Explore the romance of Italy and start your tour with a spectacular scenery of Northern Italian Lakes surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the Alps, the treasures of incomparable Venice and enjoy Florence, home of Michelangelo and its exquisite art and architecture. Visit the walled city of Assisi and its 13th C Basilica Di Francesco.
Admire the Vesuvio and visit Pompeii providing evidence of former volcanic eruptions and journey along the most spectacular Amalfi Coast. A boat trip will take you to the enchanting Island of Capri and to its romantic grottoes before your grand tour ends in the ancient city of Rome, including a visit to the Vatican .....!
DAY 01 ARRIVE AIRPORT MILAN, ITALY
A warm welcome awaits all group members upon arrival by your Tour Director. Following transfer to your hotel in the city of Milan. Toward evening you are invited for a welcome reception and for dinner at your hotel. (D/ OV)
DAY 02 MILAN - CITY SIGHTSEEING & MONZA
Your morning starts with a sightseeing tour of Milan, the lively capital of Italy‘s Lombardy. You will see its landmark and 14th C Duomo, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Among other sights you will view Castello Sforzesco, an impressive mansion of the former Dukes and famous Teatro alla Scala, built during the 18th C with an outstanding museum to view from one of the boxes the magnificent auditorium. - Time is yours now at leisure, perhaps at Milan‘s most celebrated shopping arcades of Vittorio Emanuele. - Later, a side trip will take you to Monza to see its racing circuit where the annual Grand Prix Formula One takes place. Then return to your hotel in time for dinner. (B & D/ OV)
DAY 03 EXCURSION TO COMO, LUGANO, LOCARNO & LAGO MAGGIORE
An unforgettable scenery is waiting today as your drive takes you to Italy‘s beautiful lake district, first by way to Como with an orientation drive and to visit its remarkable Cathedral of the 14th C with a splendid interior of Renaissance decoration. At Villa Olmo enjoy a great view of Como and its beautiful lakeside setting before we arrive at Lugano in Switzerland, situated between the gentle peaks of Mt. Bre and Salvadore. Here, and at your leisure you will be visiting Parco Civico, a delightful park right next to the lake. - Ample time left to browse around before we continue with our drive to the Swiss resort of Locarno, known for its annual Film Festival on dream-like Lago Maggiore shares it shores with Italy. At the pilgrim church Madonna del Sasso enjoy another unforgettable panoramic view of this brilliant lake and its mighty Swiss Alps. - A short drive takes us along magnificent villas and tropical plants for a boat cruise to Isola Madre, covered with enchanting gardens of flowers and an exotic vegetation. Enjoy this little island paradise before our motor coach takes us back to Milan for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04 MILAN - VERONA - ABANO TERME / VENICE
Following breakfast we leave Milan this morning by way of Verona with a stop. An orientation drive of this former home and rest place of Romeo and Juliet will show fine buildings of Roman and Venetian architecture, the fortified Castle Vecchio and its famous Arena, an open-air amphitheater of the first century with a seating capacity to accommodate 25.000 spectators. - You will spend some time at Piazza del Signori, an elegant square with a 12th C Town Hall and a number of pallazos. - Following a break we continue with our drive to Abano Terme near Venice, one of Italy‘s most elegant spa resorts for dinner and overnight. (B & D/ OV)
DAY 05 EXCURSION TO THE TREASURES OF VENICE & MURANO
A short drive of a few miles takes you to Venice this morning followed by a boat trip on picturesque Canal Grande, passing historic pallazos and numerous footbridges like the most famous one Ponte di Realto. Arriving Piazza San Marco with its arcades and watchtower Campanile you will be visiting Palazzo Ducale, a 12th and 13th C masterpiece of Venetian architecture. Explore on your own quaint little alleys with shops for various goods. -During the afternoon leave by boat for the glass-making Island of Murano to view a demonstration of glass-blowing and visit Basilica Santi Maria Donato, a much visited church of great Veneto - Byzantine art with a mosaic floor recalling that of St. Mark‘s. - Upon return to your departure point time is yours perhaps to enjoy a full experience of a gonola ride .....! Later this afternoon your motor coach takes you back to Abano Terme in time for freshen up and for dinner at your hotel. (B & D/ OV)
DAY 06 ABANO TERME - BOLOGNA - MONTECATINI - TERME/ FLORENCE
This morning we leave Abano Terme further south by way of Ferrara, heart of the fertile Po River Plain and known by Vittorio De Sica´s film “The Garden of the Finzi-Contini”. After this stop we continue to the district of Emilia-Romagna and arrive at Bologna to see one of Europe´s oldest universities and remains of a fortified city wall. Some other highlights to visit will be the impressive two Leaning Towers of the 12th C. - After this leisurely stop we continue to Montecatini Terme near Florence, another fashionable thermal spa. Before check-in at our hotel worth-seeing Baroque Villa Garzoni of the 17th C and its splendid gardens showing vistas, grottoes and mazes creating a lovely and imaginative aspect. (B & D/OV)
DAY 07 FLORENCE - CITY SIGHTSEEING
A short drive takes you this morning to Florence, birthplace of Renaissance and a delight for art lovers. Your sightseeing will include the monastery Santa Groce, the city’s oldest bridge Ponte Vecchio lined with shops and at Piazza del Duomo you will visit its Gothic Cathedral of the 13th C, representing an incomparable example of Florentine architecture. You visit Piazza della Signoria to admire its ancient statues, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. Right next to Palazzo Vecchio you are scheduled to visit Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the world’s best art museums with a Paining Gallery of famous artists, like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt and many others! - The afternoon is at your leisure and the list of further sights is endless. - Toward evening return to your hotel in Montecatini Terme for dinner and another overnight. (B & D/OV)
DAY 08 MONTECATINI TERME - AREZZO - ASSISI
This day starts with a morning drive through the harmony of the beautiful Tuscanian landscape of low hills planted with olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. We stop first at the former Etruscan city of Arezzo to visit its Franciscanian Church S. Francesco of the 14th C. The inside frescoes depicting the legend of the Holy Cross and other scenes, undoubtedly a milestone in the history of 15th C art - Then our route leads further south by way of Perugia in the district of Umbria with our next stop. Remains of a massive wall and gates give an impression of this once Middle Age town. An orientation drive will show its 13th C Palazzo dei Priori, the Gothic Cathedral and the great fountain Fontana Maggiore. - Soon after arriving Assisi surrounded by a wall across the slopes of Monte Subasio. You will be visiting here the famous Basilica, built after the death of St. Francis during the 13th C with magnificent frescoes, a vaulting with colorful paintings and the tomb of St. Francis. - Following this impressive sights your dinner is waiting at the hotel. (B & D/OV)
DAY 09 ASSISI - MONTECASSINO - SORRENTO
We leave Assisi this morning and journey along the bustling town of Terni with our first stop for a break and some later continue to Montecassino, one of the Catholics’ holy places to view its monastery, founded in the 6th C and unfortunately site of a battle during World War II. You will see its interior of fine marble work, stucco, mosaics and the tomb enshrining the remains of St. Benedict. - From here the route leads further south, travelling around Naples (will stop here on the way back to Rome), arriving resort Sorrento in the district of Campania, known for its picturesque gardens overlooking beautiful Golfo Di Napoli, your base for the upcoming three nights and excursions. (B & D/OV)
DAY 10 EXCURSION TO POMPEII - VESUVIO & AMALFI COAST
A historical morning tour of much interest takes you first to Pompeii, completely buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvio about 2.000 years ago. The tour features several gateways and remains of a forum and columns on Via Abbandanza providing evidence of the 6th C BC. The Terme Stabiane, oldest bath in Pompeii divided into sections for women and men and Casa di Menandro, a large patrician villa once richly decorated with paintings and mosaics. Some outside located you will visit ancient Villa dei Misteri with a beautiful fresco depicts the initiation of a young bride probably a priestess of the Dionysus cult. -After visiting these impressive sights your motor coach drive takes you back from Vietri sul Mare along the Amalfi Coast, Italy’s most picturesque coastline and 1997 listed as one of UNESCOs Heritage places. Enjoy now an enchanting scenery, including bizarre rocks vertically plunging into the crystal-clear sea, pass charming fishing villages, tropical vegetation and flora of the Mediterranean Sea. (B & D/OV)
DAY 11 FLORENCE - BOAT-EXCURSION TO CAPRI & SIGHTSEEING
On this morning you start to explore the natural beauty of Isola di Capri where already the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius used this island for their homes. From Marina Grande you will be leaving for a boat excursion to the Blue Grotto, the most famous among other caves on this island. The light by refracting gives the cave a most beautiful blue color and a fairy-tale atmosphere... - Later, return to your island departure port and take a funicular railway connecting Maria Grande with the city center of Capri. Enjoy here Piazza Umberto, a square and the city’s shopping center at your leisure. Or why not visit nearby Belvedere Cannone, a peaceful part of Capri with picturesque and winding alleys and/ or Villa Jovis, former residence of Emperor Tiberius. - During the later afternoon your boat transfer is waiting for the mainland and so is your hotel-staff for serving dinner. (B & D/OV)
DAY 12 SORRENTO - NAPOLI - ROME
Reluctantly by all means leaving again this fascinating countryside, while your route takes you to Naples, included in UNESCOs Heritage List and another highlight of your grand tour. We stop at Palazzo Reale to view the statues of eight famous Kings of this city and a few yards aside Castel Nuovo, an imposing castle of the 13th C surrounded by a deep moat. - At the old city part Piazza Dante we stop for a break to follow the course of ancient Naples and witness the evolution through centuries... - Then it’s on to Rome, Italy’s Eternal City and capital of the Roman Empire for dinner and overnight. (B & D/OV)
DAY 13 ROME - CITY SIGHTSEEING INCLUDING VATICAN
Your exciting morning tour starts with the Colosseo, an ancient arena used for gladitorial contents. You will see Foro Romano, remains of an earlier forum where senate meetings were held. Another stop is following at Fontana di Trevi, a 18th C fountain of Baroque creation with its tradition of throwing two coins over the shoulders. Then you cross the river Tevere to view Castel S. Angelo, a remarkable fortress built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian about 2.000 years ago. In range of sight the Vaticano and St. Peter’s Square where we stop to view first the balcony from which the Pope on Christmas gives his benediction to the City and World. The inside of its domed Basilica will show the Chapel of the Pieta, a carved masterpiece by Michelangelo and some further neo-classical designs of monuments. You will see the Baldaquin which crowns the pontifical altar, the Statue of St. Peter and the dome, also designed by Michelangelo emphasizes the gigantic dimensions of this Basilica. - The afternoon is at your disposal and tonight you will be invited for a festive candlelight dinner, including wine at your hotel. With a drawing of valuable gifts everyone is winning, we wish this last evening to be the most enjoyable one of your tour! (B & D/OV)
DAY 14 LAST DAY - RETURN FROM ROME AIRPORT
Following breakfast this unforgettable GRAND TOUR OF CHARMING ITALY comes to an end as your coach takes you to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport. Your driver and Tour Director bid farewell and are wishing you a happy return!