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Grand Italy & Sicily

Operated By:
Tour Pace: Comfortable
Taormina Theater, Sicily
Tour Style: Premium
18 Days from $4,750 per person

Contrast the domed cathedral of Florence with the beehive Trulli of Alberbello or Taormina's hillside location with the beautiful canals of Venice.

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  1. Board your overnight flight to Europe (not included).
  2. Rome is not only the modern capital of Italy but also a spectacular encyclopedia of living history. You will be met on arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport. At 09:30, 12:30 & 15:30 transfers depart for your hotel. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.

    hotel:Romanico Palace, Rome (2 nights).
  3. In the morning, you will be joined by a resident expert to guide you through the art collection of the Vatican Museums, culminating beneath Michelangelo's famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-track entry and the Bramante Staircase, a part of the Vatican closed to the general public. More of Michelangelo's genius is on display next door in St. Peter's Basilica. 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.
    hotel:Romanico Palace, Rome.
  4. Enjoy a delightful drive through rolling countryside dotted with cypress trees, passing vineyards and olive groves to Pisa. With a Local Expert, view the incredible Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles from which Galileo is said to have conducted experiments on velocity and gravity. See the splendid cathedral and baptistery, decorated with mosaics and designs in solid marble. Your journey continues to the pretty seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Best Western Hotel Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure (2 nights).
  5. Head for the famous Cinque Terre, which translates to Five Lands, located on a gorgeously wild yet hospitable part of the coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit two of the picturesque fishing villages before taking the train to Santa Margherita Ligure, and then journeying on to Portofino. There is plenty of time for you to admire the colored houses, browse the boutiques and stay a while in the cafe bars on the piazzetta, watching the yachts moored in the harbor. Should weather permit, return with a cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to your hotel in the resort of Santa Margherita.

    hotel:Best Western Hotel Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.
  6. Head north to the beautiful Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lake District and the town of Baveno, noted for its narrow cobbled streets and charming 16th century square. On arrival, settle into your hotel and take in the magical scenery. In the evening, why not join a private cruise to Isola Bella to explore the palace and admire the stunning Botanical Gardens?

    hotel:Simplon Hotel, Baveno
  7. Follow the southern fringes of the Alps to romantic Verona, the setting of one of literature's most tragic and best known love stories between starcrossed lovers. See the ancient Roman Arena, still used for Opera performances and stand beneath Juliet's balcony in a Renaissance courtyard of the supposed Capulet home - can you recite Shakespeare's immortal words? You travels continue through the Soave vineyards, passing Padua, and on to the canals of Venice.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:B4 Bellini Venezia (2 nights).
  8. Even for the experienced traveller, there can be no better joy than waking up in Venice. Admire the art of glassblowing on a visit to a traditional arts centre. Then cruise by private launch along canals lined with ornate palaces. Alight at St. Mark's Square where St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs await. Later board your glossy black gondola for a serenade through the beautiful canals. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere, music and songs as you drift along in romantic awe. The afternoon is entirely at leisure.

    hotel:B4 Hotel Bellini Venezia
  9. Bid farewell to Venice and begin your journey to Renaissance Florence. Join your Local Expert to see Michelangelo's David when you visit the Accademia Gallery. Walk to the cathedral and see Giotto's bell tower and the Gates of Paradise on the baptistery. Wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria gazing at statues such as Neptune as well as Hercules and Cacus, along the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Your exploration will finish in front of the basilica where Michelangelo lies buried in Piazza Santa Croce.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hilton Garden Inn, Florence (2 nights).
  10. Start the day with a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration, then there is plenty of time to shop with the rest of the day at your leisure. Perhaps join an Optional Excursion to explore the hilltop town of San Gimignano?

    hotel:Hilton Garden Inn, Florence.
  11. Journey south through the volcanic hills of Frascati to Pompeii, which was buried in A.D. 79 by Mount Vesuvius' catastrophic eruption. Walk with a Local Expert through the preserved cobbled streets for a glimpse into the daily life of civilization during the Roman Empire. Follow the clifftop road to the resort of Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples.

    hotel:Hotel Regina, Sorrento (2 nights).
  12. Meet your Local Expert and cruise to the beautiful Isle of Capri. The funicular railway takes you up to Capri town where you will explore the narrow alleyways and have time to browse exclusive boutiques and enjoy the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Descend to the port by open-top taxi, just as the jet-set do. On return to Sorrento, investigate the art of intarsio or marquetry wood inlaying before continuing to your hotel.

    hotel:Hotel Regina, Sorrento.
  13. After breakfast, discover two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First you will visit Matera for an in-depth exploration of the extraordinary Sassi which are troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock. Here is the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean and were inhabited by about 20,000 people up until 1950. Matera was also used as the setting for 'The Passion of the Christ'. Continue to Alberobello, the second UNESCO World Heritage Site and your home for the next two nights.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello (2 nights).
  14. Admire the trulli of Alberobello - small, circular structures with conical roofs and clustered together like mushrooms. They are built from local limestone and stacked without using mortar. Venture into the surrounding region, a paradise for wine-lovers. Join an expert vintner for a tasting of Puglia's most robust and structured red wines. For your Dine-at-Home experience, you are invited to join a local and their family. See Nonna making pasta and enjoy a freshly prepared meal together, traditional of Southern Italy.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.
  15. The local roads will take you south, following the shores of the Gulf of Taranto to the mountainous Calabria region. Travel along the Purple Coast to the very 'toe' of Italy and board your ferry bound for Sicily. According to ancient legend, it was here at the Straits of Messina where the twin whirlpools of Scylla and Charybdis carried unwary seafarers away to their doom! After you disembark, continue to the Taormina Riviera.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina (2 nights).
  16. After breakfast, join a Local Expert for a visit to the Greek theater, graced with the most spectacular of backdrops. Stroll on to the tiny courtyard of the Palazzo Corvaja, Taormina's grandest building. Further along elegant Corso Umberto, the Piazza IX Aprile offers panoramic views. The remainder of the day is yours to take at your own pace.

    hotel:Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina.
  17. Head to the Sicilian capital of Palermo. On arrival, your Local Expert shows you the highlights of the capital. Pass the Teatro Massimo, the Baroque Quattro Canti Square and glimpse the ‘fountain of shame'. Palermo Cathedral has been altered over the years - go inside to appreciate the composite of architectural styles. Next, head to the amazing Palatine Chapel in the Palace of the Normans. Outside there are few clues to its interior - completely covered in glittering 12th century mosaics. At night, join your fellow guests for an unforgettable Celebration Dinner of delicious local cuisine, wine and music.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Best Western Ai Cavalieri, Palermo.
  18. Your journey draws to an end with departure transfers arriving at Palermo Airport at 06:00 and 08:00.

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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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 $1,200 p.p.

Triple Room Discount $190 p.p.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $196 per person.

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

16 Buffet Breakfasts (BB) and 7 Dinner with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

Signature Experiences


  • Be among the select few to gain VIP access to the Vatican Museums, see the Bramante Staircase and Michelangelo's ceiling 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.

Cinque Terre:

  • Spend time at this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage listed Site with a Local Expert.


  • Get a taste of the ‘sweet life' in this elegant fishing village and cruise to Santa Margherita.


  • Delight in the unique magic as you are serenaded through the atmospheric canals by gondola.
  • Visit an artisan showroom and workshop to see master craftsmen honoring age-old Venetian crafts.


  • Visit the Accademia Museum with a Local Expert to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, David. Then enjoy a walking exploration to
    see the Florence Cathedral, with its bell tower and baptistery. Wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Santa Croce. Icons


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

Isle of Capri:

  • Cruise to this famous isle and enjoy a ride by open-top taxi.


  • Visit this UNESCO World heritage Site and see famous Sassi or cave dwellings, which were home to about 20,000 people until


  • Set on a cliff, open to the sky, take your seats in the ancient Greek theatre and absorb the view through the crumbling arches to snowy Mount Etna.


  • Standing in the Palatine chapel, get up close to some of the finest examples of Norman art.


Sunday, June 25, 2017
Service rating : The guides and bus driver were all well adapted to the job and made my learning experience about the people and places excellent.
Vacation : This trip was well planned and all the information about people and places was exceptional.
Response from Grand European Travel:
Thank you for your kind words and for uploading the beautiful photo! We hope to be able to help you plan another trip very soon.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Service rating : Booking the tour was easy. The seats on the plane to Italy were poorly located and I paid $250 to upgrade. The flight schedule for our return trip was poor and I think we could have had a more direct flight. We took 2 flights to Italy and 3 flights home which didn't seem reasonable as it made for a 30 hour day at the end of a great vacation. The tour was great but the add on options cost $1500. I would have preferred to know about this expense up front or have a higher initial price with all options included. We really enjoyed our tour Director Vinenzo Tassone and our driver Mario was such a patient and skilled driver. This was a great tour to see so much of the Italian country side. We feel like we really saw much of what Italy has to offer.
Response from Grand European Travel:
Flying to the US from Palermo always requires 3 flights.  Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it.  We do book the most direct flights available at the time you make your reservation, but can always take your preferences into consideration if you have a favorite airline or departure city.  We appreciate your feedback.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Vacation : We saw so much! The tours were well orchestrated!We feel like we really got to experience a lot of Italy.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Service rating : We had a wonderful tour director named Francis Touchek. We arrived late on our first day and he paid for our cab. He brought in everyone's luggage and made sure that we all felt comfortable whenever we checked into a new hotel .Francis was very professional and extremely helpful. He was there to smooth the way and to make our tour as enjoyable as possible. He was very knowledgeable concerning the history of Italy. We both feel that we know so much more than we before the tour, about this beautiful country Our coach driver was a wonderful driver. We were amazed how well Benito could maneuver the coach around tight curves. He kept the coach clean and assisted us when we misplaced items. He and Francis were a great team. I was a little disappointed in some of the hotels that we stayed in. Many were far away from tourist attractions. The food on many of the optional experiences was not worth the price we paid. We did feel that the optional tours were worth the extra expense. We felt that it was a great tour and we enjoyed meeting so many nice people from other countries. We would recommend this tour to everyone. I would tell them to do a lot of walking before the tour because it was strenuous at times. One day we walked over ten miles. We climbed a lot of hills and walked down slippery steps! Get in shape before you sign up for this.
Response from Grand European Travel:
We're sorry to hear that you were delayed in arriving into Rome, but glad to see that your Travel Director had the issue well in hand.    We appreciate your honesty about some of the hotel locations, quality and the food quality.  We will be sure to pass this information on to our Quality Control Team for immediate review.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Vacation : Some hotel rooms were very small. Several hotels were very far from the cities we were touring. Some optional dinners were very average and not worth what we paid for them. On the night of the Dine Around in Capri we all agreed that all three restaurants were below average choices.
  • 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.

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine. While pizza and pasta are national favorites, few travelers understand just how varied Italy’s cuisine actually is. In fact, each of the country’s 20 regions has its own distinctive cuisine.  Lunch (pranzo) is traditionally 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 fruit.  Finish with espresso and maybe a splash of liqueur.  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.

    Throughout Southern Italy, you can enjoy a variety of fresh and dried pasta with tomato sauce, vegetables marinated in olive oil, seafood, limoncello (lemon liqueur), and  a selection of delicious desserts. In Rome, you can try humble pasta dishes such as carbonara, amatriciana, aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) and cacio e peppe (pecorino cheese and pepper). Other foods to try include pizza, a variety fried foods called fritti  that come stuffed with everything from salted cod to zucchini flours, and and a selection of cheeses including the popular pecorino Romano. You’ll also find traditional desserts such as Rome’s crostata di ricotta, Italy’s version of cheesecake, deep-fried zeppole rolled in sugar, as well as Sicily’s famous cannoli.

  • 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.

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


Rome By Night - Illuminations Drive

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

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 center of political, religious and social life, while hearing tales of the mighty Roman Empire. Truly an incredible vision as history comes alive!

Roman Dinner Party

Enjoy an evening of delicious Roman cuisine with drinks and a great Italian ambiance.

Italian Lakes

Isola Bella

The premier attraction of Lake Maggiore is the Borromean Islands. We take a private boat over to Isola Bella, the largest and most famous island, renowned for its incredible palace and stunning Botanical Gardens. A guided tour of this privately owned palace with free time to admire the gardens is a must.

Dinner on Isola dei Pescatori

This evening escape to the charming and tranquil island of Isola dei Pescatori. A short boat ride from the shores of Lake Maggiore, this fisherman’s Island is inhabited year round by only 50 permanent residents. Stroll through the small piazza surrounded by the tight and winding alleys to enjoy a sumptuous dinner where reservations have been booked in one of the Island's splendid restaurants.


Hidden Venice

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.

Magical Venice

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 center 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

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 colored 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 specialties with wine included. An excursion not to be missed!


Dinner In The Tuscan Hills

A fabulous dinner of Tuscan specialties 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!

San Gimignano Excursion

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.

Tuscan Dinner & Cooking Demonstration

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.


Amalfi Coast Drive & Positano Visit

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.

Island Tour of Capri

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.

Sorrento Evening

A chance to enjoy a delicious dinner of local specialties. 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!


The White Town of Ostuni and Olive Mill

With its stark white-washed buildings, narrow cobbled streets and arched stairways, Ostuni is reminiscent of a North African Arab Medina. Perched high above the beautiful sea, the ‘White Town’ is a photographer’s delight. Then, we'll visit a Mill to taste the renowned olive oil produced in this area that incorporates olives from the ancient groves of Puglia!

Masseria Dinner

Puglia is a food lovers paradise, famous for its local dishes using the freshest of ingredients! Tonight it's off to the countryside to a local 'Masseria', a typical ancient fortified 'Farmhouse' of Puglia. We enjoy an incredible, authentic Puglian style dinner in a beautiful setting! A wonderful 'country roads' experience all served up with great wines form this region!


Dinner in the Clouds

With one of the most incredible rides of your lives, you will arrive high above the sea, a world apart from the areas that tourists tread. You'll arrive in your terraced authentic local restaurant for a truly educational meal of delicious regional specialties, with accompanying local wines.

Mt Etna & The Godfather

Join a local expert to experience the unhurried pace of life in this rustic village chosen by Frances Ford Coppola for scenes in his movie “The Godfather”. Amid stunning mountain views, visit the charming wedding church and Bar Vitelli, where Al Pacino fell in love (famous for its ice cold granita di limone!) Then continue to Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. Ascend through the lush fertile foothills to the craters and barren lunar landscapes nearer the top. The views over the eastern Sicilian coast and Ionian Sea are spectacular.

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