Italian Intermezzo Winter 2016-2017

Florence, Italy
9 Days

Italy's most famous and best loved cities reveal a treasure-trove of riches on this concise, yet surprisingly diverse and delightful itinerary.

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Tour Pace: Comfortable
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  1. Board your overnight flight to Europe (please ask about our great deals).
  2. Welcome to Italy! After being greeted by your Tour Director at Milan's Malpensa Airport, your complimentary group transfers will depart at 09.30 and 12.30. In the evening, you are invited to a warm and friendly Welcome Reception with the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.
    hotel:Starhotels E.C.Ho, Milan.
  3. Head east to elegant Verona in the morning for a leisurely walk past the well-preserved Roman Arena that is still used for opera performances. Stand beneath the balcony in the courtyard of Juliet's house, the supposed location of the famous love scene. After some free time to browse around the local market, it's on to the glorious city of Venice.
    hotel:Carlton on Grand Canal, Venice (2 nights).
  4. Even for the experienced traveler, there can be no better joy than waking up in Venice. Transfer to Giudecca Island to witness the art of glassblowing. Then appreciate the splendor as you cruise by Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore to St. Mark’s Square. Your Tour Director will explain the glorious history of ‘La Serenissima’, once one of the greatest trading centres of the world – its wealth and power is echoed by the riches of St. Mark’s Basilica. See the Doge’s Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs. Spend the afternoon as you wish. Later, on your romantic gondola serenade, glide along the atmospheric canals while musicians set the mood with traditional songs.

    hotel:Carlton on Grand Canal, Venice.
  5. Follow the fertile valley of the River Po into the peaceful landscapes of Tuscany. Continue to Pisa to see the world famous Leaning Tower in the ‘Meadow of Miracles' and also the 11th century cathedral and baptistry. Then venture on to beautiful Florence - a treasure house of the Renaissance.
    hotel:Athenaeum Personal Hotel, Florence (2 nights).
  6. Meet a Local Expert for a walking tour of the historic center. Visit the Academy Museum to see Michelangelo's masterpiece ‘Statue of David'. Admire the marble clad cathedral and baptistery, where Ghiberti's ‘Gates of Paradise' have been recreated in all their glory. Next stop is Signoria Square filled with Renaissance sculpture, whilst here, learn all the secrets of traditional Florentine leather-work.
    meal(s):BB, D
    hotel:Athenaeum Personal Hotel, Florence.
  7. Travel through the vineyards of the Chianti region in the morning, past Lake Trasimeno - the Italian Peninsula's largest lake and site of a great battle in ancient times. Climb into the foothills of the Apennine Mountains to delightful Assisi, a stone built town spilling over the steep hillside. With a Local Expert, visit the tomb of St. Francis and see the beautiful frescoes by Giotto in the great basilica, before continuing along the valley of the River Tiber towards the ‘Eternal City' of Rome. In the evening, why not throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure your return to the city?
    hotel:Veneto Palace, Rome (2 nights).
  8. Your intermezzo reaches its crescendo at the independent Vatican State, the richest community in the world. While others wait in line, you are fast-tracked through the VIP entrance into the Vatican Museums, treasure house of the Catholic faith. With an expert historian, admire the vast collections of ancient and Renaissance art, gathered by Popes over the ages and enjoy a behind-the-scenes viewing of the 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. Now relive the glory of ancient Rome as you cross the River Tiber to visit the mighty Colosseum – a scene of great festivities and occasional martyrdoms in imperial times. Finally, see the former epicenter of the whole Roman Empire - the Ancient Forum. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy Rome at your own pace. You can check with your Tour Director about additional sightseeing options. In the evening immerse yourself in the quintissential Italian experience over a sumptuos dinner of Roman Cuisine. Fill your glasses with wine and enjoy an evening of spine-tingling operetta.
    meal(s):BB, CD
    hotel:Veneto Palace, Rome.
  9. Bid farewell to the glories of Italy. Departure transfers arrive at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 07:00 & 09:30.

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  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment

Meal Summary

1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 7 Buffet Breakfasts (BB), 1 three-course table d'hote Dinner with wine, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).

Departures on tour for Christmas and New Year's Eve enjoy a festive Highlight Dinner.

Included Highlights

Signature Experiences

  • Venice: To the tune of accompanying musicians, you are serenaded through the atmospheric canals by gondola.
  • Florence: Gain a fascinating insight into the work of Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Statue of David with a Renaissance art expert during your visit to the Accademia Museum.
  • Assisi: A Local Expert will explain why the Basilica of St. Francis is considered one of the crowning achievements of medieval Europe.
  • Rome: Gain VIP fast-track entrance into the Vatican Museums and enjoy a special private viewing of the Bramante Stairs before admiring the genius of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.
  • Rome: With a local antiquarian, visit the Colosseum, still echoing with the ghostly cries of gladiatorial combat. See the Forum, once the Roman Empire's bustling centre of commerce.

Seasonal Highlights

  • Autumn: Olive oil pressing and tasting; stunning Autumn colours of the fields in Umbria and Tuscany.
  • Winter: With a Local Expert, learn about the origins of Italian mulled wine - Vin Brulé, and enjoy a tasting of this soul-soothing, aromatic drink.
  • Spring: Enjoy the fields of wild flowers and enjoy a tasting of the regions famous Chianti wines.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Verona: Walk past the well preserved Roman Arena to Juliet's balcony in the courtyard of a Renaissance villa.
  • Venice: Cruise to St. Mark's Square by private launch. See St. Mark's Basilica, bell tower, clock tower, Doges' Palace and Bridge of Sighs. Witness hand made Venetian glass-blowing.
  • Pisa: See the Cathedral, Baptistery and ‘Leaning Tower'.
  • Florence: During your guided walking tour, see the Cathedral, belltower, ‘Gates of Paradise' on the Baptistery and visit Signoria Square. Witness a leather-work demonstration.
  • Rome: Enjoy a private guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica.
Definite Departure
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount AvailabilityPrice
5 Nov 16 13 Nov 16 checkmark $1,950pp
19 Nov 16 27 Nov 16 checkmark $1,950$1,853pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$1,950 $1,853 pp
20 Dec 16 28 Dec 16 checkmark $2,095$1,990pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$2,095 $1,990 pp
27 Dec 16 4 Jan 17 checkmark $2,295$2,180pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$2,295 $2,180 pp
27 Dec 16 4 Jan 17 checkmark $2,295$2,180pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$2,295 $2,180 pp
7 Jan 17 15 Jan 17 $1,950$1,853pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$1,950 $1,853 pp
26 Jan 17 3 Feb 17 $1,950$1,853pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$1,950 $1,853 pp
18 Mar 17 26 Mar 17 checkmark $2,050$1,948pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$2,050 $1,948 pp
25 Mar 17 2 Apr 17 checkmark $2,050$1,948pp Early PaymentPay by Oct 27
$2,050 $1,948 pp

December 20th: Christmas Highlight Dinner and gift in Florence. December 27th: New Year's Eve Dinner in Florence. These additional dinners will replace dinners shown in the itinerary. Accademia visit will not be available on the December 20th or December 27th departures. December 20th stays at an alternative accommodation of similar standard in Milan and Rome. March 18th & 25th stays at an alternative accommodation of similar standard in Milan. December 27th stays at an alternative accommodation of similar standard in Florence, Milan and Venice.

undefinedNovember 19th will explore Verona. December 20th will explore Milan and Verona. December 27th will explore Milan.

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $520.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $76 per person.

Early Payment Discount: Pay in full to save the amount listed above. For details, click here.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift!  Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the Land Only price of the vacation..

  • U.S. citizens traveling to Italy must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. No visa is required for U.S. citizens entering Italy.

  • The currency in Italy is the Euro (€). While it’s a good idea to bring some euros for when you first arrive in Italy, you’ll usually find a better exchange rate when you arrive in your destination.  The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks in Italy. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling.  It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • While Italy is most famous for pizza and pasta, few travelers are aware of just how varied the country’s culinary offering actually are. In fact, each of the 20 regions has its own distinctive cuisine. Traditionally, lunch (pranzo) is the most substantial meal of the day. A full meal consists of antipasto (starter), a primo piatto (pasta, rice or soup), a secondo piatto (meat or fish) with a side, or contorno (vegetable or salad), then frutta (fresh fruit). Finish with espresso and maybe a limoncello or grappa.  Wine is usually served with the meal, accompanied by mineral water. Tap water is safe to drink, but not always tasty. We recommend you buy bottled mineral water. ‘Acqua non potabile’ means the water is not safe to drink.  Find out about some local specialties to try in Italy’s top destinations below.


    Food in Florence is simple and humble, and relies on the fresh ingredients of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. Many of the local recipes have evolved from peasant dishes to international favorites. Bread is an important staple in Florentine cooking, and is featured in everything from antipasti (appetizers) such as bruschetta to traditional main dishes. Panzanella is a popular summer salad prepared with day old crusty bread and tomatoes.  Papa al pomodoro is a delicious soup made with bread, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and herbs.  You’ll also find a variety of dishes featuring white beans, including the hearty ribollita soup.  But the flagship of Florentine cuisine remains the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (T-bone steak).  For a sweet finish, meals are topped off with traditional cantuccini (almond cookies) and the local vin santo dessert wine.


    A visit to Venice offers an opportunity to discover a variety of truly unique gastronomic traditions.  Venetians have a long-standing tradition of eating cicchetti, small bites similar to Spanish tapas. You can enjoy a variety of these before lunch or dinner, paired with a glass of local wine at restaurants and bars around town. Other common dishes include polenta, risotto with peas, salted cod, sardines, and local bigoli pasta.  


    Roman cuisine is deeply rooted in the past. Despite the city’s imperial history, the food in Rome and the surrounding Lazio region is anything but refined.  Humble pasta dishes such as carbonara, amatriciana, aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) and cacio e peppe (pecorino cheese and pepper) are local favorites served in trattorias around town. Other foods to try in Rome include pizza, a variety of fritti (fritters) made with everything from salted cod to zucchini flours, stewed oxtail, suppli (rice and Bolognese sauce croquettes) and sharp pecorino cheese. For dessert, try crostata di ricotta (Italian cheesecake) or zeppole (donuts).

  • In Italy, the weather changes very quickly, with temperatures varying from morning to night. We suggest bringing a variety of lightweight clothing items that can be layered to save space in your suitcase and give you more options for how to dress. Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered while visiting religious sites. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • At bars and restaurants, tipping is less common or generous as in the U.S. When dining out, it’s appropriate, although not required, to leave an extra euro or two for your waiter.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it’s customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity. We recommend €3.00 per person/per day for your driver and €5.00 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is 1-2 euros per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.


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