o many of the famous sights that you’ve seen in pictures are found in this storied country…. fashionable Milan; the canals and colorful gondoliers of Venice; Pisa’s Leaning Tower; the golden rolling Tuscan countryside dotted with olive trees and sunflower pastures; the Duomo, beautiful squares, leather markets, Ponte Vecchio bridge, and endless flavors of Gelato in Florence; Rome’s unbridled history which is exemplified in the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Square. This is the very best Italy has to offer.
Also see Juliet’s balcony in Verona; the city built on three hills known as Siena; and grab the optional opportunities to visit the Vatican City, Pompeii, and the unique villages of Cinque Terre along the cliffs of the Mediterranean.
Today brings the beginning of a new adventure . . . anticipation heightens as you realize that your trip of a lifetime is about to begin! Refer to ‘Preparing for your Departure’ in your Trip Documents for easy check-in procedures. Take time to relax on your transatlantic flight with the assurance that Image Tours has taken care of all the details.
Upon arrival, clear passport control and collect your luggage. Refer to your “Arrival Instructions” page in your Trip Documents for directions on where and when to meet your tour manager. Transfer to your Milan Malpensa Airport area hotel to check in and freshen up. Get to know your fellow tour members at the “Welcome to Italy/Get-acquainted” dinner at the hotel. (Dinner)
This morning begins with a visit to Milan’s center. The Galleria (world’s oldest shopping mall) and the Duomo dominate the main square. Your tour manager will direct you toward high-fashion shops and noteworthy sights such as La Scala Opera House. Along the way, a gelateria will tempt you with Italian ice cream. This afternoon, continue to Verona, famous for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The focal point of Verona is the Arena, which is still used for outdoor opera performances every summer. During your independent dinner in Verona, experience an authentic Italian meal. (Breakfast)
Today features a full day visit to the romantic city of Venice, famous for its canals and bridges, colorful gondoliers, and the magnificent St. Mark’s Square. All transportation is done exclusively over water. Like the Venetians, you will take a boat ride to the center of Venice. A guided walking tour follows, ending with a visit to a glass-blowing workshop where highly-skilled artisans craft anything from delicate figurines to grand chandeliers. If you have your heart set on gliding through the canals, the cost is about $45 per person based on six people per gondola. The day provides ample time to marvel at the architecture of the San Marco Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the Clock Tower. Have dinner at a pizzeria or join your tour manager at a typical Venetian restaurant for the optional Venice Dinner excursion. After a memorable day of sightseeing, return to your Verona hotel. (Breakfast)
A morning drive will take you south, through the Apennine Mountains, into Tuscany. Stop in the medieval center of Lucca before continuing to Pisa and its Leaning Tower. Work on the structure began in 1174, and the tower already started to tilt while constructing the second floor. The cathedral complex consists of the Duomo, Baptistery, and the bell tower. The three white marble buildings set against the Field of Miracles (an expansive green lawn) is an impressive sight. This evening, pastel-tinted buildings on palm tree-lined streets welcome you to the spa resort town of Montecatini-Terme, your home for the next three nights. (Breakfast, Dinner)
This day is devoted to the art and architecture of Florence. The first masterpieces you will notice during the guided walking tour are the Duomo (cathedral), the Baptistery (with its renowned bronze doors by Ghiberti), and Giotto’s campanile (bell tower). The rest of the day is yours to explore Florence at your own pace. Admire the piazzas, each with its own distinct character, shop the open-air markets, visit an art gallery, or enjoy gathering with Florentines and visitors alike on the Ponte Vecchio. Subject to availability at the time of your visit, your tour manager may be able to arrange for an optional Accademia Gallery excursion to admire Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Dine on local specialties at a vineyard restaurant before returning to Montecatini-Terme. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Spend a leisurely day enjoying the shops, cafés, spas, and parks of Montecatini-Terme. Take the funicular up to the old town of Montecatini Alte and sip a cappuccino as you take in the panoramic view of the Tuscan countryside. Consider using the convenient and reasonably-priced train service to return to Florence for further exploration. Another choice for today is the optional San Gimignano excursion. For your independent dinner, you might wish to dine ‘al fresco’ at one of the sidewalk terraces in Montecatini-Terme. (Breakfast)
Your final morning in Tuscany takes you past olive groves and into Siena, a beautiful city built on three hills. Piazza del Campo is the main square and focal point of Siena, with several smaller but equally interesting squares found throughout this medieval village. The optional Siena Duomo excursion provides a more in-depth look at the art and architecture of this magnificent cathedral. In the afternoon, leave Tuscany to rejoin the Autostrada in the direction of Rome. Along the way, stop in for an included dinner of homemade specialties at a hilltop farm. Overnight at your Rome area hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
The entire day is devoted to the wonders of Rome. This energetic and modern metropolis is proudly protective of its abundant historical sites, crowned by the Colosseum (Roman Arena) which dates back to 80 A.D. A local guide will accompany you for a morning of city sightseeing including some of Rome’s most famous landmarks such as the Arch of Constantine, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. After an independent lunch, continue your exploration of Rome on foot, or join your tour manager for the optional Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel excursion, including St. Peter’s Basilica. Return to your hotel this evening for dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
This is a day to set your own pace. If you wish to have more time in Rome, the hotel can assist you with transportation and sightseeing information. The best way to see more of this marvelous city is by foot. Discover the architectural beauty of the Eternal City by walking from the Piazza Venezia to the Trevi Fountain. Or, add a fascinating slice of history to your travel experiences by joining the full day optional Pompeii excursion. (Breakfast).
Continue your independent discovery of the wonders of Rome, or join your tour manager for the optional Colosseum excursion. Spend the afternoon at your leisure. Wander the Capitoline Museums and admire artwork and artifacts from the ancient Roman world. Shop along the Via del Corso or sip a cappuccino at the Spanish Steps. Italy is the cradle of European civilization, art, architecture, and music, so however you choose to spend your day, the sights are sure to create lasting impressions. Choose from over 2,000 restaurants for an independent dinner or join the optional Rome Dinner excursion for a festive conclusion to your Roman experience. (Breakfast)
Transfer to the Rome Fiumicino Airport for the return flight home (Breakfast)