History has many guises across France and Italy. From legendary art to vineyards, gondoliers to glorious domes, cliffside towns to cobbled lanes, these are two countries that take history into the modern-day. Explore the highlights of both on a private 17-day tour, where insider guides will help you unravel secrets from the past. Experience Rome, Florence, and Tuscany before Cinque Terre, Milan, and Venice. Then, fly to France for a visit to Paris, Burgundy, and Champagne. To discover other itineraries...
Rome – Stop, Rest, Relax
Land in Rome and relax since history is everywhere, so you don’t need to go looking for it. Barely steps from the hotel you will find the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. A little further down the road, the Colosseum looms large. As you walk, you will find old piazzas, places to sip on a coffee, and watch the world go by. You may be tired after the flight, so nothing specific will be planned for today. However, the heart of Rome is a good place to relax. Most of the city is pedestrianized and it will be astonishing how many postcard sights are clustered close to your hotel.
Rome – Highlights of the Ancient Empire and Vatican
This morning, with a local guide you will begin to dig into the secrets of Ancient Rome. Your first will be to go behind the rope and onto the third tier of the Colosseum. As you walk onward, you go from the Spanish Steps past the fountain to Campo de Fiori. Stop along the route to go underground to the catacombs, where chapels are surrounded by skeletal remains. You’ll also have the option of a quick tour of the Borghese Art Gallery before you spend the afternoon in the Vatican Museums. Marvel at St Peter’s Square, gaze up at Michelangelo’s ceiling, absorb the sanctity of the great Catholic chapel, and discover why Rome remains at the heart of so much of today’s world. It will be a long day the evening will be relaxing with dinner at a piazza restaurant as church bells ring through the air.
Florence – The City of Renaissance
This morning, you will whizz across Tuscany on a train to Florence that transports you from the Eternal City to the Renaissance City. Meet a local guide and stroll through Florence while you learn about its heyday in the 15th century. Michelangelo’s David, which gazes toward Rome, is just one piece of fascinating history. You’ll find many more Renaissance works in the Uffizi Gallery. Other stories will also emerge in Palazzo Vecchio but the great beauty of Florence is what lies between the attractions. The city is ripe with cobbled streets, small cafes, church domes, and townhouses in their complementary hues.
Florence – A Day Trip to Siena
The following day, church bells wake you from slumber, and coffee fumes float down the street. Relax this morning before a day trip to Siena, the largest of Tuscany’s hilltop towns. Here you will explore the medieval alleyways of a legendary old town, enjoy the views from Torre del Mangia, visit the superb cathedral, and get a sense of an old-world town that remains completely in the old world. Then, weave your way back to Florence for a second evening on the piazzas. As you’ll come to realize, the real highlight of this historical tour will come from leisurely hours spent watching the world go by your café table.
Florence – Tuscany Vineyards and Cathedral Domes
Vineyards flourish beneath the sun and towns stand on distant hilltops. The next day in Tuscany, you will be surrounded by vines on a private wine tasting tour. So much history can be tasted here, as iconic wines are paired with local foods that have become famous around the world. Few places are as relaxing as rural Tuscany, a place that you will remember for a long time. Visit three vineyards and two small towns to get a feel for the region and how it dedicates everything to aesthetic pleasures. Then, return to Florence for a relaxing evening on the squares with so many alfresco terraces for your evening meal.
Cinque Terre – A Leaning Tower and Colors on the Cliffs
Pisa is more than a leaning tower, even if the icon dominates the cityscape from most directions. Stop here as you travel west for a chance to get the famous photo before you stroll along the medieval streets. Today’s destination will be Cinque Terre, a string of five cliffside towns crafted from all manner of colors. You’ll stay in Riomaggiore at a hotel that looks out over the Mediterranean. This is a magical part of Italy and it will provide a good break from sightseeing between cities. This evening, you’ll check-in, check out the views, and watch the sunset over the water.
Cinque Terre – Relaxing and Taking It Easy in Coastal Italy
Today will be free for you to enjoy the city at your leisure. Cinque Terre is a blissful part of Italy where there is beauty in every day, rather than any specific attraction. The five towns are strung out along the coast, connected by a local train line as well as a hiking trail. Pick one of the towns to start from and hop along the coast as you admire how everything is built into the cliffs. The towns cling to the coast and tradition, particularly the cafes and shops you find down the stepped lanes. You could visit one of the churches or walk all the way down to the seashore. Alternatively, you may just end up watching the world go by, finding your own place of historic Italy.
Milan – Many Surprises to Discover
Today’s train journey to Venice stops in Milan and it will be worth getting off and spending the day, as this is a city that never sleeps and never disappoints. Spend the day in the old part of the city, a few street corners away from Milan Cathedral. The structure took almost 600 years to complete and is one of the grandest Gothic structures ever built. Just across the piazza you will find Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, perhaps the most elegant shopping mall on the planet. While there is noise and bustle in Milan there is so much beauty as well, especially when you’re in the hands of a local guide. As with all your destinations it will be the quality of the guide that makes all the difference.
Venice – First Impressions of the City on the Water
Take the train to Venice this morning for an afternoon in the city. Your hotel will be on an island in the middle of the old city, separated from Doge’s Palace by a famous arched bridge. This palace will be one of the stops on today’s tour and you move from the grand reception rooms to the dungeons and insalubrious stories. Then, travel on to St. Mark’s Square and stop for coffee in a decorous cafe before you take a peek inside St. Mark’s Basilica, just one of the grand Christian stories upon which the city is centered. There will be more sights of course, including bridges, palaces, and art galleries along the canals. Discuss the options with your guide and discover this inimitable city.
Venice – A Gondolier Takes You All Around
Today, a gondolier will push you down the narrow waterways of the canals and there is such elegance to the architecture you pass. Then, cruise out from central Venice to visit Murano and Burano, lesser-seen islands that keep alive traditions of yesteryear. Learn about glass blowing before a live cooking demonstration at a waterside restaurant. Then return to central Venice and get lost among the streets. This is a small city and by now you’ll have your bearings. If you want something more guided, then check out the art galleries. They contain some of Italy’s grandest works with Titian to the fore just like Michelangelo dominated the days in Florence.
Paris – Arrival and Exploration Along the Seine
The second part of your trip begins with a flight to Paris where you’ll check in to your hotel along the Seine. Like most European capitals, this is a city dominated by water. Bridges of cobbles span the curves of the effervescent Seine River. Musicians busk beneath the shadows of iconic buildings. The Eiffel Tower rises on one side while artistic glory awaits the other. If this is your first time in Paris, then there’s no better introduction than walking the Seine, with side trips to venture into neighborhoods like Montmartre. If you’ve been here before, then the guide will adjust the route, so you experience something new throughout your stay. Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Tuileries Gardens, and Musee d’Orsay are just a handful of the places you can see during your visit.
Paris – Handcrafted Personal Tour of Paris
During your full day in Paris, you can explore at your leisure. Some people prefer to see the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower. Other people prefer to taste culinary treats in boulangeries and patisseries. An old Jewish quarter like Marais provides one perspective of the French capital while the bohemian hangout of Montmartre offers a different insight. There are medieval streets in the Latin Quarter, Left Bank cafes that poets frequent, and all those fashionable boutiques that the city promises. The museums are also an unforgettable attraction. The Louvre is one among so many and the guide can tailor the day according to your interests.
Beaune – Old-World Beauty in Burgundy
The next day, you will travel to Burgundy, a region where history spills through timeless villages and vineyards. This is the home of Pinot Noir, a World Heritage wine region that demonstrates the French obsession with taste. Stop first in Dijon, a city of fine architecture and famous mustard. Continue to Beaune, where medieval streets are your home for the next two nights. As you walk through the Burgundy wine capital, you’ll get the impression that the city is calm and charming. Chatter emanates from terraces, delicacies are tasted and admired, and the church bells chime as you sip wine at an outdoor restaurant on Beaune’s main square.
Burgundy – A Day Spent Among Historical Vineyards
Spend the day discovering one of the world’s oldest wine regions, as you learn what goes into making the perfect Burgundy. Pinot Noir is the famous grape and some of the vintages are legendary. Start your tasting with a Burgundy Pinot, then a Pinot specific to a particular village. Next, you’ll try the premiere crux and grand crux, the award-winning wines from each village. A local wine merchant will talk you through how the award process has been passed down through the centuries before they invite you to taste some of the rare and sought-after vintages. As part of a private wine tour, you get to stop at small Burgundy villages, where it seems time has stood still for centuries.
Reims – Another Evocative City From the Past
This morning, you travel north by road and continue the French odyssey in Champagne, a region made famous by sparkling wine. Today’s destination will be Reims, where it seems like every building tells an architecture tale. Art deco townhouses juxtapose with medieval memoirs, a grand Gothic cathedral is an unmissable attraction, and each of the city’s urban pockets comes from a different century. Reims is very much a journey through the eras, which is made the more special by Champagne. Enjoy tastings at an auction house with a blue-and-gold mosaic facade. Pair wines with oysters and steak tartare. Dive into the local fruit and vegetable market. See friezes of warriors and gods from the third century. Then, check out the masterpiece cathedral, where France’s kings were crowned from the sixth century onward.
Reims – Private Champagne Region Tour
Travel along the Route du Champagne, and stop to explore wine cellars and compare local vintages. It’s only Champagne if it’s from Champagne yet the diversity of flavors is fascinating, especially when you have a sommelier as a guide. While Dom Perignon is the most famous vineyard, it loses most of its charm because of its size and popularity. Tucked onto green slopes you’ll find many more interesting cellars and vineyards, where the wine isn’t as historic but the setting is far more enjoyable. After a day of tasting, you travel back in old Reims, to watch local life from a cafe terrace.
Paris – Final Night in Paris
This morning you return to Paris and there will be enough time to make a stop at one of the famous palaces. In Paris, the time will be at your leisure. It could mean some time to rest and relax before the flight home or some time to explore areas you missed earlier in the week. Paris is a good place to end any European tour, simply because of the choice of restaurants for a celebratory dinner. Walk the Seine, indulge in the food, and toast to the highlights of Italy and France.
Paris – Departure
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your outbound flight.
- Luxuriate amid the vineyards of Champagne before feasting your eyes on Notre-Dame de Reims
- Feel the allure of past centuries as a gondolier takes you through the canals of Venice
- Embrace the time of empire as you tour the major highlights of Ancient Rome
- Customize your time in Paris and discover your own postcards in the City of Lights
- Surround yourself with Renaissance beauty in the heart of Venice
- Soak up old-world France as you explore the Burgundy region, with stops in Dijon and Beaune
- Gaze out across the water from the colorful towns of Italy’s Cinque Terre, a good place to catch your breath on a busy itinerary.
In France and Italy, history will surround you on your custom tour of Europe. The history whispers from the walls of palaces, piazzas, and leaning towers. You find heritage on landscapes carpeted with vines as well as villages that cling to the cliffs. Not everything is old though. High-speed train services make travel a breeze. Sit back in the first-class carriages and relax, as you watch the countryside roll by the window. When you arrive at a new destination, a local guide will lead the way and take you behind the scenes to reveal how these places function. You’ll do more than see the history. You’ll come to understand why these places have made such an impact on world history.
Your time in Italy will start in Rome. There’s a day to wander the mind-boggling sights, then a day to explore the Vatican and Ancient Rome with a guide. After a short train ride, you’ll arrive in Florence to explore the city, discover Siena, and taste wine in Tuscany. Then, visit Pisa on your route to Cinque Terre, where five colorful towns hang on rugged cliffs. It will be a good time to catch your breath before you visit Milan and Venice, where you will see so many of Italy’s ultimate attractions. With private guides, the daily tours can be personalized and adjusted to your interests, particularly the cities’ art scenes.
The second half of your trip will begin in Paris where you will experience the art, food, and walking the River Seine. Then you escape into really old-world France. Start in Burgundy, with day trips to Dijon and Beaune, the places from the past. Then travel on to Champagne, another destination for wine tasting and culinary indulgence. Taste and tour with winemakers, spend leisurely evenings on alfresco terraces and get a feel for France’s decorous history. You’ll return to Paris for the final evening where there is always another restaurant or bar to try.
Zicasso offers a variety of France and Italy vacations. Be sure to browse the trips reviews for France and Italy.
$4,945 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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