After an early morning departure, the bustle of Rome fades into the verdant rolling hills of the Umbrian countryside – in no time you find yourself in tiny, perfect Assisi, gazing in wonder at the imposing Basilica of San Francesco. Our visit brings to life the early Renaissance seeing the frescoes depicting the work of St. Francis; standing before his tomb, it is easy to understand how this town became one the great pilgrimage centres of the world and the perfect start for our trip. Through hills filled with olive groves and vineyards we travel on to Siena from it’s lovely central square take in what might be the most beautiful medieval town in all Italy. You’ll dine and spend the night in the cradle of art and thought, Florence, home to Giotto, Michelangelo and Leonardo. (D)
You’ll talk about today’s sights for years to come…. Guided by an expert, you will explore the narrow streets of Firenze, from Brunelleschi’s incomparable Duomo, the “Gates of Heaven” at the Baptistry, Giotto’s 14th century bell tower, the Campanile, to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Church of Santa Croce, home to Cimabue’s stunning crucifix. The balance of the day is yours – shopping, perhaps the Galleria Dell’ Accademia or some optional sightseeing (we suggest the Pisa half-day tour). This evening we’ll gather for dinner – we’re here for the night. (B, D)
Venice is our destination, but, as always, it’s the journey that makes the memories…. Padua is our stop today, and the Santo, the Church of St. Anthony, will dazzle – one of the most gloriously decorated churches of the period, puts you face to face with works by titans of Italian art. Standing before Donatello’s magnificent altar and his captivating image of the Venetian hero, Gattamelata, you’re primed for your arrival in the world’s most celebrated city on the sea, Venice. With our expert guide you’ll explore the light-filled Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, take in the stunning mosaics of the Basilica and the grandness of the Doges’ Palace. We’ll take dinner and sleep in this most romantic of cities. (B, D)
Today is a new experience. You don’t walk the streets – you float along as your guide reveals the artistic and historical wonders of this unique city. “Boat” is the only way to go — architecture here was designed from this perspective. Wind through canals and cross the lagoon to arrive at the island of Murano. Hop off the boat and be captivated by this centuries-old centre of the glassmakers’ art – feel the heat as you try your hand at blowing glass, shop for a treasured keepsake – the afternoon is yours! Wander, seek out history off the beaten path or just recharge and watch the flow of the city – relax, we’ve arranged dinner and you’re here for the night. (B, D)
VENICE-VERONA-SIRMIONE (Lake Garda)-COMO LAKE-MILAN
It would be hard to leave Venice for anywhere but to that most romantic of cities: Verona, home to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – maybe tuck a copy in your bag – reading a treasure in the place of it’s inspiration is a rare treat. From here head to Sirmione, taking a short break from history and just enjoying the stunning vistas along Italy’s largest lake. Have lunch, take in views cherished by ancient Romans (the poet Catullus owned a villa here), tour the castle – later in the afternoon we head to Como. The shore of Lake Como, the hills of Lombardy, views of the distant Alps – the perfect setting to reflect on the week: the art, the history, the beauty and the friends…. We’ll have dinner in Milan, and spend the night. (B, D)
MILAN or ROME*
After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a panoramic tour of the city – the stunning shopping gallery named for Vittorio Emanuele II, the vast Sforza Castle and most impressive of all, the soaring Duomo, one of the finest Gothic cathedrals of Europe. At 11 am our tour will come to a close at the central train station so that you can make your way to the airport if you’re moving on, a hotel if you’re staying on. (B)
Arrival transfer from Airports to hotel in Rome
Accommodation in 4* hotel centrally located
3 hours guided walking tour in Rome
Full day excursion to Pompeii
Ground transportation by deluxe motor coach with air conditioning
Assistant during the whole tour will be provided but not at the Amalfi Coast.
Daily Breakfast, 5 Dinners.
(B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner