Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Join private guides for tours of five UNESCO World Heritage-listed cities, including Venice, Rome, and Florence.
  • Get an in-depth look at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, site of a National Geographic-funded search for Leonardo da Vinci’s lost masterpiece, The Battle of Anghiari.
  • Meet a craftsman at a Venetian boatyard to learn about the art of gondola construction, then enjoy a private visit to the workshop of a traditional mask maker.
  • Settle into Borgo Pignano, an 18th-century Tuscan estate built upon an ancient Etruscan hamlet, and a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.

Itinerary

Itinerary

The treasures of Italy are both iconic and enchanting: ancient ruins encircled by vibrant city streets, rolling vineyards crowned by medieval hilltop towns, gondolas bobbing in turquoise canals. Get an intimate look at these Italian classics on a journey from Venice through the heart of Tuscany to Rome. Enjoy private visits to opulent art galleries, delve into one of the world’s most celebrated cuisines with Tuscan vintners and a Florentine chef, and take advantage of time on your own to soak up the magic of Italy.

Day 1: Arrive Venice, Italy

Arrive in Venice and transfer to the historical center by private water taxi. Cruise from the mainland airport across the Venice lagoon, getting your first look at the city from the famous Grand Canal. Your hotel overlooks this elegant waterway—the city’s main “street,” lined with marble palazzi and dotted with drifting gondolas. After settling into your room, take a private walking tour of the surrounding promenades and canals, and step into the iconic Basilica di San Marco. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci
Day 2: Venice

Enjoy a morning to amble along the canals at your leisure. This afternoon, visit a squero, or boatyard, to meet a local craftsman and learn about traditional gondola construction. Then explore the centuries-old art of Venetian mask making during a private visit to an artisan’s workshop. This evening, dine on your own at one of Venice’s many spectacular restaurants.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations: NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci
Day 3: Venice/Florence

Discover the leafy side of Venice on a private tour of the city’s little-known parks and gardens. Enjoy a light lunch at a local wine bar serving cicchetti—small snacks unique to Venice—and then board the high-speed train to Florence. Settle into your boutique hotel, an elegantly restored 14th-century tower home, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Consider climbing the iconic Duomo, marveling at Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery, visiting the famed Uffizi Gallery, or seeing Medici family treasures in the Pitti Palace. Tonight, dine on Tuscan fare at a traditional trattoria.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni
Day 4: Florence

Browse the food stalls of Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, where locals shop for fresh produce. With the help of a Florentine chef, pick out ingredients for your private cooking class. Continue to the kitchen and learn to make regional specialties, then feast on your creations for lunch. Set out on a private walking tour of the city. Learn about da Vinci’s famous painting The Battle of Anghiari, known as “The Lost Leonardo,” and see the epicenter of a National Geographic-funded search for this misplaced masterpiece, believed to be hidden behind a wall in Palazzo Vecchio.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni
Day 5: Florence/San Gimignano/Tuscan Countryside

Take a final morning to explore Florence on your own, then transfer to the walled hilltop gem of San Gimignano—a World Heritage site with 14 picturesque medieval towers. Enjoy a guided visit of the enchanting town, or choose to set out on a leisurely bike ride through the vineyards blanketing the surrounding landscapes. Continue through the Tuscan countryside to Borgo Pignano, an 18th-century estate built on an ancient Etruscan hamlet, and a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. Settle in and dine in the hotel’s restaurant this evening, savoring “hyper-local” cuisine that incorporates ingredients sourced directly from the property.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:This night includes a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge.
Built upon an ancient Etruscan hamlet, the 750-acre country estate of Borgo Pignano invites guests to luxuriate in the flavors, rhythms, and traditions of Tuscany.
Day 6: Tuscan Countryside/Siena

Spend the morning at leisure at our hotel. Take a dip in the infinity pool, indulge in a spa treatment, or enjoy a tour of the estate in the company of the lodge’s farmers—an experience exclusively reserved for National Geographic guests. Later, head to Siena and soak up its medieval flavor on a walking tour that includes the Piazza Salimbeni and the colorful, marble-clad Basilica di San Domenico. Savor a cappuccino and panforte, a famous Sienese fruit-and-nut dessert, at the historic Caffe Nannini. Step into a medieval cathedral in the Piazza del Campo, one of Italy’s most beautiful squares and host to the thrilling Palio bareback horse races. Dine at the restaurant of your choice in Siena this evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Borgo Pignano
Day 7: Orvieto/Rome

Travel to Rome, stopping en route at the stunning town of Orvieto, sitting atop a plateau of volcanic rock. Visit a winery and its centuries-old cellar before enjoying a lunch with wine pairings. Upon arrival in Rome, set out on a private walking tour that includes stops at the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazzas del Popolo and Navona, and the Sant’Agnese church. Break at one of Rome’s most famous coffee shops, and share the social ritual of an afternoon coffee. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Grand Hotel de la Minerve
Day 8: Rome/Vatican City

Rise early to see the Sistine Chapel. Marvel at two of the world’s most spectacular masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Genesis ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgment altar fresco. Visit the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Square, and St. Peter’s Basilica—home to treasured Renaissance artwork by masters like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini. After lunch on your own, explore ancient Rome at the Arch of Constantine and the iconic Colosseum.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Grand Hotel de la Minerve
Day 9: Rome/Depart

Transfer to the airport this morning to catch your international flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast