Day 1 : Arrive Rome (2 Nights)
If Rome was a person, she would be confident, alluring and complex. You'll get to know her, and her quirks, over the next few days as she launches your unforgettable journey across Italy. You'll see reminders of an ancient world, a holy empire and the Renaissance around every turn should you wish to spend the day exploring on your own, after checking in to your hotel. Meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a glimpse of what's in store. You could continue your independent exploration of Rome later this evening or join the group for an Optional Experience to see some of the city's most iconic sights followed by a dinner of light Italian specialties.
Accommodation : Raganelli
Day 2 : Rome Sightseeing and Free Time
Take a moment. Standing in St. Peter's Square, you'll be in the midst of the world's holiest Catholic shrines - where Christians have worshipped since the fourth century. This expansive place of pilgrimage and prayer gives way to the lofty vaults of the greatest church in the world, St. Peter's Basilica. Your Local Specialist will reveal the treasures and talents of Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini who all had a hand in the church's construction. Continue across the Tiber River to Ancient Rome and imagine a time when soldiers and senators created a city that became the centre of the world. Its foundations still stand today as a testament to its former might and you'll have an opportunity to view its iconic ancient sites before spending time on your own exploring the sites or join an Optional Experience through the city's piazze.
Day 3 : Rome – Bay of Naples (2 Nights)
Get another fix of Rome with a leisurely start to your day or consider joining an Optional Experience to the Vatican Museums, home to an impressive collection of art and antiquities. The Bay of Naples beckons and you'll head south past the Abbey of Monte Cassino, the site of fierce battles during World War II, to Napoli. Perhaps spend the afternoon taking an optional drive along the picture-perfect Amalfi Coast, with a visit to the artist hub of Positano and its pastel-hued houses that seem to tumble into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Or spend the rest of your day rubbing shoulders with the feisty Neopolitans in search of the city's best Margherita pizza. Its ingredients reflect the red, white and green of Italy's flag - could there be anything more patriotic?
Accommodation : Grand La Panoramica
Day 4 : Sorrento Excursion
Hug the craggy coast, tracing the footsteps of artists, writers and high society who have long revered the sweet shores of Sorrento. Centuries on, there are no signs of the hypnotic sirens who once tempted soldiers to run their ships into the deadly rocks. Instead, zesty scents of citrus are likely to accompany your every step as you explore this picture-perfect resort town with plenty of time to explore on your own. Don't leave the town's historic harbour without sampling some fresh seafood straight off the fisherman's boat. Say salute to a swift limoncello thereafter - it's the perfect after-dinner digestivo.
Day 5 : Bay of Naples – Assisi (1 Night)
Enjoy a relaxing morning, unless you choose to join an Optional Experience to see the excavations of Pompeii in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Buried under ash when Vesuvius blew her top, Pompeii remains frozen in time and your Local Specialist will reveal what life was like as a local resident of the time. Later, we journey to the heart of Italy, through the rolling hills of Umbria, to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. Your orientation tour around this medieval hill-top town will include views of the Basilica of St. Francis, the final resting place of a saint who preached obedience, chastity and poverty.
Accommodation : Frate Sole
Day 6 : Assisi – Venice (Oriago) (2 Nights)
We cross the dramatic Apennine Mountains, bound for the charismatic calle of Venice, once a maritime powerhouse and republic whose influences can be seen across the Eastern Mediterranean. The winged lion of Venice remains an enduring symbol of the city and one you'll see repeatedly as you explore the city over the next few days. You'll arrive just in time for an optional Gondola and Grand Canal cruise - grand palazzi, churches and ornate bridges lining your journey. Enjoy dinner at your hotel, then spend the rest of the evening exploring on your own.
Accommodation : Hotel Il Buchiello Oriago
Day 7 : Venice Orientation and Free Time
The talents of the master craftsmen on Giudecca Island are the star of the show this morning as we visit their glassblowing workshop to see them craft the most exquisite works of art. We take to the choppy waters of the canal next and cruise by private launch to St. Mark's Square, the gateway to the city. Admire the ornate Doge's Palace, the Basilica of St. Mark and the Bridge of Sighs, whose bitter-sweet views once elicited sighs from prisoners who were unlikely to see their beloved city ever again. There's time on your own for a final exploration of the city or join an Optional Experience to the vibrant rainbow-coloured façades of Burano Island, which beckon to resident fishermen seeking a safe beacon for their return journey home through the lagoon's thick fog.
Day 8 : Venice (Oriago) – Verona – Lugano – Italian Lakes (2 Nights)
From Roman ruins to Romeo and Juliet, Verona certainly is the stuff of legends. Our first stop today is the city that served as a backdrop for Shakespeare's famous love story and you'll have an opportunity to view the very balcony where the fictional Juliet once called for her Romeo. Admire the Roman Arena where gripping performances are held to this day, then cross the Swiss border and visit the pretty lakeside resort of Lugano. Your brief brush with Switzerland provides a beautiful introduction to the shimmering beauty of the Italian Lakes, which you'll explore over the coming days. Return to Italy this evening where tonight you'll dine in your hotel.
Accommodation : Starhotels Grand Milan
Day 9 : Free Day or Milan and Lake Como Excursion
You have the whole day free to relax at the hotel pool, but we know you'll want to soak up the sophisticated lakeside atmosphere instead, lacing up your walking shoes for a stroll along a lively promenade or people-watching with an Aperol Spritz in hand. Alternatively, consider an Optional Experience to Lake Como and Italy's fashion capital. You'll board a boat and enjoy a leisurely cruise on its glacial waters before heading to Milan to see the glass-roofed Galleria, La Scala and the spectacular Duomo.
Day 10 : Italian Lakes Region – Pisa – Florence (2 Nights)
Don't resist peer pressure and snap a few strategic photos featuring you and the extraordinary Leaning Tower of Pisa. Admire the Romanesque Square of Miracles in all its striped marble glory. Its structures are said to symbolise the three main stages of human life - the Baptistery (birth), the Cathedral (life) and the Camposanto (death). Then continue to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance where you'll have an evening on your own to explore the treasures left behind by the Medici dynasty and famous artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo. For a taste of Tuscany, consider joining an Optional Experience in the Tuscan hills with regional favourites, live music and a glass or two of crisp Chianti.
Accommodation : Wall Art
Day 11 : Florence Sightseeing and Free Time
No expense was spared to exalt the glory of Florence through art and architecture and you'll see first-hand how this city paved its way to a modern age. Join a Local Specialist this morning for an enthralling account of the city's history during a walking tour of its historic centre, including views of the vast Gothic façades of Ponte Vecchio, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistery. Visit Piazza della Signoria, the city's main square where many of the political and artistic treasures of the city can be seen, then witness a leatherwork demonstration and browse the centuries-old trades of gold and leathercraft. This afternoon, maybe head up to Piazzale Michelango and admire the views over Florence's signature skyline.
Day 12 : Florence – Siena – Rome (1 Night)
Tuscany may claim to be the heart of Italy, but it is the stunning medieval city of Siena which will capture yours. Its fortified walls, towers and palaces emerge from the rolling countryside on your journey through the Chianti region. This former economic and military power today hosts the Palio horse race, injecting a shot of colour amidst the burnt sienna façades of the city's Il Campo. Your orientation tour will reveal the city's rich heritage, architecture and cuisine, most notably why Siena is renowned for its signature panforte fruit cake, which you should try to sample during a visit to a pasticceria. Leaving Tuscany behind, we return to Rome for one final encounter with the Eternal City or join your new friends for an optional Farewell Dinner to end your holiday on a high note.
Accommodation : Raganelli
Day 13 : Depart Rome
The Italian dream of eating well, laughing often and loving much will linger long after your journey comes to an end this morning. Say a fond arrivederci to your travel companions and Travel Director, reminiscing over epic shared memories along this memorable journey through Italy. Transfers are available to Rome Fiumicino airport. Conditions apply.