1 Lively Milan.
Welcome to Italy. After being greeted by your Travel Director at Milan's Malpensa Airport, your transfer departs at 09:30 or 12:30. Join your Travel Director at 17:30 and head to local restaurant where your Welcome Dinner provides the opportunity to mingle and get to know your fellow travellers over a pleasant evening. (DW) Stay: Ritz Milan.
2 Verona and on to Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic.
Head east to elegant Verona, legendary home of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Enjoy a leisurely walk with your Travel Director, passing the well-preserved Roman Arena that is still used for opera performances. Stand beneath the balcony where the Capulet family is said to have lived and perhaps recite Shakespeare's immortal words. There is free time to explore or perhaps browse the local market before continuing to the glorious city of Venice. (B) Stay: Hotel Continental Venice.
3 Venice and the Magic of La Serenissima.
Even for the experienced traveller, there can be no better joy than waking up in Venice. Transfer to Giudecca Island to witness the art of glassblowing with skilled artisans. Then appreciate the splendour of Venice as you cruise by Palladio's San Giorgio Maggiore to St. Mark's Square. Your Travel Director will explain the glorious history of La Serenissima, once one of the greatest trading centres of the world – its wealth and power is echoed by the riches of St. Mark's Basilica. See the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs. Spend the afternoon as you wish. Later, on your romantic gondola serenade, glide along the atmospheric canals while musicians set the mood with traditional songs. (B)
4 Tranquil Tuscany, Pisa and Florence.
Follow the fertile valley of the River Po, into the peaceful landscapes of Tuscany. Continue to Pisa to see the world-famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles as well as the 11th century cathedral and baptistery. Venture on to beautiful Florence - a treasure house of the Renaissance. On arrival, meet your art historian for a walk through the historic centre. Visit the Accademia Museum to see Michelangelo's masterpiece statue, David. With your Local Expert, admire the marble-clad cathedral and baptistery, where Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise have been recreated in all their glory. Wander through Piazza della Signoria, an open-air gallery filled with Renaissance sculptures. In the evening, dinner is served with a selection of Tuscany's finest wines, presented by an expert sommelier who explains each of the wines being served. (B/DW) Stay: Hotel Londra, Florence.
5 Free Time in Renaissance Florence.
Florence is known for its quality leather goods and you will be privy to the secrets of traditional Florentine leatherwork when you visit a local workshop. The rest of the day is free for you to fully immerse yourself in the Tuscan capital. Perhaps shop for luxury goods at the markets around Santa Croce or relax and soak up the atmosphere in one of the many street cafes. Be sure not to miss the magnificent museums and galleries that house some of the most famous works of art in the world. In the evening, there is an opportunity to sample the true flavours of the region with a sumptuous optional Tuscan dinner, served with local wine. (B)
6 Chianti Country to Assisi and on to Rome.
Journey through the vineyards of the Chianti region passing Lake Trasimeno, the Italian Peninsula's largest lake and site of a great battle in ancient times against Hannibal and his war elephants. Continue up the foothills of the Apennine Mountains to reach delightful Assisi, a stone-built town spilling over the steep hillside. With a Local Expert, visit the tomb of St. Francis and see the beautiful frescoes by Giotto in the great basilica, before continuing along the valley of the River Tiber towards the Eternal City of Rome. (B) Stay: Veneto Palace Hotel, Rome.
7 Rome Sightseeing and Dinner with an Operetta.
In the morning enjoy the very best of the city's highlights including visiting the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. You then gain exclusive fast-tracked VIP entry into the Vatican Museums with a Local Expert. Admire the Papal art collection and enter the Sistine Chapel where you'll marvel at Michelangelo's masterpiece on its ceiling. Your visit also includes behind-the-scenes access to a part of the Vatican denied to the general public, the Bramante Staircase. Afterwards, enjoy some free time, perhaps joining a tour of the Colosseum? In the evening, enjoy an elegant four-course dinner with local wine at a Roman restaurant. As you dine, you'll be serenaded with a private performance of popular songs and arias from some of Italy's best-loved operas. (B/DW)
8 Arrivederci Roma.
Bid farewell to the glories of Italy. Departure transfers arrive at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 07:00 and 09:30. (B)