Rediscover Renaissance Italy, exploring Rome, Florence and Venice; view masterpieces by Michelangelo, taste wine in Tuscany, tour Uffizi Gallery led by an art expert and marvel at the Doge’s Palace.
Day 1: Arrive Rome Arrive in Rome, where you are met and transferred to your hotel in the center of the city. The balance of the day is at leisure. This evening, join your Tour Director for dinner at the hotel. The St. Regis Rome | Meals: D
Day 2: Rome/Vatican City | Michelangelo’s Finest Begin your day discovering the evocative remains of the Eternal City, starting with the Palatine Hill, where your specialist guide brings to life the legend of the city’s origin in the eighth century BC under twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Later, pass by the imposing Arch of Constantine to visit the mighty Colosseum, constructed in AD 80 and seating 50,000 spectators who reveled in gladiatorial combats between men and against wild beasts, Christian persecution and mock naval battles. Eat lunch at a local restaurant before spending the afternoon in Vatican City, first admiring the stunning collection of antiquities, paintings and objets d, art in its vast museum. Afterward, admire the Sistine Chapel and its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo, and wonder at the great St. Peter’s Basilica, first erected in AD 324 on the orders of Emperor Constantine over the tomb of the crucified St. Peter. View the poignant Pieta of Michelangelo and the exuberant Baldaquin of Bernini amid the spacious, opulent interior. Enjoy dinner at leisure. The St. Regis Rome | Meals: B L
Day 3: Rome | Essence of the Eternal City This morning discover in depth the local character of Rome with a walking visit to one of the most attractive and atmospheric districts of the city. Start in the pretty Campo de Fiori and let its local food market delight your senses, and then continue through a labyrinth of small lanes where the city’s past may be seen around almost every corner. Visit the Piazza Navonna, site of a former athletics stadium and today dominated by the remarkable Baroque Fountain of the Four Rivers, and continue to the Pantheon, one of Rome’s most remarkable buildings. Built as a temple in the first century AD, its interior is a masterpiece of harmony and majesty. Later stop at the iconic Trevi Fountain to throw a coin over your left shoulder. If you do, legend has it you will return to Rome one day. Finish your visit at the foot of the famous Spanish Steps on the Piazza di Spagna. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. The St. Regis Rome | Meals: B D
Day 4: Orvieto/Florence | Ah, Tuscany Depart Rome today for a scenic drive to Florence, stopping at the small hillside town of Orvieto for lunch. Enjoy a guided walking tour of this ancient city perched atop a rock. Enter the magnificent Piazza del Duomo and the cathedral housing Luca Signorelli’s masterpiece fresco, Cycle of the Apocalypse. Continue through the breathtaking Tuscan countryside. Renowned for its art, history and evocative landscapes, this is a region where the past and present merge in pleasant harmony. Hill-towns gaze across the countryside from on high, many encircled by Etruscan walls and slender cypress trees. In the countryside, among the vineyards and olive groves, hamlets and farmhouses, visit a local wine producer and enjoy a tasting before continuing to Florence. Westin Excelsior, Florence | Meals: B L
Day 5: Florence | In the Uffizi Gallery Join a local art specialist for a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery, originally designed to hold the uffizi (administrative offices) of the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo. Browse its celebrated assembly of masterpieces, which includes paintings from the late Middle Ages through the early 18th century, and admire such striking works as Carravagio’s Medusa, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch. Then, enjoy a very special private entry to the Vasari Corridor, the private corridor built in 1565 by Giorgio Vasari, court architect to the Medici family. Having walked through this private Princes, route, to the Pitti Palace on the south side of the river, enjoy some time taking in the Boboli Gardens, built as a private garden to the impressive Medici residence. Spend the balance of the day at leisure. Westin Excelsior, Florence | Meals: B
Day 6: Pisa | The Tower and More Drive to Pisa to view its famed Leaning Tower, set in the Field of Miracles. Visit the magnificent 11th-century Duomo, and hear an ethereal echo in the austerely beautiful Baptistry. If you are energetic, climb to the top of the tower (children must be accompanied by an adult). Enjoy lunch in Pisa before returning to Florence. This evening, dine at a restaurant with a fabulous history that to this day involves Habsburg princes, which your chef discusses with you. Westin Excelsior, Florence | Meals: B L D
Day 7: Florence/Venice | St. Mark’s Basilica This morning, discover Florence on foot. Visit the Galleria dell, Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Afterward, continue to a monument currently being restored with support from A&K Philanthropy. Stroll back through the San Lorenzo district and see the Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), and then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Later, drive to Venice, board your waiting motor-launch and travel along the Grand Canal to your hotel. This evening experience an after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with your expert local guide, who meets you at your hotel and walks with you to Venice’s most photographed square for the private visit. Marvel at the golden and rich blue mosaics inside the basilica, lit up in this never-to- be-forgotten private opening. Hotel Danieli | Meals: B L D
Day 8: Venice | Marvels of the Doge’s Palace Today, on a morning walking tour of Venice, visit the Doge’s Palace, once the seat of government and residence of the ruler of the Venetian Republic. Marvel at the lavish frescoes, graceful staircases and gilded stuccowork that reveal the glory and opulence of earlier days. Afterward explore the narrow streets around St. Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal, and also see La Fenice Theater, a beautiful opera house that is one of the most famous theaters in all of Europe. Finish your trek at the Accademia Bridge for one of the best views in Venice. Tonight, dine at leisure. Hotel Danieli | Meals: B
Day 9: Venice | Diverse Venetian Charms Experience local life with a visit to the market district around the Rialto Bridge. The city’s principal food market was moved here in the 11th century. Trading has taken place at this location ever since, with Venetians and foreign merchants alike buying and selling exotic goods freshly unloaded from ships. Later, sample some truly Venetian cuisine at a bacari, a small wine bar that serves un,ombra (a small glass of wine) with cicheti, traditional snacks such as salted cod, spicy meatballs and fried vegetables. Continue to the nearby Frari Church, one of the most imposing Gothic monuments in Venice, to admire the lyrically beautiful Madonna and Child by Giovanni Bellini and an altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin by Titian. This evening meet to enjoy a romantic gondola ride before proceeding to one of the city’s fine restaurants for your farewell dinner. Hotel Danieli | Meals: B D
Day 10: Depart Venice This morning after breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight home. Meals: B Optional Pre-tour Extension: Amalfi Coast & Capri 4 days; priced from $2,995. Available on all departures.
DAY 1: Upon arrival you are met and transferred to your hotel. Grand Hotel Vittoria Sorrento | Meals: D
DAY 2: Enjoy a scenic drive along the fabled Amalfi Coast to famed Positano. Grand Hotel Vittoria Sorrento | Meals: B
DAY 3: Board a hydrofoil to sunny Capri and visit the Blue Grotto. Grand Hotel Vittoria Sorrento | Meals: B DAY 4: Stop in Pompeii for a private guided tour of its ruins. Meals: B