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Grand Tour of Italy & Sicily

Operated By:
Tour Pace: Comfortable
Taormina Theater, Sicily
Tour Style: Premium
18 Days from $4,060 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.
    meal(s):WD
    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.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Romanico Palace, Rome.
  4. Enjoy a delightful drive through rolling countryside dotted with cypress trees, passing vineyards and olive groves to Pisa and with a Local Expert, view the incredible Leaning Tower, and the beautiful cathedral and baptistry. Afterwards, continue 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 (Five Lands) - the gorgeously wild but hospitable 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 onto Portofino. Admire the coloured houses, browse the boutiques, stay a while in the café bars on the piazzetta and watch the yachts moored in the harbour. Return along the rugged Ligurian coast by boat (weather permitting) to your hotel in the resort of Santa Margherita.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Best Western Hotel Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.
  6. Head north to beautiful Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lake District. On arrival, settle into your hotel and breathe in the magical scenery. In the evening, why not join in the traditional ritual of la passeggiata?
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Grand Hotel Dino/Simplon Hotel, Baveno, Lake Maggiore.
  7. Follow the southern fringes of the Alps to romantic Verona, setting for one of literature's saddest love stories. See the ancient Roman Arena and stand beneath Juliet's balcony in a Renaissance courtyard - can you recite Shakespeare's immortal words? Travel on through the Soave vineyards, past Padua to the canals of Venice.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Boscolo Hotel Bellini, Venice (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.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Boscolo Hotel Bellini, Venice.
  9. Bid farewell to Venice and begin your journey to Renaissance Florence. On arrival join your Local Expert to visit Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Gallery. Walk to the cathedral to see Giotto's bell tower and ‘Gates of Paradise' before continuing to Signoria Square. Your walking tour will finish at Piazza Santa Croce, in front of the basilica where Michelangelo lies buried.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hotel Londra, Florence (2 nights).
  10. Start the day with a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration with plenty of time to shop or perhaps visit San Gimignano? The rest of the day is at leisure.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Londra, Florence.
  11. Take the smooth motorway south through the volcanic hills of Frascati to Pompeii, buried in 79AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Walk with a Local Expert through the cobbled streets for a glimpse of daily life of Roman civilisation. Follow the clifftop road to the resort of Sorrento.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Regina, Sorrento (2 nights).
  12. Cruise to the beautiful Isle of Capri. The funicular railway takes you up to Capri town to browse among the shops and admire the sea views. Descend to the port by open-top taxi and return to Sorrento. On arrival, investigate the art of ‘intarsio' or marquetry wood inlaying before continuing to your hotel. For your dining pleasure, choose from a selection of local restaurants.
    meal(s):BB, DA
    hotel:Hotel Regina, Sorrento.
  13. After breakfast, venture to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, first Matera for an in-depth exploration of the extraordinary ‘Sassi' - troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock - the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean and then continue to Alberobello.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello (2 nights).
  14. Admire the Trulli of Alberobello - circular structures with conical roofs and domed within, built with local limestone and stacked without using mortar. This region is paradise for wine-lovers so join an expert vintner with a tasting of Puglia's most robust and structured red wines. In the afternoon, perhaps enjoy an optional experience to the stunning city of Ostuni?
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.
  15. The local roads take you south in the morning to follow the shores of the Gulf of Taranto to the mountainous Calabria region. Continue along the Purple Coast to the very toe of Italy and board your ferry bound for Sicily and on to Taormina.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina (2 nights).
  16. After breakfast, join a Local Expert for a visit to the Greek theatre, 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.
    meal(s):BB
    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, CD
    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.
    meal(s):BB
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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
  • 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); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 5 three-course table d'hôte Dinner (DW), 1 Dine-Around (DA) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee.

Signature Experiences

Rome:

  • 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.

Portofino:

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

Venice:

  • Delight in the unique magic as you are serenaded through the atmospheric canals by gondola.

Florence:

  • Visit the Accademia Museum with a Local Expert to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, David.

Pompeii:

  • 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.

Matera:

  • Visit the famous ‘Sassi' or cave dwellings, which were home to about 20,000 people until 1950.

Taormina:

  • 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.

Palermo:

  • Standing in the Palatine chapel, get up close to some of the finest examples of Norman art.
Definite Departure
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
25 May 17 11 Jun 17 checkmark $4,750pp Call 1-877-622-9109
1 Jun 17 18 Jun 17 checkmark $4,595pp Call 1-877-622-9109
8 Jun 17 25 Jun 17 checkmark $4,595pp Call 1-877-622-9109
15 Jun 17 2 Jul 17 checkmark $4,595pp Request Quote Book Now
22 Jun 17 9 Jul 17 checkmark $4,650pp Request Quote Book Now
29 Jun 17 16 Jul 17 checkmark $4,725pp Request Quote Book Now
6 Jul 17 23 Jul 17 checkmark $4,725pp Request Quote Book Now
3 Aug 17 20 Aug 17 checkmark $4,625pp Request Quote Book Now
17 Aug 17 3 Sep 17 checkmark $4,625pp Request Quote Book Now
24 Aug 17 10 Sep 17 checkmark $4,775$4,060pp Last Minute DealPromo Code: PPHOT2451 Call 1-877-622-9109 Book Now
31 Aug 17 17 Sep 17 checkmark $4,795pp Request Quote Book Now
7 Sep 17 24 Sep 17 checkmark $4,795pp Request Quote
14 Sep 17 1 Oct 17 checkmark $4,795pp Request Quote Book Now
21 Sep 17 8 Oct 17 checkmark $4,775pp Request Quote
28 Sep 17 15 Oct 17 checkmark $4,595pp Request Quote
5 Oct 17 22 Oct 17 checkmark $4,595pp Request Quote

These departures will stay at alternative accommodation of similar standard in Rome.

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 $1,070 p.p.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $150 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.

  • 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 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.

Reviews

Sunday, May 14, 2017
Service:
Vacation:
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.
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.
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
Friday, October 28, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : First time user and very likely not the last. Maybe spoiled by having Brad McEwen. The only criticism is the flight arrangements thru you could have been better scheduled. We had to wait in airport nearly 3 hours to get transferred on arrival and longer on the departure.
Vacation : Very comprehensive and like the idea that the tour director make own arrangements for optional dinners, since they were much better than the included dinners at the hotels.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : This was our first organized international tour--the trip did not disappoint.
Vacation : Every day was a new wonder of scenery and experiences.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : very organized and well planed
Vacation : Best Vac ever Loved it
Friday, September 23, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : Truely enjoyable and informative
Vacation : A great trip but would of enjoyed more if we had felt better. Trip was rated as comfortable and it really should be listed as strenous due to the amount of stairs and walking especially uphill.
Friday, June 10, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : Well-planned tour...comfortable coach...nearly all hotel accommodations were of high quality.
Vacation : Incredible tour director - Francis Touschek! Amazing depth and breadth of knowledge as well as a humorous and articulate delivery.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : Wonderful variety of tours and vacations. Easy to book, talk with an actual person to make all arrangements including airfare and transfers. Tour guide from Insight Vacations (subcontracted company) is outstanding - very knowledgeable, educational, efficient and professional, not to mention polite, friendly and a wonderful sense of humor. This is the first time we have ever utilized a tour company and I would definitely utilize them again in the future.
Vacation : We had a great time. Traveled throughout Italy and Sicily with a knowledgeable guide who made the entire trip virtually stress free. All arrangements taken care of, “fast pass” entrance, times for tours in busy sites were scheduled early to avoid the crowds. We loved each city and village - all the foods and treats, and learned so much while having an amazing time. Once in a lifetime trip was PERFECT!!!!
Response from Grand European Travel:
We couldn't be happier to read your review. We take pride in putting all the details together for a seamless vacation. We are so pleased to see that you had a great trip to Italy and Sicily and hope to see you again very soon.

Grand European Travel
Friday, June 3, 2016

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