Day 1 ARRIVE IN ROME, ITALY.
Welcome to Rome! At 5 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions, and leave the hotel for a special welcome dinner with wine at one of Rome’s lively restaurants. (D)
Day 2 ROME.
This morning, guided sightseeing reveals Rome's highlights. Visit the amazing COLOSSEUM and the ROMAN FORUM, where Roman legions marched in triumph. Balance of the day at leisure. An optional walking tour with a Local Guide is available to further explore famous sites for those who wish to see it all. (B)
Day 3 ROME–MONTERIGGIONI–CHIANTI HILLS.
In the morning, visit the VATICAN MUSEUMS and SISTINE CHAPEL with Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings and The Last Judgment and monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE and BASILICA to admire Michelangelo’s Pietà. Then, leave the “Eternal City” and follow the Apennine Hills to [LF] the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni, which dates back to the early 13th century, and still has the original 14 towers. Walk to the main square, Piazza Roma, enjoy some free time, and try out traditional cantucci alle mandorle (local almond biscuits). Through unforgettable vine-clad landscapes arrive at your hotel, perfectly situated in the renowned Chianti hills. (B,D)
Day 4 CHIANTI HILLS–SAN GIMIGNANO–FLORENCE–MONTECATINI.
Walk through the center of picturesque San Gimignano, one of Italy’s most perfectly preserved medieval towns. Continue to Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance,” and follow your Local Guide on a walking tour. Visit the ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS to admire Michelangelo’s celebrated David. Marvel at the magnificent marble cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s heavy bronze “Gate of Paradise,” and sculpture-studded SIGNORIA SQUARE. Afterwards, time to shop for leather goods and gold jewelry, which Florence is famous for. Continue to your hotel in the spa resort of Montecatini. (B,D)
Day 5 MONTECATINI–PISA–MANTUA–VERONA AREA.
Stop in Pisa and marvel at the legendary Leaning Tower before arriving at the fascinating city of Mantua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by three artificial lakes that were created in the 12th century. Guided sightseeing features a walk through the historical center and the Percorso del Principe (Path of the Prince), and a visit to TEATRO BIBIENA, designed by Antonio Galli Bibiena in late baroque/early rococo style. Mozart performed here at the age of 13 in January 1770, a few weeks after the theater opened. (B,D)
Day 6 VERONA AREA.
In Verona, medieval setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, follow your Local Guide on a walking tour of this interesting city. Take pictures of Juliet’s balcony and rub the shining breast on her statue for good luck. Continue to the Arena, an incredibly well-preserved pink marble Roman amphitheater, where gladiators once fought. Built in the 1st century AD, it is now a magical venue for world-famous opera performances. Balance of the day is at leisure. An exciting optional excursion is available to Lake Garda and Sirmione. (B)
Day 7 VERONA AREA–TRENTO–BASSANO–PADUA.
Follow the valley of the Adige River to Trento, a modern city in the Dolomites, the “Rocky Mountains” of Europe. Over the centuries, Trento was always an important commercial and strategic city, Italy’s “Gate to Northern Europe,” with the Brenner Pass through the Alps to nearby Austria. In the 14th century, Trento province was under Austrian rule, and until the end of World War I, the city was practically on the Austrian border. Your orientation shows you how Italian Renaissance and German styles have mixed over time. Next, a spectacular drive through the Dolomites brings you to the area of Bassano, where [LF] you will enjoy a GRAPPA TASTING, accompanied by some local specialties at the famous Poli Museo della Grappa (Grappa Museum). Later, continue to Padua and see St. Anthony's Basilica. (B)
Day 8 PADUA. EXCURSION TO VENICE.
A short drive brings you to Venice. Enter in style by PRIVATE BOAT and meet your Local Guide. Highlights of your walking tour are ST. MARK’S SQUARE and the byzantine BASILICA, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Also watch a skilled GLASSBLOWER fashion delicate objects in an age-old traditional manner. Time at leisure to further explore Venice at your own pace or to join an optional gondola serenade. Later, follow your Tour Director through narrow streets to Al Colombo restaurant near the Rialto Bridge, where the owner, Domenico Stanziani, has prepared [LF] a special farewell dinner with wine. Afterwards, enjoy a PRIVATE WATER-TAXI RIDE through the Grand Canal as a proper arrivederci. (B,D)
Day 9 PADUA.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning (the nearest airport is Venice). (B)