- Duration: 13 days + 13 nights
- Type of tour: point to point
- Tour starts in Rome
- Tour ends in Venice
Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:
- Day 1: 3* to 5* Hotel in Rome city centre
- Day 2: 3* to 5* Country House in Spoleto area
- Days 3 & 4: 3* to 5* Country House in Assisi area
- Days 5 & 6 : 3* to 5* Country House in Chianti area
- Day 7: 3* to 5* Hotel in Florence city centre
- Day 8: 3* to 5* Hotel in Bologna city centre
- Days 9 to 11: 3* to 5* Hotel on Lake Garda
- Days 12 & 13: 3* to 5* Hotel in Venice city centre
- Day 2: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Spoleto area – Stopover in Tivoli
- Day 3: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Assisi area – Stopover at Fonti del Clitunno
- Day 5: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Chianti area – Stopover in Perugia
- Day 7: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Florence city centre
- Day 8: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Bologna city centre - Stopover in Barberino del Mugello
- Day 9: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation on Lake Garda – Stopover in Mantua
- Day 12: Transfer by private car OR minivan to Venice Pier – Stopover in Strà - Transfer by private water cab to your accommodation in Venice city centre
Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:
- Day 1: 3-hour private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Classical and Baroque Rome, including Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area
- Day 2: 2.5-hour private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Vatican City, including Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- Day 3: Visit of an olive oil mill in Spoleto area with tasting
- Day 4: Half-day round trip by private car OR minivan to Spello and Deruta - Visit of a Ceramics laboratory in Deruta
- Day 6: Visit of a wine cellar in Chianti with tasting - Tuscan Cooking Class at your accommodation
- Day 7: 3-hour private walking tour of Florence city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
- Day 11: Visit of a Wine Cellar in Valpolicella area with tasting
- Day 13: 3-hour private walking tour of Venice city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
Admission Tickets to:
- Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area in Rome
- Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome
- Villa Pisani in Strà
Meals at selected home-style local restaurants (wine not included):
- 1 3-course dinner in Rome
- 1 3-course dinner in Assisi
- 1 3-course dinner in Florence
- 1 3-course dinner in Lake Garda 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).
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.
Città del Vaticano: Basilica di S. Pietro
Before lunch, you will move to Tivoli, where you will visit another architectural jewel of the former Papal State, Villa D’Este. The great Villa was 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 ».
Villa d’Este in Tivoli
Day 3 – SPOLETO
Today you will first explore the beautiful Spoleto, the medieval hill town in the Umbria region famous for its summer music festival, “Festival dei Due Mondi”. Thick walls and a magnificent gorge surround the city and fine medieval and Roman monuments sit along the streets. The Duomo is one of Spoleto's finest sights: begun in the 12th century, the cathedral is set against a backdrop of hills and valleys. High above the town stand the Rocca, a Papal fortress which was used as a prison until the 1980s. A massive bridge, Ponte delle Torri, built in the 14th century, functioned as both a bridge and aqueduct; we can walk on it for breath-taking views of the valley and gorge below.
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!
Then, on the way to Assisi, you may stop for some beautiful pictures at “Fonti del Clitunno” (Clitunno Springs), celebrated for their beauty by many poets in Roman times.
Fonti del Clitunno
Day 4 – ASSISI & DERUTA
Today you will visit Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, the nobleman who renounced all his possessions in order to devote his life to helping the needy.
The splendid Basilica, one of the emblems of Christianity, located on Mount Subasio and overlooking the entire valley, is dedicated to him. Apart from being a strong appeal for millions of religious believers, the Basilica is a monument of great artistic value. The construction of the Basilica began two years after his death, in 1228, and between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century the basilica's walls were frescoed by the best artists of that time: Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. St. Francis's Basilica consists of two churches laid upon each other and a crypt containing the tomb of the Saint. The Lower Basilica, with a double front portal, presents a simple facade embellished with a rose window and a mosaic. The interior is decorated with frescoes by some of the most important painters from 1200 to 1300, from Cimabue to Giotto and from the Lorenzettis to Simone Martini.
In the Upper Basilica you can see the life cycle of St. Francis in frescoes painted by maestro Giotto, the stories of the Old and New Testament covering the entire nave and other wonderful frescoes by Cimabue and Torriti.
Another figure who has deeply influenced these places is Saint Clare, to whom the homonymous Basilica - presenting a facade made of white and pink stone and divided into three sections by horizontal cornices - is dedicated. The engaging interior frescoes and the remains of the Saint are visible through a window in the crypt.
Assisi: St. Francis’ Basilica
Try to enjoy the mystical atmosphere of Assisi:
"Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
Who feeds us and rules us,
And produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs."
(St. Francis, Prayer of the Canticle of the Creatures)
In the afternoon you will head for Deruta, famous for its splendid brightly coloured maiolica, where you will visit a local ceramics lab and will marvel at the manufacturing techniques of local artisans. You will stop also in Spello, a charming medieval town on the top of a hill, far from tourists’ destination.
Day 5 – PERUGIA
Time to move to Chianti, but before that let’s stroll around in the beautiful capital of Umbria, Perugia.
Perugia lies on a hill 500 m. above sea level, with the old town spreading all around it, and partly surrounded by Etruscan and Medieval Walls. Unfortunately, only a few remains of the old city have survived; the remaining urban centre is mainly medieval in style. The old town is, in fact, a typical Medieval village, one of the most beautiful in Italy.
Perugia: Piazza IV Novembre
A sightseeing tour includes Piazza Matteotti, known also as Sopramuro (“above the walls”), with Palazzo dell'Università Vecchia and Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo. Beside it we will admire one of the most beautiful squares of Italy: Piazza IV Novembre, which can be considered the monumental and social core of the city, with at its centre Fontana Maggiore, a sculptural masterpiece by Giovanni and Nicola Pisano. This architectonical complex includes Palazzo dei Priori, built between the 13th and 14th Centuries, a symbol of the civil power of the time and now the home of the National Gallery of Umbria, which hosts the most important collection of Umbrian paintings, including a number of pieces by Perugino.
In late afternoon you will arrive at your Country House in Chianti.
Day 6 – CHIANTI
Only a few regions can offer such a beautiful and rich panorama as Chianti: green hills sketched by miles and miles of vineyards and olive groves, ancient walled villages, panoramic curvy roads. Chianti Classico spreads from Florence to Siena and includes the municipalities of Greve, Panzano, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. Most of the route consists of the grid of roads connecting the larger towns to villages and castles, like the one leading to Radda, former headquarters of the Chianti Military League, and then to Castello di Brolio where Bettino Ricasoli devised the “recipe” for Chianti wine.
At your Country House, you will attend a cooking class, learning how to cook “the Tuscan way”: Tuscan cuisine is very strong and spicy, with a strong reference to its territory and the recipes dating back to the Middle Ages. Dinner will be served in this relaxing location, where you will eat what you have cooked in the afternoon and taste the excellent wine of the estate!
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”.
Your 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 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.
Florence: Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleschi’s Dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower
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 - BOLOGNA
Bologna was once a "stone forest", a suggestive city full of “medieval skyscrapers” that offered protection to its inhabitants and facilitated the observation of the surrounding hills and plains. The seat of the most ancient university in the western world, Bologna, in Emilia Romagna, is a city with an intense cultural life and intriguing historical legacy. First an important urban centre under the Etruscans, then the Gauls and Romans, Bologna was also a well-known Medieval city within Europe. A European Capital of Culture in 2000, it was declared by UNESCO to be a "creative and musical city" in 2006.
Among Bologna's most important symbols are its famous porticoes, those covered sidewalks lined by colonnades that unite street, tower and palazzo. Just in the centre, the porticoes extend to approximately 23.6 miles. Also characteristic of the city are its towers, offering tourists the opportunity to admire a marvellous panorama from on high, the most important being the Towers of Garisenda and Asinelli. The towers belonged to a complex of over 100 Medieval towers, of which only about 20 remain today, including Torre Accursi or dell’Orologio, dominating over Piazza Maggiore, and the Torre Azzoguidi. Azzoguidi is part of Bologna's so-called "Triad of Medieval Skyscrapers," along with Torre Prendiparte and Torre Galluzzi.
Piazza Maggiore, the central square of the city, hosts three impressive palaces: the first is Palazzo del Podestà, constructed c. 1200, and the first city government seat. (To experience this building's particular acoustic effect, visitors can speak in a very low voice from the tower's pilasters supports' opposing corners.). Then, Palazzo Re Enzo, completed right next to the former, which served as a prison that held the 'Prisoner King' Enzo of Sardinia, son of Frederick II, for 23 years. Finally, Palazzo Comunale or d’Accursio, presently Bologna's City Hall, hosted the “Anziani”, meaning the highest magistrature of Communal Government.
Bologna: Piazza Maggiore
Back in Bologna, at dinner enjoy Prosciutto di Parma and Mortadella sausage with Gnocco Fritto, Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh pasta with Bolognese sauce, sipping a glass of Colli Bolognesi Doc wine!
Day 9 – MANTUA
Before getting to Lake Garda you will stop at one of the hidden jewels of Italy, Mantua.
Located in the lower part of the Po plain, Mantua sits on the banks of the river Mincio, where its waters form a deep bight which embraces the city and creates Lake Superiore, Lake di Mezzo and Lake Inferiore (Upper, Middle and Lower Lakes).
Here you may admire the grandiose Palazzo Ducale (Duke’s Palace), the magnificent palace where the Gonzaga family used to live: you’ll be admiring immense frescoed halls, wonderful art galleries, surprising gardens and courtyards along with undisputed masterpieces in art history such as the “Camera degli Sposi” by Andrea Mantegna or the Medieval Tournament frescoed by Pisanello in the 15th century. Then Palazzo Te, the summer residence commissioned by Federico II to Giulio Romano, one of the most representative artists of Mannerism. Its multi-faceted style and the pomposity of its decorations have been impressing guests and visitors for almost five centuries.
Near Mantua is the village “Grazie” which has one of the most unusual churches you may come across. Actually, the Sanctuary has been visited by pilgrims for centuries and is rich in ex-voto and statues showings people’s devotion and making it something unique in the world!
Andrea Mantegna’s “La Camera degli Sposi” inside Palazzo Ducale in Mantova
Day 10 – SIRMIONE AND LAKE GARDA
Time to relax on the Garda Lake! In this part of your trip you will be based on “Lago di Garda”.
Here you may visit Sirmione, the “Pearl of the Lake”: its magic atmospheres were already described in Catullus' poems in the 1st century B.C. Catullus was born here, and probably lived in the beautiful villa on the extreme tip of Sirmione peninsula. It was the biggest Roman villa in Northern Italy and its impressive remains, today called “Grotte di Catullo” (Catullus’ Grottos), can be admired. You will pass by the Castle, built by the Scala family, closing the entrance to the Sirmione Peninsula, and you will stroll along its lanes. And finally, you may taste the great white wine of the area, Lugana, in a local wine cellar.
Sirmione on Lake Garda
Day 11 – 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.
Verona, the Arena
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.
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 remember: Verona is a very elegant city, famous for its classy shops!
A few kilometres west of Verona, in a landscape of valleys and hills descending from the mountains to the plains around the Adige, Volpolicella hosts the vineyards supplying the grapes for two of the greatest red wines of Italy: Recioto and Amarone. The starting point for both wines is the same: ripe and high-quality grapes, which are harvested and stored in the "fruttai", well ventilated and dry places, where they are left to dry for 100 - 120 days. Grapes with their thick skin lose water and sugars concentrate. After crushing, fermentation takes place, shorter for the Recioto, in order to leave a high percentage of sugars, longer for the Amarone. Two wines for connoisseurs, which you can enjoy at one of the most beautiful wineries in the area.
Day 13 – VENICE
Welcome to the “unique” Venice, the “city on the lagoon”! You will be astonished by its beauty and charm!
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!
Upon request, you may also visit some ateliers in the city and see artisan masters at work, making rows for gondolas or transforming iron and gold into precious objects according to techniques passed down from father to son.
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”.
For dinner, try “Sarde in saor” (marinated sardines), Risotto with seafood, the typical “Baccala' mantecato”, to finish with a fantastic “Bussola” (a ring-shaped and cinnamon-flavoured cake)!
Venice: Masks at Punta della Dogana
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.