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Contrasts of Italy

Operated By:
Tour Pace: Comfortable
Rialto Bridge, Venice
Tour Style: First Class
11 Days from $2,821 per person

Rolling hills of lush green and gold hues flash by as you travel by high-speed train from the ancient capital of Rome north to Venice, stopping in Florence to admire its historical treasures. Cross the Rialto Bridge in search of Marco Polo, cruise to St. Mark's Square and dine amidst three centuries of art and antiquities in the Vatican.

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  1. Board your overnight flight to Europe (not included).
  2. Benvenuti a Roma where we begin our exciting journey through some of Italy's most beautiful cities. On arrival to Rome Fiumicino Airport transfers will operate at 9.30am, 12.30pm and 3.30pm. Guests arriving later should make their own way to the hotel. Spend time recovering from your travels or take a walk down memory lane, tracing centuries of art, antiquities and culture before joining your travel companions and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and orientation drive through its intoxicating cityscape.

    hotel:Grand Palatino
  3. We visit the Centre of Christianity this morning, joining a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour which includes a visit to the imposing St. Peter's Basilica to see the Pietà, Michelangelo's masterpiece carved from the most "perfect" block of marble. Our next stop is in Ancient Rome to visit such extraordinary treasures as the Colosseum, where gladiators and slaves met their end in a blaze of glory, and see Circus Maximus. This afternoon, we return to the Holy See, and gain priority access to the Vatican Museums where a Local Specialist will take us on a guided tour. Admire Michelangelo's magnificent frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel when it is less crowded and the opportunity to observe the array of incredible artifacts at the Museo Gregoriano Profano, founded in the Lateran Apostolic Palace at the behest of Gregory XVI Cappellari in 1844. We will also enjoy exclusive al fresco dining under Vatican summer skies boasting spectacular views of St Peter’s - a treat for the senses. Should there be adverse weather; a contingency is provided in a newly-created dining space within the Cortile della Pigna.

    meal(s):BB, RM
  4. Spend the day at leisure delving into la dolce vita against the backdrop of glorious fountains, Roman temples and ornate basilica. Consider spending the day in beautiful Tivoli, enjoying an Optional Experience to see the exquisite house and gardens of the 16th century Villa d'Este – a marvelous example of Renaissance landscape architecture. As the sun sets over the seven hills of Rome, sit on the Spanish Steps and watch the beautiful people, or admire the Trevi Fountain, tossing a coin to secure your return to Rome.
  5. Sit back on the high-speed train and watch the picturesque Tuscan landscape go by en route to Florence, where you'll join a Local Specialist on a walking tour to gain insights into the city's Renaissance treasures. View the 400-year-old Ponte Vecchio, lined with goldsmiths and souvenir shops, and visit the Fine Arts Academy to see one of Michelangelo's masterpieces, the statue of David. Our love affair with Florence continues as we wander through the charming cobblestone lanes to the Piazza della Signoria, featuring Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery.
  6. Cross the Arno River and see the enchanting skyline of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo before driving to Pisa through the picturesque Arno Valley. Meet your Local Specialist for an exploration of the Square of Miracles and see the famous Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, Baptistery, and Camposanto, built on soil brought back from the Holy Land during the Crusades. This evening, meander along the Arno River in search of the perfect gelato, see the beautifully lit Duomo or visit a cozy enoteca for some wine tasting and live music.
  7. Today is yours to delve into the beauty and elegance of Florence – a city filled with exquisite galleries, lush gardens and opulent palaces that are yours to discover at your leisure. Perhaps visit the most famous Italian gardens worldwide at Boboli Gardens with its magnificent collection of sculptures and explore the 15th century Pitti Palace with its galleries and museums. Venture outside the city to see charming Tuscan villages and taste rich panforte and tortas or shop for the latest fashions in Florence's sophisticated boutiques. This evening, why not join an Optional Experience in Chianti for a delicious Tuscan dinner?
  8. All aboard the express train for Venice. We cross the spectacular Appenines and fertile Veneto plain before arriving in the island city of Venice. Get lost in Venice this afternoon, meandering along quiet lanes in search of a cozy bacaro, people-watch in St. Mark's Square, the gateway to Venice, or take an unforgettable gondola ride along the city's enchanting canals.
    hotel:Boscolo Bellini
  9. This morning, we enjoy a Cultural Insight into the centuries-old craft of glassmaking on the island of Giudecca. Breathe in the salty sea air as you board a private launch cruising to St. Mark's Square to see the Bridge of Sighs, Palladian Churches, the Customs House, St. Mark's Basilica and Campanile as well as the Doge's Palace on your orientation of the city. This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore the city on your own terms. Find a quiet campi and sidewalk café to enjoy la dolce vita or take a cruise to colorful Burano for a delicious meal.
  10. The sights and sounds of modern Venice come to life today as we join our Local Specialist on a tour of the vibrant Rialto Food Market, which has been feeding Venetioa since the 11th century. We wander through the narrow calle - seeing the ornate façades of merchant houses that line the canals, including the home of Marco Polo, before enjoying an afternoon at leisure for one last taste of Venice. Our adventure through Italy's charming capitals is about to come to an end. We celebrate newfound friendships and an unforgettable experience at a Farewell Dinner.

    meal(s):BB, FD
  11. Say arrivederci to Italy and your fellow travelers as your fascinating vacation comes to an end. Return transfers on the last travel day will arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport at 8am and 9.30am. Conditions apply.


30 Day Refund Guarantee

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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22 Apr 18 2 May 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
29 Apr 18 9 May 18 checkmark $3,350pp Call 1-877-622-9109
6 May 18 16 May 18 checkmark $3,350pp Call 1-877-622-9109
13 May 18 23 May 18 checkmark $3,350pp Call 1-877-622-9109
20 May 18 30 May 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
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10 Jun 18 20 Jun 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
17 Jun 18 27 Jun 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
24 Jun 18 4 Jul 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
1 Jul 18 11 Jul 18 checkmark $3,275$3,029pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
8 Jul 18 18 Jul 18 checkmark $3,275$3,029pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
22 Jul 18 1 Aug 18 checkmark $3,225$2,983pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Call 1-877-622-9109
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12 Aug 18 22 Aug 18 checkmark $3,095$2,863pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
19 Aug 18 29 Aug 18 checkmark $3,095$2,863pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Call 1-877-622-9109
26 Aug 18 5 Sep 18 checkmark $3,150$2,914pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
2 Sep 18 12 Sep 18 checkmark $3,425$3,168pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Call 1-877-622-9109
9 Sep 18 19 Sep 18 checkmark $3,425$3,168pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
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30 Sep 18 10 Oct 18 checkmark $3,425$3,168pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
7 Oct 18 17 Oct 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
14 Oct 18 24 Oct 18 checkmark $3,350$3,099pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 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 $750 p.p.

Triple Room Discount: $100 p.p.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $83 per person.

Shared Rooming: Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this trip.

Airport transfers: On arrival at Rome Fiumicino Airport transfers will operate at 9:30 am, 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Guests arriving later should make their own way to the hotel. Return transfers on the last travel day will arrive at Venice Marco Polo Airport at 8:00 am and 9:30 am.

Cruise Connection: This trip starts or ends in a popular cruise port, so you can combine a cruise with a more in-depth guided vacation in Europe.

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.

Frequent Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the 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
  • 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

9 nights, 9 hot buffet breakfasts, 3 dinners, On-trip transport, .

Included Highlights

Cultural Insight

  • Enjoy a private visit inside the Vatican where you will tour the Museo Gregoriano Profano featuring Roman and Ancient Greek antiquities before an exclusive private dinner.
  • Witness the exquisite craft of glassblowing on Giudecca Island, a delicate tradition that generations of Venetian craftsmen have perfected over the centuries

Local Specialist

  • For included sightseeing in Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice

Hidden Treasure

  • Enjoy at least one surprise Hidden Treasure

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City tour in Rome, Florence, Venice
  • Visit St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and the Roman Colosseum in Rome, the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence
  • Cruise by private launch to St. Mark's Square in Venice
  • View the ancient sites in Rome, the Santa Croce Basilica and the Duomo in Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Byzantine St. Mark's Basilica in Venice


Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Service rating : Our tour guide Paolo was outstanding. He was personable and well organized, making sure we were on time, while personalizing our experiences. The optional tours were excellent as well.
Vacation : the only improvement would be a upgraded hotels. I would be willing to pay more for that improvement.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Service rating : Contrasts of Italy was our second tour with Trafalgar. They exceeded our expectations in Italy. All of our needs were taken care of by our wonderful director Gordon Spicer. Trafalgar handles the hassles of luggage, check in and check out of hotels, admission into touring sites, transportation and so much more. They give VIP access at touring sites. No long lines waiting. Our hotels had great locations, were comfortable, clean, and offered surprisingly great breakfasts every morning. Staying three nights in each city made the tour comfortable and more relaxing than changing hotels frequently. Taking the train to travel in between cities saved so much time. We highly recommend this tour. You will not be disappointed! If you go and are offered the optional dinner at the Machiavelli villa and vineyard, don't miss it!
Response from Grand European Travel:
Thanks for taking the time to write.  We're glad you enjoyed this unique train trip through Italy! Your review will help other customers in their search for a great experience.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Vacation : This tour offered many optional experiences, some we purchased, some we did not. We liked having free time in each city to explore on our own.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Service rating : This was the most amazing vacation I've taken. The tour director, hotels, sights, local specialists, bus, train....everything was planned perfectly and I will never forget this trip. Thank you, Grand European Travel and Trafalgar Tours!
Vacation : Perfect trip; number of days, travel by high-speed train, hotels. Very good value for the price of the trip.
  • 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 24 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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