Buffet breakfasts daily; 6 dinners, including a dinner at a local restaurant in Siena
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN ROME, ITALY. Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this ancient capital. This evening, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
ROME. The “Eternal City” is steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts with St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Other highlights are the iconic Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built; the Roman Forum; Piazza Venezia, and Campidoglio. An optional visit is available to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, world famous for Michelangelo’s impressive fresco of The Last Judgment.
ROME–ORVIETO–SIENA. Journey to charming Orvieto in the Umbria region to visit its black basalt and yellow limestone CATHEDRAL, an excellent example of Italian Gothic architecture. Reach Siena, with time to visit this jewel of Tuscany. Sit in one of the cafés surrounding the Piazza del Campo and admire one of Italy’s most unique squares, famed all over the world for its medieval-style Palio horse race. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner at a local restaurant.
SIENA–SAN GIMIGNANO–GREVE–MONTECATINI. Arrive in San Gimignano and discover one of Tuscany’s greatest attractions. Its medieval squares, town walls, streets, alleyways, and 14 towers make it unique. Next, head into the very heart of the Chianti vineyards, where Chianti Classico wines are produced. Stop in Greve for some WINE TASTING at the Vicchiomaggio wine estate. Arrive in Montecatini in time to join the optional Tuscan dinner outing.
MONTECATINI. EXCURSION TO FLORENCE. This Renaissance gem and city of the Medicis will keep you enthralled the entire day. Wander at leisure and admire the city’s timeless beauty. Don’t miss out on the included walking tour with a Local Guide, which features most of the city highlights. You will see Piazza Santa Croce; beautiful Piazza Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio and its courtyard; Loggia dei Lanzi; and, to top it all, Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral with the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate of Paradise.”
MONTECATINI–PISA–VENICE AREA. This morning, drive to Pisa to see its SQUARE OF MIRACLES and the amazing Leaning Tower, 180 feet high and no less than 16 feet out of the perpendicular. Head across the wooded Apennine hills into the farmlands of the Po Valley to the Venice area.
VENICE AREA. Venice is more like a marvelous film set than a real-life city, with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, palaces, and quiet piazzas. The included orientation starts with a BOAT RIDE to St. Mark’s Square and is followed by time at leisure and a chance to watch Venetian GLASSBLOWERS fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. Don’t miss out on the optional gondola trip, gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade you.
VENICE AREA–ASSISI–ROME. Travel across the Po Delta, then into the green Apennines to Umbria. Stop in medieval Assisi, where St. Francis was born in 1182. Visit the world-famous BASILICA with its beautiful frescoes by Giotto, then head for Rome.
ROME–NEAPOLITAN RIVIERA. Travel to Sorrento, a town set on a plateau high above the waters of the Bay of Naples and with truly spectacular views as far as towering Vesuvius. Sorrento’s terraces, adorned with flowers, jut from winding streets and alleys above a small harbor. Spend some time wandering in the narrow streets, filled with shops, cheerful bars, and cafés. Overnight on the Neapolitan Riviera.
NEAPOLITAN RIVIERA–VILLA SAN GIOVANNI–FERRY CROSSING–TAORMINA AREA Travel through the wild and mountainous scenery of Italy’s southernmost regions before boarding the FERRY for the 45-minute crossing to Sicily. Continue to the Taormina area.
TAORMINA AREA. EXCURSION TO MOUNT ETNA. Magnificently situated on a 700-foot plateau overlooking the Ionian Sea, the heart of Taormina is Piazza Nove Aprile, a paved square with unrivaled views of the sea and Mount Etna. Later, ascend to the heights of MOUNT ETNA and the option of a jeep or cable-car ride for a better view of Europe’s largest active volcano (subject to weather conditions).
TAORMINA AREA–PIAZZA ARMERINA–AGRIGENTO. Drive to Piazza Armerina, a maze of steep streets positively overflowing with the colorful atmosphere of Sicilian life. At nearby Casale, visit the ROMAN VILLA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its mosaics, including the whimsical “Bikini Girls.” On to Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, one of Italy’s archaeological jewels. Visit the DORIC TEMPLE OF CONCORD, one of the finest examples of Greek civilization existing today, and the hilltop TEMPLE OF JUNO LACINIA.
AGRIGENTO–SELINUNTE– MARSALA–PALERMO. Leave for Selinunte, one of the most striking and interesting sites in Sicily. At the apex of its power before 409 BC, the city exceeded 30,000 people, excluding slaves. Here, you will see the remains of the ACROPOLIS with its temples and fortifications. On the western coast of Sicily, stop in Marsala, known for its celebrated Marsala wine. Here, you will visit a local SALT MILL and learn how this local product is extracted and refined. Then, head to Palermo, capital of Sicily.
PALERMO. EXCURSION TO TRAPANI & ERICE. Two Sicilian treats are on the agenda today. First, visit enchanting Trapani with a Local Guide, set on a harbor that was once at the heart of a powerful trading network stretching from Carthage to Venice. The city center stretches along the port and was built in primarily baroque style. Next is the medieval hilltop town of Erice, reached by cable car. Situated about 2,500 feet above sea level, it immediately impresses with its defensive walls and castle, affording breathtaking views over the Trapani Gulf and Egadi Island and on clear days, all the way to the African coast. Return to Palermo.
PALERMO (EMBARKATION)–OVERNIGHT FERRY CROSSING TO NAPLES. A full day to enjoy this busy and colorful city full of interesting squares and marketplaces, churches, and palazzos in every style—from Moorish to baroque. On the included guided tour featuring a visit of the magnificent CAPPELLA PALATINA, learn more about this fascinating city. Evening embarkation for the overnight ferry from Palermo to Naples.
NAPLES (DISEMBARKATION)–ROME. Before traveling back to the “Eternal City,” discover the picturesque city of Naples with its many contrasts on the included guided tour.
ROME. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.