RAFFAELLO TOUR 2019 - Rome, Assisi and Florence in 8 days - PRIVATE TOUR

From Rome, the “Eternal City”, to Florence, the land of Giotto and Dante, through the enchanting towns of Umbria and Tuscany, tasting gourmet specialities. A special tour at the discovery of the characteristic Italian countryside

SUMMARY

  • Duration: 8 full days + 8 Nights
  • Type of tour: circular
  • Tour starts and ends in Rome

 

WHAT'S INCLUDED:

Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:

  • Day 1: 3* to 5* Hotel in Rome city center
  • Day 2: 3* to 5* Hotel in Tivoli area
  • Day 3: 3* to 5* Country House in Assisi area
  • Day 4: 3* to 5* Country House in Chianti area
  • Day 5: 3* to 5* Hotel in Florence city center
  • Days 6 & 7: 3* to 5* Country House in Val d’Orcia area
  • Day 8: 3* to 5* Hotel in Rome city center

Transfers:

  • Day 2: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Tivoli area
  • Day 3: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Assisi area
  • Day 4: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Chianti area
  • Day 5: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Florence city center
  • Day 8: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Rome city centre – Stopover in Orvieto

Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:

  • Day 1: 3-hour private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Classical and Baroque Rome, including admission to Colosseum and Imperial Forums Archeological Area – Aperitivo on a Roman Terrace
  • Day 2: 3-hour private walking tour with an Authorised Tourist Guide of Vatican City, including admission to Vatican Museums + 2-hour private tour of Villa d’Este OR Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 3: Visit of an olive oil mill with tasting
  • Day 4: Visit to a Chianti wine cellar with tasting - Cooking class with dinner at the Country House
  • Day 5: 3-hour private walking tour of Florence city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 6: Full day tour by private car OR minivan to Siena and San Gimignano with an Authorised Tour Leader
  • Day 7: Full day tour by private car OR minivan of Val d’Orcia area

Admission Tickets to:

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

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

  • 1 3-course dinner in Rome city centre
  • 1 3-course dinner at your Accommodation in Assisi
  • 1 3-course dinner at your Accommodation in Val d’Orcia

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

All taxes (tips not mandatory)

Day 1 - ROME

Welcome to Italy, il “Bel Paese” (the “Beautiful Land”)!

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

At night, 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 AND TIVOLI

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

In the afternoon 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!

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 ».

Tivoli

Villa d’Este in Tivoli

Day 3 – ASSISI

Today’s highlight will be 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.

Assisi: St. Francis’ Basilica

In the Upper Basilica, it is possible to see the life cycle of St. Francis in frescoes painted by maestro Giotto, and the stories of the Old and New Testament covering the entire nave, and other wonderful frescoes by Cimabue and Torriti.

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)

At dinner enjoy “salumi di cinghiale o cervo” (boar or deer sausage) and pecorino cheese, or taste the region's prized white truffle oil. And don’t forget to sip the red wine Rubesco Riserva or the red Sagrantino di Montefalco.

Day 4 – CHIANTI

It’s time to get to Chianti, renowned for its excellent wine!

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!

Chianti

Chianti

DAY 5 - FLORENCE

Welcome to Florence, the city of Dante, Leonardo and Giotto!

Florence is the symbol of Italian Renaissance but, despite its international fame and greatness, it is a small city, whose history has been 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 may 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!

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

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.

Day 6 – SIENA & SAN GIMIGNANO

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 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

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

Then 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

At dinner you will taste the typical Tuscan cuisine at your country house in Val d’Orcia, 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 7 - VAL D'ORCIA

Today you will visit 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 8 - ORVIETO

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”

Alternatively, you may stop in 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”

In the evening you will finally get to 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.

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