See classic Italy from Rome to romantic Venice

La dolce vita - the good life - is exactly what the Best of Italy trip is all about. Starting in the 'Eternal City' of Rome and ending by the canals of Venice, uncover the best of northern Italy. Experience classic Italian food, wine, history and style - all the things this wonderful country is famous for - and discover immense natural beauty while travelling through this spectacular corner of Europe.

Start
Rome, Italy
Finish
Venice, Italy
Countries
Italy
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSV
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
214kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Marvel at the ancient wonders and modern attractions in Rome
  • Meet Michelangelo's David in Florence
  • Visit the gravity-defying Torre de Pisa
  • Cycle across the Tuscan hinterland
  • Soak up stunning views along the Cinque Terre coast
  • Sample local wines in Piedmont
  • Unwind by Lake Como
  • Explore charming canals and alleyways on a trip to Venice

Itinerary

Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting usually at around 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where and when exactly it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Crowded with ancient ruins and religious monuments, Rome still pulses to the beat of modern life and is packed with designer shops, restaurants, cafes and exciting nightlife.
Enjoy some free time in Rome or, if you wish, your group leader will be available for an orientation walk taking in some of the best-known sights of Rome. No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free, and there's a small charge to climb the dome for the ultimate breathtaking panorama over Bella Roma. Also make the time to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.

In the afternoon you'll travel by train from Rome to Florence (approx. 1.5 hours). Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany, bursts with religious treasures and Renaissance masterpieces. It's been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here.

Note: The Vatican Museum is closed on some days, including most Sundays. Check the Vatican website for opening times: mv.vatican.va. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do. Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm. The best day for you to visit will be day 1 or the morning of day 2. In order to allow enough time in the museum and to avoid the crowds it is recommended to start the museum visit as doors open. Please note that prebooked tickets are not required if you just want to visit St Peter's Basilica and its dome.
Today is a free day for you to explore all that Florence has to offer. The principal sights of this beautiful 'outdoor museum' are easily discovered on foot - the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, Baptistry and Belltower and the Santa Croce Church. Visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art itself. See Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
In the evening, you can climb uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo for that most photographed of all sunset views across the rooftops of Florence.

Note: Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets by phone on (+39) 055 294883 from Monday to Friday 8.30am-6.30pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.30pm. You can also book online at www.weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book in advance (your leader can be of assistance), especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them. Make your reservations for these museums for any time on Day 3 or the morning of Day 4 of this itinerary.
This afternoon take a train to Lucca (approx 2 hrs). Lucca is one of Tuscany's real hidden gems, with centuries-old buildings, beautiful churches, charming piazzas and narrow streets within the city ramparts.

In Lucca, we stay in some unique accommodation - our own private apartments. We have several separate apartments located near the city centre so you may be a short walk away from your other group members and your leader. The apartments are a real treat. Staying in the city centre allows easy access to all the sights, restaurants and bars - all an easy stroll from your front door. Each apartment has 2-3 rooms with a shared bathroom. The kitchen is fully equipped and you can choose to buy your own groceries and supplies for meals. Some of our groups make Italian feasts with local ingredients during their stay. Our apartments are not hotels, there's no reception, room service or cleaning service every day, no televisions or washing machines, but plenty of charm and you just cannot beat the location.
Set off on a cycling tour following the scenic Serchio River through the Tuscan countryside (4 km round the walls and 14 km by the river, approx 3 hrs). Our base in Lucca provides us with the perfect opportunity for an outing to the nearby city of Pisa (approx 30 mins by local train), where you'll have the chance to visit the world-famous Duomo, Baptistry and of course, the gravity-defying Leaning Tower.
Today is a free day in Lucca to take in all the sights that this city has to offer. Perhaps check out the former Roman amphitheater - To be found off Via Fillungo. The remains of the amphitheater are gone, however the medieval houses now standing in its place follow the outline where the spectator stands once were. There are many outdoor cafes where you can sit down and see the world go by and do a spot of people watching. Make sure you also check out the 14th century Duomo di San Martino, containing Ilaria del Carretto's sarcophagus, and climb one of the city's towers, such as pretty Torre Guinigi, visible from afar with trees growing on it's roof.
Travel by train, bound for La Spezia (approx 3 hrs), the gateway to the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands in English. A medieval port town whose name is derived from its historic importance in the spice trade, La Spezia is our base for exploring the nearby stunning stretch of coast known as the Cinque Terre (approx. 30mins by train). After lunch explore the city or perhaps head out by ferry to the pretty seaside town of Portovenere, known for its colourful houses straddling the waterfront. Return to La Spezia or opt to take another ferry to Lerici, another small village across the Bay of Poets dominated by its castle, for dinner.
Today head out and walk along the famous path of the Cinque Terre. Olive groves and vineyards cover the mountains that plunge into the sea - the vistas here are breathtaking. If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 km, approx 5 hrs) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside. However, you can jump on a train between any of the villages or to get back to our base whenever you want. Please note that some sections of the Cinque Terre path can be quite difficult with challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Appropriate footwear (trainers or light hiking shoes) are required for this day.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. There are alternative inland routes, however these are of a higher physical rating and involve steep ups and downs. It is possible to take the train or a bus for these sections. Please also note that due to safety reasons some sections of any path can be closed at short notice.

Cinque Terre path sections:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola (the original Via dell'Amore) is currently closed until further notice. The alternative is an inland path, taking around 1 hour involving a rocky path with lots of steps.
- Manarola to Corniglia is also closed to landslides. The alternative is via the hill side village of Volastra. It takes 1 hour to reach Volastra via a series of steep staircases, and then another hour to reach Corniglia. There is an hourly bus from Manarola to Volastra in order to bypass the steps.
- Corniglia to Vernazza is medium level difficulty and takes about one and a half hours on a rocky path.
- Vernazza to Monterosso is more challenging but arguably the most scenic and takes about two hours on a rocky path.
Travel by train to Santa Margherita on the Peninsula of Portofino (approx 1 hr). Store your luggage and set off on a 5-7km walk, finishing at the glamorous resort of Portofino. Walk up to the marvellous viewpoints surrounding the town, or join the rich and famous for coffee on the harbourside and enjoy the people-watching. Then enjoy the fabulous coastal scenery with a boat ride back to Santa Margherita (weather permitting). Continue on by train to Asti (approx 2.5 hrs).
The town of Asti is located in the Piedmont region, home to some of the finest and most sought after wines in Europe. It's also the best place to find 'tartufo' (truffles), a distinctive regional delicacy. Take a bus to the rural village of Castagnole Monferrato and visit the home of a local winemaking family to sample their vintages. The Ruche grape variety is unique to this region of Italy - it's grown in just seven small villages in the province of Asti and produces a ruby-red, intense and aromatic wine.
Travel by train to Milan (approx 2 hrs), where we stop for a few hours. Italy's most prosperous and fashionable city, Milan is the place for stylish shopping and cafes - Milanese specialities! Explore the city's historic centre and visit the magnificent Duomo (cathedral) with its stunning Gothic terrace. Many visitors whilst in Milan will want to take a visit to Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper. Late in the afternoon, continue on to Lake Como by train and bus (approx 3 hrs).

Note: Your leader can't assist with tickets to see the Last Supper. These tickets are limited and generally sell out extremely quickly and up to six months in advance. If you expressly want to see the Last Supper you need to make arrangements in advance. Day 11 of this trip between 1pm and 3pm is the most suitable time. Note that the viewing is 15 minutes and in order not to lose the reservation, visitors must arrive 15 minutes before the time allocated for the visit. For information and reservations call +39 02 92 800 360. Online bookings can be made at vivaticket.it. Some other websites may only sell a ticket in conjunction with an additional product such as a guided tour or another museum entry.
Board a ferry to travel across the blue waters of lake Como to Bellagio. The rest of the day is free to explore Varenna, Cadenabbia, Villa Carlotta or the beautiful Villa Balbianello, which you may recognise from films such as Casino Royale or Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
Journey by train to Venice (approx 6 hrs). A grand city of canals, Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. Still rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture.

There are only two ways to explore Venice - by boat or on foot. Some of the more popular sights include the Grand Canal, the shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the time to wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas and cross the hundreds of tiny bridges, where shops, markets, galleries, churches and stunning buildings lie around every corner. You can't leave Venice without going on a classic Venetian gondola. It's a common way for visitors to see the major canal routes from a fascinating perspective.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is so much to see in Venice you may want to consider extending your stay. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
7 breakfasts
Transport
Bicycle, Boat, Bus, Metro, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (11 nights), Private apartment (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Rome Orientation walk
  • Piazzale Michelangelo Picnic Florence
  • Lucca Bicycle Tour
  • Pisa Half Day Trip
  • Cinque Terre Day Trip
  • Portofino Peninsula Walk and Boat Ride
  • Asti Winery Visit
  • Asti Bike Ride
  • Milan Duomo Roof Visit
  • Milan Half Day Trip
  • Lake Como Ferry Pass
  • Venice Traghetto Ride

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Best of Italy trips score an average of 4.86 out of 5 based on 111 reviews in the last year.

Best of Italy , April 2016

Best of Italy , April 2016

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