Arrive in Naples... and cocktails in Sorrento
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Grand Hotel La Favorita. A transfer is included from Naples International Airport or Naples Train Station to Grand Hotel La Favorita in Sorrento. Surrounded by gardens and perched atop a cliff overlooking the Gulf of Naples in Sorrento's historic center, your landmark hotel has a rooftop restaurant and poolside terrace with stunning views. Classic Italy, Small Groups gets underway with a welcome cocktail reception at the hotel, followed by dinner at a nearby local restaurant... and a fabulous two-week journey begins.
Winding along the fabulous Amalfi Coast
Rise early for an eye-opening scenic feast along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular drives in the world! Fantastic rock formations drop vertically into the sea, colorful Mediterranean flora create bewitching landscapes and beaches beckon. Stop in the lemon-scented town of Amalfi on the Bay of Salerno, then wind up vine-draped hills to Ravello; its panoramic seaside views offer a perfect backdrop for a lunch of local specialties. Return to Sorrento to explore on your own this evening.
A guided tour of Pompeii and on to Rome
Travel back in time to Pompeii, a prosperous Roman city of 27,000 until it was frozen in time, literally, when it was buried by volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The city lay undisturbed for more than 1,700 years; excavations begun in the 18th century are still in progress today. A guided walk with a local expert reveals what 1st-century life was like; visit the temple, the forum and a home adorned with frescoes. Arrive late afternoon in Rome for a three-night stay.
The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel - after hours
No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Vatican, a state and city all in one; tour St. Peter's Basilica this morning, with an opportunity to see St. Peter's Square. Your evening is highlighted by a Tauck Exclusive - an after-hours, unhurried tour of the Vatican Museums (subject to availability and day of the tour may vary). See the Candelabra Gallery, the Map Gallery and the Tapestries, and go inside the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo's famous ceiling frescoes - all without the usual large crowds!
Experiencing the glories of ancient Rome
Explore the glories of ancient Rome with a guide who knows them best. See the ruins of the Imperial Palace, Circus Maximus and other sites. We've pre-secured tickets for the Colosseum so you can bypass the lines and enter this amazing 2,000-year-old amphitheatre that is best known for its gladiatorial contests. Get a taste of modern-day life when you dine at a local restaurant in Rome tonight.
Orvieto's Duomo & a recital in Umbria
Journey to Orvieto, set on a 984-foot-high plateau overlooking vineyards below. Visit the Duomo of Orvieto, a notable Romanesque-Gothic cathedral built over a span of 300 years. The façade is a visual treat, a blend of sculpture and mosaic splashed with a palette of colors and magnificent bronze doors. Inside, view inspiring frescoes by renowned artists. After a trattoria lunch near the Piazza del Duomo, continue through the wine-producing regions of Umbria. Arrive in the little town of San Martino in Campo - just outside of Umbria's capital city, Perugia - and your home for the next two nights, Alla Posta dei Donini. The present-day hotel was created from two renovated villas dating to the 17th century - former homes to the Donini counts - whose guest rooms feature wood-beamed ceilings, canopy beds, period furniture, frescoes, drapery and exquisite fabrics; its warm hospitality, elegant decor and exquisite cuisine are reminiscent of the aristocratic country houses of centuries past. Tonight, attend a private recital in the frescoed music room of the Donini family, followed by dinner (wine included) at the hotel.
Old Assisi & a taste of wine & chocolate
Take a short drive to Assisi, a well-preserved medieval hillside town spread across the slopes of a mountain. Assisi was the home of St. Francis, who left a position of wealth and turned to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, founding the order whose followers became known as Franciscans. The town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significant art and architecture. You'll visit St. Francis Basilica, built by the people, which today houses some of Italy's great 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, as well as the final resting place of Assisi's beloved favorite son, the patron saint of animals. Enjoy some free time in the center of town, then return to your hotel for the evening. Please join us tonight for a private wine tasting at the hotel, followed by dinner with wine included.
The Tuscan countryside to seaside Viareggio
Depart Umbria and traverse Tuscany's lush, rolling landscapes; the beauty of nature has blended with the ingenuity of mankind for centuries - your travels through the rolling Tuscan hills take you through landscapes dotted with olive and fig trees that produce delectable local food products. Stop in a country village for some time to explore on your own before continuing your travels under the Tuscan sun to the seaside resort town of Viareggio, where you'll enjoy a walking tour on which you'll see the last home of famed opera composer Giacomo Puccini, and an overnight stay at the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte.
A storybook day in Cinque Terre and on to Florence
For hundreds of years, Cinque Terre was accessible only by sea - five picture-book fishing villages nestled between the Mediterranean's blue waters and the rugged coastal mountains. Cruise along the Italian Riviera for unparalleled views of this dramatic coast en route to the village of Vernazza for free time and lunch on your own. Experience a taste of daily life as you stroll the cobblestone streets and alleyways, stopping to sample locally produced wine, olives, and citrus fruit. Get a different perspective of the scenery as you travel back to La Spezia by train. Journey to Florence for a three-night stay in a newly renovated luxury hotel in the heart of the city. Dine at a local restaurant this evening.
The art of Renaissance Florence, revealed today
Art and architecture whisper the history of the ages in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Your in-depth exploration of this remarkable city begins with a briefing by an art history lecturer, whose insights prepare you for a guided walking tour of Florence's Renaissance heart. Then enjoy a guided visit through collections featuring works by many of the greatest artists of the 14th and 15th centuries - including Michelangelo's famous sculpture of David as well as paintings by masters like Botticelli, Uccello, Ghirlandaio, del Sarto and others - at the inimitable Galleria dell'Accademia. Flourishing for more than four centuries, this world-renowned institution was established in 1563 as the first art school in Europe. The rest of the day is free; dine this evening at a local restaurant. On select "Ferragamo" departures, today includes an exclusive visit to the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, and a wine tasting reception hosted by a member of the Ferragamo family; ask at booking for details.
Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery and more in Florence
Join our local expert on a guided tour of Florence's inspiring Uffizi Gallery this morning. Originally a suite of administrative offices (uffizi), it was first used to display the Medici family's private art treasures in 1581 - thereby making it the oldest art gallery in the world. Its vast collection includes some of the most revered works of the Italian Renaissance, such as Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's The Holy Family, da Vinci's unfinished Adoration of the Magi, Bellini's Allegory and Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch. Spend the rest of the day exploring as you wish. History is immortalized in art and architecture just about everywhere you look.
On to Venice & St. Mark's Basilica after-hours
Your journey continues as a high-speed train whisks you from Florence to Venice. Built on 118 small islands traversed by a canal network, this extraordinary city is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer by canal boat to your hotel, conveniently located near St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco); after lunch at your hotel, get an introduction to Venice on a walking tour with your local guide, including St. Mark's Square and an inside visit of the Doge's Palace, with its lavishly decorated rooms and Venetian masterpieces - including the legendary Bridge of Sighs, and the palace prison. Following time this afternoon to explore more of romantic Venice on your own, join us this evening for an exclusive after-hours guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica - the centerpiece of the square and the very heart of the city - without the distraction of crowds, with the ability to enjoy it at your own pace.
The romance of Venice, as you please
The entire day is free to do as you please in Venice - and to say that you have a lot to choose from is an understatement. There's visiting the museums, an eclectic group housing some of the world's most famed art; strolling the winding, narrow streets that lead to countless bridges; taking a boat to one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon such as Murano, Burano or Torcello where the arts, centuries-old crafts, and a kaleidoscope of color wait. This evening, indulge in the quintessential Venetian experience - a serenaded gondola ride on the canals - before joining us for a farewell cocktail reception at the hotel, followed by dinner at a local restaurant to mark the end of your memorable Italy trip.
Tour ends: Venice. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Bauer Palazzo to Marco Polo Airport or Venice's Santa Lucia railway station; you should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.