The floating city of Venice is one place you’ll be happy to get lost in. The city’s maze of alleyways, canals and lagoon islands lead to over 130 churches, all with their own distinct character.. Never go hungry (or thirsty) with mouth-watering seafood along Italy’s coast, fine wine in Tuscany and endless pasta dishes on offer in Rome.. Walk along Cinque Terre’s rocky coastal walks, stopping by the cliff-hanging pastel villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore and Vernazza.. Discover the country within a city at the Vatican with a leader-led tour of St Peter’s Basilica, steeped in rich history and adorned with religious icons and unforgettable artwork.
Fall in love with Italy on this week-long highlights adventure of a European favourite. Begin by exploring the canal-framed maze of Venice, then take in the beautiful, charming towns of the Cinque Terre coastline. Experience the beauty and arts culture in Florence, marvel in the rich history and grandeur of the Vatican City, and finish with a pizza in the piazzas of Rome. With plenty of free time to do your own thing, there’s no better way to see this epic pocket of Europe. If this is your first or just your most recent visit to Italy, be sure to experience the best of the city, coast and countryside at a pace that you decide.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Welcome to the waterside wonderland of Venice, Italy, which is literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. Packed full of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals and churches, this city is a traveller's dream that's been practically unchanged for 600 years. Your Italian adventure will begin with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. If you arrive early, why not take a stroll through the maze of streets behind Piazza San Marco and head to the Grand Canal. Here, you can see the famous Rialto Bridge and browse the endless amount of markets and shops selling Venetian masks, handmade Murano glassware and many other trinkets. After meeting your group tonight, perhaps enjoy dinner with your fellow travellers at a local restaurant – your leader will know where to go.
Today is free to go out and explore the splendour of Venice. Your group leader will orientate you to the lay of the land in Venice, which includes a traghetto (public transport gondola) to cross the famous Grand Canal. Once you have your bearings, walk the stone laneways to Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco and the Bridge of Sighs. Otherwise, wind through the narrow canals on a Venetian gondola – it’s worth the ticket. Also, you could take a vaporetto (water bus) to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. It's no problem if your legs get tired – pull up a seat at one of the piazzas and tuck into an Italian coffee or a local tiramisu, and enjoy watching visitors and locals soak in the magic of the city. For something a bit more artsy, visit the Palazzo Ducale to see paintings by the Italian masters then head to the modern Peggy Guggenheim Collection. You’re on Italian time now, so relax into the evening with an aperol spritz, and go in search for Venice’s seafood spaghetti specialities, like fresh lobster or squid ink, to get your pasta fix.
Spend the day travelling by train to the town of La Spezia: the gateway to the stunning Cinque Terre region (approximately 5-7 hours, depending on train connections). The journey is a beautifully scenic trip through Italy's north. The name Cinque Terre comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – whose position, wedged into a series of coves between sheer cliffs, makes this one of the highlights of the whole of Italy. There won't be too much time to explore the towns on arrival, but once you've checked in, you may like to take a walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione and to the waterside gardens. Keep an eye out for a buzzing restaurant on the harbour – you’re sure to be hungry.
Cinque Terre / La Spezia
Today it's time to get out and explore the walking tracks of Cinque Terre, a region of Italy famed for its rocky coastline and pastel villages. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and on to spectacular views of the towns below hugging the cliffs. Included today is the 'Cinque Terre Card' to get you into the national park and provide train travel between towns and, depending on the group’s agreed fitness level, your leader will take you on a scenic hike. How far, and how many sections to walk is up to you, and it's possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the base in La Spezia whenever you'd like. If food is more your thing, take advantage of the culinary-rich Liguria region with an optional pesto making class, or perhaps just load up on focaccia, another local speciality. Return to La Spezia in the evening and feel free to keep the food exploration going – there's no better way to recover from a day of walking than indulging in more Mediterranean delights.
Leave the Cinque Terre and catch a train to Florence (approximately 3.5 hours). On arrival, check into the hostel and take a brief walk around the immediate area to get your bearings. Florence is one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in Italy, known to many as the 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, and food is a major part of the city's identity, so get stuck into some of the regional specialities. Meat lovers should try the bistecca alla fiorentina, a large sliced steak that's usually shared between two people, or ribollita, a thick delicious vegetable soup with bread, beans and greens. Panforte is the signature sweet treat, and trust us, it's oh so sweet.
Head out into the centre of Florence. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, so take your time, enjoy it and discover the city's culture-rich atmosphere, from family-run vineyards on the outskirts, to the Duomo’s magnificent marble facade. If you are up for it you could visit the local market, potentially culminating in a picnic of traditional Florentine and Tuscan treats. You could then visit the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's famous statue of David, or marvel in the spectacle of the Uffizi: one of the world's oldest art galleries. For sweeping views of the city, walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River. On your way down, head toward the Ponte Vecchio and stop by a trattoria to fill up with Florence's renowned food and wine. After all, you are in the thriving centre of Tuscany.
Vatican City / Rome
Take the train to Rome (approximately 2 hours) and remember, when in Rome – well, you tell us. Join your group on a visit to the Vatican, catching the metro from the main Termini station, and enjoying a leader-led visit to the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica. The country within a city is the home of the Catholic Church and the basilica attracts thousands of visitors for its grand scale, famous iconography and huge forecourt. Afterwards, spend time walking up to the Gianicolo lookout with your group, and witness a panoramic snapshot of the nation’s capital. Later, perhaps head to the Trevi Fountain to see its extravagance under lights, and while you’re walking, maybe grab a gelato – you’re only in Rome once! Make sure you don't miss out on seeing the other iconic Roman sights such as the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, the Forum, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.
There are no activities planned for today and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time. If you have some more time in Rome, why not head back to the Vatican museum, or check out the day trips offered by Urban Adventures, like the Tasting La Dolce Vita tour, exploring the city’s most iconic monuments, piazzas, fountains and movie locations, with some (well-deserved) food stops on the way. Check out urbanadventures.com/destination/Rome-tours for more information.