Day 1: Arrive in Venice, Private Guided City Tour
Welcome to Italy! Arrive in Venice Airport, then transfer to the city center. 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.
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.
In the afternoon and evening, head out for a private guided walking tour of the city's top sights. Start at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district. The piazza is also home to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a Venetian Gothic palace built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340.
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.
Day 2: Bacaro & Private Squero Tour in Venice
Enjoy a free morning in the city. Pick from the following suggestions, then head out to explore before lunchtime:
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
For lunch, head to a traditional bacaro, a Venetian wine bar, to try the Cicchetti—little bite-sized snacks accompanied by a glass of wine. The seafood in Venice is always fresh-caught, so try the fried squid skewer or the creamy salted codfish canapès. The mozzarella in Carrozza (a fried cheese sandwich), various cold cuts, and other delicacies are also delicious.
In the afternoon take a private guided tour of a traditional squero, a small boatyard where tradesmen build and repair gondolas. This squero was founded in 1884 by an expert local craftsman, who changed the traditional shape of the gondola boat. These changes were permanently adopted into gondola construction and handed down over the generations to keep the art alive.
You'll learn about the art and science of traditional gondola construction and see how the beautiful boats are constructed using a combination of carefully selected natural wood for ultimate longevity.
Afterward, enjoy an evening stroll in the city center, then find the perfect restaurant by a canal for a delicious meal.
Day 3: Venice to Florence, Private Guided City 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 with an art historian on a private guided walking tour. Start in the medieval city center in the Piazza della Repubblica, one of the city's main squares. It has marked the city center since Roman times. See the Colonna della Dovizia, also known as the Column of Abundance, that marks the point where the cardus (north-south oriented road) and decumanus maximi (east-west oriented road) met and also where the Roman forum stood.
Continue to the Piazza della Signoria, the city's political center since the Middle Ages, where ceremonial events, rallies, and festivals are celebrated. Here you'll find several iconic Florentine landmarks—Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The square's centerpiece is the Neptune Fountain, a popular meeting place.
See the Ponte Vecchio bridge, a symbol of Florence's power for over seven centuries. The bridge houses buildings and shops, which have been occupied by merchants and shopkeepers since the Middle Ages. Arrive at the Italian Gothic Cathedral of Florence and climb the 400+ steps to reach Giotto's bell tower. Enjoy a private and exclusive visit to the Cathedral Terraces, which perch high above the city traffic and are generally closed to the public. From here you'll have a birds-eye view of the whole city.
For dinner, head to Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence's 3-star Michelin restaurant, then stroll through the city on your way back to the hotel.
Day 4: Private Guided Accademia Gallery & Boat Tour
In the morning, meet your art historian guide and visit the Accademia Gallery for a private guided tour. The Galleria dates back to 1784 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, reorganized the Academy of Arts of Design in Florence into the modern Academy of Fine Arts. The Galleria was specifically designed to house valuable works of art and its spectacular architecture is impressive in its own right.
Among other masterpieces, the Galleria is home to one of the Renaissance's most iconic masterpieces, Michelangelo's David. This incredible 14 ft tall Renaissance sculpture, which depicts the Biblical hero, was created between 1501 and 1504 and became a symbol of the Florentine republic's strength during a time of massive political change. Much like David facing the mighty Goliath, the Republic was threatened at the time by stronger states, not to mention to Medici family regaining power.
Enjoy lunch on your own time and spend some time shopping for souvenirs or simply enjoying the city's ambiance.
Later in the afternoon board a traditional boat piloted by a Renaiolo, a traditional boatman, for a sunset ride on the Arno River. The 45-minute trip on a traditional boat will take you down the Arno from Piazza Mentana, pass under the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinità, and navigate by the Uffizi Gallery, the Vasari Corridor, Palazzo Corsini and the 10th-century San Jacopo sopr'Arno Church.
Day 5: San Gimignano & Chianti Wine, Transfer to Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
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 that's located an hour away from Florence. It's famous for its historic buildings, Vernaccia wine, and award-winning gelaterias. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city on a private guided tour before grabbing a coffee in an open-air cafe.
Continue to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery. This winery blends centuries-old knowledge with a modern approach to create environmentally-friendly wine cultivation. As part of the project, weeding and chemical topdressing have been completely eliminated from the growing process and the waste that's produced by the company is recycled into organic fertilizer.
Enjoy learning about the winery and the unique characteristics of the local climate that have made the region unfavorable to most crops but ideal for growing wine grapes. 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.
Enjoy the evening in the town of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. Spend the night in a luxurious Relais, an exclusive bed and breakfast with large, elegant rooms, airy balconies, and shaded gardens.
Day 6: Hot Air Balloon Ride, Afternoon in Siena
Spend a relaxing morning enjoying the peace and serenity of the Tuscan countryside. Kick back on the patio with a good book and a cup of coffee, go for a stroll on a quiet lane, or explore one of the town's many historical landmarks. For the experience of a lifetime, enjoy a private hot air balloon ride over the rolling hills, olive groves and ancient hamlets of the Tuscan countryside.
Break for a gourmet picnic lunch, then drive to Siena for an afternoon in the medieval hilltop city. The city is unique, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site as the ideal embodiment of a medieval town.
See the magnificent Cathedral and Town Hall on the Piazza del Campo, the famous trapezoidal square where the famous Palio horse race takes place twice a year. Visit the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, an impressive building filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello, and Michelangelo as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio.
Enjoy a typical Tuscan dinner of local cured meats, pecorino cheese, and panforte, then return to your Relais in the countryside.
Day 7: Tavarnelle Val di Pesa to Rome, Private Guided City Tour
In the morning make your way to the Florence train station, then take the high-speed train to Rome. Arrive, then head out for a private guided tour of the historical center of the Eternal City.
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.
Visit the Piazza di Spagna, the Fontana di Trevi, and the Piazza Navona (originally an ancient stadium) which now houses Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Egyptian obelisk.
End your evening with a stroll to the neighborhood piazza for gelato and some people watching.
Day 8: Priority Access Vatican Tour
St. Peter's Square and the Vatican
St. Peter's Square and the Vatican
Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights for an exclusive guided tour of the city's incredible art and history. Start at the Vatican, where you'll get an 8:00 AM start, giving you a one-hour head start on the rest of the crowds. See 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 to see Michelangelo's Genesis ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgement altar fresco. Continue to St. Peter's Basilica and Square and experience the magic of Renaissance art as you learn about the secret details and untold stories of the masterpieces.
In the evening, go for a stroll in the buzzing Monti neighborhood, an eclectic area in the city center full of hip wine bars and trendy boutiques, then find the perfect rooftop restaurant for dinner with sunset views.
Day 9: Private Colosseum & Forum Tour, Afternoon Cooking Class
In the morning meet your archaeologist guide and dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a private guided walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater (tickets included). You'll explore the main complex, as well as the Belvedere, the recently opened third ring with a view of the arena and the Imperial Forums up to the fourth and fifth rings.
Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. At its prime, the Colosseum held 50,000 spectators and was the central venue for gladiator fights. 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, built between 46 BCE and 113 CEC. 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.
Enjoy some time to yourself, then head to a 2.5-hour afternoon cooking class to learn to make traditional Roman pasta specialties. You'll learn to make Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara, and Amatriciana—all Italian favorites. Start with a combination of great local ingredients (pecorino cheese, fresh meat, and eggs), then make the perfect sauce with fresh market vegetables. Form the homemade dough into the classic pasta shapes and combine everything for a delicious meal.
Once you're finished, sit down to enjoy your creations for dinner paired with the perfect glass of wine.
Day 10: Private Galleria Borghese Tour, Free Afternoon in Rome
Today is a free day to explore the city. Head to Galleria Borghese, one of the world's premier art museums, for a private guided tour to see works by extraordinary artists Bernini, Caravaggio, Canova, and Rafaello. The gallery's highlights include sculptures and paintings from Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection (1579 - 1633).
Admire Caravaggio's most important paintings, including "Boy with Basket of Fruit", and see Bernini and Canova's sculpture collection, boasting works such as "Apollo and Daphne" and "David". Rafaello's "Entombment of Christ" is also a must-see.
Walk through the ornate rooms and explore the splendid frescoes, stories, and masterful techniques behind the masterpieces. End the tour with a peaceful stroll around the Villa Borghese gardens, enjoying its beauty and calm far from the chaos of the city.
Other suggested activities include:
Visit the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo history museum
Tour the Renaissance Villa Farnesina in the Trastevere district
Head out of the city for a day at the Ostia beach for miles of sand and warm sea
Visit the historic and fascinating neighborhood of Testaccio to see the giant Monte Testaccio, an ancient pile of discarded olive oil jars from the 2nd century CE
Spend an afternoon at the Musei Capitolini, the oldest and one of the best museums in Italy
In the evening head back to the Trastevere neighborhood for dinner at an osteria or a trattoria, followed by drinks at a trendy wine bar.
Day 11: Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius Helicopter Flight, Transfer to Praiano
In the morning board a high-speed train to Naples, then make your way to a winery on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. Sample local wines and discover how the area's volcanic soil produces amazing regional wines, then transfer to Pompeii. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been frozen in time since the 79 CE eruption of the nearby volcano, which covered Pompeii in ash and preserved it entirely. Explore the city's ancient roads, storehouses, baths, and temples as you learn about life in ancient Rome.
In the afternoon, take a breathtaking helicopter flight over Mt. Vesuvius to see the crater, the Pompeii city ruins, and the dramatic Amalfi Coast. Remember to bring your camera—this is definitely one of the trip's highlights!
Land at the legendary Villa Cimbrone on the coast for a leisurely cocktail on the panoramic terrace and enjoy the cool ocean breeze as you relax in the lush terraced gardens. Take in the sunset views of the coast, then transfer to your accommodation.
Day 12: Guided Tour of Amalfi & Limoncello Farm
Start your morning with a quick drive up the coast from Praiano to Amalfi. The town of Amalfi is a jewel of the Mediterranean coast, famous for its white-washed buildings, historical churches, and paper-making industry.
Go for a private guided walking tour through the town to see the sights and soak up the atmosphere. Stop by La Piazzetta di Sant'Andrea—the square at the heart of the city—to see the Duomo and the Romanesque-baroque Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea. Once one of the four main Maritime Republics of Italy, Amalfi is now primarily a resort town. Stop by the Paper Museum to learn about the local flourishing paper industry, which brought a stream of wealth and skilled craftsmen to the area.
In the afternoon continue to a traditional limoncello farm and learn about the family tradition of preparing special meals and regional dishes with the special local lemons. At the end of the tour, enjoy a unique lunch where every dish is made with the famous Amalfi Coast lemons.
The rest of the day is free—try your hand at windsurfing in Praiano, rent a kayak and explore emerald green grottos, tiny hidden beaches, and impressive sea caves, or go for a hike on one of the area's many steep hiking trails.
In the evening, check out Praiano's nightlife at the Africana and Music on the Rocks nightclubs, or find a quiet romantic restaurant for dinner on a terrace with a view of the Amalfi Coast.
Day 13: Private Luxury Yacht to Capri Island
Spend the day aboard a private yacht 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 on your private luxury yacht 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 Praiano for a relaxing dinner with a view.
Day 14: Departure
Transfer to the airport and departure to your home country or extension to another tour or rest by the sea.
UNIQUE TOUR OF ITALY
14 days (13 nights)
2 nights in Venice + 2 nights in Florence + 2 nights in Tuscany countryside + 4 nights in Rome + 3 nights in Amalfi coast
Go on a luxurious wine tour in the Tuscan countryside. Tour a traditional boatyard to see how gondolas are made. Dive deep into history with a private tour of Rome’s Colosseum. Take a private luxury yacht to Capri Island on the Amalfi Coast. See the incredible Mt. Vesuvius crater and Pompeii ruins from a helicopter