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Duration: 15 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 Tour Director for a Welcome Reception, a fun evening of pizza and wine.
Exploring the Vatican City.
A Local Expert introduces the grandeur of the city. Start off in the Vatican City, the richest community in the world. While others wait in line, you will be fast-tracked through the VIP entrance into the Vatican Museums. Admire the collection of priceless art gathered by Popes over the ages. Your visit also includes behind-the-scenes access to parts of the Vatican denied to the general public - the famous Bramante Staircase. Then enter the sublime Sistine Chapel, to gaze up and admire Michelangelo's famous painted ceiling. Next door, in St Peter's Basilica, see one of Michelangelo's early works, the Pietà, and the splendid dome completed after his death. Head to the Colosseum where we embark on an included sightseeing tour to learn about the city's ancient past. For the rest of the day, enjoy free time.
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’. Back outside, see the cathedral, campanile and the baptistery, adorned with the ‘Gates of Paradise'. Walk on to Signoria Square 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, take a swim in the pool, or participate in a variety of leisure activities.
Gelato in San Gimignano and Siena.
(Relaxed Start) In the morning, visit hilltop San Gimignano, famous for its medieval towers that scrape the azure Tuscan sky. Ascend serpentine alleyways to the artisan ice-cream parlour of world champion gelato maestro, Sergio Dondoli, for a taste of his finest frozen treats. On route back to your hotel, stop at a local winery to sample some of the robust red wines of Tuscany and learn about their origins. Continue on to medieval Siena, where narrow cobbled streets lined with palaces and patrician mansions, lead to Piazza del Campo, scene of the Palio horse race. With your Local Expert, visit the beautiful-striped cathedral.
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 also the splendid cathedral and baptistery, decorated with mosaics and designs in solid marble, before continuing to the delightful town of Lucca. At a traditional steam bakery, taste the history in the lavish loaves of buccellato, Lucca's sweet raisin anise bread. Continue along the coast to the pretty seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.
The Cinque Terre.
Head for the port of La Spezia and a highlight of your tour, 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. Spend some time exploring the old medieval quarter or the popular sandy beach before returning to your hotel. With the afternoon at leisure, you may wish to make the most of the hotel's private beach before for dining at a local farm-to-table restaurant.
Portofino and onto Lake Maggiore.
(Relaxed Start) In the morning, should weather permit, cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to the elegant seaside village of Portofino, epitome of La Dolce Vita. Admire the coloured houses, browse the boutiques, stay a while in the cafe bars on the piazzetta and watch the yachts moored in the harbour. Next, return to the mainland and head north to the beautiful Italian Lake District, a favourite retreat of the rich and famous where Alpine scenery combines with luxuriant subtropical vegetation.
Fair Verona and into the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Drive to the town of Verona, legendary home of Romeo and Juliet. Enjoy free time to admire the well-preserved Roman Arena and Juliet's Balcony. Continue through the Dolomites, to the mountain resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Experience the Dolomites.
(Relaxed Start) Today is yours to explore the colourful peaks and sheer valleys of the Dolomites – one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the Alps. Why not take a thrilling cable car ride to the summit of one of the peaks for breathtaking 360 degree views?
Venice, Queen of the Adriatic.
(Relaxed Start) 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. Visit a Venetian Arts centre to learn about hand-crafted glass, gondolas and lace, before checking into your intimate luxurious hotel, which is only steps away from St Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge.
Venice at Leisure.
(Relaxed Start) Your final day in Italy is free 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. 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, celebrate your tour with good food, good wine and good company in a magical setting.
From the lakes of Venice to mountain-ringed Innsbruck.
Your journey continues north through spectacular scenery as you follow the Adige River. Travel via the Brenner Pass through the magnificent Dolomites and cross the impressive Europa Bridge to arrive at wonderful Innsbruck. Your orientation will show you the 14th century houses of Old Town, the impressive Imperial Palace and the Golden Roof.
Innsbruck to Oberammergau.
(Relaxed Start) Plenty of time this morning to explore the alpine town of Innsbruck. A short journey north, cross the German border and you arrive at Oberammergau in the heart of the Bavarian Alps and home of the Passion Play since 1634.
The Passion Play.
(Relaxed Start) After a morning at leisure in charming Oberammergau, take your premium reserved seats to witness the world famous Passion Play, re-enacting the last days of Christ on earth. After a break for dinner in a local restaurant, the captivating performance continues into the evening.
Your journey comes to an end after breakfast. Transfers arrive at Munich Airport at 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.