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Fly to Milan
Your Italian journey kicks off with an overnight flight to Milan.
Benvenuto! Arrive in Milan, and transfer overland to Stresa for tonight’s Welcome Dinner
Upon arrival in Milan, you’ll transfer by motorcoach to Stresa, an idyllic resort town on picturesque Lake Maggiore. Settle into your hotel room, which features a guaranteed lake view, as well as a fabulous infinity swimming pool overlooking the lake. This evening, gather for an informative trip briefing by your Adventure Leader, followed by a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Cruise Lake Maggiore to the Borromean Islands, then join an optional tour to Lake Orta
Set off on a private Lake Maggiore cruise to the enchanting Borromean Islands, a trio of tiny islands settled by in the 16th and 17th centuries by an aristocratic Italian family. Your adventure begins on Isola Madre, where you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of its English-style botanical gardens. Continue on to Isola Bella for a tour of its stunning baroque palace, with time to explore its lovely grounds and Italian gardens. Conclude your island tour on picturesque Isola dei Pescatori, where you’ll have an opportunity for lunch on your own or some shopping in the quaint fishing village. Upon return to Stresa, keep the discoveries coming with an optional Lake Orta cruise, or explore more of Stresa on your own. Tonight, an enlightening lecture offers an inside look at daily life in Italy’s lakes region. Gather with your fellow travelers on rooftop terrace of the hotel for a Welcome Cocktail. Then you’re free to do — and dine — as you choose, this evening.
Board a private boat cruise across Lake Orta, one of the jewels of Italy’s gorgeous lakes region. Little-known, but big on beauty, Lake Orta was credited by both Friedrich Nietzsche and Honoré de Balzac as a creative muse of unsurpassed magnificence, with Balzac calling it a “grey pearl in a green jewel-box.” Your visit takes you on a scenic route along the lakeshore to the romantic village of Orta San Giulio, where you’ll find a maze of cobblestoned lanes, boutiques, antique shops, cafés and restaurants, before visiting the enchanting Isola San Giulio. Featuring a 12th-century basilica and 10th-century monastery, this fairy-tale island is mostly pedestrian-only, offering plenty of opportunities to explore the ancient homes and architecture.
High-speed rail journey to Venice and trattoria dinner
Called “La Serenissima,” “the Floating City,” and “the City of Canals,” Venice comes finally into view when you arrive today to this inimitable 5th-century city via Italy’s high-speed rail (a luggage truck will transfer your luggage throughout your journey for the utmost in convenience and ease!). While you transfer to Milan to catch the train, learn to communicate like a local during a special “Italian, With Words and Without” language lesson. With speeds of up to 190 mph and premium first-class seating — complete with power plugs, comfortable seats, and more — the luxurious high-speed train will transport you to Venice and your classically opulent hotel just in time for an afternoon at leisure. This evening, we’ll enjoy appetizers at a local bacaro (wine bar) and experience dinner at a nearby trattoria for authentic Venetian cuisine.
Market visit, Venetian highlights by boat, and a mask-making demo
After breakfast today, head to a local food market for a presentation about Italian cuisine. You’ll learn some inside tidbits about everything from prosciutto to cheese, as well as the sweets of southern Italy, while tasting some delicious local products, too. Afterwards, experience more of the local culture when you learn about the traditional Venetian art of mask-making during a demonstration with a local craftsman.
Then it’s time to discover more of this mesmerizing floating city — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — during a sightseeing tour by private boat, which takes you along the Grand Canal to St. Mark’s Basilica. Winding through Venice for two miles, the main water traffic route is lined with gorgeous centuries-old palaces, churches, hotels, and other buildings in an eclectic array of architectural styles. Following the tour, an optional local waterbus ride back to the hotel will give you a glimpse of how daily Venetians get around this island. Enjoy the rest of the day to explore and dine on your own, perhaps seeking out a cicchetti bar (or two or three!) and enjoying an Aperol spritz in one of Venice’s many scenic squares.
Venetian Lagoon excursion to Murano and Burano, and afternoon gondola ride
After breakfast, join your Adventure Leader for a walk through scenic backstreets to the Venice Lagoon and a boat excursion to two of its many islands. Your first stop, Murano, is a cluster of seven bridge-linked islands with an ancient and esteemed glass-making tradition. Visit one of Murano’s renowned glass factories for a live glassblowing demonstration by a skilled artisan. Conclude your boat tour on the neighboring island of Burano — known for its colorfully painted houses and handcrafted lace — where you’ll have opportunities for lunch in numerous snack bars and restaurants. Upon returning to “mainland” Venice, experience the city in true Venetian style during a romantic gondola ride — accompanied by serenades from your gondolier! The rest of the evening is at leisure.
High-speed journey to Florence, gelato discovery, and a meet and greet with Michelangelo’s David
Say “arrivederci” to Venice this morning when you depart for Florence, birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Enjoy views from aboard your high-speed train as it soars through Italy’s scenic Veneto, Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany regions en route to the Tuscan capital. After arriving, you’ll head to a local restaurant for lunch and another culinary experience: a delicious gelato tasting! Gelato boasts a higher proportion of milk versus cream and eggs (and often features no eggs at all), making for a lighter (calorie-wise), yet denser, dessert experience.
After lunch, you’ll embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Florence, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tour of the Accademia Gallery — whose world-renowned art collection includes Michelangelo’s David, among other notable works — will introduce you to the city’s rich artistic history. Then, check in to your grand Florentine hotel — featuring the only outdoor swimming pool in the city! — and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Florence’s renowned Uffizi Gallery, Chianti countryside excursion
Join your Adventure Leader this morning of a walk along the Arno River, then delve even deeper into Florence’s artistic heritage at the renowned Uffizi Gallery. Here, you’ll explore work by some of Italy’s revered Renaissance masters: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli, and Raphael. Afterward, the afternoon is yours to dine and discover the city at your own pace, or hop aboard a coach for a ride over to Florence’s Mercato Centrale! You’ll find artisanal breads and other foods, fresh pasta, wine, truffles, and more.
Tonight, take a short (and scenic!) drive out to the Chianti countryside to savor this region's world-revered gastronomy and viniculture during an exclusive wine tasting and dinner in the cinematic Tuscan hills. You'll visit a local wine producer at a 16th-century villa that features 49 hectares of vineyards growing the sangiovese grapes used to produce the Chianti wine for which the region is renowned. The villa also produces its own extra virgin olive oil, which you’ll be able to try, along with some local wine, before savoring a meal of local specialties that have been paired with complimentary wines to enrich every bite. You’ll dine surrounded by centuries-old cypress trees, a geometric Italian garden, and an expansive field — don’t forget your camera for this truly magical evening.
Visit Vinci, Lucca, and Pisa on an optional excursion, or spend some free time in Florence
Make the most of your time in Tuscany with an optional excursion to three of its most prominent towns: Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci; the charming walled town of Lucca; and the ancient city of Pisa, home to the infamous Leaning Tower. Alternatively, stay in Florence where more museums, palaces, churches, restaurants, and bridges await you during some independent sightseeing. Enjoy an evening at leisure and dinner at the hotel.
Depart for Rome by train, then embark on a panoramic tour of the “Eternal City”
Depart by train for Rome today, taking in more picturesque scenery as you pass through the Umbria and Lazio regions en route to Italy’s sprawling and romantic capital. Then, enjoy a guided panoramic tour (by motorcoach and on foot) of Rome’s historic center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site with highlights that include the iconic Colosseum, ancient Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, and more. This afternoon, you’ll check into your hotel, which is sure to be another highlight as it’s just steps away from marvelous Villa Borghese, with a great view of the park from your room, and the hotel also features the largest and most advanced spa facility in all of Rome. After, join your fellow travelers for a welcoming lunch at a local restaurant, featuring homemade tiramisu. This evening, have dinner on your own at one of Rome’s celebrated dining establishments. Traditional Roman dishes include fried artichokes, spicy pasta all'amatriciana, and celebrated carbonara. When in Rome . . . be indulgent!
Free time in Rome, plus Vatican City tour and fast-track entrance to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica, gala dinner in Mirabelle Restaurant
Awake today in Rome and prepare for a true Italian highlight — a tour of the Vatican Museums in the UNESCO-listed Vatican City. Enjoy fast-track entrance to these world-renowned museums, featuring an exceptional collection of classical sculptures, Renaissance art, and the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel.
After the museums, enter St. Peter’s Basilica — an Italian Renaissance-style church among Christianity’s holiest sites and, until recently, the world’s largest church (it's now the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro on the Ivory Coast!). Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, with lunch on your own.
Tonight, you’ll experience timeless Italian elegance during a gala dinner at Rome’s Michelin-lauded Mirabelle Restaurant, which offers exceptional cuisine, an enviable wine list, and panoramic views of Villa Borghese, Trinità dei Monti, and St. Peter’s Basilica from its location on the seventh floor of the Hotel Splendide Royal. The hotel features one of the most spectacular terraces in Rome — bring your camera!
Tivoli and Villa d’Este optional tour and Rome by Night excursion
Trek westward to the historic hill town of Tivoli today on an optional excursion to the UNESCO-listed Villa d’Este’s gardens and fountains, which some have called a “Renaissance water park.” Or, enjoy Rome as you please. Set out on a panoramic “Rome by Night” tour, including a walk through the historic and eclectic Trastevere district, and dinner and live entertainment at a neighborhood restaurant. Now that you’re probably feeling at least a little bit Italian yourself, you’ll also enjoy your Adventure Leader's discussion on “What Makes an Italian.” To cap off your final evening in Rome, enjoy a refreshing gelato next to the stunning Trevi Fountain.
Head west of Rome to the town of Tivoli, a historic hill town in Italy’s Lazio region and once the retreat of ancient Romans and the Italian aristocracy. Here, you'll visit UNESCO-listed Villa d’Este, a Renaissance manse built in the 1550s for Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia of the famous House of Borgia. Learn about the villa’s colorful history as you tour the breathtaking manicured gardens and remarkable fountains that some have called a “Renaissance water park.”
Journey to Naples by train, explore Pompeii, and relax in Sorrento
Board another high-speed train to Naples today on the final leg of your Italian adventure. Here in this storied coastal city you’ll enjoy a panoramic tour of Naples’ historic city center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s largest city center. Lunch brings you to a local restaurant where you can order some excellent Neapolitan pizza in the city where it originated, or to try Neapolitan cuisine and contrast it from the cuisine you enjoyed in northern Italy.
Your tour continues with a guided visit to the staggering ruins of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried under the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Afterward, with a fascinating day of discovery under your belt, you’ll transfer to the lemon-scented resort town of Sorrento and settle into your hotel room, with a guaranteed balcony view of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. Enjoy an evening at leisure, with dinner on your own, with recommendations from your Adventure Leader.
Amalfi Coast excursion, pizza-making, agriturismo Farewell Dinner
Enjoy a day of sightseeing along the Amalfi Coast. Beginning in dashing Positano, embark on a scenic cruise of this stunning coastline that reveals the dramatic beauty, craggy Mediterranean landscape, and charming cliffside towns that comprise this region. Your cruise will end in Amalfi, with time on your own for lunch. After returning to Sorrento, join your Adventure Leader for a guided orientation walk of the town’s landmarks. After lunch on your own, spend the afternoon exploring Sorrento’s winding streets and centuries-old sites at your own pace.
This evening’s menu features a fun, flavorful visit to a local agriturismo — a farm offering fresh, locally grown and produced food. Get a taste of local culture and cuisine as you help prepare an authentic Italian pizza with farm fresh ingredients, regional ingredients, and local wines. Afterward, we'll sit down to our fabulous Farewell Dinner, prepared at the agriturismo from the bounty of the region. The perfect way to conclude a delicioso visit to beautiful Italy!
Depart Sorrento and fly home, or stay on for an extra two nights in Sorrento
Today you’ll transfer to the Naples airport for your flight home — or remain in Sorrento for the first of two nights of your post-trip extension.
Maximize your Italian journey — and the value of your included international airfare — with several extra days in one of southwestern Italy’s shiniest gems, Sorrento. Your extended stay in this coastal resort is entirely at your leisure, allowing you plenty of time to savor its beauty and charm at your own pace. Follow its narrow streets through charming, hilly neighborhoods . . . Take in panoramic views of the Bay of Naples . . . Linger over coffee and biscotti at one of the cafés lining historic Piazza Tasso . . . Seek out locally produced ceramics, marquetry, or lacework at some of Sorrento’s welcoming, little shops. Best of all, your Adventure Leader stays with you during the extension to provide all the insights, recommendations, and connections to ensure an exquisite experience in Sorrento!
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the Hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.