ESSENTIAL TOUR OF ITALY
12 days (11 nights)
3 nights in Venice + 3 nights in Florence + 3 nights in Amalfi coast + 2 nights in Rome
View the world famous SISTINE Chapel. Take a day trip to Capri Island, Ancient Rome’s favorite summer getaway. Explore ornate palaces & medieval piazzas in Venice. Tuscany and its gastronomy! Colosseum, Roman Forum and much more with our professional local guide in Rome.
Day 1: Arrival to Venice
Arrive in airport of Venice. Transfer to Venice. Once in the city, a water taxi will transport you to the town center and your hotel.
Venice in northern Italy is famous for both industry and tourism. With nicknames like "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", and "The Floating City", it's clear that the city's myriad canals are its main draw. Stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea, the city has long been a commercial and cultural hub thanks to its strategic placement. Silk, grains, spices, and art were traded through the Middle Ages, making Venice very wealthy.
Venice is well known for several artistic movements, particularly from the Renaissance period. The city's many musicians, like Antonio Vivaldi and others, played important roles in the shaping of symphonic and operatic music. Numerous artists have called Venice home, and their work continues to draw visitors worldwide.
The city is also famous for its many beautiful historic attractions, such as the Piazza San Marco and San Marco Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the ornate Doge's Palace. The Lido de Venezia is a popular luxury destination that attracts actors, critics, and other cinema industry celebrities.
Depending on when you arrive, a great introduction to the city is to take a romantic cruise down Venice's canals on a historic gondola to see stunning architecture and narrow waterways. This is not a guided tour but rather a relaxing cruise that allows you to take in the amazing city from the water.
In the evening head to the Cannaregio District, site of the former Jewish Ghetto, for a walking food tour. The area is filled with restaurants & shops offering kosher Venetian specialties, a Jewish museum, and several tourist-friendly synagogues. Eat and drink your way through regional specialties as you learn about the Jewish and Kosher influences and sample Cicchetti, creamy risottos, and sweet pastries and local wines. Buon appetito!
Day 2: Venice Walking Tour
Experience Venice's highlights with a guided walking tour. Start at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district. Tour Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a Venetian Gothic palace built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340. The palace stands on Piazza San Marco, and its resplendent interior decor and priceless works of art make it a must-see for history and architecture buffs.
Adjacent to the palace is the San Marco's Basilica, originally the Doge's personal chapel. The building is one of the best surviving examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture and features a stunning collection of Byzantine art, gold mosaics, and exquisite marble floors.
The palace is also connected to the next-door prison by the infamous Bridge of Sighs, which has joined the two buildings since the 16th century. The bridge features a small window onto Venice's harbor and earned its grisly name from the prisoners' sighing as they got one last glimpse of the city on their way to execution. While most visitors gather outside the bridge to look in, you'll get the best sense of history from inside the bridge, looking out from the same window as the doomed medieval prisoners.
After the morning's tour, grab lunch at one of the city's many cafes before spending the afternoon exploring.
Tour the 18th-century Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta (also known as I Gesuiti) in the Cannaregio district and the baroque 17th-century Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice's second most renowned church
Ride the elevator to the top of the Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s-eye view of Venice
Dive into history at the Correr Civic Museum to see art and artifacts displays from Venice's history as well as the former royals quarters
Go shopping at the famous Rialto fish market, located at the heart of Venice. The smell of seafood and sound of vendors vying for shoppers' attention make this colorful and hectic market a must-see for any Venice traveler
In the evening, rent a bike and go for a relaxed bike ride around the city before finding the best bars and nightlife for a night out.
Day 3: Free Day in Venice
Today is a free day to explore Venice. Make the most of your time in the city with some of these following suggestions:
Discover art at the Ca' Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna, Peggy Guggenheim Collection Modern Art Museum, and La Biennale di Venezia Art Museum
Explore San Giorgio Maggiore, one of Venice's smaller islands that stands separate from the main canals
See an opera show at the Teatro La Fenice
Haggle for produce at the busy Mestre market, held every Wednesday and Friday
Go shopping for luxury items on Le Mercerie and Salizada San Moisè
Browse textiles, craft shops, unique boutiques, and galleries in the bohemian San Samuele district
Rent a kayak and explore Venice from the water
Day 4: Venice to Florence, Food Tour
After breakfast head to the train station to catch a train to Florence. Florence is Tuscany's regional capital and its most populous city. Long considered a cultural capital and the "Jewel of the Renaissance", Florence is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, including the iconic Duomo, a terracotta-tiled dome, and the Galleria dell'Accademia, which displays Michelangelo's 'David' sculpture.
Spend the day exploring the top sites, located in the medieval city center. Popular highlights include the sprawling 15th-century Pitti Palace and the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci. As a center for art, Florence has hosted many of European history's most notable figures, including Botticelli, Donatello, Dante, Boccaccio, and Niccolò Machiavelli.
In the afternoon indulge yourself on the decadence of Tuscany's culinary delights. A guided walking tour of the city led by a local is the perfect way to discover the region's history and find the best off-the-beaten-path gelato and coffee shops. Sample wares from city markets to find the best of the best. Try truffle panini, fresh-pressed Tuscan olive oil, and handmade chocolate focaccia, finished with a glass of chilled prosecco or Chianti wine.
Day 5: Tour of Tuscany & Wine Tasting
In the morning head to the Tuscan countryside to explore the Chianti Region. Your first stop is the medieval village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located an hour away from Florence which is famous for its Vernaccia wine and award-winning gelaterias. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city before grabbing a coffee in an open-air cafe.
Continue to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery. The unique characteristics of the local climate have made the region unfavorable to most crops but ideal for growing wine grapes. Alternating fields of olive orchards and vineyards characterize this idyllic landscape.
The Chianti wine, made primarily of Sangiovese grapes, is the local staple. Tour the cellars and vineyards, then enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by a delicious Tuscan lunch of pasta, cured meats, cheeses, and local desserts.
In the afternoon visit nearby Siena, located a scenic hourlong drive away, to see the magnificent Cathedral, Torre del Mangia, and Town Hall, site of the famous Palio horse race. Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress of Monteriggioni before returning to Florence for the night.
Day 6: Free Day in Florence
Today is a free day to explore some of Florence's other notable attractions and highlights. Recommendations for the day include:
Spend some time learning about Florence's history in the Basilica di Santa Croce history museum
Explore science and art at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (history and art museum) and the Museo Galileo - Institute and Museum of the History of Science
Visit the Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele, which served as the granary for the Sisters of San Michele in previous years,
Shop for hidden treasures and your lunch special in the San Lorenzo market
Head to the south bank of the Arno River to the Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoint for panoramic views of the city
Stroll through the peaceful and relaxing greenery of the Boboli Gardens
Head to La Terrazza Continentale next to the Ponte Vecchio bridge for a pre-dinner cocktail on the terrace while you enjoy the sunset, then make your way to the Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood for dinner accompanied by a glass of Tuscan wine.
Day 7: Florence to Amalfi Coast, Positano Sunset Cruise
After breakfast at a sunny open-air cafe head to the train station to take the train to Naples, then transfer to your hotel on the Amalfi Coast. This stretch of coastline south of Naples is renowned for its exceptional beauty and iconic medieval cliffside fishing villages. Lemon groves and sprawling summer villas cling to the steep cliffs that lead to sparkling blue water.
In the afternoon head onto the water with a sunset boat tour to Positano from Amalfi. With its steep houses tumbling down to the sea, old-timey hotels draped in flowering vines and restaurant terraces Positano is an obvious favorite with travelers looking for a getaway. Soak in the views of the coast and the Ionian Sea from the boat as you enjoy a glass of Prosecco and some light aperitifs. Swim or snorkel in the clear blue waters, or simply enjoy the view.
Disembark in Positano for a romantic dinner with ocean views. Enjoy a pasta dinner with fresh seafood, paired with a glass of fruity Falanghina. Return to Amalfi for the night.
Day 8: Capri and Anacapri Day Tour
Spend the day enjoying the sunshine, summer villas, and clear blue waters of Capri Island, known locally as the Pearl of the Mediterranean. Capri sits on the south side of the Gulf of Naples and is a popular destination. Ancient Romans used the island for summer villas for the Empire's rich and famous, while the Greeks called Capri the 'Isle of Sirens.'
In the morning head out for a scenic drive along the Sorrentine coast to the Sorrento port, where you'll catch a hydrofoil to Capri. From here go for a guided walking tour of the island's main attractions. See the main harbors (Marina Grande and Marina Piccola), walk along the Belvedere of Tragara (a villa-lined promenade with panoramic views), and explore the ruins of ancient Roman villas.
Head up the hill to see Anacapri, the Piazzetta, and Augustus' Garden, as well as the best views of the Faraglioni Rocks.
In the afternoon return to the water to explore the Grotta Azzurra, a naturally hollowed sea cave, and soak in the sunshine on the beach.
Day 9: Free Day on the Amalfi Coast
Today is a free day to explore the area and enjoy the pace of life on the coast. Go for a walk on the Lemon Path in Minori or see the illuminated sea cave Grotta dello Smeraldo. See the local ceramics manufacturing process in Vietri, or go for a half-day hike on the Path of the Gods.
Other suggestions include:
Visit the beautiful Villa Cimbrone and Terrace of Infinity in Ravello
Soak in the sunshine on Gravitella Beach in Vettica Maggiore, Lannio Beach in Centra, or Arienzo Beach in Positano
Try your hand at windsurfing in Praiano
Check out Praiano's nightlife at the Africana and Music on the Rocks nightclubs
Rent a kayak and explore emerald green grottos, tiny hidden beaches, and impressive sea caves
Enjoy a quiet day in the serene town of Atrani, far away from the hustle and bustle of the larger villages
Explore the Fiordo di Furore, Italy's only fjord
Visit the Cloister of San Francesco in Sorrento, an oasis of tranquility that's located steps away from the town's historic Sant'Antonino piazza
Enjoy nature in the Ferriere Valley Nature Reserve, famous for its postcard-perfect fishing villages and striking countryside crisscrossed with hiking trails
For dinner head to a family-run restaurant for the best Italian pizza paired with a glass of the perfect local wine.
Day 10: Amalfi Coast to Rome, Afternoon Colosseum and Forum Tour
After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to the Amalfi Coast. Catch a high-speed train back to Rome, then check in to your hotel. According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C.E. atop Rome's Palatine Hill. The long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, Rome boasts nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture. These days, Italy's capital is considered one of Europe's top cities thanks to its ancient monuments, incredible art masterpieces, and cosmopolitan vibe. It's a center for fashion with buzzing food culture and has a growing nightlife scene.
Visitors and locals wanting to soak in the sunshine flock to the beautiful Giardino degli Aranci, the city's vibrant orange tree gardens on Aventine Hill, or relax in the lush greenery of the Villa Borghese Gardens.
In the afternoon, dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater (tickets included). Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. Learn about some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus and Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum.
From here, continue to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Walk along the ancient Roman street Via Sacra to see the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. See the ancient Basilica Julia and Aemilia and experience the grandeur of the Roman Empire.
Day 11: Vatican & Classic Tour of Rome
Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights for an exclusive 6-hour tour of the city's incredible art and history. Start at the Vatican, where you'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of Tapestries, and Gallery of the Geographical Maps.
Continue to see the magnificent Raphael Rooms, ending in the breathtaking Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Experience the magic of Renaissance art as you learn about the secret details and untold stories of the masterpieces.
Afterward, continue into a city for a tour of the city's most notable landmarks. Cross Piazza della Repubblica to see the Fountain of the Nyands, then continue to see the Trevi Fountain, La Colonna di Marco Aurelio, and the Palazzo di Montecitorio, which was designed by Bernini.
Admire the exterior of the Pantheon and head inside for a look at the ancient Roman temple, then head to Palazzo Madama—the Senate seat—ending at Piazza Navona.
End your evening with a stroll to the neighborhood piazza for gelato and some people watching.
Day 12: Departure
Transfer to the airport and departure for your home country