Journey through alpine landscapes crossing the Brenner Pass into Italy. Venice bewitches in all her Byzantine glory, softening even the hardest of hearts with her opulence. Highlights include a cruise on a private launch to St. Mark's Square and views of the magnificent St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace. The talents of master craftsmen are the star of the show later as you visit their glassblowing workshop, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience.
There's even time for an optional Gondola and Grand Canal cruise – grand palazzi, churches and ornate bridges line your journey. (B) Stay: Palladio
Cross the Veneto plain into Tuscany, travelling through Umbria to Lazio and eventually the 'Eternal City'. If Rome was a person, she would be confident, alluring and complex. You'll get to know her, and her quirks, over the next two days as you continue to explore Italy. You'll find reminders of an ancient world, a holy empire and the Renaissance around every turn.
You could choose to join a Local Specialist for an optional guided stroll through Rome's piazzas. Linger in your favourite square, or perhaps enjoy a scoop or three of the local gelato and soak up the effervescent energy of a city that knows how to enjoy life. (B) Stay: Raganelli
You could spend a lifetime exploring Rome and just scratch the surface, but with your Local Specialist on hand you'll dive right into the city's heart and soul. Head to Vatican City to watch the pigeons and people tread on holy ground, then visit St. Peter's Basilica and see Michelangelo's priceless 'Pietà'. Skip the long queues and choose an Optional Experience to the Vatican Museums.
Continue your tour across the Tiber to the Colosseum and other ancient sites, following in the footsteps of Julius Caesar. The rest of the day is yours to explore Rome your way. Consider an optional local dinner followed by a scenic tour of the city by night. (B)
Life mimics art in the idyllic Umbrian and Tuscan landscapes you've seen in countless films, photographs and works of art. Experience it yourself as your journey heads north to the Renaissance city of Florence. Soak up every detail as you admire the city skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo. There's time to explore Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo and Giotto's Bell Tower or shop for the bespoke Italian leather goods and fine gold jewellery for which Florence is justifiably famous.
You could choose instead to join an Optional Experience revealing the Renaissance heritage of a city which attracted artists, physicists, astronomers and philosophers like Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo. (B/D) Stay: Miro
There's no better backdrop than the Apennines as you wind your way north past Milan and the Swiss border. Press your nose to the window, drinking in the beauty of the St. Gotthard Pass in the Swiss Alps, then continue to Lake Lucerne. You'll want to put the 'heart' of Switzerland in your pocket and take its history, culture and epic landscapes with you, but for now be contented with an Optional Experience that will see you dive into Swiss folklore and food – fondue anyone? (B) Stay: Krone Sarnen, Ibis Kriens
Turn the page to a land of fairy-tale landscapes and medieval history. You have a full day to see the sights and explore Lucerne, starting with a morning orientation including the Chapel Bridge and the Jesuit Church. No visit to Lucerne is complete without a visit to the Lion Monument, built to commemorate the brave Swiss Guards who died defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
You may be tempted to do some souvenir shopping, but an Optional Experience into the mountains will be hard to resist. Ascend Mount Pilatus by a cog-wheel railway then embark on a scenic lake cruise. (B/D) Stay: Ibis Kriens, SwissEver Zug
Audrey Hepburn described it best when she said: 'Paris is always a good idea.' We're sure you'll agree. Hit its grand boulevards on a city sightseeing tour with your Travel Director. See the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Élysées then spend the rest of the day discovering the city on your terms. Don't resist the urge to tread in the footsteps of Picasso and Dalí and visit Montmartre this afternoon, exploring its maze of streets and Artist's Square.
There's time to shop for artwork and savour some local specialties before considering a real highlight this evening – an optional dinner and cabaret performance. (B)