Arrive in Naples and head to Sorrento
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. A transfer is included from Naples International Airport to the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. Your hotel is one of Italy's "grand hotels," family owned and run since it opened in 1834; it overlooks the beautiful waters of the Bay of Naples. Join us for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner tonight.
A drive along the spectacular Amalfi Coast
Rise early for an unhurried drive along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular drives in the world! Fantastic rock formations drop vertically into the sea; sub-tropical vegetation on the hillsides, together with colorful Mediterranean flora, create bewitching landscapes. Stop for visits in the seaside villages of Positano and Amalfi, with its many medieval antiquities, as well as Ravello, known for its dramatic villas; savor the panoramic views of the coast and sea. Return to Sorrento in the afternoon to explore its charming piazzas and small alleys; the historic center of town, and the old Roman streets, are fascinating.
Explore Pompeii, then on to the Eternal City of Rome
Travel to Pompeii, a prosperous city of 27,000 until it was frozen in time at the moment it was completely buried by volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Excavations began in the 18th century and are still in progress today. Walk through the ruins of Pompeii with a local expert to discover the way life was in Italy in the 1st century AD - visit the temple, the forum and a home adorned with frescoes. Arrive late afternoon in Rome, where you'll spend the next three nights. Your hotel is located on the fashionable Via Veneto, close to historic and cultural attractions.
Tauck Exclusive in Rome - After-hours Vatican Museums visit
Sightseeing in Rome is highlighted by a Tauck Exclusive - an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums (subject to availability - the day of the tour may vary). This after-hours visit means you'll avoid the long lines and the usual crowds found earlier in the day; the experience is rich when you explore the treasures in the Vatican Museums at your own pace. See the Candelabra Gallery, Map Gallery, and the Tapestries. In the Sistine Chapel, you'll view artist Michelangelo's masterpiece frescoes adorning the chapel's ceiling - and be able to contemplate all that you see in quieter surroundings. It's certain to be a true highlight on Classic Italy, one of Tauck's most popular trips... one that you'll remember forever.
The Colosseum, St. Peter's & more in the Rome of the Caesars
A sightseeing excursion begins the day in Rome, once the virtual capital of the ancient world, and now Italy's capital city. Tour the 2,000-year-old Colosseum; see Circus Maximus, the 4th-century BC stadium where chariot races were held, and the ruins of the Imperial Palace. View the Roman Forum from above, then return to the microstate of Vatican City for a tour of St. Peter's Basilica to view the art and architecture, and explore St. Peter's Square. This afternoon, enjoy some free time to explore what interests you most in Rome. You'll get an authentic taste of Italian cuisine tonight when you dine family style at a local restaurant in Rome.
Orvieto's Duomo & a wine tasting in Perugia
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. After a trattoria lunch near the Piazza del Duomo and some time to explore, continue through the wine-producing regions of Umbria. Arrive in the region's capital, Perugia, and your home for the next two nights, the Borgo dei Conti Resort, a Relais & Chateaux® property whose origins lie in what was once a fortified medieval village. Tonight, attend a wine tasting followed by dinner at your park-like resort.
Back in time in old Assisi... plus chocolate
Drive to Assisi, a well-preserved medieval hill town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its art and architecture, and the hometown of St. Francis, the revered patron saint of animals and founder of the Franciscan order. Visit the Basilica di San Francesco, built to honor Assisi's beloved saint and favorite son and his final resting place. Gaze at the basilica's impressive 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, some of Italy's finest, and enjoy some free time in the center of town. This afternoon, return to your resort, where you'll discover the secrets of creating Perugia's most famous product in a chocolate-making class - another highlight of one of Tauck's most popular Italy trips!
Medieval San Gimignano & Viareggio in Tuscany
Depart your Umbrian resort and head for Tuscany, where for centuries the beauty of nature has blended with the ingenuities of mankind; your travels through the rolling Tuscan hills take you through golden landscapes dotted with olive and fig trees. Arrive in the hilltop town of San Gimignano, one of its gems. Medieval towers, built in the 12th century by the nobility, are visible from afar. Stroll along the quaint streets and visit Piazza della Cisterna, one of Italy's most picturesque town squares. Continue your journey through lush Tuscan countryside to the seaside resort town of Viareggio for an overnight stay.
Cinque Terre's seaside storybook villages
Cinque Terre was accessible only by sea for hundreds of years, five picture-book fishing villages nestled between the Mediterranean's blue waters and the rugged coastal mountains. Travel by train through the mountains to one of the villages, where you'll get a look at daily life - from the colorful fishing boats home from the sea, to the wine, olives, and citrus fruit produced locally. You'll have some time to explore the cobblestone streets and alleyways, perhaps sampling the unique flavors of the local cuisine for lunch. Cruise along the Mediterranean shores of the Italian Riviera where views of these centuries-old Cinque Terre villages, set on rocky bluffs hemmed in by steep cliffs, are a knockout! Journey on to the Tuscan city of Florence for a three-night stay in its Renaissance heart; you'll have an opportunity to dine at your hotel's glass-walled rooftop restaurant with 360-degree views of one of the world's most beautiful cities.
All about art in Renaissance Florence
A briefing by an art history lecturer precedes a walking tour of Florence and a guided visit through the collections of works by many of the greatest artists of the 14th and 15th centuries - including Michelangelo's famous sculpture of David and paintings by Botticelli, Uccello, Ghirlandaio, del Sarto and others - at Galleria dell'Accademia. Flourishing for more than four centuries, the world-renowned institution was established in 1563 as the first art school in Europe. You'll have time on your own in Florence this afternoon; your hotel is right in the heart of the city, which makes it easy to explore! Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery
Join a local expert for a guided tour of Florence's inspiring Uffizi Gallery. Originally a suite of offices, it began being used to display some of the Medici family's private art treasures in 1581 - thereby making it one of the oldest art galleries in the world. Its vast collection includes some of the most revered works of the Renaissance, such as Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's The Holy Family, da Vincis unfinished Adoration of the Magi, Bellini's Allegory and Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch. The remainder of the day is spent as you please; you may want to visit the Pitti Palace or the Medici Chapels, or stroll across the Ponte Vecchio to the lovely Boboli Gardens.
By high-speed rail to Venice
A high-speed train takes you to Venice, traversed by some 100 canals. Transfer by canal boat to your hotel, conveniently located near St. Mark's Square; after lunch, embark on a walking tour that includes guided visits to St. Mark's Basilica as well as the sumptuous Doge's Palace, once the official residence of the elected officials of the Venetian Republic. You'll also indulge today in the quintessential Venetian experience - a serenade aboard a gondola on the canals. Dinner tonight is on your own in Venice, a city well-known for its restaurants!
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 of choices is an understatement. You might decide to visit the museums, an eclectic group housing some of the world's most famed art; stroll the winding, narrow streets that lead to countless bridges; or perhaps you might choose to take a boat to one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon, such as Murano, Burano or Torcello, where centuries-old crafts and a kaleidoscope of color are found... This evening, join us for a farewell cocktail reception and dinner that marks the end of a trip that truly immerses you in the best of Italy!
Tour ends: Venice. Fly home anytime; a transfer is included from The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice to Venice's Marco Polo Airport. You should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.