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Italy’s most famous and best loved cities reveal a treasure-trove of riches on this concise, yet surprisingly diverse itinerary that is equally enjoyable touring in autumn, winter or spring.
Board your overnight flight to Europe (please ask about our great deals).
Welcome to Italy. After being greeted by your Tour Director at Milan’s Malpensa Airport, your transfer departs at 09:30 or 12:30. In the evening, you are invited to a warm Welcome Reception with the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.
Head east to elegant Verona for a leisurely walk past the well-preserved Roman Arena. Stand beneath the balcony in the courtyard of Juliet’s house, the supposed location of the famous balcony love scene. After some free time for browsing around the local market, it’s on to the glorious city of Venice.
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 centers 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.
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 baptistery. Then venture on to beautiful Florence - a treasure house of the Renaissance. On arrival, meet a Local Expert for a walking tour of the historic center. Visit the Accademia Museum to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece statue, "David." Admire the marble clad cathedral and baptistery, where Ghiberti’s "Gates of Paradise" have been recreated in all their glory. Next, stop in Signoria Square filled with Renaissance sculptures.
In the morning, learn all the secrets of traditional Florentine leather-work. The rest of the day is free for you to fully immerse yourself in the Tuscan capital. Perhaps shop for leather goods at the markets around Santa Croce or relax and soak up the atmosphere in one of the many street cafes? Be sure not to miss the magnificent museums and galleries that house some of the most famous works of art in the world. In the evening, there is an opportunity to sample the true flavors of the region with a sumptuous Tuscan dinner and local wine.
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 against Hannibal and his war elephants. 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.
Your Intermezzo reaches its crescendo during a visit to the Vatican. While others wait in line, you will be 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 Pieta and the splendid 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 afternoon orientation tour 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 in Piazza Navona. In the evening, immerse yourself in the quintessential Italian experience. Over a sumptuous dinner of Roman cuisine, fill your glass with wine, and enjoy an evening of spine-tingling operetta.
Bid farewell to the glories of Italy. Departure transfers arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm.
7 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 1 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.
|Depart Date||Return Date||Price||Discount||Availability||Price|
|4 Nov 17||12 Nov 17||$2,025pp||Request Quote Book Now|
|18 Nov 17||26 Nov 17||$2,025$1,873pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|20 Dec 17||28 Dec 17||$2,150$1,989pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|27 Dec 17||4 Jan 18||$2,450$2,266pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|27 Dec 17||4 Jan 18||$2,450$2,266pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Call 1-877-622-9109|
|6 Jan 18||14 Jan 18||$2,025$1,873pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|25 Jan 18||2 Feb 18||$2,025$1,873pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|17 Mar 18||25 Mar 18||$2,075$1,919pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|24 Mar 18||1 Apr 18||$2,075$1,919pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
|30 Mar 18||7 Apr 18||$2,175$2,012pp||Early PaymentPay by Aug 31||Request Quote Book Now|
Accademia visit will not be available on December 20th or December 27th departures.
Christmas Markets: November 18th explores Verona & December 20th explores Florence.
December 27th will stay at alternative accommodation of similar standard in Venice.
March 17th and March 24th will stay at alternative accommodation of similar standard in Milan.
March 30th will stay at alternative accommodation of similar standard in Venice, Florence and Rome.
December 20th: Includes Christmas Highlight Dinner in Florence.
December 27th: Includes New Year’s Eve Highlight Dinner in Florence.
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 $360 p.p.
Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $70 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.
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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