that Lugano’s natural beauty is accompanied by great shops filled with Swiss specialties – like clocks, watches and, of course, chocolate. Weather permitting, we’ll enjoy a panoramic cruise on Lake Lugano. Tonight is our last dinner together. No tears. You’ll exchange e-mails with your new friends and make plans for the future.
MILAN APT- END OF THE TOUR
Arrivederci Italia- Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Milan airport. While we say ‘arrivederci’ to Italy, we realize we’re taking a little piece of it back home with us. End of the tour