- Enjoy a private, after-hours tour of the stunning Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice
- Marvel at the works of Italian masters during a visit to the Vatican museums.
- Learn the secrets of Tuscan cuisine while enjoying meals and excellent Italian wines at local restaurants, wineries, and family homes.
- Stay two nights in the Tuscan countryside at a family-owned and operated 13th-century castello, and get to know members of the family.
Tap into the rhythms of la dolce vita on an unforgettable journey through Italy. Explore the winding canals and architectural wonders of Venice, walk through the picturesque villages, and settle into a restored medieval castello to savor the cuisine and traditions of Tuscany. Delve into the country’s enduring legacies among Florence’s Renaissance masterpieces and amid the ruins of the Roman Empire.
Arrive at Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) and transfer by motorboat to our hotel in the heart of Venice. Enjoy a welcome reception and dinner at a Venetian restaurant followed by a walking tour of the illuminated city.
Set out on foot for a guided tour of this enchanting UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll through Piazza San Marco and its golden mosaic-filled basilica. Admire the Gothic arches of the Doge’s Palace, and see the 16th-century Sansovinian Library and the iconic Rialto Bridge. Explore Venice's winding paths at your leisure this afternoon. After dinner, enjoy a private, after-hours visit to the breathtaking Saint Mark's Basilica.
Hop aboard a high-speed train to Florence, and after lunch set out on a walking tour of its historic center. In Piazza della Repubblica, discover the city’s beginnings as a Roman settlement. Wander through narrow streets past the fortified houses and towers that marked the medieval town, and emerge onto the open Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages. See the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and encounter Michelangelo’s peerless David and the evocative Prisoners at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
This morning, choose between two options. Venture to medieval Lucca for a bike ride atop the city walls, then visit Pisa to climb its famed leaning tower. Alternatively, explore Florence at your own pace; perhaps take a short walk to the Basicilia di Santa Croce or wander across the river Arno to stroll the lovely Boboli Gardens. This afternoon an art historian will guide us through the iconic Uffizi Gallery. Commissioned in 1560 by Cosimo I de’ Medici and designed by the great architect Giorgio Vasari, the Uffizi has drawn visitors to view the masterpieces within for centuries. Cap off your day with a special dinner in the home of a Florentine family.
Travel south into the Chianti region. Visit the renowned Badia a Coltibuono winery and fortified former abbey for a wine tasting and lunch. Then continue to Gargonza, a medieval hamlet superbly situated in the Tuscan countryside. This afternoon, settle into the privately owned 13th-century castello of the Guicciardini family—our home for the next two nights.
Venture into the Tuscan countryside on a morning hike through the scenic landscape near Gargonza. During a free afternoon at the castello, stroll the gardens, relax by the pool, or try your hand at a game of bocce. Later, you may join the castello’s chef for a cooking lesson and a tasting of several fine local vintages.
A short drive brings us to the Tuscan gem of Siena. Soak up the medieval flavor of the city on a walking tour that includes the Piazza del Campo; the Palazzo Pubblico; and the colorful, marble-clad cathedral. Stop for lunch on your own in one of Siena's many trattorias before traveling south to eternal Rome.
Take in the sacred grandeur of Vatican City with an early morning visit to its famed museums. See the stunning Sistine Chapel, then visit St. Peter’s Square and its soaring basilica. After lunch, gather for a walking tour to view the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona.
Stroll the ruins of the Roman Forum and enjoy a specially arranged visit inside the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda, formerly the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina erected in A.D. 141. Here, meet archaeologist Dr. Valerie Higgins of the American University in Rome, a top expert in the field of Roman archaeology who recently appeared in the popular National Geographic documentary series The Story of God. Then, venture into the Colosseum, where gladiators prepared for battle. The afternoon is yours to explore on your own then toast our Italian sojourn at a festive farewell dinner tonight.
After breakfast, transfer to the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome for your flight home.