- Duration: 9 full days + 9 Nights
- Type of tour: circular
- Tour starts and ends in Milan
Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:
- Day 1: 3* to 5* Hotel in Verona city centre
- Days 2 & 3: 3* to 5* Hotel in Venice city centre
- Days 4 to 6: 3* to 5* Hotel in Florence city centre
- Day 7: 3* to 5* Hotel in Cinque Terre area
- Day 8: 3* to 5* Country House in Parma area
- Day 9: 3* to 5* Hotel in Milan city centre
- Day 1: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Verona city centre
- Day 2: Transfer by private car OR minivan from your Accommodation in Verona city centre to Valpolicella area + Transfer by by private car OR minivan to Venice Pier + Transfer by private water cab from Venice pier to accommodation in Venice city centre
- Day 4: Transfer by private water cab from your Accommodation in Venice city centre to Venice Pier + Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Florence city centre – Stopover in Strà and Barberino del Mugello Designer’s Outlet
- Day 7: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Cinque Terre – Stopover in Pisa
- Day 8: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Parma area
- Day 9: Transfer by private car OR minivan to your Accommodation in Milan city centre
Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:
- Day 1: 3-hour private walking tour of Milan city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
- Day 2: 3-hour private walking tour of Venice city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
- Day 4: Admission to Villa Pisani in Strà
- Day 5: 3-hour private walking tour of Florence city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
- Day 6: Full day round trip by by private car OR minivan to Siena and San Gimignano with an Authorised Tour Leader – Visit of a wine cellar in Chianti with tasting
- Day 9: Full day Private Tour of Parma area with an Authorised Tourist Guide, including visits of a Parmesan Cheese factory and a Parma Ham factory and a Cooking Class in a villa near Parma
Admission Tickets to:
- Villa Pisani in Strà
Meals at selected home-style local restaurants (wine not included):
- 1 lunch in Valpolicella
- 1 3-course dinner in Florence
Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office
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!
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!
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.
Verona, the Arena
DAY 3 – 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,” (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. The best known is the fruit and vegetable market of Rialto, which extends to the fish market. Here you can buy fresh products breathing a typically Venetian atmosphere. 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
DAY 4 – STRÀ and MARANELLO
On your way to Florence, today you will reach the Brenta river, a direct waterway connecting the Venetian Lagoon with Padua. The two shores of the river are still enlivened by many attractive sites, like fancy villas, small towns and green areas.
As you approach the small town of Strà you’ll see a long wall with wrought iron gates and a neoclassic-style façade. Here you are in Villa Pisani. This was once the luxury dwelling of the Pisani, one of the most powerful Venetian families in the 18th century. The building of Villa Pisani consisted of 114 rooms, in honour of Alvise, the 114th Doge of Venice, and the most celebrated Venetian painters were commissioned to decorate the interiors. Also, the park is worth visiting for a pleasant walk through the Labyrinth, the elegant Coffee House, the original Stables and the 20th-century straight basin.
Strà, Villa Pisani
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, exceptional artworks made by modern mechanic artisan masters.
Alternatively, a few kilometers north of Florence you may enjoy a shopping stop 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
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: 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 6 – SIENA and SAN GIMIGNANO
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, 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, the Towers
From Siena 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.
The fortified village of Monteriggioni
DAY 7 – 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, 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 8 – 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.
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 village of Manarola in 5 Terre
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!!
Time to move to your last destination, a particularly savoury one: Parma.
DAY 9 - PARMA
Parma is an elegant city with a small historic centre. In the city we will see the Cathedral, a great example of Romanesque architecture, and the Baptistery, built of pink marble in an octagonal shape.
Parma is known for its delicious food products. First, 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. A real “tasty” experience! (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).
Later on, time for a visit to a Parma ham factory, where you will learn the secrets of the most delicious ham, Prosciutto di Parma. And finally, you may savour authentic Italian cuisine on a fun-filled cooking class led by a local “rezdora” (a femal cook in Parmesan language). Immerse yourself into the tradition of fresh Italian pasta and study the secrets of preparing pasta dough from the 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 Lambrusco wine. A very tasty experience at the end of an unforgettable day!
Parma, Prosciutto di Parma