ITALY IN 2 WEEKS – THE GRAND TOURS
Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Amalfi Coast

The best of Italy in 2 weeks! From Milan, the Italian fashion capital, to magic Venice, then Florence, the cradle of Renaissance, and Rome, the Eternal City! And finally the charming Amalfi Coast, to relax and enjoy stunning views! But also some hidden gems off the beaten track! Sipping the best wine and tasting the best dishes of Italian culinary tradition!!
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SUMMARY

  • Duration: 14 full days + 14 nights
  • Type of tour: Point to Point
  • Tour starts in Milan
  • Tour Ends in Rome

WHAT'S INCLUDED:

Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:

  • Day 1: 3* to 5* Hotel in Milan city centre
  • Days 2 & 3: 3* to 5* Hotel in Venice city centre
  • Days 4 & 5: 3* to 5* Hotel in Florence city centre
  • Days 6 & 7: 3* to 5* Country House in Chianti area
  • Days 8, 9 & 14: 3* to 5* Hotel in Rome city centre
  • Days 10 to 12: 3* to 5* Hotel on the Amalfi Coast

Transfers:

  • Day 2: Transfer by private car OR minivan to Verona + Transfer by private car OR minivan to Venice Pier + Transfer by private water cab to your Accommodation in Venice city centre
  • Day 4: Transfer by private water cab to Venice Pier + Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Florence city centre – Stopover in Modena OR Maranello OR Barberino del Mugello Designer Outlet
  • Day 6: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Chianti
  • Day 8: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Rome city centre – Stopover in Orvieto OR Civita di Bagnoregio
  • Day 10: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation on the Amalfi Coast
  • Day 13: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Castelli Romani area – stopovers at Pompei and Montecassino

Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:

  • Day 1: 3-hour private walking tour of Milan city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 3: 3-hour private walking tour of Venice city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 5: 3-hour private walking tour of Florence city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 6: Half-day round trip by private car OR minivan to Pisa and Fiesole with an Authorised Tour Leader – Visit of a Chianti wine cellar with tasting - Cooking class with dinner at the wine estate
  • Day 7: Full-day round trip by private car OR minivan to Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni with an Authorised Tour Leader
  • Day 9: Half day private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Classical and Baroque Rome, including admission to Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area
  • Day 10: Half day private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Vatican City, including admission to Vatican Museums
  • Day 11: Full day round trip by private car OR minivan of the Amalfi Coast - Stopovers in Amalfi, Positano and Ravello
  • Day 13: 2-hour private walking tour of Pompei Archeological Area with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 14: Full day private tour of Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este in Tivoli with an Authorised Tourist Guide

Admission Tickets to:

  • Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area in Rome
  • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome
  • Pompei Archeological Area

Meals at selected home-style local restaurants (wine not included):

  • 1 3-course dinner in Florence
  • 1 3-course dinner in Rome
  • 1 lunch in Cetara

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

1 complimentary mobile phone with a pre-charged Italian SIM card

All taxes (tips not mandatory)

Day 1 - MILAN

Welcome to Italy!

Milan is first of all the Fashion Capital of Italy! The showrooms of all Italian manufacturers are located in the city and here buyers from worldwide distribution find the one and only “Italian Style”! But Milan is not only fashion, it is also and above all art, beauty and culture! Piazza del Duomo is the geographical and historical centre of the city. It is surrounded by palaces with arcades; in the middle, you can see the Duomo, one of Europe’s biggest Gothic cathedrals, whose construction started in the 14th and ended in the 20th century. And on the Gran Guglia, the cathedral’s highest spire, the Madonnina, a symbol of Milan, stands. To the left of the cathedral lies the 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a covered passageway in a Latin cross shape linking the grand Piazza del Duomo with Piazza della Scala, featuring mosaics and a wrought iron and glass roof.

You may also visit “Castello Sforzesco”, the Sforza Castle, a summary in stone of the political, military and artistic history of Milan. Then stroll down the streets of the Quadrilatero D’oro, the heart of the fashion industry, admiring the shop windows of Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. And in late afternoon taste a gorgeous Cappuccino at Pasticceria Cova, as locals often do in via Montenapoleone, “Montenapo” for the Milanese!

At dinner, what about a tasty yellow “Risotto alla Milanese”? According to an ancient tradition, the Duomo is where Risotto alla Milanese was “born”, invented by a boy who worked for the stained glass artist Valerio di Fiandra, nicknamed “Zafferano” for its habit of adding spices to his colours. One day he put some saffron in the rice as well and the result was a great success!

Milan

Piazza del Duomo in Milan

Day 2 – VERONA

In a stretch of land designed in accord with the bends and twists of the River Adige, we find Verona, a visually-stunning city of excellence.

It is really a city of many faces whose history can also summarize Italy's own history – think of the works left by the Romans, the Medieval streets and the “palazzi” of the Renaissance.

The city’s commercial hub is Piazza delle Erbe, where the original Roman Forum was located. This piazza represents the synthesis of several different historic moments; such is affirmed by the 13th century buildings – among which Casa dei Mercanti (House of Merchants) stands out - the painted facades of the Mazzanti Houses, and the Madonna Verona Fountain, with its central statue from the Roman Epoch. Also dating back to Roman times is the monument that is most symbolic of Verona, its Arena (1st century B.C.). Originally constructed to host gladiator combats, it saw a long period of abandonment before it returned to the limelight with a new form of entertainment, in 1913: after having hosted the premiere of Aida in that year, it has been known around the world for the sounds of opera that emanate from its stage, in addition to hosting concerts and theatre performances.

Then, Romanesque Verona lies in its imposing Duomo, as well as in the Cathedral of St. Zeno, and in Castelvecchio, which looks out from the banks of the Adige; it symbolizes the Medieval power of the Scaliger Family, to whom the realization of the crenellated Scaliger Bridge is attributed.

The palazzi of Verona narrate its long history of wealth and power. In Piazza dei Signori - which sits under the dominating Lamberti Towers - the portico of the Loggia del Consiglio catches the eye; it is here where 16th century political life took place, while the Palazzo di Cansignorio and Palazzo del Comune (or “della Ragione”) were the seats of military, judicial and administrative power. Nearby lie the Scaliger Arches, in the same-named piazza, and some of the most suggestive views of the city, including glimpses of the monumental tombs of the Lords of Verona. 

The entire city of Verona is truly spectacular, and the same goes for the churches. Some of the most important are the Gothic Church of St. Anastasia, the Church of San Fermo Maggiore (formed by two buildings stacked one on top of the other), and the Renaissance Church of San Giorgio in Braida. 

Finally, the Verona of Shakespeare and the “star-crossed lovers” is legend all over the world and lives indefinitely through the places made famous in the play, Romeo and Juliet. Yet the original literary work was created by Luigi da Porto, a writer from Vicenza, in the 1500s; it eventually circulated around Europe, reaching England. It was the Bard who rendered it the immortal story that it is today, allowing Verona to rest as one of the most admired and visited places in the world.

And finally, remember: Verona is a very elegant city, famous for its classy shops!

Verona

Verona, the Arena

Day 3 – VENICE

You will be astonished by the beauty and charm of the “City on the lagoon”!

You may start your visit with Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and the interior of the Basilica, a 900 years old marvel of architecture! The church is unique in Italy for its golden Byzantine and Medieval mosaics, its intricate stone and marble traceries and exuberant Middle Eastern domes. Near St. Mark’s Basilica is Palazzo Ducale, the most impressive secular building in Venice and once the official residence of the supreme authority of Venice, the “Doge”. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge’s Palace is an impressive structure composed of layers of building elements and ornamentation, from its 14th and 15th-century original foundations to the significant Renaissance and opulent Mannerist adjunctions.

At lunch, you may relax by tasting wine and savouring delicious ”cicheti”, the Venetian version of finger food. There is tremendous variety, and options include anything from simple cheese or salami to almost any kind of seafood, fried and grilled vegetables, sweet and sour sardines, creamy codfish and much, much more!

Then you may visit Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (Saint Mary’s of Friars), striking for its huge size and for the quality of its works of art, including masterpieces by Titian, Giovanni Bellini and Donatello, and several grandiose tombs. Also, explore the streets and savour everyday life in an intricate maze of ancient narrow alleyways, lively squares with magnificent buildings and meandering canals, and finally walk on the Rialto Bridge, the busy "heart" of Venice. And last but not least, enjoy a Gondola ride on the city’s canals: a jump back in time, when Venetians moved only on the water.

Knowing what should be bought in Venice is not easy, as it is one of the most beautiful Italian cities. Rich in traditions, Venice presents a wide selection of souvenirs to take home as a souvenir of your trip. What you cannot miss among your purchases are the typical Venetian masks. The cost of the original ones is quite high, but it is really worth it! Another thing that should be bought in Venice is craftsmanship, appreciated worldwide. In the city of Italian carnival, it is a must to buy a Murano glass object. Each product is worked and painted by hand, but be sure you buy an original product from Murano, guaranteed by a label or a signature (and also by the seller), and not a Chinese copy!

If you do not have enough of the shopping, you can take a leap to the markets. A must-see is Mercato di Rialto, the Rialto fish Market in Venice! The market is buzzing with life. Scour the stalls of the Pescaria for glistening mountains of moscardini (baby octopus), moeche (soft-shell crabs), and inky seppie (squid) and take as many pictures as you want! Those who love sweets can go to a bakery and buy the famous Carnival “fritole”, “baicoli” or “spuncioti de caramel”.

Venice

Venice: Masks at Punta della Dogana

You may also visit a traditional glass atelier in Murano, where glass-making families have been carrying on the art of glass blowing for over 700 years. You’ll be amazed by the simplicity of the tools used and by the artist’s intense concentration in the heat and smoke of the burning furnace.

Finally, enjoy your dinner in a typical Venetian trattoria and taste local dishes such as “Sarde in saor” (marinated sardines), Risotto with seafood, or the typical “Baccala' mantecato”, to finish with a fantastic bussola, the ring-shaped and cinnamon-flavoured cake! (see our BLOG at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/10-in-veneto,-eat-like-a-venetian.html)

Day 4 – MARANELLO / BARBERINO DESIGNER OUTLET

On the way to Florence, you should not miss Modena. Here you will stop at the estate of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena producer, to delight in the unique, enticing taste of traditional balsamic vinegar! A very interesting and tasty experience!

Modena is called “the capital of engines”: actually, the factories of the famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini and Maserati are located here. In Maranello you may visit Museo Ferrari, not just a collection of the past, but an extraordinary experience of the world of Ferrari and sports car racing! How exciting to see live the most beautiful cars of the world.

Maranello

Maranello, Museo Ferrari

Alternatively, you may decide to shop a few kilometers north of Florence at one of the largest shopping malls in the country, Barberino Designer Outlet, to “shop your heart out” with the best designer brands (see https://outlets.mcarthurglen.com/en/it/designer-outlet-barberino)!

In the evening you will arrive in Florence, the land of Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Giotto!

Day 5 – FLORENCE

Despite its international fame and greatness, Florence is also a small city, whose history is interwoven with that of its passionate citizens for more than one thousand years

In Piazza Duomo you will be astonished by the Duomo, with the incredible Brunelleschi’s cupola, a masterpiece of art and architecture whose building techniques building are still covered with a veil of mystery. Beside it, Giotto’s Campanile (Belltower) and the Baptistery, one of the oldest buildings in the city, with its famous bronze doors made by Pisano and Ghiberti in the 14th and 15th centuries. In Piazza della Signoria you will walk in the middle of bronze and marble masterpieces by Giambologna and Cellini inside the marvellous Loggia dei Lanzi, and will admire the imposing Palazzo Vecchio, one of the symbols of Florence and still the seat of government of the city. You may also spare some time to relax, visiting a typical market for shopping, strolling through the pedestrian streets of the city and crossing the oldest bridge in Florence, “Ponte Vecchio” (Old Bridge), rich of jewellery shops.

At lunch, enjoy “Panino con Lampredotto” in a typical Florentine market! And remember, Florence is famous for its beef steak, the “Fiorentina”, so for dinner move to Oltrarno where Florentines like to dine away from the crowds. In case you are a vegetarian, don’t worry: Tuscan cuisine offers tasty alternatives like “Pappa al Pomodoro” or “Ribollita”.

Your itinerary includes the visit to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums in the world for its extraordinary collections of paintings. Here you will admire works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and a lot more. Also, you should not miss Galleria dell’Accademia, hosting Michelangelo's David, the most famous sculpture in the world!

Florence is also the main Italian centre for the production of high-quality leather goods. The Florentine artisans are so famous that many fashion brands have opened their factories in the city or close to it, due to the high skill of the artisans involved and to the continuous inspiration that designers take from the town’s masterpieces. The area around Piazza Santa Croce is full of leather shops and workshops.

Thanks to the tradition of Tuscan tanneries, there is no better place to find shoes for all tastes than Florence: from the creations, designed and produced by hand by skilled craftsmen, to the large collections available in stores, renewed every season. Above all, for refinement and elegance, Ferragamo (also worth seeing the museum), Gucci and Prada. If you prefer a simpler style, across the river Arno there are many shops specialized in handmade shoes and sandals.

At dinner you will taste the typical Tuscan cuisine at a home-style local restaurant in Florence, enjoying simple yet unforgettable recipes of the Tuscan tradition (see our BLOG at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/8-in-tuscany,-eat-like-a-tuscan.html).

Florence

Florence: Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleschi’s Dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower

Day 6 - PISA

Today you will discover Pisa, the beautiful Tuscan town famous all over the world for its “Torre Pendente” (Leaning Tower) .

Piazza dei Miracoli, set over an ample green field, hosts four whiter-than-white masterpieces of grandiose Medieval art: the renowned Leaning Tower (also the Bell Tower), the Camposanto (or graveyard), the  Baptristy and the Cathedral itself. These last two are so unique that their creation gave origin to a new style, "Pisan Romanesque". 

This area was chosen to construct the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta exactly for its centrality; founded in 1064, it was intended to celebrate the grandeur of Pisa during the Marine Republic’s epoch of power. "The temple of marble white as the snow" is how the structure is described on the gravestone of its architect, Buscheto di Giovanni Giudice. Consisting of five naves with its transept divided into three naves, it is surmounted by a splendid dome encircled by a loggia. The Duomo’s façade and exterior lateral sections feature elaborate decoration in marble (which can also be seen on its interior), mosaics, and bronze.  

In front of the Cathedral stands the Baptistry, also in a particular version of the Romanesque style. Initiated in 1152 by Diotisalvi, the Baptistry was finally completed in the 14th century; at that point, Gothic elements were also added. Of cylindrical form and circled by arcades of columns, this structure in white marble even boasts amazing acoustics. 

The Camposanto closes the northern end of the piazza in which the complex lies. This monumental cemetery, begun in 1278, is bordered by a fence of marble and houses a cloister at its centre. The majority of the frescoes that once coloured its walls were, unfortunately, destroyed in a fire in 1944 during the battle for Pisa.

Ultimately, the real symbol of Pisa is the Campanile, that is the Leaning Tower, that completes the image of this city. Because of land sinkage beneath it, the Tower stands at a significant incline – this sinkage impeded its very construction to a great extent. It was started in 1173, taken up again in 1275, and not completed until the second half of the 1300s. In cylindrical form, its lower part is done in blind arcades that then mutate into six floors of loggias, repeating motifs from the Duomo. Inside, a spiral staircase of 294 steps leads to the heights of one of the most famous towers in the world, where the lovely belfry and a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape await.

Pisa

Pisa, Campo dei Miracoli

Day 7 – SIENA, SAN GIMIGNANO AND CHIANTI

Today you will move to Siena, the city of the Palio, where you will walk on the famous Piazza del Campo, the concave square where horses run twice a year in a dangerous race that symbolizes the city’s freedom (see article at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/4-my-private-italy-dreaming-twice-a-year-in-siena.html in our BLOG).

But, maybe, the thing that you are going to remember better is the colour of frontages and roofs, the renowned colour “Sienna”, a pigment first produced during the Renaissance, that makes the city lovely and warm. And don’t forget to taste the Senese sweets: “cantucci” (biscuits with toasted almonds), “ricciarelli” (soft biscuits with icing sugar), “panforte” (cake with fruit nuts and spices) and “cavallucci” (biscuits with honey, walnut, candied fruits and spices. Travellers who love dessert will be delighted!

Siena

Siena, Piazza del Campo on the day of the Palio

In the afternoon, you will stroll with your head upwards along the streets of one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany, San Gimignano, also known as the "Medieval Manhattan", thanks to its very old and impressive 14 towers that dominate the town skyline. Originally the towers were 72, built by patrician families probably to demonstrate their wealth and power. Seven of San Gimignano's towers are around Piazza del Duomo, the tallest one is Torre Grossa, 54 meters high, dating back to 1298.

San Gimignano

San Gimignano, the Towers

Half way between Siena and Florence you will find Monteriggioni, the famous Senese fortress which guarded the boundary between the Senese Republic and the Florentine “Signoria”. A step back in the medieval times that will impress you. All around are Chianti vineyards and pasturelands, it’s amazing! The village can only evoke the Middle Ages with its 13th-century walls and 14 quadrilateral towers. Towers that Dante compared to the Giants of hell, in the time when this fortified site was an outpost of the Senese against the Florentines, passing several times from one to the other.

Monteriggioni

The fortified village of Monteriggioni

Day 8 – ORVIETO AND ROME

On your way back to Rome, today you will stop in Orvieto in Umbria, one of the most interesting hill towns in Italy, perched up on volcanic rock, its history dating back to the Etruscans.

Although just an hour from Rome, the architecture is different, with many of the buildings constructed out of tufo, a type of volcanic rock. Orvieto’s main attraction is its 14th-century Cathedral – a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with a glistening façade of stained glass, mosaics and sculptures. Another attraction is St. Patrick’s Well, a 62-meter-deep (203 feet) feat of engineering characterized by two spiral staircases that wind around the well (yet never meet), with 248 steps down to the water. A pleasant guided tour along a very easy route makes it possible to get to know Orvieto’s underground world, created by its ancient inhabitants over about 2,500 years of uninterrupted digging. A tour on a discovery of a millenary, surprising and unexpected “Underground City”, which you will surely enjoy!

At lunch don’t’ miss “salumi di cinghiale o cervo” (boar or deer sausage) and pecorino cheese and taste the region's prized white truffle oil, together with the delicious white wine of the area, Orvieto Classico!

Orvieto

Orvieto, a town “on the rocks”

Civita di Bagnoregio, the spectacular “borgo” slowly sliding towards the valley, is also known as the “Dying City”. The town is noted for its striking position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley. It is in constant danger of destruction as the edges of the plateau collapse due to erosion, leaving the buildings to crumble as their underlying support falls away.

Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio, the “Dying City”

Day 9 – ROME

Here you are in Rome, a place where ancient history, excellent art and religious icons mix in a unique blend!

Start from the 2,000-year-old Colosseum, the most famous amphitheatre in the world, and the Imperial Forums, the administrative and monumental centre of the Roman Empire. On the Palatine Hill, the grandiose ruins of the Palaces of Augusto, Tiberius and Domiziano still dominate the Circus Maximus valley, 50-meter-high structures giving a unique view of the city.

Walking from the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia, on your right you may reach the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, hosting the famous Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses.

From Piazza Venezia, you will head inside “Baroque” Rome, starting with the Pantheon, dedicated to the worship of every god (Pan-every Theon-divinity), now the memorial chapel of great Italian people of the past. After that, don’t miss the Church of St. Louis of the French, famous for the cycle of paintings of the great Caravaggio at the end of the 16th century. Then Piazza Navona, a splendid oval area corresponding to the underground Domitianus’ Stadium, with the gorgeous Fountain of the Four Rivers by Lorenzo Bernini in the centre of the Piazza. And finally Fontana di Trevi, the biggest and most famous fountain of the city, a Rome icon known all over the world: here statues of travertine marble stand over the cliff and the wide basin, in an epic representation of the Kingdom of the Oceans.

Your Roman experience will be complete with a Cappuccino and Caffè Espresso class, where you learn how to compare different coffee styles and have the chance to make your own professional cappuccino, or a Pizza Class, to discover the secret recipes for a real Italian Pizza.

At the end of the day, you will enjoy a typical Roman dinner at a local home-style restaurant, where you will taste the true Roman cuisine in a popular and cheerful atmosphere (see our BLOG at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/7-when-you-are-in-rome,-eat-like-a-roman.html).

Colosseum

The Colosseum

Day 10 – VATICAN CITY

On the other side of River Tevere, head for the Vatican hill, home of the tiny state of Vatican city. Here stands the immense St. Peter’s Basilica, dominating the extraordinary Piazza framed by the magnificent four column-deep colonnades designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Basilica itself is an extraordinary casket for some of the most beautiful works of art in the world, such as Michelangelo’s “La Pietà” and Bernini’s “Baldacchino”, along with works of the most important artists of the Renaissance, from Raphael to Canova.

Inside the Vatican Museums, you will be astonished by the exquisite and unique Sistine Chapel, the sancta sanctorum of Roman Catholic Church, where cardinals gather to elect the new Pope! The Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471 to 1484) who had the old Cappella Magna restored between 1477 and 1480. The decoration of the walls was executed by a team of painters, Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, assisted by their respective shops. Julius II della Rovere (pontiff from 1503 to 1513), the nephew of Sixtus IV, decided to partly alter the decoration, entrusting the work in 1508 to Michelangelo Buonarroti, who painted the Ceiling and, on the upper part of the walls, the lunettes. The nine central panels show the Stories of Genesis, from the Creation to the Fall of man, to the Flood and the subsequent rebirth of mankind with the family of Noah. Again, towards the end of 1533 Clement VII de' Medici (pontiff from 1523 to 1534) gave Michelangelo the task of painting the Last Judgement on the altar wall.

Vatican

Città del Vaticano: Basilica di S. Pietro

Day 11 – AMALFI COAST

Welcome to the Amalfi Coast.

Today you will explore Costiera Amalfitana, widely considered Italy's most scenic stretch of coastline, a landscape of pastel-coloured villages terraced into hillsides, steep panoramic roads, luxuriant gardens and enchanting vistas over turquoise waters and green mountains. Considered by UNESCO "an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values," the coast is a World Heritage Site since 1997. You may go from town to town at the discovery of Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello, three of the most beautiful villages in Southern Italy, world-famous for their charm and colourful architecture.

Amalfi has a typically Mediterranean architecture, made up of lanes and characteristic white houses piled one upon the other. In the Middle Ages, it was of Italy's four powerful maritime republics (with Venice, Pisa, and Genoa). All sea trade in the Mediterranean was once governed by the 12th century “Tavole Amalfitane”, one of the world's oldest maritime codes. A must-see in Amalfi is the Duomo di Sant'Andrea, fronted by an intricately patterned façade, redone in the 19th century. Founded in the 9th century, the cathedral's subsequent alterations have spared its principal glory, the main portal's 11th century Byzantine bronze doors. Next to the church lies the Chiostro del Paradiso (1268), or Cloister of Paradise, whose serious Romanesque tone is enlivened by the Arab elements in its sinuous columns. To escape the bustle of Amalfi let’s take the popular walk along the “Valle dei Mulini”, a steep-sided valley dotted with ruined watermills – “i mulini” - once used to make paper, an industry for which Amalfi was, and still is, famous.

Positano sits in a splendid panoramic position on one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline. Its enchanting town centre of delightful pastel-coloured houses surrounds the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta; its streets are lined with quaint, colourful shops and its numerous beaches are world famous.

Ravello is situated in a more elevated position than the other pearls of the Amalfi Coast, boasting exceptional views of the coast and its marvellous villas and gardens which, according to French novelist André Gide, are “closer to the sky than the sea”. Here you may visit Villa Rufolo, built in the 13th century, which hosted popes and kings, as well as Richard Wagner, who composed part of his opera Parsifal here in 1880. Views from its idyllic gardens are magnificent!

A trip to Cetara is an absolute must. The village is renowned for a particular gourmet speciality, “colatura di acciughe” (anchovy sauce), which has been produced according to an ancient procedure for generations. Spaghetti with colatura di alici is the typical recipe of the place, a dish which you will remember forever.

At dinner, don’t miss Spaghetti with clams in olive oil and garlic sauce, or Seafood Risotto, with a glass of excellent Greco di Tufo white wine.

Pompei

Amalfi

Day 12 – CAPRI

An island that offers a landscape of wild beauty sculpted by wind, sea and the hand of man, this is Capri.  With a precipitous, jagged coast, and encircled by the famous “Faraglioni” (sea stacks), enormous and uniquely-shaped boulders, and by numerous caves that tell of evocative plays of light. The most famous of these caves is the “Grotta Azzurra” (Blue Grotto), closely connected to the history of tourism in Capri. 

Capri

The “Faraglioni” in Capri

Its discovery by the ancient Romans is hinted at by countless archaeological finds - e.g.  Villa Jovis, whose construction was commissioned by Emperor Tiberius.

The island continues to be both a legend and a favourite destination for travellers, intellectuals and the international jet-set - "performing" at any given time in the legendary “Piazzetta”, the real-time theatre of the island's 'Dolce Vita'. Beyond the cultural attractions and sea and nature in all their charm, Capri also offers good shopping: tasteful boutiques and artisans' studios selling “Made in Italy” items and typical products alternate along the characteristic sidestreets and alleyways. Moreover, the exuberantly-flavoured local food is tied to the island's maritime and peasant traditions. 

Day 13 - POMPEI AND MONTECASSINO

Today you will visit Pompeii, the Roman city excavated from the ashes of the Vesuvius, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997!

In 62 A.D. Pompei was partially destroyed by an earthquake, and as its reconstruction was still ongoing, on August 24, 79 A.D. the eruption of Vesuvius covered the city and its suburban villas with a thick layer of stones, ashes and lapilli (thick, glassy lava). Herculaneum, on the other hand, disappeared beneath a flood of volcanic mud. 

The ruins of the ancient Roman cities offer an unparalleled window into the quotidian life of classical antiquity.  Here you can understand how the Romans of the 1st century AD lived: from the brothels and lavatories to the posh dining rooms and the bathing establishments which included modern spas, health clubs and gym. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the town in 79 AD and more than 3,000 people were covered by the debris from the volcano.

Pompei

Pompei: Casa del Fauno

Due to its healthy climate and pleasant scenery, Pompeii was a holiday resort for rich Romans. It is now famous for its civic buildings lining the streets that are still intact today. Some of these include the Surgeon’s House, as well as those of the Faun and the Chaste Lovers, which are exceptional examples of the epoch’s architecture. Another remarkable construction is the House of Mysteries, which derives its name from the murals depicting the initiation rites (i.e., the mysteries) of the Dionysian cult. A peculiar characteristic of Pompeii is the florid graffiti covering the walls in just about every building; this is because when the volcanic eruption happened, Pompeii was set to carry out elections in the days ahead – hence the writings and ideograms, which feature both political and sexual content. 

On your way to Rome, you will pass by Montecassino, where you will admire the Benedectine Abbey which was built 4 times after destruction over the centuries, the last in 1944 during a fierce battle..

Day 14 - TIVOLI

On your last day, you will discover one of Italy’s hidden gems! Here is Tivoli, a small town in Lazio, about 30 Km east of Rome. The first major sight is Hadrian’s Villa: Emperor Hadrian built it to escape the crowd and turmoil of the capital. Much of the enormous, luxurious ancient villa remains intact today, and you will be surprised by the clever application of Renaissance plumbing in the fountains and waterworks, perfectly integrated with the landscape. There are about 500 fountains here!

Tivoli

Villa d’Este in Tivoli

The other masterpiece in the area is Villa d’Este, the great Villa commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito of the Este family around 1560. Among the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance that most inspired landscape architects and painters, it is an ideal reinterpretation - in a sumptuous way - of the hanging Eden of Babylon. The prestigious residence is surrounded by terraces, stairways and avenues set on each other, decorated with water games so audacious as to reveal considerable engineering skills. The monument was elected the most beautiful park in Europe, as well as UNESCO Heritage with the motivation: "one of the first gardens of wonders, which from the beginning had a decisive influence on the development of European landscape painting ».

Later in the afternoon you will check in at your accommodation in Rome.

The tour is over, but the memories of a fantastic journey will accompany you for a lifetime!

Arrivederci with another tour at the discovery of Italy with VITOR, Visit Italy on the Road.

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