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Italy, Sicily and MaltaCountry Roads
Duration: 12 days Visiting: Italy
Welcome to the Eternal City of Rome.
On arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport, your airport transfers leave for your hotel at 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30. In this unique city, ancient monuments happily co-exist with some 900 churches, fine palaces, bustling piazzas, green parks and a vast urban sprawl. At 17:30, join your fellow guests and Travel Director for a Welcome Dinner, a fun evening of Italian cuisine and wine.
Rome with Vatican Dinner.
In the morning enjoy the very best of the city’s highlights including visiting the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with your Local Expert. With some free time, why not head to the Colosseum to learn about the city’s ancient past? In the afternoon, enjoy special fast-tracked VIP entry into the Vatican Museums with a Local Expert. Admire the Papal art collection and observe the stunning Museo Gregoriano Profano which documents various moments and themes in classical art, from Ancient Greece through to the late Imperial Roman age. Enter the Sistine Chapel to marvel at Michelangelo’s masterpiece on its ceiling. After, dine in the Vatican's elegant Cortile del Giardino Quadrato, should weather permit, where you will enjoy incredible views of the cupola of St. Peter's during your private VIP Highlight Dinner.
Renaissance Florence and on to Monteriggioni.
Take the autostrada north to Renaissance Florence. Accompanied by an art expert, venture inside the famous Accademia Gallery to admire Michelangelo’s original statue, David. From there, see the cathedral, campanile and the baptistery, adorned with the Gates of Paradise. Walk on to Piazza della Signoria with its open-air gallery of Renaissance sculpture. There is time to shop for Florentine leather or gold before continuing to your elegant Tuscan villa near the walled town of Monteriggioni. After spending two days in the metropolis of Rome, your villa resort will be a welcome retreat. Rest in the shade of the lush, verdant gardens, swim in the pool, or participate in a variety of leisure activities.
Siena and San Gimignano.
In the morning, visit medieval Siena where narrow cobbled streets lined with palaces and patrician mansions, lead to Piazza del Campo, scene of the Palio horse race. Explore with your Local Expert and visit the beautiful, striped cathedral. Continue to hilltop San Gimignano, famous for its medieval towers that scrape the azure Tuscan sky. Ascend serpentine alleyways to the artisan gelato parlour of world champion gelato maestro, Sergio Dondoli, for a taste of his finest frozen treats. On return to your hotel, stop at a local winery to sample some of the robust red wines of Tuscany and learn about their origins.
The Chianti Hills to Pisa, Lucca and Santa Margherita.
Drive through the patchwork of vines, olives and cypresses that typify the Chianti hills. Head for Pisa and see the incredible Leaning Tower, 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, before continuing to the delightful town of Lucca. See a traditional steam bakery and taste the lavish loaves of buccellato, Lucca's sweet raisin anise bread. Should weather permit, cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to the elegant seaside village of Portofino, the epitome of la dolce vita. Enjoy leisure time to admire the coloured houses, browse the boutiques or simply stay a while in the cafe bars on the piazzetta, watching the yachts moored in the harbour. Continue along the coast to the pretty seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.
The Cinque Terre.
Head for the port of La Spezia for a highlight of your travels, the Cinque Terre - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Italy's most beautiful landscapes. With a Local Expert, appreciate the views as you approach one of the picturesque fishing villages by boat. There is time to explore the old medieval quarter or the popular sandy beach before returning to your hotel. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps make the most of the hotel’s private beach before enjoying a delicious farm-to-table dining experience at Ristorante Da Ely for dinner.
Portofino and Lake Maggiore.
In the morning, head north to the beautiful Italian Lake District, a favourite retreat of the rich and famous where Alpine scenery combines with lush subtropical vegetation.
Verona and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Journey to the town of fair Verona, legendary home of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Enjoy free time to admire the well-preserved Roman Arena still used for opera performances, or perhaps recite Shakespeare’s immortal words and get cozy with Juliet’s well-worn statue beneath the balcony where the Capulet family is said to have lived. Continue through the magnificent Dolomites, to the mountain resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Experience the Dolomites.
The whole day is free for you to explore the colourful peaks and sheer valleys of the Dolomites, one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the Alps. During summer, once the snow and ice have melted away, a breathtaking landscape is revealed. There are a number of walking tracks through pristine Alpine wilderness for the adventurous to explore, or for a more relaxed pace, perhaps take a thrilling Optional Experience cable car ride to the summit of one of the peaks for breathtaking 360-degree views.
Venice, Queen of the Adriatic.
Descend through the mountains to the romantic city of Venice. A private launch ferries you past canals lined with ornate palaces to St Mark’s Square. See the basilica, the Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs, before checking into your intimate and luxurious hotel. With the afternoon at leisure, why not cruise the Venetian lagoon to the island of Burano for a meal of local specialties and wine?
The Magic of La Serenissima
Visit an arts centre to watch one of the few remaining craftsmen blow Venetian glass. Then there is free time to enjoy the magical atmosphere of this incredible city at your own pace. Mingle with the locals at the open air markets near the Rialto Bridge and explore the back lanes and squares where Venetians go about their day. Later, on your romantic gondola serenade, glide along the atmospheric canals exploring the intimate and hidden parts of this unique city while musicians set the mood with traditional songs. In the evening, toast the finale of your journey with great food, wine and company at your Celebration Dinner in a magical setting.
Bid farewell to Bella Italia and your newfound friends. Your departure transfer arrives at Venice Marco Polo Airport at 08:00 or 09:30.
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.
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 secret to dining well in Tuscany is knowing where to go, picking the small towns and restaurants where locals dine. Exploiting our countryside location, this evening we'll dine locally, keeping away from the big-city crowds. We'll enjoy classic Tuscan specialties, the favourites of the Sienese province, utilising the fresh territorial produce that makes this region so well known.
Adult Price: EUR 65.00
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
Explore the colourful peaks and sheer valleys of the Dolomites – one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the Alps. Your full-day of discovery includes a thrilling cable car ride to the summit of one of the peaks for breathtaking 360 degree views. In a unique combination of nature and history, learn about the incredible war waged in the mountains with a visit to a WWI museum. Complimentary coffee and strudel is included. (Weather and season dependent).
Adult Price: EUR 63.00
This evening we'll drive through the countryside to the foot of the Tofane Mountain in the heart of the Dolomite Ranges, where we'll enjoy fantastic Cuisine in a superb setting. We'll soak in the atmosphere of a popular local restaurant while enjoying traditional Northern Italian hospitality and sampling delicious regional specialties and local Wine.
Adult Price: EUR 61.00
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
Rome (Contemporary) - Italy
This elegant hotel is located in in one of the most central positions in Rome, close to all the key attractions.
Borgo San Luigi/Hotel Palazzo San Lorenzo, Monteriggioni, Tuscany.
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.
Cortina d'Ampezzo (Traditional) - Italy
Surrounded by the beautiful Dolomite Alps, Cortina's delightful Hotel Ancora is built in the characteristic Ampezzano style with wooden balconies and intricately carved and painted interior details.
Splendid Venice - Starhotels Collezione.