Hike to one charming village after another along the picturesque Cinque Terre or, if you would prefer to sit back and relax, take the train for a more leisurely but no less scenic experience.. Nestled in the rolling vineyards of Tuscany’s Chianti region, spend a memorable night in a converted castle hotel and dine on a multi-course gourmet meal at the onsite restaurant.. Treasure Italy’s love of cuisine and viticulture during a pesto-making class in Levanto and an organic wine-tasting at a family garden vineyard that has been operating for centuries.. Take advantage of local knowledge with a small-group leader joining you on orientation walks in some of Italy’s best cities and recommending places to visit and eat.
In ten days, discover the very best of Italy on an adventure designed to highlight its culinary, cultural and natural treasures. Check out the top-tier sights such as Venice’s Piazza San Marco, Pisa’s Leaning Tower and Rome’s Colosseum on a series of leader-led walking tours, and seek out more tucked-away delights among the rolling Tuscan countryside and cliffs of the Italian Riviera. Castle stays, local wine tastings, multi-course dinners and high-speed train journeys – this adventure will make memorable moments for both the Italian novice and maestro.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to Rome! Enjoy a complimentary transfer to your hotel and settle in. The day is at your leisure, so if you arrive with time to spare perhaps wander in search of an espresso. Your Italian adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you will meet your group leader and fellow travellers joining you. Once the formalities are out of the way, experience your first taste of Italy over an included dinner with your group at a local restaurant.
From incredible ancient monuments to glamourous restaurants and boutiques, Rome is a city of great beauty and diversity. Today you will be taken on a leader-led orientation walk of the city. You'll see such marvels as the Roman Forum, the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and Venezia, the Spanish Steps and Via Dei Condotti. As you wander the city, you will have time to stop in at a bar for a quick coffee or order a gelato. After this, the rest of the day is free for you to explore this great city as you please. Make sure you take the opportunity to visit the majestic Vatican City and St Peter’s Basilica. The view from the dome of St Peter’s is breathtaking. Roman food is world-renowned, and the trattorias that line the streets are the perfect places to sample the local pasta delights. A glass or two of the local wine is also a must.
Siena / Monteriggioni / Chianti Region
Drive with your small group to Siena (approximately 4 hours) and embark on an orientation walk with your leader. At the city’s heart is the Piazza del Campo – home to the biannual Palio horse race, and nearby is the small but no less stunning Siena Cathedral. Continue on for another 30 minutes to Monteriggioni – a Tuscan walled town full of history. Over a dozen towers are spread throughout the town, once used to defend Sienese territory from the Florentines. You will have time to explore this small village before arriving at your Tuscan Feature Stay in a sophisticated converted castle in the heart of the Chianti region (an approximately 1-hour drive). Here, you may like to swim in the onsite pool, stroll through neighbouring vineyards or simply gaze at the rolling countryside from one of the many lounge areas. Tonight, indulge in an included multi-course gourmet dinner at your castle stay with your group – perfectly paired with some of the region’s local wine.
San Gimignano / La Spezia
This morning you will make your way towards the dramatic coast of the Cinque Terre. On the way, stop via San Gimignano (approximately 1.5 hours) – the 'Town of Fine Towers'. This medieval walled town is famous for its well-preserved tower houses which are now World Heritage listed. There will be time for you to explore the Old Town centre and its fine Gothic and Romanesque architecture. This region is also renowned for its ancient Vernaccia grapes, which are the basis for one of Tuscany's finest white wines. Your group will have the opportunity to relax in a local family’s garden surrounded by olive trees and vineyards, tasting organic wine varieties produced by this family for centuries. Continue to your accommodation in La Spezia (approximately 3 hours) – the gateway to the gorgeous Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre / La Spezia
Cinque Terre (translating as 'Five Lands' or 'Five Villages') is a region of Italy famed for its rugged coastline and the colourful villages that cling to it. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region. You may choose to walk just one or sections, which will still unveil a great amount of majestic scenery. There is a train that connects the villages as well, so if you prefer to enjoy a more relaxing day, you are welcome to take this option. After working up an appetite, take advantage of the foods of the Liguria region with a cooking demonstration, and the chance for you to create your own pesto, enjoying a glass of wine as you learn. In the evening, return to La Spezia. After a full day of walking and exploring, there's no better way to refuel with a delicious Mediterranean feast. Be sure to try the local focaccia – a regional speciality.
Lucca / Pisa / Florence
Start the day with a drive to Lucca (approximately 1.5 hours), where you can explore the bustling streets or perhaps take a walk along the famous city walls. Your next stop is Pisa (approximately 30 minutes). Due to the precarious state of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Torre Pendente, it is not always possible to climb it, but you will have the opportunity to photograph it from the ground. Your group leader will then take you to the ticket office to purchase tickets to the Cathedral, Baptistry, Museums and Campo Santo, should you wish to visit them. In the afternoon, continue on your way to Florence (approximately 2 hours).
While you are in Florence there will be plenty of time to explore the city and its museums and galleries. Visiting the Uffizi while you are here is highly recommended – it is one of the oldest galleries in the world, and a building of great beauty. Similarly, a visit to Galleria dell'Accademia – the home of Michelangelo's statue of David – is a fantastic option. Sample some of the culinary delicacies on offer from across Tuscany, with dishes known for their freshness, simplicity and quality. Olive oil, beans and herbs are a feature here. Two standout dishes of the region are bistecca alla fiorentina – a large steak sliced on the bone and shared between multiple diners, and ribollita – a simple, hearty soup of bread, vegetables and beans. Panforte is the signature sweet treat.
Florence / Venice
The morning is free for you to further explore Florence, one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in Italy, known to many as the beating heart of Tuscany. The Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all lived in Florence at the height of their creative reign. Perhaps walk to Piazzale Michelangelo to take in beautiful views of the city. In the afternoon, head to the railway station and take a high-speed train to Venice (approximately 2 hours).
Today you will take an orientation walk in the morning. Board a vaporetto (water bus) to the island of San Giorgio, where you will climb the bell tower and witness expansive views of Venice. Enjoy free time in the afternoon. You might like to visit some museums or take a trip to some of the outlying islands. The Grand Canal, the quaint shopfronts that line the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco are all worthy sights to visit. It's equally satisfying to simply meander around the tiny cobbled streets and discover the beautiful markets, cafes, galleries and churches. A Venetian gondola ride down the canals is a must, as is a taste of the region’s dessert speciality, tiramisu. In the evening come together for a group dinner at a local restaurant.
With no activities planned for today, your trip comes to an end after breakfast. Those looking to extend their stay can arrange additional nights' accommodation at the time of booking the trip (subject to availability).