Hike to one charming village after another along the picturesque Cinque Terre, or take the train for a more leisurely experience without missing the stunning scenery.. Relax in a local family’s garden surrounded by olive trees and vineyards and enjoy the local organic wine varieties produced by this family for centuries.. Travel the romantic, winding waterways of Venice in a traghetto and lose yourself in the town’s myriad alleyways – best done with a lot of time and no map.. Visit the stunning Kornati National Park, the biggest and most incredible collection of islands in the entire Adriatic Sea, once described by playwright George Bernard Shaw as God’s special creation of tears, stars and breath.
Let the heart of Italy and the coast of Croatia inspire a journey full of culture, relaxation and world-class cuisine on a 17-day land and sea adventure. From the historic streets of Rome to the canals of Venice, catch these city’s top-tier sights and combine them with the humble delights of the Tuscan countryside and the picture-perfect Cinque Terre. Continue your Mediterranean odyssey by boat, cruising on the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and dropping anchor in quaint seaside village, near secluded coves and at lesser-known but no less stunning isles. Your Italian and Croatian adventure will take you past the tourist hordes to discover a more authentic, a more real, Europe.
Breakfast Included: 16 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 8
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 tour begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Once the formalities are out of the way, get your first taste of Italy over 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 walking tour 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 indulge in some gelato. 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 place to sample the local pasta delights. A taste or two of the (very well priced) local wine is also a must.
Siena / Monteriggioni / Chianti Region
Begin the day with a drive to the medieval city of Siena (approximately 4 hours). It is best known for the Piazza del Campo, the site of the twice-annual Palio (a horse race that goes around the edge of the oval square). Be sure to visit the small but stunning Siena Cathedral, and see the statue of the capitoline wolf, which was brought here by the sons of Remus, the founder of Rome. It has been the city's symbol ever since. Continue to Monteriggioni (approximately 30 minutes), another Tuscan hill town that was built by the Sienese to defend their territory against the Florentines in the 13th century. Learn a little more about the circular walls and 14 towers which played a significant role in the attacks staged by the Bishop of Volterra. In the afternoon arrive at your hotel in the Chianti Region right in the heart of Tuscany (approximately 1 hour). The hotel is the feature stay of this trip, situated in a converted castle. Relax by the pool or perhaps take a stroll through the vineyards that are part of the property. Later on, rejoin the group for dinner.
San Gimignano / La Spezia
This morning you will make your way towards the dramatic coast of the Cinque Terre. On the way, you will visit 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 on the UNESCO World Heritage list. There will be time for you to explore the Old Town centre and its fine Gothic and Romanesque architecture. This region is renowned for its ancient Vernaccia grapes, which are the basis for one of Tuscany's finest white wines. Relax in a local family’s garden surrounded by olive trees and vineyards and enjoy the local 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 can choose to walk just a few 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 pesto making demonstration, and the chance for you to create your own pesto. Enjoy a glass of wine with your culinary creation. In the evening return to La Spezia. There's no better way to refuel after the taxing walks than indulging in a delicious Mediterranean feast. Be sure to try the local focaccia, a specialty of the area.
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 trip leader will 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 make 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, where you can see Michelangelo's famous statue of David, is a must. Sample some of the culinary delicacies on offer from across Tuscany. Regional dishes are renowned for their simplicity and ingredient-driven quality. Olive oil, beans and fresh herbs are a feature here. Two standout dishes of the region are bistecca alla fiorentina (essentially a big T-bone steak that is 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 speciality dessert, tiramisu. In the evening come together for a group dinner at a local restaurant.
Venice to Opatija
This morning, you can get out and experience the winding canals and streets of beautiful Venice. This city is best explored on foot or by boat. Transfer to Venice airport at approximately 12.15am to meet the rest of your group, then travel by road to Opatija to begin the cruising section of your adventure (approximately 3 hours). There will be another meeting tonight where you will be briefed on the second stage of your adventure and receive a safety demonstration on your boat. After this important meeting, enjoy some dinner on board to get to know your fellow travellers and crew.
Wake to the Adriatic and take breakfast on the deck. The ship will make an all-important swim stop en route where you’ll have your first opportunity to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Head north to Krk and stretch your sea legs with a guided tour upon arrival. Krk is the equal-largest island in the Adriatic, a popular destination with beaches, a historic Old Town and plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs. After orientating yourself with the island, you’ll be transferred to a local farm for prsut (prosciutto) and wine tasting and a lamb dinner.
The ship will depart Krk in the morning and make its way to the island of Rab, which was first declared a city in 10 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus. Spend the journey relaxing and reading, getting some sun or simply staring at the crystal water. With ancient walls, churches and squares, Rab is the ideal place to explore on foot, be it with the local guides on an optional 3-hour hike around the island, or by yourself at your own pace. In the evening. Hunt down some fresh seafood for dinner and discover why Rab is known as the Happy Island.