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Best of Italy (Premium)

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Tour Pace: Active
Signoria Square, Florence
Tour Style: Premium
12 Days from $3,295 per person

Roman antiquities, saintly Assisi, Venetian canals, Renaissance Florence and Capri's brilliant sunlight are brought together in this superb tour of Italy, with the option to end in Naples or Rome.

Best of Italy also has winter departures; click here to see the Winter Season version of this tour!

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  1. Board your overnight flight to Europe (not included).
  2. Welcome to Rome, a glorious city filled with classical antiquities, medieval buildings, Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches. Transfers depart from Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport for the tour hotel at 09:30, 12:30 & 15:30. In the evening, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and uniquely Roman Welcome Dinner.
    meal(s):WD
    hotel:Hotel Romanico Palace/Dei Borgia, Rome (2 nights).
  3. The day is devoted to the ‘Eternal City'. Join a Local Expert for an in-depth visit to the Vatican Museums, full of priceless art treasures collected by the Popes. Insight has arranged special VIP entrance to avoid the crowds, together with behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase - a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally off-limits to the general public. Now into the Sistine Chapel, where the Popes are elected to admire Michelangelo's famous ceiling. Next door in St. Peter's Basilica, wonder at another of his works, the emotive ‘Pietà', and stand beneath the dome completed after his death. There's free time to do as the Romans do, or perhaps join a tour inside the Colosseum? Rome is about art, antiquity, piazzas and pizzazz, and our included walking tour this afternoon has it in abundance. Toss a coin into the spectacular Trevi Fountain, see the Pantheon, the best preserved monument from the Roman period, and enjoy free time for dinner in Piazza Navona.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Romanico Palace/Dei Borgia, Rome.
  4. Travel north through glorious Tuscan landscapes to reach renaissance Florence. On arrival, enjoy a delicious exploration of Tuscany's red wines, their robust flavours and absorbing history.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Londra Hotel/Athenaeum Hotel, Florence (2 nights).
  5. Join an art historian for a walking tour of the historic city centre. A highlight is the visit to the Accademia Gallery to study Michelangelo's monumental statue, David. Continue to the multi-coloured marble cathedral to admire Giotto's bell tower and ‘Gates of Paradise'. Visit the Piazza della Signoria, still the political heart of Florence and the area around Santa Croce Basilica - famous for the quality of its luxury goods. After a demonstration of leather-work, there's free time to shop or continue sightseeing. In the evening, don't miss the chance to sample the fine Florentine cuisine - tasty starters and rich pastas accompanied by Chianti wine.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Londra Hotel/Athenaeum Hotel, Florence.
  6. Journey to the coastal town of Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. Continue through the marshes of the Venetian Lagoon and across the causeway to the unique city of Venice.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Boscolo Bellini, Venice (2 nights).
  7. Your private launch awaits you in the morning, ready to cruise past Palladian churches and 13th century palaces to St. Mark's Square. The first sight is the pink marble of the Doge's Palace, connected to the prisons by the Bridge of Sighs. It was from here that Casanova made his daring escape. Turn the corner, and the gilded regalia of St. Mark's Basilica comes into view. A visit to an arts centre on Giudecca Island will allow you to admire the age-old skill of glassblowing. Later, board a traditional gondola for a serenade through the romantic canals.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Boscolo Bellini, Venice.
  8. Leave Venice and continue through the Appennines to peaceful Assisi, one of Italy's most beautiful mountain towns. In the valley, see the famous Church of St. Mary of the Angels, much venerated as the place of St. Francis' death, then continue up Mount Subasio to the upper town. With your Local Expert, step inside the huge Basilica of St. Francis, built in the 13th century, where the frescoes by Giotto heralded a new era in Italian art.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Giotto Hotel & Spa, Assisi.
  9. An early start today as you travel southwards past Cassino, scene of a fierce battle in World War II. Follow the spectacular clifftop road to the picturesque resort of Sorrento. On arrival, investigate the art of ‘intarsio' or marquetry wood inlaying before continuing to your hotel.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Michelangelo, Sorrento (2 nights).
  10. In the morning, cruise to Isle of Capri. Under the Mediterranean sun, take a funicular ride up to Capri town where you can explore the narrow alleyways, browse in exclusive boutiques and enjoy the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Perhaps join an optional cruise around the Island of Capri? Descend to the port in one of the island's iconic open-top taxis and return to Sorrento for some relaxation time. At night, join your fellow guests for an unforgettable Celebration Dinner of delicious Italian cuisine and wine.
    meal(s):BB, CD
    hotel:Hotel Michelangelo, Sorrento.
  11. In the morning, journey to Pompeii, the opulent Roman town which was preserved by layers of ash from the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. A walk with a Local Expert through the cobbled streets and extensive excavations reveals the daily life of Roman civilisation. Visit the Forum and peer into ancient shops and patrician villas, decorated with colourful wall paintings. Then continue on to your hotel in Rome.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Dei Borgia/Hotel Beverly Hills, Rome.
  12. Departure transfers arrive at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at approximately 07:00 & 09:30.
    meal(s):BB
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We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

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27 Sep 17 8 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
29 Sep 17 10 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
4 Oct 17 15 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
6 Oct 17 17 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
13 Oct 17 24 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
18 Oct 17 29 Oct 17 checkmark $3,375pp Call 1-877-622-9109
27 Oct 17 7 Nov 17 checkmark $3,295pp Request Quote Book Now

 

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 $140 p.p.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $97 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.

  • 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
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options

Included Quality Dining

10 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 3 three-course table d'hôte Dinner (DW) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee. Departures on tour for Christmas and New Year's Eve enjoy a festive Highlight Dinner.

Signature Experiences

Rome:

  • Gain VIP fast-track entrance into the Vatican Museums and enjoy a special private viewing of the Bramante Stairs before being confronted by the genius of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.
  • Sightsee the local way with a leisurely passeggiata through the backstreets, where a friend in Rome will explain how modern life takes place around ancient treasures.

Florence:

  • Gain a fascinating insight into the work of Michelangelo's masterpiece statue, David, with a Renaissance art expert during your visit to the Accademia Museum.

Venice:

  • Enjoy a traditional gondola for a serenade through the romantic canals.

Assisi:

  • Find out why the Basilica of St. Francis is considered one of the crowning achievements of medieval Europe with a Local Expert.

Isle of Capri:

  • Cruise to this famous isle. In unique style, ascend by open-top taxi and return to the port by funicular.

Pompeii:

  • Walk with a Local Expert through the cobbled streets of this ill-fated town, frozen in time since the 1st century.

Reviews

Thursday, August 3, 2017
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : Very organized and well planned itinerary. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about each place we visited.
Vacation : Was worth paying a bit extra to have all details taken care of. No waiting in lines, comfortable transportation.
  • 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. 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.

    Florence

    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.

    Venice

    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.  

    Rome

    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.

Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.

Rome

Rome By Night - Illuminations Drive

Adult Price: €19

Join your Tour Director for a classic journey through one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Rome by night is a vision with its ancient monuments, classical buildings, palaces and churches beautifully illuminated against the evening sky. A wonderful introduction to the Eternal City!

Guided Visit To Colosseum & Roman Forum

Adult Price: €52

With our local expert, We'll explore the glorious history of the Roman Empire. Enjoying priority reserved entrance ahead of the crowds, we'll hear tales of deadly gladiatorial combat inside the mighty Colosseum. Then, we'll walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and gaze over the incredible ruins of the forum, once the centre of political, religious and social life, while hearing tales of the mighty Roman Empire. Truly an incredible vision as history comes alive!

Rome Of The Ancient Christians

Adult Price: €38

"Outside the ancient Roman city walls we visit the early Christian Catacombs, underground cemetries carved out of soft Tufa Stone. Nearby we also visit one of the major basilicas of Rome, St Pauls Outside the Walls. The burial place of St Paul the Apostle, famous for its Byzantine Mosaics. On some departures the Christian Catacombs are offered with a visit to St Peter in Chains to view the magnificent 'Moses' sculpture by Michelangelo, (instead of St Pauls)."

Delights of Rome with Dinner

Adult Price: €49

Spend an evening getting to know Rome. We’ll take you via coach where you’ll have the chance to see some of the city’s much-loved sights. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a delicious light dinner of Italian specialities, alongside local music and drinks.

Florence

San Gimignano Excursion

Adult Price: €35

A wonderful excursion to Tuscany's most famous hill-top town! Visit San Gimignano, considered a medieval Manhattan, due to its towers which dominate the skyline. Soak up the unique atmosphere of this ancient gem which has remained intact since the 14th century and today is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Dinner In The Tuscan Hills

Adult Price: €65

A fabulous dinner of Tuscan specialities awaits you. We drive into the hills surrounding Florence for a delicious typical Florentine meal complete with Chianti wine, music and lots of fun! An evening to remember. Viva Italia!

Tuscan Dinner & Cooking Demonstration

Adult Price: €69

Florence and Tuscany are renowned for their rich gastronomic heritage. Tonight we travel into the hills near Florence to the northernmost part of the Chianti, where a local chef will introduce you to the dishes that make Tuscan cuisine famous throughout the world. A great cooking class, superb food and wine, with genuine and warm Tuscan hospitality.

Venice

Magical Venice

Adult Price: €54

Venice can be Europe's most romantic city in the evening, offering dramatic landscapes with buildings that dazzle as the sun sets and the lights go on. Sit back and take it all in as private water taxis whisk you to the centre of it all, Piazza San Marco, where we have seats reserved outside a famous Venetian cafe, in front of a live orchestra and in view of those illuminated St Mark's sights. Our private water taxis will also take us the length of the Grand Canal, under the Rialto Bridge and back to our hotel, having seen Venice at its most magical.

Burano Excursion & Meal

Adult Price: €70

Leave the hustle of St Mark's Square behind on a delightful private cruise around the islands of the Venetian lagoon. Alight at the island of Burano, a photographer's paradise, famous for its candy coloured houses, artisan lace makers and leaning bell tower that would give Pisa a good run for its money. Enjoy a superb meal sampling the local specialities with wine included. An excursion not to be missed!

Hidden Venice

Adult Price: €34

St Mark's Square, tick, the Rialto, tick, Grand Canal, tick... To only experience Venice's big set pieces is to miss out on a hidden world full of surprises! Join a Local Expert for a fascinating walk through some of the lesser known quarters of Venice. The back lanes and ‘campi’, small squares, where tourists seldom tread are full of history and great places to sample local life.

Sorrento

Amalfi Coast Drive & Positano Visit

Adult Price: €43

Drive along the clear blue waters and picturesque resorts of the Amalfi Coast, arguably the most glamorous and scenic stretch of coast in Europe. Minibuses wind their way down serpentine roads to the exclusive artists' paradise of Positano, clinging to the cliff face, as if about to cascade into the turquoise waters below. Spend time exploring the elegant shops, watching the artists at work, or enjoying an 'aperitivo' in a beach side cafe.

Sorrento Evening

Adult Price: €61

A chance to enjoy a delicious dinner of local specialities. We arrive at one of the area's unique local restaurants for an incredible dining experience featuring some of the famous dishes of this region!

Island Tour of Capri

Adult Price: €41

Experience the spectacular cliffs and famous turquoise waters of Capri during a relaxing cruise around the island. View the beautiful grottos and unique coastline before ascending to Capri town. This optional experience is weather dependent and may be replaced by a minibus tour of the Island with a visit to Anacapri and the Villa San Michele.

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