Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Spain.
Check into your hotel. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers. (D)
Day 2 Madrid.
Not only is it the capital of Spain, but because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards rightly say it’s the nearest thing to Heaven. Enjoy the main highlights on the included guided city tour. Consider an optional trip to Toledo. The splendid setting of this old walled city above the Tagus was made famous in El Greco’s painting—even now, it’s like a great open-air museum of Spanish history and art. (B)
Day 3 Madrid–Cuenca–Valencia.
Travel southeast to Cuenca, perched high above the precipices of the Jucar and Huecar Rivers. It is famous for its “hanging houses” that are suspended over the Huecar ravine. Journey on to Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. Enjoy the sites with a Local Guide and visit magnificent SCIENCE PARK, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. (B,D)
Day 4 Valencia–Peniscola–Barcelona.
Today, visit PENISCOLA CASTLE in Castellon, built by the Knights Templar in the 14th century. The promontory on which the castle and town are located is a fine reminder of medieval times. Continue your journey through orange groves and seaside resorts past Tarragona to Catalonia’s lively and beautiful capital, Barcelona. (B)
Day 5 Barcelona.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a drive around Monjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and a great panoramic view of the port and city. The drive continues to the city center of Plaza Catalunya and to Paseo de Gracia to admire the greatness and eccentricity of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in the Houses Batllò and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fees not included). Afternoon at leisure—maybe join the optional excursion to Montserrat. (B)
Day 6 Barcelona–Collioure, France–Marseille.
Leave Spain today and cross the border into France for a visit to Collioure. This picturesque village is nestled in an idyllic place on the rocky Mediterranean coastline and is sheltered by the Pyrenees. Carry on to the oldest city in France—Marseille, to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 7 Marseille–Cassis–French Riviera.
Capital of the Provence, Marseille was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC. See the city’s bustling ancient heart—the picturesque Vieux Port (old port), where elegant markets and handsome townhouses surround the boat-filled harbor. Then, head for the hilltop BASILICA NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE, with stunning views of the city. Follow the coastal route toward Cassis, a small fishing port lined with cafés and restaurants, and stop to discover the town before reaching Nice. Later, why not join the optional Monte Carlo by Night excursion? (B)
Day 8 French Riviera. Excursion to Èze.
Start the day with a visit to a PERFUME WORKSHOP in Èze. Later, time at leisure to do as you please! Dabble in the Mediterranean Sea, stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, or join our optional excursion to the artists’ town of St. Paul de Vence. (B)
Day 9 French Riviera–Cinque Terre Area, Italy.
Enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery along the French and Italian Rivieras as you travel toward Cinque Terre. Take the TRAIN in Levanto and stop in some of the most enchanting villages of the spectacular Cinque Terre region, where the beauty of the rugged cliffs and romantic fishing villages once inspired Lord Byron. There are several breathtaking trails carved into the rocks connecting the villages, affording dramatic sea views. (B,D)
Day 10 Cinque Terre Area–Verona–Venice Area
. Travel through areas of culinary excellence in the Po plains to reach the romantic city of Verona. See Romeo and Juliet’s balcony, and enjoy some time at leisure. Continue to the Venice area, where you will spend two nights. (B)
Day 11 Venice.
Venice is more like a marvelous film set than a real-life city, with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, palaces, and piazzas. The included orientation starts with a BOAT RIDE to St. Mark’s Square and is followed by time at leisure and a chance to watch VENETIAN GLASSBLOWERS fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. Don’t miss out on the optional gondola trip, gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade you. (B,D)
Day 12 Venice Area–Assisi–Rome.
Cross the Po Delta and head into the verdant Apennines to medieval Assisi, enclosed by ramparts and little changed since the Middle Ages. This is the town of the deeply mystical and poetic ST. FRANCIS. See the UPPER and LOWER BASILICA with the beautiful frescoes by Giotto, then head for Rome. (B)
Day 13 Rome.
Rome, the “Eternal City,” is steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in St. Peter’s Square, the heart of the Vatican, followed by an optional visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Later, enjoy another included visit to the ROMAN FORUM and iconic COLOSSEUM to learn more about ancient Rome. Time for optional excursions or to continue exploring Rome at your own pace. (B)
Day 14 Rome.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)