Best of Italy Trip Notes

Best of Italy

Last Modified: 06 May 2016
Best of Italy
Trip code: ZMSV
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
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.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderHealth
Physical ratingSafetyTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining pointA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- The primary means of transportation on this trip is by train. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Trains are comfortable and often decked out with air-conditioning, toilets, a snack bar (or vending machine) and power points. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'What to Take' section of the trip notes.
- As there are potholes and cobblestones in many European cities, it's recommended that you leave any wheelie bags/cases at home and bring a backpack instead. As this is an eight-day trip, a large backpack should be enough to carry all of your belongings.
- Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
- As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details, and please note that in some hotels a single supplement exclusion applies where single rooms are not available. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together.
Why we love it
- Wander around Rome's famous landmarks including the Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica and much more. This is a city that bucket lists were made for
- Meet Michelangelo's David in Florence and discover the city beneath the centuries of Renaissance art
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be Pisa's most iconic image, but the city offers so much more. The Piazza dei Miracoli and Pisa Baptistry are masterpieces in Medieval-Italian architecture
- Cycle across the Tuscan hinterland and work up an appetite for incredible feasts of delicious local ingredients
- Walk along Cinque Terre's rocky coastal pathways, calling into the sleepy pastel villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore and Vernazza
- Head to a tiny hamlet in the heart of Piedmont and sample world-class local wines from unique gapes grown only in this region
- Spend a day exploring the beautiful villages, estates and gardens dotted around Lake Como, criss-crossing the lake by ferry. Taking a turn about the grounds of Bellagio's grand Villa Melzi can make you truly feel La Dolce Vita
- Romantic Venice is like no other city in the world, a watery wonderland literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Rome
Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy. 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. Your Italian adventure will begin with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight – check with reception to confirm the time and place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. 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). There are no activities planned before the meeting, so if you arrive early there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Maybe save the unmissable sights for tomorrow morning and today do as the Romans do – sip an espresso at one of the tiny streetside cafes and sample the many flavours of gelato that colour the city. For those captivated by the 'Eternal City', throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return visit to Rome.
Optional Activities
  • Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill - EUR16
  • Urban Adventures - Ancient Rome: Archaeological Discovery Tour - EUR89
  • Urban Adventures - Trastevere: Trends and Tradition - EUR55
  • Urban Adventures - Roman Dolce Vita - EUR63
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Rome / Florence
    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 like the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Roman Forum. 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 a breath-taking panorama over Bella Roma. If there's time, visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. In the afternoon you'll travel by train from Rome to Florence, Italy's ‘outdoor museum’ (approximately 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. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of your evening is free to explore the city of the Renaissance. Food is also a major part of the city's identity, so perhaps explore some of the culinary delicacies on offer from across Tuscany.

    Notes: Check the Vatican website (vatican.va) for updated information on when you can visit. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at: biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do. Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at: galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm. The best day 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.
    Included Activities
    • Rome Orientation walk
      Optional Activities
      • Accademia - EUR16
      • Uffizi Gallery - EUR16
      • Vatican museums - EUR16
      • St Peter's Dome Climb & Elevator - EUR8
      • Urban Adventures - Aperitivo Time! Florence Wine Tour - EUR73
      • Urban Adventures - Florence Markets & Delis - EUR53
      • Urban Adventures - Florence Foodies Walk - EUR64
      • Florence Baptistry, Museo Opera del Duomo, Giotto Bell Tower and Brunelleschi Dome - EUR15
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 3 Florence
        Today is a free day for you to explore all that Florence has to offer. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, however, so take your time and enjoy it. The principal sights 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 (with its fiery depiction of the Last Judgement), the Baptistry and the 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. Then join the locals in taking a passeggiata, a leisurely socialising stroll, perhaps between piazza Beccaria and piazza della Repubblica.

        Note: Florentine State Museums can all be booked in advance, 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. Make your reservations for these museums for any time on Day 3 or the morning of Day 4 of this itinerary.
        Included Activities
        • Piazzale Michelangelo Picnic Florence
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 4 Lucca
          No doubt there'll be more to see in Florence this morning, then this afternoon you’ll take a train to Lucca (approximately 2 hours). Lucca is one of Tuscany's real hidden gems, with centuries-old buildings, beautiful churches, charming piazzas and narrow streets within the ancient city ramparts. You’ll be captivated by this medieval town, which simply radiates charm. In Lucca, you’ll stay in some unique accommodation – your own private apartments. There are 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 beautiful local ingredients and supplies for meals. During their stay, some of our groups make Italian feasts with produce from around the area. Our apartments are not hotels, so 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.
          Optional Activities
          • Puccini concert - EUR20
          • Palazzo Pfanner house - EUR4
          • Guinigi Tower Climb - EUR4
          • Lucca bike hire - EUR15
          • National Gallery Villa Guinigi - EUR4
          • Cathedral of San Martino (including Ilaria del Carretto Tomb) - EUR3
          • Palazzo Pfanner Gardens - EUR6
          • Barga bus day trip - EUR8
          • Palazzo Pfanner House and Garden combo - EUR6
          • Cathedral Museum - EUR4
            Accommodation
            Private apartment (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 5 Pisa / Lucca
            Set off on a cycling tour following the scenic Serchio River through the Tuscan countryside (4 kilometres round the walls that are now a tree-lined avenue, and 14 kilometres by the river, approximately 3 hours). There are cafes and plenty of spots for a Tuscan picnic along the route. Your base in Lucca provides you with the perfect opportunity for a later outing to the nearby city of Pisa (approximately 30 minutes by local train). Here there'll be ample time for you to visit the quirky world-famous Leaning Tower, as well as the Duomo (Piazza dei Miracoli, once the largest in Europe) and Pisa Baptistry (please note that it's not always possible to climb the tower). The tower was built in the 12th century, but its foundation was on shifting sand and clay, meaning that it now leans at an angle of 4 degrees (after restoration and stabilising work). Wander the shopping streets, from high-end boutiques to speciality book and antiques stores, and perhaps enjoy an aperitif. Back in Lucca, a way to end the day is to head to a local bar for a refreshing Prosecco and a delicious focaccia with finocchiona salami and pecorino cheese, in the shadow of the Palazzo Pretorio.
            Included Activities
            • Lucca Bicycle Tour
            • Pisa Half Day Trip
              Accommodation
              Private apartment (1 nt)
              Day 6 Lucca
              Today is a free day in Lucca to take in all the sights that this city has to offer. Wander to the former Roman amphitheatre found off Via Fillungo. The remains of the amphitheatre are gone, but the medieval houses now standing in its place follow the outline where the spectator stands once were. Here, in what’s now called Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, there are many outdoor cafes where you can sit down and see the world go by and do a spot of people watching. Also here, 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus formed a coalition government to rule Rome. Make sure you also head to Foro Square to see the majestically constructed San Michele church, built over the ancient Roman forum and rich in artwork, and make a stop at the 14th century Duomo di San Martino, a splendid example of Romanesque architecture. Inside you’ll find the tomb of and monument to Ilaria del Carretto, carved by Jacopo della Quercia – it’s a masterpiece that dates back to the 15th century. Also, it might be 25 flights of stair to climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower, but the views are worth it. The tower also makes for a great sight in itself as it has trees growing on its roof!
              Accommodation
              Private apartment (1 nt)
              Day 7 La Spezia
              Travel by train to La Spezia (approximately 3 hours), an important naval base that’s now the gateway to the gorgeous 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 your base for exploring the nearby stunning stretch of coast known as the Cinque Terre (approximately 30 minutes by train). The name comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – whose position, wedged into a series of coves between sheer cliffs, makes it one of the highlights of the whole of Italy. 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 and walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione to the gardens along the harbour. Or opt to take another ferry to Lerici, another small village across the Bay of Poets dominated by its castle, for dinner.
              Included Activities
              • Cinque Terre Day Trip
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 8 Cinque Terre / La Spezia
                This morning venture out on the footpaths of Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a region of Italy famed for its coastline and pastel villages on mountains that plunge into the sea. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and on to idyllic, breath-taking vistas. If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 kilometres, approximately 5 hours) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside, though will require a good level of fitness. You can also choose to walk just a few sections, which will still unveil a great amount of majestic scenery. Some sections of path can be difficult, as there are challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes. It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the group's base whenever you want.

                Notes: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk 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. 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 a 1 hour inland path, 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 1.5 hours on a rocky path.
                - Vernazza to Monterosso is more challenging but arguably the most scenic and takes about 2 hours on a rocky path.
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 9 Portofino Peninsula / Asti
                Travel by train to Santa Margherita on the Peninsula of Portofino (approximately 1 hour). Store your luggage and set off on an energetic 5-7 kilometre walk, finishing at the glamorous resort of Portofino. Wander down the waterfront, past the small fishing and pleasure boats in the busy marina, and enjoy great views back over to the town. Continue along the road, passing the beach clubs, private villas and hotels that command stunning vistas over where the hills of the Italian Riviera meets the bays and inlets of the Bay of Tigullio. Spot the locals sunbathing in the coves and cross though a pretty forest with some gentle up and downs. Descend down to the pretty port of Portofino, famed as the place where the rich and famous come to live La Dolce Vita. Walk up to the marvellous lookouts surrounding the town for unparalleled views, or join the glamorous 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 by train to Asti (approximately 2.5 hours) in the Piedmont region, where mouth-watering culinary delights await. Be sure to try a dish flavoured with truffle, and quaff divine Italian wines celebrated the world over.
                Included Activities
                • Portofino Peninsula Walk and Boat Ride
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 10 Asti
                  The town of Asti is located in the Piedmont region and it was one of the most important town in medieval times, sitting on trade routes between Turin, Milan, and Genoa. Signs of the city's former wealth can be seen in the remaining defensive towers, the impressive churches and fine squares, but today it’s best known as the home of some of the finest and most sought after wines in Europe – excellent reds and the sparkling white ‘spumante’. It's also the best place to find ‘tartufo’ (truffles), a distinctive regional delicacy. You may be lucky enough to be here on a market day, when the Piazza del Palio hosts the region’s largest open-air market. Today you’ll take a bus to the green hills of the nearby rural village of Castagnole Monferrato, where you’ll 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 that’s best matched with the local dish of tagliolini with white truffles.
                  Included Activities
                  • Asti Winery Visit
                  • Asti Bike Ride
                    Optional Activities
                    • Archaeological Museum - EUR5
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 11 Milan / Italian Lakes
                      Travel by train to Milan (approximately 2 hours), Italy's second largest city and the capital of Lombardy, Italy's wealthiest province. You’ll stop here for a few hours. In this most fashionable of cities, this is the place for stylish shopping and cafes – Milanese specialities! Explore the city's historic centre, visit the city's most famous building, the Gothic Duomo, and walk between its rooftop sculptures, admiring the views and the stunning Gothic terrace. Most will want to visit Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper, if there's time – see below for details. After half a day in Milan, late in the afternoon continue by train and bus to Lake Como (approximately 3 hours), an area of stunning beauty full of unique and evocative landscapes. Arrive in Como and head up to your base in the small town of Cadenabbia. This small town has a feeling of exclusivity and seclusion, and your accommodation sits right on the lake with incredible views.

                      Note: Many visitors to Milan will want to take a visit to Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper. Tickets to The Last Supper 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. 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 may be available at these sites: www.cenacolovinciano.org or www.vivaticket.it/index.php. Some websites will only sell a ticket in conjunction with an additional product such as a guide book or another museum entry.
                      Included Activities
                      • Milan Duomo Roof Visit
                      • Milan Half Day Trip
                        Optional Activities
                        • Castello Sforzesco - Free
                        • La Scala Museum - EUR7
                        • The Last Supper from - EUR29
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast
                          Day 12 Italian Lakes
                          This moring, board a ferry to travel across the blue waters of Lake Como to the pretty village of Bellagio. Here you can enjoy a walk through the countryside and discover the estate of the Villa Melzi. This grand white villa sits just back from the water and its surrounding estate is filled with a plethora of rare and exotic plant life. The rest of the day is free to take the ferry between the various parts of this area of Lake Como, like Varenna, Cadenabbia, or the beautiful Villa Balbianello, which film fans may recognise from films such as Casino Royale or Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Villa Carlotta is another waterfront villa open to the public, a former marquis’s mansion dating from the late 17th century that today functions as a museum. It holds a wealth of artwork and is surrounded by acres of romantic Italian gardens. Just past Cadenabbia is Tremezzo, where you can find a place for food or an aperitif, sitting dockside, lakeside, or out on a veranda. Simply walking lakeside and admiring the beautiful views whichever way you turn is a wonderful way to spend the day. Be sure to fill up on fine Italian fare tonight.
                          Included Activities
                          • Lake Como Ferry Pass
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            Day 13 Venice
                            Leave the lakes behind and head for another watery wonderland, taking the train to Venice (approximately 6 hours). This grand city of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years – is literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. 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 plenty of things to keep you busy when you arrive. Take a walk around the maze of streets behind San Marco Square and begin to understand the complex canal system of Venice. The Grand Canal is a great place to start, as you can stroll over the Rialto Bridge and browse the endless amounts of boutique shops that sell Venetian masks and handmade Murano glassware. For dinner, perhaps seek out Venice's distinctive culinary heritage, which goes back to ancient times and features rich risottos, saline baccala (salted cod) and creamy polenta.
                            Included Activities
                            • Venice Traghetto Ride
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Day 14 Venice
                              Venture out and explore Venice today. There are only two ways to get around this city – on foot or by boat. Take in the famous sights – the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco with its golden Basilica, and of course, the evocative Bridge of Sighs. Take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. No trip here would be complete without a journey down the Grand Canal in a Venetian gondola. While away your day in the busy San Marco square and be sure to try the local tiramisu and Italian coffee. There’s creativity everywhere, overflowing into the canals; see it in the Venetian glass in Dorsoduro or down the streets spreading out from the Campo Santo Stefano. Visit the Palazzo Ducale, overflowing with paintings by Italian masters, and contrast it with the modern Guggenheim. Simply enjoy getting lost and uncovering your own slice of Venice. In the evening, maybe gather your fellow travellers for a final group dinner of Venetian specialities like fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, before this trip comes to an end.
                              Optional Activities
                              • Urban Adventures - Chicchetti of Venice - EUR80
                              • St Mark's Basilica Treasury - EUR3
                              • Concerto - EUR32
                              • Venezia Ca' d'Oro - EUR8
                              • Accademia Gallery - EUR15
                              • Guggenheim Museum - EUR15
                              • St Mark's Campanile - EUR8
                              • Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs - EUR18
                              • Gondola Ride - EUR80
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                Day 15 Venice
                                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.
                                Itinerary disclaimer
                                ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

                                MUSEUM OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays.
                                Physical rating

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

                                Group size
                                Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                                Your fellow travellers
                                GROUP TRAVEL
                                As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                                SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                                Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

                                A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
                                The price of the Single Supplement doesn't include the following nights where single rooms may not be available. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night:
                                Days 4-6 - Lucca
                                Days 7-8 - Cinque Terre
                                Days 13-15 - Venice
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (11nt), Private apartment (3nt)
                                OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
                                The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                                TWIN SHARE BASIS
                                Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                                CHECK-IN TIME
                                Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                                PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                                If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                                FACILITIES
                                Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
                                Meals introduction
                                While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each others company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                                Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.

                                There are some basic breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).
                                Meals
                                7 breakfasts
                                Transport
                                Bicycle, Boat, Bus, Metro, Train

                                TRANSPORT IN EUROPE
                                Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.
                                Money matters
                                CURRENCY
                                The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.

                                CASH
                                The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services.

                                SPENDING MONEY
                                When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                                BUDGET
                                Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 525.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

                                TIPPING
                                If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                                EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                                Group leader
                                All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                Safety
                                Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                                We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                                Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                                For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

                                FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                                Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                                TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                                Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                                BIKE HELMETS:
                                Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.

                                PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                                While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                                VENICE GONDOLAS
                                Please note, life jackets are not provided on Gondolas in Venice.
                                Joining point
                                Hotel Stella
                                Via Castelfidardo, 51
                                Rome
                                ITALY
                                Phone: +39 064441078
                                Joining point description
                                Hotel Stella is centrally located near Termini Station and the biggest park in Rome, Villa Borghese. The hotel is a former 19th century mansion. All rooms have private facilities, air conditioning, room safe, TV and hairdrier.
                                www.hotelstellaroma.it/en
                                During your stay in Rome you may be asked to complete a City of Rome visitor tax exemption form.
                                Joining point instructions
                                Hotel Stella Rome is located within walking distance of Central Station, 'Roma Termini'.

                                From the Fiumicino Airport, you can follow the signs from the arrival hall to the train station in order to catch the 'Leonardo Express' - the direct Fiumicino-Stazione Termini train costs around EUR15. For those coming from the Ciampino airport, TERRAVISION operates a bus link from Ciampino to Termini Station, this costs EUR8 one way.

                                Exit Termini train station on the right side, take via Marsala, a street adjacent the station. Take the first street on your right, via Solferino. Enter piazza Indipendenza. At the end of it on the left you will find via Castelfidardo, hotel Stella is at number 51.

                                For those not wishing to walk, then a short taxi ride would be suitable from Termini station.

                                Pre booked arrival transfer from the airport: If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, your transfer driver will be holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name at the arrivals hall., in front of the airport's exit doors. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number:+39 335 568 5666.
                                Finish point
                                Alloggi Gerotto Calderan
                                Campo S. Geremia 283
                                Venice
                                ITALY
                                Phone: 39 041 715562
                                Finish point description
                                The official name for the starting point property is the 'Hotel San Geremia & Alloggi Gerotto Calderan' due to an unusual set up where several guesthouses are in located in the same vicinity. Reception is in the Hotel San Geremia and you'll be allocated your rooms in Alloggi Gerotto Calderan, which has a number of renovated rooms. Rooms here are compact and in Venetian style and wifi is available. The hotel looks out over quaint San Geremia Square.
                                Finishing point instructions
                                For departure by train :
                                Alloggi Gerotto Calderan is within 6 minutes walk of Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station (off Piazzale Roma), your group leader will offer directions.

                                For departure by air:
                                The best way to get to Venice Marco Polo Airport is the ATVO (blue) bus which costs around EUR4 and takes 20 minutes from Piazzale Roma (7 minutes walk from Hotel Villa Rosa). To get to Treviso Airport you can also catch an ATVO (blue) bus. Cost is around EUR5 and it takes approximately 75 minutes from Piazzale Roma.

                                If you have pre-booked a departure transfer:
                                You will need to make your own way from the hotel to Piazzale Roma. Where your driver will meet you 3 hours before your flight departure time and will be waiting at the end of the white taxi line where the limo service area NCC is located.
                                Maximum waiting time: 30 minutes from the expected time of pick up.
                                In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone numbers +39 3334112840 or +39 3382044390
                                Emergency contact
                                While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                                We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                                You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                                For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                                In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on the number listed below:

                                Peak Europe: +49 8677 9186 657
                                Visas
                                Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                                Visas for Italy are not required for passport holders of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant authorities.
                                What to take
                                PACKING
                                On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                                TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                                It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                                WATER BOTTLE:
                                Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                                On some of our trips in Europe it is possible to purchase responsibly sourced reusable water bottles. Thirty per cent of the cost of each bottle is donated to the Intrepid Foundation, specifically to the Support to Life project, which offers humanitarian assistance to Syrian Refugees in Turkey. Please ask your leader for further information regarding this initiative and the availability of the bottles.
                                Climate and seasonal information
                                Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
                                Health
                                All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                                You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
                                Travel insurance
                                Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                                When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                                If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                                A couple of rules
                                Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                                Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                Responsible Travel
                                We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                                DRESS CODE
                                In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.

                                The Intrepid Foundation
                                Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                                The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                                http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                PECORA NERA
                                Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep) restaurant in Lucca is taking positive action for the inclusion of disabled persons both socially and in the workplace, favouring the diffusion of a different image of disability - one from which the potential of the individual person emerges, and is given value. The project aims to facilitate an experience that can be recreated in other restaurants and commercial activities in the region. Pecora Nera employs disabled or differently-abled people as waiting staff and cooks. Simple strategies are employed to help them in these roles:
                                - Checklist-style copies of the menus are used by the waiting staff so they can tick the appropriate box rather than having to write individual items down
                                - Tables do not have numbers, they each have a different and brightly-coloured carved wooden figure on them to help the staff distinguish between the tables.
                                Intrepid proudly supports this restaurant, and we encourage travellers to dine here. Your group leader can provide more information and help you with a reservation.

                                Feedback
                                After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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