LEONARDO GRAND TOUR WEST - Rome, Siena, Florence, 5 Terre and Milan in 13 days - PRIVATE TOUR

From Rome to Milan through Florence, visiting charming villages in Tuscany and Umbria, exploring Cinque Terre, enjoying Italian wine and Parmigiano! This tour will satisfy even the most discerning guests!

SUMMARY

  • Duration: 13 days + 13 nights
  • Type of tour: point to point
  • Tour starts in Rome
  • Tour ends in Milan

 

WHAT'S INCLUDED:

Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:

  • Days 1 & 2: 3* to 5* Hotel in Rome city centre
  • Days 3 to 5: 3* to 5* Country House in Val d’Orcia area
  • Days 6 & 7: 3* to 5* Hotel in Florence city centre
  • Days 8 & 9: 3* to 5* Hotel in Cinque Terre
  • Day 10: 3* to 5* Country House in Parma area
  • Days 11 & 12: 3* to 5* Hotel on Lake Como
  • Day 13: 3* to 5* Hotel in Milan city centre

Transfers:

  • Day 2: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Orvieto area
  • Day 3: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Val d’Orcia area – Stopover in Civita di Bagnoregio
  • Day 6: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Florence city centre – Stopover in Monteriggioni and San Gimignano
  • Day 8: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Cinque Terre - Stopover in Pisa
  • Day 10: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Parma area
  • Day 11: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation on Lake Como
  • Day 13: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Milan city centre

Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:

  • Day 1: Full day private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Classical and Baroque Rome, including Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area
  • Day 2: Half day private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Vatican City, including Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
  • Day 4: Full day tour by private car OR minivan to Montalcino, Pienza, Bagno Vignoni with an Authorised Tour Leader
  • Day 5: Half day tour by private car OR minivan to Siena
  • Day 6: Visit of a wine cellar in Chianti with tasting
  • Day 7: 3-hour private walking tour of Florence city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 10: Full day tour by private car OR minivan of Parma area with an Authorised Tourist Guide, including visits of a Parma Ham factory and a Balsamic Vinegar Producer
  • Day 11: Visit to a Parmesan Cheese factory - Cooking Class at a Villa near Parma
  • Day 12: Full day tour by private car OR minivan of Lake Como area with an Authorised Tour Leader, including visit to Villa Balbianello OR Villa Carlotta

Admission Tickets to:

  • Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area in Rome
  • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome
  • Villa Balbianello OR Villa Carlotta on Lake Como

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

  • 1 3-course dinner in Rome
  • 1 3-course dinner in Val d’Orcia
  • 1 3-course dinner in Florence
  • 1 lunch in Parma area

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

1 complimentary mobile phone with a pre-charged Italian SIM card (10 €)

All taxes (tips not mandatory)

Day 1 - ROME

Welcome to Italy, we are pleased to lead you to the discovery of our wonderful country!

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 may include a Cappuccino and Espresso class, where you learn how to compare different coffee styles and you will have the chance to make your own professional cappuccino.

Tonight 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 2 - 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 of the Catholic Church 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 3 - ORVIETO AND CIVITA

Today you will discover Orvieto in Umbria, one of the most interesting hill towns in Italy, perched upon a 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”

On the way to Val d’Orcia, you will not miss 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 4 - VAL D'ORCIA

Val d’Orcia, one of the most fascinating places in Italy, included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites. The landscape of Val d’Orcia is part of the agricultural hinterland of Siena, redrawn and developed when it was integrated into the territory of the city-state in the 14th and 15th centuries to reflect an idealized model of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing picture. The landscape’s distinctive aesthetics, flat chalk plains out of which rise almost conical hills with fortified settlements on top, inspired many artists. Their images have come to exemplify the beauty of well-managed Renaissance agricultural landscapes. 

Your first stop will be Pienza, “Pio’s town”: here the Pope Pius II decided to build the perfect palazzo for his papal court according to the project of an “Ideal City" drawn up by artists such as Piero della Francesca. From the loggia of the Palace you will enjoy a breath-taking panorama of the landscape all around! And for lunch don’t forget to try the typical Pecorino cheese of Pienza, a real delight to the palate!

Then, you will get to Montalcino, one of the prettiest hill towns in Tuscany. Around the village, rows of olive-trees and precious grape vines and the yellow fields create an enchanting landscape. And remember that the dry wine Brunello di Montalcino is probably the best Italian red!

You will finally stop in Bagno Vignoni, a tiny and charming village where the main square is a pool 49 meters long and 29 wide, from the bottom of which bubble up a number of hot springs whose therapeutic quality has been renowned since antiquity! All this creates such a pleasant sensation, it will be hard to leave!

Val d'Orcia

Bagno Vignoni in Val d’Orcia

Day 5 - SIENA

Today you will see 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 in our BLOG at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/4-my-private-italy-dreaming-twice-a-year-in-siena.html).

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

Day 6 -MONTERIGGIONI AND SAN GIMIGNANO

From Val d'Orcia you will move to 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

Later on, on your way to Chianti 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

Day 7 - FLORENCE

Welcome to Florence, the land of Giotto and Dante!

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”.

Our itinery include 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

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

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).

Day 8 - PISA

On the way to Cinque Terre, you will not miss 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. 

Pisa

Pisa, Campo dei Miracoli

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.

Day 9 - CINQUE TERRE

Welcome to Cinque Terre, the beautiful villages on the Ligurian Sea included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. You will be stunned by the sea views and the contrasts between the sea and the cliffside. From Monterosso, by train or on foot you may reach the other fishing villages: Corniglia, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The vineyards, typical of this area, contribute to creating a unique landscape with dry-laid stone walls, winding paths, enchanting beaches between cliffs and clear waters!

The area is divided into 5 seaside and agricultural villages enriched with colours, simplicity and charm. The first true stop in the Cinque Terre is Monterosso, a well-known tourist destination embellished with elegant villas and a large beach. The old town centre, whose narrow alleys clamber up the hill, is home to the Gothic parish church of San Giovanni Battista and the 17th-century church of San Francesco, which is connected to the convent of the Capuchins.

Next is Vernazza and its charming marina, which is surrounded by the medieval little town and its characteristic little piazza, two Genoese lookout towers and the enchanting Gothic two-storey church dedicated to Santa Margherita d’Antiochia.

5 Terre

The village of Manarola in 5 Terre

Just a short distance away is Corniglia, a village perched on the ridge of a promontory and connected to the beach by a stairway with 365 steps. This town - which is traditionally dedicated to vineyard cultivation - offers visitors a marvellous view.

The enormous black cliff overlooking the sea and home to Manarola - which is known for wine and oil production -  with its colourful houses seemingly coming out of the rock also makes a big impact. 

The last town in the Cinque Terre, and heart of the homonymous park, is Riomaggiore, a picturesque fishing village with tall, narrow, pastel-coloured houses and alternating light and darkness coming from the tight alleyways.

Do you like anchovies? They are a local speciality of Monterosso! Ever tried “Linguine al Pesto”, a sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese? And what about Ligurian wines? Sciachetrà will seduce you!!

Day 10 AND 11 - PARMA

Time to move to your next destination, a particularly savoury one: Parma.

Parma is known for its delicious food products. First, time for a visit to a Parma ham factory, where you will learn the secrets of the most delicious ham, Prosciutto di Parma. Then, you will move to the estate of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Producer, to delight in the unique, enticing taste of traditional balsamic vinegar.

On the following day, you will visit a Parmigiano Reggiano factory, where you will see cheese masters at work: a very special way to get into the production culture of the area and to discover how a true gastronomic gem is made! (see our BLOG at https://www.vitoritalytours.com/blog/item/5-my-private-italy-parmigiano-reggiano-please-don%E2%80%99t-call-me-parmesan.html).

Also, you may savour authentic Italian cuisine on a fun-filled cooking class led by a local “rezdora” (a female cook in Parmesan language). Immerse yourself into the tradition of fresh Italian pasta and study the secrets of preparing pasta dough from scratch, using just flour and eggs. You will make your own “Tortelli d'erbetta” (Parma most traditional pasta with a filling of ricotta cheese and chards) and delicious tagliatelle with tomato sauce – all local ingredients! Once your amazing meal is ready, you will enjoy what you prepared matched with a glass of local wine. 

Parma

Parma, Prosciutto di Parma

Day 12 - LAKE COMO

The magnificent scenery of Lake Como (also known as Lake Lario) has enchanted artists and travellers for centuries: from French novelist Flaubert to musicians of the calibre of Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Vincenzo Bellini; it was here that he composed his opera Norma. Today Lake Como continues to attract members of the international jet-set and celebrities that appreciate the evocative beauty of the Lake and its surroundings.

The Lake (one of Lombardy's several incomparable lakes) is of a characteristic upside-down Y-form. The town of Como is situated on its southwestern arm, Lecco on the southeastern arm, and Colico on that northern. From the Lake’s shores, one can enjoy multiple, fascinating views: suggestive borgoes, splendid villas and lush gardens await visitors in search of a little charm and relaxation, or a little culture and contact with nature. 

Breathtaking villas, one after the other, encircle the lake, a resort destination of the nobles of Lombardy since the 16th Century. Cernobbio is the site of the Villa d’Este (1600s), location in Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated film “The Pleasure Garden”; and the celebrated Villa Erba, one of the most important Italian lake villas from the 1800s - today it is an internationally-known convention and expository complex. In the nearby Comunes of Moltrasio and Lenno, Passalacqua and Villa Balbianello (used in films such as “Star Wars: Episode II” and “Casino Royale”) are important touristic attractions.

Lake Como

Villa Melzi in Bellagio

Along the coast is Tremezzo, famous for its Villa Carlotta, with terrace gardens and a museum boasting works by Canova, Thorvaldsen, and Hayez. It was built in the 17th century for a powerful Milanese family and in the second half of the 19th century Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it to her daughter Carlotta as a wedding present, hence the name. Her husband was a keen botanist and over the years turned it into the lush garden that we see here today.

Where the Lake’s three arms meet, you may visit Bellagio and Villa Melzi. The Villa, built in 1808, is much sought-after for its botanical park, with sculptures and garden renowned for its beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons.

Day 13 - MILAN

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.

Milan

Piazza del Duomo in Milan

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!

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

Arrivederci for another tour with VITOR, Visit Italy on the Road.