1 The Eternal City of Rome.
Rome is not only the modern capital of Italy, but also a spectacular encyclopedia of living history. You will be met on arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport. At 09:30, 12:30 & 15:30, transfers depart for your hotel. At 17:30, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Dinner with the opportunity to get to know each other over a pleasant evening. (DW) Stay: Veneto Palace, Rome.
2 Vip Vatican and Rome With A Local.
In the morning, you will be joined by a Local Expert who guides you through the art collection of the Vatican Museums, culminating beneath Michelangelo's famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-tracked entry and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bramante Staircase, part of the Vatican closed to the general public. Your venture continues inside St. Peter's Basilica to see Michelangelo's Pietà, and the splendid dome. There's free time to do as the Romans do. Perhaps join a tour inside the Colosseum? Rome is about art, antiquity, piazzas and pizzazz, and our included walking exploration has it in abundance. Toss a coin into the spectacular Trevi Fountain, see the Pantheon, the best preserved monument from the Roman period, and enjoy free time in Piazza Navona. (B)
3 Castel Gandolfo.
Venture to Castel Gandolfo to explore the artistic treasure of the Villa Barberini Gardens. Ride an electric train along the pathways to marvel at the intricately designed mosaic flower beds and fountains. (B) Stay: Majestic Palace Hotel, Sorrento.
4 Capri, The Isle of Dreams.
Meet your Local Expert and cross the Bay of Naples to reach the beautiful Isle of Capri, a rock rising sheer from the Mediterranean! For 2,000 years, Capri has beckoned visitors from Tiberius Caesar to Gracie Fields. Arriving at the Marina Grande by boat, ascend to Capri town by one of the island's iconic open-top taxis and explore the narrow alleyways, browse in exclusive boutiques and wonder at the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Descend to the port by funicular railway and return to Sorrento, where you are at leisure for the rest of the day. (B)
5 The Picturesque Amalfi Coast.
Travel along Italy's finest coastline, the Amalfi Coast. Board minibuses and stop to admire a view of the terraced houses of the artist's paradise of Positano, clinging to the cliff face. Take time to be tempted by the local boutiques. (B)
6 Pompeii and Orvieto.
Journey to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and explore with your Local Expert. Travel into the heart of Italy to enjoy free time in Orvieto, located on a rock pedestal overlooking a vineyard-covered plain. Savour the distinctly medieval ambiance during your orientation and admire the richly decorated facade of the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo. Take in the flavours of the region, learn about the ingredients and Italian food culture when you join Chef Lorenzo for a fascinating cooking demonstration, followed by a Highlight Dinner and a glass of the Orvieto Classico wine - a magical culinary experience! (B/DW) Stay: Aquila Bianca Hotel, Orvieto.
7 Assisi and On to Perugia.
Cross the River Tiber to arrive at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Assisi. Under the dome is a small medieval chapel and the spot where St. Francis died. Continue to visit the huge Basilica of St. Francis. With a Local Expert, walk down the Via San Francesco to St. Clare's Church and see the cathedral. Journey to beautiful Perugia - the jewel of Umbria. Your guided walking exploration begins in the main street of Perugia's Old Town. See the Collegio del Cambio, the splendid Priors' Palace, the cathedral and the finely sculptured Great Fountain in the magnificent main square. Visit an artisanal workshop to meet Marta, recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant. Learn how Marta and her weavers are preserving the ancient craft of loom-weaving. (B) Stay: Sangallo Palace Hotel, Perugia.
8 Perugia, The Jewel of Umbria.
The entire day is at leisure for you to explore this gem of a town on your own. Perhaps visit Cortona, one of the oldest hill towns in Tuscany. On this Optional Experience, journey to a recently unearthed Etruscan Temple before a guided exploration through the town's historic centre with views of Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana. In the evening there is the option to discover the edible treasures of a traditional Umbrian kitchen, accompanied with wines of the region. (B)
9 Siena and Radda In Chianti.
Drive past Lake Trasimeno to Siena. On arrival, walk with a Local Expert through narrow cobbled streets to the Piazza del Campo, where the bi-annual Palio horse race takes place. See the superb 14th century Town Hall with its slim Mangia Tower, then climb up to the hill-top cathedral decorated with stripes of black and white marble. Travel through the cypress-clad hills and vineyards of Tuscany to your elegant hotel. On arrival, enjoy a delicious exploration of Tuscany's red wines, discovering their robust flavours and absorbing history. (B/DW) Stay: CDH Hotel Radda, Tuscany.
10 The Towers of San Gimignano.
Visit the hilltop town of San Gimignano. Enjoy a tasting with award-winning, master ice-cream maker, Sergio Dondoli whose great inventions include innovative and mouth-watering flavour combinations. After enjoying time to explore at your leisure, return to the tranquil surroundings of your hotel. (B)
11 Florence and On to Lucca.
Journey to Renaissance Florence where on arrival you will walk with a Local Expert to see the marble-clad cathedral, bell tower and Gates of Paradise on the baptistery. Enjoy time at leisure to explore Piazza della Signoria, still the political heart of Florence and an open-air gallery of Renaissance masterpieces. Spend time gazing at the fountains and sculptures along the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Wander the area around Santa Croce Basilica, famous for the quality of its luxury goods of gold and leather. Continue to Lucca, to view its churches, squares and palaces that are perfectly preserved within encircling medieval ramparts. Pause a while and taste the lavish loaves of buccellato, Lucca's sweet raisin anise bread, said to be a favourite of the ancient Roman army. (B/DW) Stay: Hotel Villa La Principessa, Lucca.
12 Exploring The Cinque Terre.
Get ready to explore the Cinque Terre, or five villages, which for years were only accessible by foot. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Italy's most beautiful landscapes. Join a Local Expert in one of the picturesque fishing villages, before cruising along the rugged coastline (weather permitting). There is plenty of time to explore the old medieval quarter and popular sandy beach before returning to your hotel in Lucca. (B)
13 Modena and On to Parma.
Visit one of Modena's top producers of authentic, traditional, artisan balsamic vinegar and take a master class to understand what makes this vinegar as expensive as top-rated wines. Continue to the beautiful university town of Parma, world-famous for its local ham and cheese. Meet one of the locals, Paolo. Learn about the process of making Parmigiano-Reggiano as the Signora shares with you her passions for Italian food, especially excellent quality Parmesan cheese. Taste samples of the organic cheese and other delicious local delicacies, accompanied with a glass of wine. (B/AT) Stay: Du Parc Parma.
14 Onto Venice.
Continue on through the Soave vineyards past Padua to Venice, Queen of the Adriatic. To the tune of accompanying musicians, you will be serenaded through the atmospheric canals by gondola, past water-lapped doorways and Rococo palaces. (B) Stay: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice.
15 The Magic of La Serenissima.
Wake up ready to embrace this romantic city. Witness the art of glassblowing on a visit to a traditional arts centre on Giudecca Island and witness the glassblowing skills of local craftsmen.. Then only minutes away by private boat is St. Mark's Square, where the city's former wealth and power is evidenced by the riches of St. Mark's Basilica. Admire also the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs. The rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure. In the evening, cruise the islands of the Venetian lagoon to arrive at Burano, famous for its candy coloured houses. Sit down to a sumptuous Celebration Dinner with wine, sampling the local specialities. (B/DW)
16 Farewell Venezia & Bella Italia.
Alas, you must bid farewell to this enchanting city. Your departure transfer arrives at Venice airport at 08:00 or 09:30 (B)