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Italy is the land of passion and indulgence. It offers a zest for life we can’t get enough of, from the snowcapped Alps and blue lakes of the north to the mountains of pizza, pasta, and profound history in the south.
Experience Italy in style by traveling via the country's efficient and luxurious high-speed trains. Begin with a train journey from Milan to Venice to explore “the Floating City” and learn about Venetian mask-making. Head next to the glamorous Tuscan hills and Florence, for some Chianti wine and a peek at some of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Have a quick visit to Pisa, Lucca, and Vinci. Then, train to “The Eternal City” and have your own Roman Holiday, complete with a visit to the Colosseum and a trip to the grand Vatican City.
And don’t worry — calories don’t count while you’re in Italy! Feast like locals on homemade pasta, pizza, fresh seafood, and grilled vegetables at renowned trattorias. Sample refreshing gelato by the Trevi Fountain, peruse prosciutto at the artisanal market in Venice, savor a wine-paired dinner in the Chianti countryside, and more!
You’ll fall in amore with Italy at every turn. Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, bountiful food and drink opportunities, beautiful galleries and museums, and lectures on Italian life and language are only some of the highlights of your adventure. Not to mention that you’ll experience Italy by boat, with cruises to the Borromean Islands, Lake Orta, Venice Lagoon islands, and a musical gondola ride in Venice. Your journey comes to a glorious ending with a special gala dinner at a famed Michelin-lauded restaurant in the heart of Rome. Immerse in the beauty of Italy by land and lake and join us on one of our 2021 departures!
Fly to Italy
Your journey to Italy begins with an overnight flight to Milan.
Indulge in the beauty of Stresa and Lake Maggiore
Sit back and relax as you’re transferred via motorcoach from Milan to Stresa, a picturesque resort town on the banks of Lake Maggiore. Your hotel is a welcoming sight, complete with guaranteed lake views from your room and an infinity swimming pool.
This evening, you’ll be amazed at the stunning views of Lake Maggiore from Stresa’s only rooftop bar – in your hotel! The La Palma Sky bar is the perfect idyllic setting to kick off your culinary journey.
Later at your hotel, enjoy a briefing from your Adventure Leader and a Welcome Dinner.
A private cruise through Lake Maggiore
Set off on a private Lake Maggiore cruise to the enchanting Borromean Islands, a trio of tiny islands settled 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, you can explore more of Stresa on your own. Later, an enlightening lecture offers an inside look at the daily life in Italy’s lakes region. You’re free to dine as you which this evening at any of the delectable restaurants in Stresa.
Lake Orta, San Giulio Island, and Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens
Continue your nautical adventures while enjoying a full-day at Lake Orta and a boat cruise. The sister lake to the larger Cuomo and Maggiore, this gorgeous body of water is an Italian hidden gem, full of authentic villages and green, misty views. There’s a reason the locals nicknamed it La Cenerentola, or Cinderella, for its beauty and charm.
Today’s highlight will be a visit to the iconic San Giulio Island, in the middle of Lake Orta. Stroll though it’s serene piazza, and see the Romanesque basilica up close, boasting an 11th century black marble pulpit.
Back on the mainland, you will visit the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens, blooming with hundreds of rare and local varieties of flora. Stroll through the ample dahlia gardens (most colorful in spring and fall) or admire the beautiful greenhouse and nearby lily ponds.
Enjoy a free evening today. Ask your Adventure Leader for their favorite dining recommendations!
Train journey to Venice and dining Venetian-style
Called “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 area is known for its seafood as well as tapas-style bites known as cicchetti (chi-ket-ee). These crostini-style finger foods are eponymous in Venice, featuring toppings that range from sardines to prosciutto and grilled vegetables to cheese, so keep an eye out while exploring during the day for these delicacies. Dinner at a local trattoria introduces you to authentic Venetian cuisine.
Explore a local food market and Venice by boat; then, attend mask-making demonstration
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.
Then, it’s time to discover more of this mesmerizing floating city — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — during a sightseeing tour by boat, which takes you along the Grand Canal, from the hotel 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.
Learn about the traditional Venetian art of mask-making during a demonstration with a local craftsman. Following the tour, an optional local water-bus ride back to the hotel will give you a glimpse of how daily Venetians get around on 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 evening romantic 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, take a dreamy traditional gondola ride this afternoon, complete with sweet serenades and scenic views of the gorgeous city from the water.
Visit famed Gallery of the Academy of Florence and dine like the locals
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 region. After arriving at your grand Florentine hotel — featuring the only outdoor swimming pool in the city — you’ll head to Osteria dei Centopoveri, a local restaurant, for lunch.
After lunch, you’ll embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Florence, including its UNESCO World Heritage Site historic center. A tour of the Gallery of the Academy of Florence, whose world-renowned art collection counts with Michelangelo’s David, will introduce you to the city’s rich artistic history.
Dinner will be on your own, where you can join locals on some marendas, or snacks, and graze through the selection of fresh seafood and homemade pizza.
Florence’s renowned Uffizi Gallery and Chianti countryside excursion
Join your Adventure Leader this morning for 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, peruse the plethora of produce, baked goods, pasta, wine, and fresh cheese for sale at the Mercato Centrale. You will have the opportunity to make the climb to the top of Duomo, inside the cathedral, and enjoy a stunning vista, or indulge the senses back at the hotel with a spa session.
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 more than 120 acres 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 local wine before savoring a meal that has been smartly paired with complimentary wine 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.
Full-day tour to the Tuscany countryside — Lucca and Pisa
Make the most of your time in Tuscany with a full-day excursion to two of its most prominent towns: 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 dinner at the hotel specially prepared by Chef Luigi Incrocci and his team, using the freshest seasonal ingredients to delight the senses in an idyllic setting overlooking the garden and pool.
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.
After, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Lunch at a local restaurant, featuring homemade tiramisu. Later on, you’ll check into your hotel — another highlight, as it’s located just steps away from the marvelous Villa Borghese, with a great view of the park from your room. The hotel also features the largest and most advanced spa facility in all of Rome.
Dinner is on your own at any of Rome’s celebrated dining establishments. Traditional Roman dishes include fried artichokes, spicy pasta all'amatriciana, and celebrated carbonara. When in Rome... splurge!
Visit the Vatican City, with fast-tracking entrance to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica
Wake up and get ready for a true Italian highlight today: a tour of the Vatican Museums in the UNESCO-listed Vatican City. Enjoy fast-tracking 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.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, with lunch on your own. Dinner will be at Meo Pattaca, a favorite since the 1950s that celebrates all things Roman with songs, traditional garb, and hearty dishes with humble roots. Save room after dinner to try some gelato! Savor sweet flavors by the famed Trevi Fountain, while admiring the twinkling romance of Rome after dark.
Free time in Rome, plus gala dinner in Mirabelle Restaurant
On your last day in Rome, you’re free to roam! Discover some more incredible eateries featuring the simple, yet delectable cacio e pepe, a fresh pasta mixed with pecorino Romano cheese and ground black pepper. 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 — make sure to bring your camera!
Depart Rome and fly home, or continue to Sorrento for a 3 nights extension
Return home with a flight from Rome or join us on an extension through scenic Sorrento by the seaside.
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.