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Italy, Sicily and MaltaCountry Roads
Duration: 15 days Visiting: Italy
Experience the epitome of picture-postcard Italy's historic cities, exquisite resorts, rustic towns and idyllic fishing villages. Head behind the scenes in the Vatican as the Bramante staircase is opened just for you. Experience the once in a decade Oberammergau Passion Play with premium tickets secured by Insight Vacations.
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 at a local restaurant.
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.
Take the autostrada north to Renaissance Florence. Explore Florence with Insight Choice. Choose between a visit to the Accademia Museum with an art historian to see Michelangelo's monumental statue, David. Alternatively, wander through the market stalls on a guided shopping tour and enjoy all the treats and trinkets on show. 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.
Gelato in 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. Taste the lavish loaves of buccellato, Lucca's sweet raisin anise bread. Cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to the elegant seaside village of Portofino, the epitome of la dolce vita (should weather permit). 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. Enjoy a delicious Sea-to-Table lunch in Monterosso.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.
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.
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 glides 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?
Venice at Leisure.
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. This evening, stroll past the entrance doors of the famous Opera House to La Fenice restaurant for a magical Celebration Dinner. Indulge in traditional Venetian dishes that are enriched with inspiration from seasonal produce.
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.
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.
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.
Rome (Boutique) - Italy
Located in the heart of Rome, just 10 minutes walk from the Colosseum and Roman Forum, The K Boutique Hotel is perfectly situated for you to enjoy this incredible city. Views from the rooftop terrace span the city, while the Spa & Wellness centre are the perfect retreat after a day out and about. Guest rooms of this boutique hotel are tastefully decorated with a homely feel and offer plenty of natural light.
Monteriggioni (Traditional) - Italy
The Borgo San Luigi is a restored 17th century country palazzo, once owned by the Duchy of Tuscany, offering high-quality service in a peaceful, relaxed setting in the heart of the Tuscan countryside.
Santa Margherita Ligure (Traditional) - Italy
A modern hotel boasting fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding coast.
Baveno (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.
Venice (Boutique) - Italy
An outstanding hotel resting in the centre of Venice a stone’s throw away from all the sights.
Innsbruck (Contemporary) - Austria
The AC Hotel Innsbruck is centrally located and just a few minutes walk from the Old Town. It was originally built in 1972 for the Winter Olympic games and has since been completely refurbished and upgraded to offer comfortable, sleek-designed rooms, each with views of the surrounding Alps.