Immerse yourself in the magic of Italy. Start your journey in Venice. Travel along Italy''s boot to Ravenna, Michelangelo's Florence, Assisi and Caesar's ancient Rome.
Your Italy-bound jet heads for enchanting Venice, the “sinking city.” Get ready to immerse yourself in the gastronomy and magic of Italy.
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel close to St. Mark’s Square. Enjoy leisure time before this evening’s welcome orientation and introductory tour of Venice. Prepare for the exciting days to follow and celebrate your arrival at our welcome dinner of Venetian specialties and authentic tastes of Italian culinary culture at a neighborhood tavern.
- Welcome orientation
- Venetian Welcome Dinner
Meals: In-flight, Welcome Cocktail & Dinner
Venice is built on three hundred and seventeen small islands, with hundreds of canals connected by over four hundred bridges. Explore Venice with our local expert, walking along the narrow maze of alleyways and ornate bridges that take you to St. Mark’s Square with the Campanile, Doge’s Palace and flocks of friendly pigeons.
In the afternoon, taste your way through the backstreets of Venice on our fun Cicchetti tour. Cicchetti is the Venetians’ name for tapas. Discover several local favorite “bàcari” bars and sample tapas-style dishes like olives, polenta, seafood, legumes and spicy polpette meatballs. The roots of Venetian bàcaro culture go at least as far back as the 1700s, when Casanova was already frequenting the venerable Cantina Do Mori. The word "bàcaro" derives from Bacchus, the name of the Roman wine god, and the term "ombra" for a glass of wine has its own uniquely Venetian etymology. Its slang use dates back to when wine merchants would set up shop in the shadow of the San Marco bell tower.
Consider a gondola ride this evening. Glide through the intricate maze of canals passing 12th and 18th-century marble palaces. Let the sights and sounds serenade you with a backdrop of Venetian domes and water-color, pink sunsets.
- See Venice's canals and bridges, St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace and more
- Tapas-style, taste-around Cicchetti Tour
Meals: Breakfast, Cicchetti-Tapas lunch tour
Optional Activities: Gondola Ride
This morning, board the high-speed train to the timeless city of Florence, Golden City of the Renaissance and birthplace of Michelangelo. A guided tour of Florence introduces you to the city’s splendors. Marvel at Brunelleschi’s masterpiece—the Duomo. Also see Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Gates of Paradise, the marble Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, and Santa Croce Cathedral. We end our sightseeing at Mercato di San Lorenzo with free-time to sample delicious foods at the myriad of food stalls or in the surrounding local taverns full of character. Located between the Basilica of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel, the area and colorful market are a foodie’s paradise, and offer great shopping bargains as well. Since 1874, this market has been a culinary hub for Florentines and now travelers from all over the world.
Tonight, enjoy a true feast of typical Florentine fare at the world-famous "Il Latini," located in what were once the stables of L.B. Alberti's masterpiece palace the heart of Renaissance Florence. This is a unique winery and restaurant where you can still find the original flavors of Tuscany, thanks to the Latini family's passion for finding only top local ingredients that are the pride of the region.
- High speed train to Florence
- See Florence's Duomo, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Gates of Paradise, the marble Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Santa Croce Cathedral and more
- Florentine Feast
Meals: Breakfast, Florentine Dinner
Our day under the Tuscan sun starts with a picturesque drive through the vineyards of one of the best known wine growing areas, Chianti. We’ll visit 14th-century Villa Vignamaggio, birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci’s subject, Mona Lisa and location of the movie “Much Ado About Nothing” by Kenneth Branagh. Stroll in the magnificent Italian Renaissance gardens amid long cypress-tree lined allées and sparkling fountains. Our wine tasting will be in the historic cellars that have produced and sold wine since 1404 and still are the supplier to the Quivinal and Senate of the Italian Republic.
From the villa we continue to the charming medieval town of Greve to sample wine and olive oil at the renowned butcher shop and bistro, Antica Macelleria Falorni, founded in 1806. Lunch will be served on the terrace overlooking the town square at one of our favorite restaurants in Tuscany: Da Verazzano. Let “La Cucina Toscana” stimulate your senses.
After lunch we’ll return to Florence with leisure time. Consider a trip to the Uffizi Galleries to see the works of Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael and da Vinci or visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s “David.” If you just want to relax and unwind, stroll over the historic Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River or watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo before making plans for the evening.
- Visit 14th Century Villa Vignamaggio
- Tuscan countryside excursion including wine and olive oil tastings in Chianti and Greve
Meals: Breakfast, Tuscan countryside excursion with lunch and wine tasting
Arrive by high-speed train in Rome today and follow the footsteps of Caesar during a guided tour of the eternal city by our local historian. Explore Capitol Hill with the most spectacular view of Caesar’s Roman Forum, center of political and social activity, with ancient ruins dating from the 8th century BC. Also see Nero’s Circus Maximus where chariot races were held. A trip across the Tiber River takes us to Vatican City - the world’s smallest state. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica housing Michelangelo’s magnificent “Pieta.”
Lunch will be at a local trattoria specializing in Rome’s favorite pecorino cheese pasta dish, La Carbonara. Afterwards, you may want to join an optional visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, or sip a fancy cocktail at one of the many sidewalk cafés and relax while people watching.
- High speed train to Rome
- See Rome's Capitol Hill, Caesar's Roman Forum, Nero's Circus Maximus, Vatican City's St. Peter's Basilica and more
- Roman Trattoria Carbonara Lunch
Meals: Breakfast, Carbonara lunch
After a leisurely morning, do as the Romans do, and cook some fabulous authentic food. You’re in for a real treat at our fun pasta-making class where we learn the secrets of classic Italian cuisine. First, start with crafting the dough for homemade pasta from scratch and exploring different cuts such as pappardelle and fettuccine. Enjoy your fresh creations as part of a three-course meal including delights like bruschetta, local Roman specialties and wine. Finish with a flourish—Tiramisu and Prosecco and perhaps an after-meal stroll.
An optional excursion will be offered, in the late afternoon, to the Old Minardi Farmhouse in the hills outside of Rome. The current vintner takes us through the vineyard and cellar, explaining how Frascati wine is traditionally made. Enjoy a wine tasting paired with specialty breads, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Back in Rome, enjoy a free evening to continue exploring. Follow the Italian tradition of passegiata, an early evening stroll through town, or simply pick a scenic outdoor café to watch locals and world travelers come together to take in the city’s nighttime magic.
- Roman Pasta-Making Cooking Class and Lunch
Meals: Breakfast, Roman Cooking School lunchOptional Activities: Frascati Vineyard Excursion
Spend a free day in Rome however you choose. Use your Roma Pass to visit the Colosseum, where gladiators fought to the death, see Castello Sant’Angelo or Ara Pacis. Continue to the Pantheon and don’t forget to throw three coins into the Trevi Fountain to ensure your return. Discover the “Eternal City’s” posh shops on the Via Condotti, sip espresso, or visit famous art galleries.
Tonight, travel across the Tiber River to Trastevere, Rome's liveliest and most charming area. Walk along the narrow, cobblestone streets passing original dwellings inhabited by artisans in ancient times to Piazza dei Mercanti. We’ll dine at one of the local favorite trattorias on the square, known for their antipasti buffets overflowing with delicious, homemade mozzarella, fresh warm bread to dip in olive oil, grilled eggplant, peppers, and a myriad of other choices.
After dinner, our illumination drive takes us through the ancient streets of Rome to witness the city's most romantic sights by night. Stop at the Piazza Navona, or "Circo Agonale," where the stadium of Domitian once stood. At the heart of the piazza is Bernini's masterpiece, The Fountain of the Four Rivers, representing the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio della Plata from the four corners of the earth. No trip to Rome would be complete without our final treat: savor the legendary Tartufo gelato at the famous Tre Scalini, the oldest café on the piazza.
- Roma Pass (includes access to the Roman Forum, Colosseum, public transport and more...)
- Roman Farewell Banquet in Trastevere
- Illumination drive through Rome
- Tre Scalini Gelato
Meals: Breakfast, Roman Banquet farewell dinner, Tre Scalini Gelato
After breakfast say arrivederci to Roma and new found friends. We hope this trip whet your appetite for more culinary adventures to come.
Meals: Breakfast, In-flight