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Duration: 17 days Visiting: Italy
Explore the wonders of Italy, as you enter the Vatican Museum in VIP style, visit the fishing villages of the famous Cinque Terre and join an expert vintner for a tasting of Puglia’s most celebrated blends. From picture-perfect Capri to romantic Sicily, discover the very best of Italy.
Welcome to the Eternal City of Rome.
Rome is not only the modern capital of Italy, but also a spectacular encyclopedia of living history. You will be met on arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport. At 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30 transfers depart for your hotel. Join your Travel Director at 17:30 and get to know your fellow travellers over a pleasant evening during your Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
VIP Vatican and Rome with a Local.
In the morning, you will be joined by a Local Expert to guide you through the art collection of the Vatican Museums, culminating beneath Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-tracked entry and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bramante Staircase, a part of the Vatican usually closed to visitors. More of Michelangelo’s genius is on display next door in St. Peter’s Basilica. With time at leisure, perhaps venture inside the Colosseum to learn about the mighty Gladiators? 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.
Pisa and Santa Margherita Ligure.
Enjoy a delightful drive through rolling countryside dotted with cypress trees, passing vineyards and olive groves to Pisa. With a Local Expert, view the incredible Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles from which Galileo is said to have conducted experiments on velocity and gravity. See the splendid cathedral and baptistery, decorated with mosaics and designs in solid marble. Your journey continues to the pretty seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.
The Charms of the Cinque Terre.
Head for the famous Cinque Terre, which translates to Five Lands, located on a gorgeously wild yet hospitable part of the coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit two of the picturesque fishing villages before taking the train to Santa Margherita Ligure, and then journeying on to Portofino. There is plenty of time for you to admire the coloured houses, browse the boutiques and stay a while in the cafe bars on the piazzetta, watching the yachts moored in the harbour. Should weather permit, return with a cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to your hotel in the resort of Santa Margherita.
Head north to the beautiful Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lakes District and the town of Baveno, noted for its narrow cobbled streets and charming 16th century square. On arrival, settle into your hotel and take in the magical scenery. In the evening, why not join an optional cruise to Isola Bella to explore the palace and admire the stunning and immaculate Italian style gardens.
Fair Verona and onto Venice.
Follow the southern fringes of the Alps to romantic Verona, the setting of one of literature’s most tragic and best known love stories between star-crossed lovers. See the ancient Roman Arena, still used for opera performances and stand beneath Juliet’s balcony in a Renaissance courtyard of the supposed Capulet home - can you recite Shakespeare’s immortal words? Your travels continue through the Soave vineyards, passing Padua, and on to the canals of Venice.
The Magic of La Serenissima.
Even for the experienced traveller, there can be no better joy than waking up in Venice. Admire the art of glassblowing by master craftsmen when you visit a traditional arts centre on Giudecca Island. Then cruise by private launch along canals lined with ornate palaces to arrive at St. Mark’s Square where St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs await. Board your gondola to be serenaded through the beautiful canals, passing water-lapped doorways and Rococo palaces. Relax amongst the romantic atmosphere as you drift along before having an afternoon to enjoy at leisure.
A Scenic Journey to Florence.
Bid farewell to Venice and begin your journey to Renaissance Florence. Join your Local Expert to see Michelangelo's David when you visit the Accademia Gallery. Walk to the cathedral and see Giotto’s bell tower and the Gates of Paradise on the baptistery. Wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria, gazing at statues such as Neptune, Hercules and Cacus, along the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Your exploration will finish in front of the basilica where Michelangelo lies buried in Piazza Santa Croce, famous for its quality goods. Enjoy a traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina steak dinner paired with delicious local wine, a specialty not to be missed.
Florence, Birthplace of the Renaissance.
Start the day with a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration, then there is plenty of time to shop with the rest of the day at your leisure. Perhaps join an Optional Experience to explore the hilltop town of San Gimignano?
Ill-fated Pompeii and on to Sorrento.
Journey south through the volcanic hills of Frascati to Pompeii, which was buried in A.D. 79 by Mount Vesuvius' catastrophic eruption. Walk with a Local Expert through the preserved cobbled streets for a glimpse into the daily life of civilisation during the Roman Empire. Follow the clifftop road to the resort of Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Capri, the Isle of Dreams.
Meet your Local Expert and cruise to the beautiful Isle of Capri. The funicular railway takes you up to Capri town where you will explore the narrow alleyways and have time to browse exclusive boutiques and enjoy the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Descend to the port by open-top taxi, just as the jet-set do and return to Sorrento where the rest of the day is at your leisure.
Sassi di Matera and Alberobello.
After breakfast, discover two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First you will visit Matera for an in-depth guided exploration of the extraordinary Sassi which are troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock. Here is the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean and were inhabited by about 20,000 people up until 1950. Matera was also used as the setting for 'The Passion of the Christ'. Continue to Alberobello, the second UNESCO World Heritage Site and your home for the next two nights.
Join your Local Expert to admire the Trulli of Alberobello - small, circular structures with conical roofs and clustered together like mushrooms. They are built from local limestone and stacked without using mortar. Venture into the surrounding region, a paradise for wine-lovers. Join an expert vintner for a tasting of Puglia's most robust and structured red wines. For your Dine-at-Home experience, you are invited to join a local and their family. See Nonna making pasta and enjoy a freshly prepared meal together, traditional of southern Italy.
Sicily and the Taormina Riviera.
The local roads will take you south, following the shores of the Gulf of Taranto to the mountainous Calabria region. Travel along the Purple Coast to the very 'toe' of Italy and board your ferry bound for Sicily. According to ancient legend, it was here at the Straits of Messina where the twin whirlpools of Scylla and Charybdis carried unwary seafarers away to their doom! After you disembark, continue to the Taormina Riviera.
Taormina and the Dawn Coast of Europe.
Join a Local Expert for a visit to the Greek theatre. Set on a cliff and open to the sky, take a moment to sit in this ancient theatre and absorb the view through the crumbling arches to Mount Etna. Stroll on to the tiny courtyard of the Palazzo Corvaja, Taormina’s grandest building. Further along the elegant Corso Umberto, the Piazza IX Aprile offers panoramic views. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at your own pace. Perhaps join an optional experience to Mt. Etna?
Palermo, Capital of Sicily.
Head to the Sicilian capital of Palermo. On arrival, your Local Expert will show you the highlights of the capital. Pass the huge Teatro Massimo to the Baroque Quattro Canti Square and glimpse the beauties of the Fountain of Shame. Palermo Cathedral has been altered over the years and a venture inside will help you to appreciate the composite architectural styles. Next, head to the amazing Palatine Chapel in the Palace of the Normans. With the outside completely covered in glittering 12th century mosaics, it provides an insight to what's within. Join your travelling companions and Travel Director at a local restaurant for an unforgettable Celebration Dinner of delicious local cuisine and wine.
Your journey draws to an end with departure transfers arriving at Palermo's Falcone–Borsellino Airport at 06:00 and 08:00.
Most Insight trips already include a host of bonus highlights and comprehensive sightseeing. There may also be an exciting array of Optional Experiences which will turn an already amazing experience into the trip of a lifetime! These are entirely optional and can be booked through your Travel Director/Local Representative at the commencement of your trip. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations.
Prices and availability of Optional Experiences are subject to change.
Enjoy an evening of delicious Roman cuisine with drinks and a great Italian ambiance.
Adult Price: EUR 62.00
With our local expert, step back in time to explore the glorious history of the Roman Empire. Admire the Arch of Constantine and tread in the footsteps of Gladiators and Roman Soldiers. Enjoy priority reserved entrance ahead of the crowds and once inside the mighty Colosseum hear tales of deadly gladiatorial combat and the mighty Roman Empire. Please note: This optional is subject to availability and involves reservations and entrance prepayments. If you decide to cancel this optional, a 50% cancellation fee will be incurred.
Adult Price: EUR 50.00
The premier attraction of Lake Maggiore is the Borromean Islands. We take a private boat over to Isola Bella, the largest and most famous island, renowned for its incredible palace and stunning Botanical Gardens. A guided tour of this privately owned palace with free time to admire the gardens is a must.
Adult Price: EUR 43.00
This evening escape to the charming and tranquil island of Isola dei Pescatori. A short boat ride from the shores of Lake Maggiore, this fisherman’s Island is inhabited year round by only 50 permanent residents. Stroll through the small piazza surrounded by the tight and winding alleys to enjoy a sumptuous dinner where reservations have been booked in one of the Island's splendid restaurants.
Adult Price: EUR 68.00
Venice can be Europe's most romantic city in the evening, offering dramatic landscapes with buildings that dazzle as the sun sets and the lights go on. Sit back and take it all in as private water taxis whisk you to the centre of it all, Piazza San Marco, where we have seats reserved outside a famous Venetian cafe, in front of a live orchestra and in view of those illuminated St Mark's sights. Our private water taxis will also take us the length of the Grand Canal, under the Rialto Bridge and back to our hotel, having seen Venice at its most magical.
Adult Price: EUR 55.00
To only experience Venice's big set pieces -- St Mark's Square; the Rialto; the Grand Canal -- is to miss out on a hidden world full of surprises! Join a Local Expert for a fascinating walk through some of the lesser known quarters of Venice. The back lanes and ‘campi’, small squares, where tourists seldom tread are full of history and great places to sample local life.
Adult Price: EUR 34.00
Leave the hustle of St Mark's Square behind on a delightful private cruise around the islands of the Venetian lagoon. Alight at the island of Burano, a photographer's paradise, famous for its candy coloured houses, artisan lace makers and leaning bell tower that would give Pisa a good run for its money. Enjoy a superb meal sampling the local specialities with wine included. An excursion not to be missed!
Adult Price: EUR 72.00
A wonderful excursion to Tuscany's most famous hill-top town! Visit San Gimignano, considered a medieval Manhattan, due to its towers which dominate the skyline. Soak up the unique atmosphere of this ancient gem which has remained intact since the 14th century and today is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Adult Price: EUR 36.00
Florence and Tuscany are renowned for their rich gastronomic heritage. Tonight we'll travel into the hills near Florence to the Chiantri countryside, where a local chef will introduce you to the dishes that make Tuscan cuisine famous throughout the world. This wonderful cooking demonstration, with superb food and wine, will provide warm and genuine Tuscan hospitality.
Adult Price: EUR 69.00
A fabulous dinner of Tuscan specialities awaits you. We drive into the hills surrounding Florence for a delicious typical Florentine meal complete with Chianti wine, music and lots of fun! An evening to remember. Viva Italia!
Adult Price: EUR 65.00
Experience the spectacular cliffs and famous turquoise waters of Capri during a relaxing cruise to the most beautiful part of the island, the southern side. View the beautiful grottoes and unique coastline before ascending to Capri town. We also enjoy a lemon granita, a specialty of this island. This optional experience is weather dependent and may be replaced by a minibus tour of the Island with a visit to Anacapri and the Villa San Michele.
Adult Price: EUR 42.00
A chance to enjoy a delicious dinner of local specialities. We arrive at one of the area's unique local restaurants for an incredible dining experience featuring some of the famous dishes of this region!
Adult Price: EUR 61.00
Drive along the clear blue waters and picturesque resorts of the Amalfi Coast, arguably the most glamorous and scenic stretch of coast in Europe. Minibuses wind their way down serpentine roads to the exclusive artists' paradise of Positano, clinging to the cliff face, as if about to cascade into the turquoise waters below. Spend time exploring the elegant shops, watching the artists at work, or enjoying an 'aperitivo' in a beach side cafe.
Adult Price: EUR 44.00
With its stark white-washed buildings, narrow cobbled streets and arched stairways, Ostuni is reminiscent of a North African Arab Medina. Set against three hills, 'The White Town' is a photographer's delight.
Adult Price: EUR 25.00
Where myth and legend merge to reality! With a local expert we'll drive up Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. Ascend through the fertile foothills, bypassing small villages, lush forests, ancient craters and lava flows to see amazing lunar landscapes and houses surrounded by lava. Admire astonishing panoramic views over the eastern Sicilian coast and Ionian Sea whilst discovering the history of Sicily’s most popular attraction and its eruptions.
Adult Price: EUR 56.00
With one of the most incredible rides of your lives, you will arrive high above the sea, a world apart from the areas that tourists tread. You'll arrive in your terraced authentic local restaurant for a truly educational meal of delicious regional specialties, with accompanying local wines.
Adult Price: EUR 68.00
Rome (Traditional) - Italy
Located in the heart of Rome, the luxurious Hotel Romanico Palace offers easy access to all the historical sites of the Eternal City.
Santa Margherita Ligure (Traditional) - Italy
A modern hotel boasting fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding coast.
Baveno, Italian Lakes (Traditional) - Italy
Hotel Simplon is located mere minutes from the centre of Baveno which is nestled along the banks of Lake Maggiore. Its pink façade showcases the famous local marble, while the interiors provide a classic, luxurious feel. The hotel features a permanent art exhibition of famous paintings displayed along one of it's corridors.
Venice (Traditional) - ITALY
Situated in the Cannareggio Quarter and overlooking the Grand Canal, Bellini Venezia was converted from an 18th century palazzo to a luxury hotel. Indulge in its classic Venetian décor and enjoy free WiFi throughout the hotel.
Florence (Traditional) - Italy
The Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli is a stylish hotel located just north of the city. Spacious rooms are designed with your convenience and comfort in mind.
Sorrento (Traditional) - Italy
This hotel is located in the sea front surrounded by trees and splendid scenery on all sides.
Alberobello (Traditional) - Italy
The Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
Taormina Riviera (Traditional) - Italy
Overlooking the Ionian Sea, the Hilton Giardini Naxos boasts traditional Mediterranean hospitality and fabulous rooms and facilities.
Best Western Ai Cavalieri Hotel (Traditional) - Italy
This charming hotel is located in the heart of the historical centre of the city, close to one of the main shopping streets in Palermo.