This is the itinerary for one of Insight Vacation’s most traveled tours, the Best of Italy. In 12 days you get to see everything Italy has to offer while dining and traveling like a local!
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ROME THE ETERNAL CITY.
Welcome to Rome, a glorious city filled with classic antiquities, medieval buildings, Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches. Transfers depart from Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport for your hotel at 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30. In the evening, join your Travel Director for a uniquely Roman Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
VIP VATICAN AND ROME WITH A LOCAL.
The day is devoted to the Eternal City. Join a Local Expert for an in-depth visit to the Vatican Museums, full of priceless art treasures collected by the Popes. Insight has arranged special VIP entry to avoid the crowds and behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase, a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally off-limits to visitors. Visit the Sistine Chapel where the Popes are elected to admire Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Continue to St. Peter’s Basilica, to wonder at another of his works, the emotive ‘Pietà,’ and stand beneath the dome completed after his death. There’s free time to do as the Romans do, or 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.
Travel north through glorious, peaceful Tuscan landscapes. Meet your Local Expert for a guided visit through the house of the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer, Niccolo Machiavelli, with a special opening of his private office where he wrote ‘The Prince.’ Visit the Italian garden for views of Florence’s iconic domed cathedral and see the historic cellar which connects to the oldest restaurant in Italy by a secret underground tunnel. Taste wines made from the vineyards surrounding the home, accompanied by delicious samples of local Tuscan fare. Continue on to Renaissance Florence.
Join an art historian for a walking orientation of the historic city centre. A highlight is a visit to the Accademia Gallery to study Michelangelo’s monumental statue, David. Continue to the multi-coloured marble cathedral to admire Giotto’s bell tower and Gates of Paradise, recreated in all their glory. Visit the Piazza della Signoria, still the political heart of Florence, and explore the area around Santa Croce Basilica, famous for the quality of its luxury goods. After a demonstration of leather-work, there’s free time to shop or venture on your own. In the evening, don’t miss the chance to sample the fine Florentine cuisine of tasty starters and rich pastas accompanied by Chianti wine.
PISA TO VENICE, THE QUEEN OF THE ADRIATIC.
In the morning, journey to the coastal town of Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles as well as the baptistery, with its intricately detailed marble facade, and the colonnaded bell tower lurching behind the cathedral. Then relax and enjoy the scenery as you cross the spectacular Apennine Mountains, through the Emilia-Romagna region – one of Europe’s most intensely farmed fertile plains. Continue through the marshes of the Venetian Lagoon before crossing the causeway into the floating city of Venice.
DAY 7 – RELAXED START
VENICE AND THE MAGIC OF LA SERENISSIMA.
(Relaxed Start) In the morning your private launch takes you past Palladian churches and 13th-century palaces to St. Mark’s Square. The first sight is the pink marble of the Doge’s Palace, connected to the prisons by the Bridge of Sighs. It was from here that Casanova made his daring escape. Turn the corner, and the gilded regalia of St. Mark’s Basilica comes into view. A visit to an arts centre on Giudecca Island will allow you to admire the age-old skill of glassblowing. Later, board a traditional gondola for a serenade along the romantic canals.
DAY 8 – RELAXED START
INTO THE HILLS OF UMBRIA TO ASSISI.
Leave Venice and journey to peaceful Assisi, one of Italy’s most beautiful mountain towns. In the valley, see the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, much venerated as the place of St. Francis’ death, then continue up Mount Subasio to the upper town. With your Local Expert, step inside the huge Basilica of St. Francis, built in the 13th century, where the frescoes by Giotto heralded a new era in Italian art.
DAY 9 – RELAXED START
SORRENTO ON THE COAST.
Travel south passing Cassino, the scene of a fierce battle during World War II. Follow the spectacular clifftop road to the picturesque resort of Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples to Mount Vesuvious. On arrival, investigate the art of intarsio, beautiful marquetry wood inlaying, before checking in to your hotel to spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
CAPRI, THE ISLE OF DREAMS.
In the morning, cruise to the Isle of Capri. Under the Mediterranean sun, take a funicular ride up to Capri town where your Local Expert will take you around the narrow alleyways to browse exclusive boutiques and enjoy views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Perhaps join an optional cruise around Capri? Descend to the port in one of the island’s iconic open-top taxis and return to Sorrento for some time to relax. In the evening, join your fellow travellers for a memorable Celebration Dinner of delicious Italian cuisine and wine.
POMPEII, FROZEN IN TIME AND ONTO ROME
Guests ending their journey today will arrive at Naples airport at 06:00 or 08:00 depending on their flight times. Otherwise, continue to Pompeii, the opulent Roman town which was preserved by layers of ash from the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. A walk with your Local Expert through the cobbled streets and extensive excavations reveals the daily life of ancient Roman civilisation. Visit the Forum and peer into shops and patrician villas, decorated with colourful wall paintings. Then continue north as you travel to your hotel in Rome.
Departure transfers arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at approximately 07:00 and 09:30.