We've been visiting Italy for decades, but it's fair to say we've never put together an adventure quite like this. From Rome this one glides through Renaissance Florence and the glitzy Riviera, with cooking classes and historical monuments galore along the way. Then onto Naples and Pompeii, for a feast of pizza and Roman history, before hitting up the incomparable Amalfi coast. After cruising around some dazzling isles and visiting some lemon groves, we'll head back to Rome. But we're not done yet - not even close. Sicily beckons, with its valleys of ancient archaeological wonders, volcanoes to cycle down, coastal towns to fall in love with and all of the heavenly carbs we can fit in. After a full week on this paradise island, we'll be head-over-heels for absolutely everything Italian. It's called Ultimate Italy for a reason...
Welcome to Rome! Once known as the 'capital of the world' this richly historic, passionate and elegant city will steal our hearts as soon as we arrive. We'll meet and greet our Contiki crew at 4pm, before heading on an orientation tour of the city. Yep, that means the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Colosseum & the Roman Forum. With our eyes wide and camera roll full, we'll head to the streets for an included Italian feast. Maybe washed down with some chianti. La perfezione!
Rome to Florence via Siena
Rise and shine, we're headed to another historical heavyweight today...But not before stopping off at Sienna for lunch. This place has medieval masterpieces and the historic city centre has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. We'll soak up all of that historic beauty and grab a bite before heading onto Florence...Florence is one of the foodie capitals of Italy, so we won't waste any time trying the local delicacies with an included feast. Then we'll turn in for the night, dreaming of the Florentine adventures that await us tomorrow.
Florence is often referred to as a 'walking museum', and today we'll find out why. With a locally guided walking tour, we'll discover Renaissance Florence on foot, swooning at the Statue of David, Ponte Vecchio & the Medici Palace. We'll also visit the Duomo, one of the world's most remarkable architectural feats. All of this sightseeing will no doubt make us hungry, so this evening we have the option to learn how to make authentic risotto from the experts - before sitting down and enjoying another authentic feast, including local wine and live music.
Florence to Cinque Terre via Pisa & Lucca
Farewell, Florence. We'll never forget you. But we've got more dreamy Italian hot spots to hit up.We can't be this way of the world without a sneaky visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Depriving you of the chance to perfect the holding-up-the-tower shot would be criminal.Another stopover will let us check out lovely Lucca, with its charming piazzas, Renaissance architecture and historic cafes. It's a perfect spot to grab a bite before we hit the road again.Welcome to the Italian Riviera! You're going to fall head over heels with this region over the coming days...
Some people think Cinque Terre is just one place, but it actually translates to the 'five lands,' made up of 5 stunning towns with their own unique identity and traditions. Included in your trip is an unlimited Cinque Terre hike and train ticket, so whether you're into trekking, taking it easy, or a combination of the two, you can explore Cinque Terre your way. Whichever way you choose to get around, it's hard not to fall in love with the dramatic cliff-faces, cute pastel coloured buildings tumbling down the coast and all sorts of historic monuments. The food here is pretty special, too. We recommend joining us for a pesto making class and dinner, so you can master the art of making the perfect sauce, and then enjoy it with some fresh pasta.
Cinque Terre to Milan via Lake Como
We're hitting the road today to one of the most elegant cities in Europe.But not before experiencing the glitz and glamour of Lake Como, with its attractive villages and gorgeous gardens. The showstopper is the lake itself, of course, and we'll have the option to get out on the water and take a cruise to beautiful Bellagio.Welcome to Milan, the sophisticated cityscape that rewards the curious traveller. We have a free night to check out the local nightlife, and eat some of the local delicacies. As always, your Trip Manager will have the top tips on where to go and where to avoid...
Milan to Venice via Verona
The dreamy destinations just don't stop coming...Welcome to Verona, the heart of Renaissance romance (and the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet). Beautiful architecture, rich history and plenty of jaw-dropping art makes this place a very worthy stopover. We'll check out Juliet's balcony, part of a gorgeous 13th century house, as well as the epic Roman Arena. Then it's onto another very romantic city...Welcome to Venice! Our hearts will swell at the mazy canals and ancient architecture. Tonight we'll have the option to go for a progressive food walking tour, to try different bits of cicchetti and local wines - the perfect way to kick-start our adventures here!
Wake-up sleeping beauties! Venice is yours for the entirety of this glorious Italian day. We'll be jumping aboard our own private boat and hitting the canals en route to the historical heart of the city. A gondola ride will be up for grabs, or you can always choose to get lost on your own and see where the maze takes you. Later, maybe opt to cruise to the UNESCO-listed island of Burano and enjoy a sumptuous seafood dinner.
Venice to Rome via Bologna
See ya, Venice. You'll always have a piece of our hearts. Today we're headed back to Rome to explore the city in more depth.But not before stopping of for lunch in Bologna, a gorgeous medieval tumble of a place that also the home of Bolognese sauce, or Ragu. As lunch stops go, it beats a roadside service station any day...Arriving back in Rome, we'll have the option for a foodie experience, where we'll meet some locals and discover the finest food Rome has to offer.
Rome wasn't built in a day - so get up and get going early to make the most of this ancient city. When in Rome...take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Religious or not, the Vatican's Italian Renaissance church will send shivers down your spine. This is also the day to do a bit of your own exploring, an included dinner tonight will refuel us after a day of sightseeing.
Rome to Naples
Today we're headed to another richly historical and cultural city, known for it's naturally beautiful sights and excellent cuisine.Welcome to Naples, the rough and ready but oh so charming city which encapsulates everything we love about Italy. The home of pizza, a hub of culture, and a bundle of passionate Italian energy, this is also the site of Mt Vesuvius, the infamous active volcano. Today we have the option to check out the ruins of Pompeii, the fascinating Roman town that was destroyed by Vesuvius and then perfectly preserved in volcanic ash. Another option today is to take a pizza tour, learning about the city's culinary history while stuffing ourselves with Margaritas and Marinaras.
Naples to Amalfi Coast
We're headed to the coast today to check out some of the most glamorous islands in Europe.We'll visit two spectacular Amalfi jewels today. Positano will take our breath away, with its postcard pretty sun-bleached buildings tumbling down into the sparkling sea. Capri is no different, with its gorgeous cragged coastline and opulent cafes, it's easy to see why this is such a playground for the rich and famous. An optional Capri cruise will let us check out the iconic blue grotto, as well as stop for plenty of swim stops to beat the heat.
We've got a free day on the Amalfi coast! Lucky us. There are plenty of optionals today to keep us entertained, including a visit to a lemon farm where we learn how these huge, sunshine coloured fruits are harvested and turned into limoncello. We'll also get to have a Tastes of Amalfi dinner, washed down with the lemon liqueur itself.
Amalfi Coast to Rome
We're headed back to Rome today. Time for the Colosseum?Back in Rome we recommend taking our optional Emperors & Gladiators tour, where you'll skip the queues and enter the jaw-dropping Colosseum through the exclusive Emperor's gate. This is the perfect way to learn about this fascinating, blood-stained arena, in which Romans used to flock to watch epic battles between elephants, tigers, and gladiators. Then, we have a free night to check out the nightlife and toast what has been an unforgettable Italian adventure.
Rome to Catania
Today we're hopping on a speedy flight to the incomparable isle of Sicily.This colourful cacophony of baroque piazzas and ancient ruins is the perfect place to get acquainted with Sicily. We'll have a chance to check out Catania's UNESCO listed historic core before an included dinner in a local restaurant. Is Sicilian cuisine the best in the world? It has to be up there...
Catania to Taormina
We've got more spectacular Sicilian towns to explore today, as we head from Catania to Taormina.Uniquely perched on the side of a mountain, this elegant resort town is the perfect place to live the good life in Italy. We'll waste no time admiring the gorgeous panoramas, as we take the cable car that connects the town's historic centre with its awesome beaches. After sunning ourselves for a bit, why not opt for a cooking class with some local masterchefs, learning how to whip up local delicacies like Arancini & Cannoli? It's the perfect way to impress everyone when you get back home.
Today we've got an unmissable optional for you. Sicily’s stupendous stratovolcano Mt Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. And what better way to experience this majestic monster than on an adrenaline filled bike ride, as you pass vineyards and orchards spread across the fertile slopes? You won’t find views quite like this anywhere in Europe. Whether or not you opt for the bike tour, you'll have a free afternoon to explore Taormina - lazing on the beach, checking out the Roman theatre or sitting and drinking a spritz as life lazily moves by. It's a hard life.
Taormina to Noto via Syracuse
See ya, Taormina - it's time to visit some historical hotspots.On the way to Noto we'll stop off at Syracuse, notable for its rich Roman and Greek ancient history, with ancient amphitheatres and architecture everywhere you look. It was even mentioned in the Bible - how's that for history creds? Today it's a world UNESCO heritage site, and we'll have time to admire all that crumbling beauty before heading onto Noto.This architectural utopia has one of the most stunning historic centres in Sicily - and that's saying something. The gorgeous Corso Vittoria Emanuele is adorned with gorgeous old churches and red-gold buildings that glimmer in the sunlight. An optional we recommend this evening is heading to an organic farm with us, where we'll meet some locals and get served a delicious farm-to-table feast that'll be some of the freshest Italian food you've ever tasted.
Noto to Cefalu via Agrigento
Heading from Noto we'll arrive in Agrigento, the perfect base to explore another ancient wonder...From Agrigento we have an included tour of the Valley of the Temples, This mystical valley is a treasure trove of historical and archaeological heritage. As you wander the valley, in the shadow of blooming almond trees, we'll discover ancient temples, sanctuaries and a necropolis. It’s a spectacular testament to Sicily’s ancient history (and natural beauty).Arriving in Cefalu we'll enjoy another included dinner of Sicilian delicacies. What a day - and we're not done yet.
Cefalu is a real gem, home to Sicily's best beaches and most impressive Arabic architecture. This truly is the island that keeps on giving. Today's all about coastal vibes, soaking up that sun, sea and sand - with plenty of watersports to get involved with. If you're feeling a little more zen, why not opt for the coastal cruise and soak up some scenery instead? Later on we'll stroll the winding cobbled streets and watch fishermen taking stock of the day's bounties, before exploring the town's foodie and nightlife scene. Ah, Sicily - sigh.
Cefalu to Palermo
It's time to end on a high, as we make our way towards Sicily's sizzling capital.Palermo is a vivacious and colourful tumble of a city with a rich history and a thrilling culinary scene. But it’s also been plagued by organised crime for decades. Today we can opt for a fascinating walking tour through the picturesque historic centre, teaching us about the history of the Mafia in Palermo, as well as how the civil anti-Mafia movement formed an unlikely resistance. We'll also have free time to wonder the storied streets, grabbing some local eats and falling in love with this feisty city. Then, our adventure's final optional experience: a farewell dinner of Palermo specialities, as we swap stories, compare photos and plan future adventures together over a few glasses of local wine.
We're headed back to the airport after one final breakfast together. Hug it out, swap social deets - and don't be sad, we'll see each other on the road again soon.