Highlights of Spain and Italy Tour

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Total Trip:

10 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy, Spain, Vatican City
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Places Visited:

Spain – Madrid, BarcelonaItaly – Venice, Florence, Arezzo, Rome, Vatican City
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Embrace the majesty of masterpieces accentuated by the allure of Medieval and Renaissance arts as you experience this handmade best of Spain and Italy tour. Follow the trail of ageless wonders that continue to attract visitors each year. The works of Raphael and Botticelli decorate historic palaces in elaborate museum displays. The surreal designs of Gaudí shape the aesthetic of the skyline in Barcelona. Gilded frescoes turn St. Mark’s Basilica into a glowing chapel and the glamorous halls of

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Day 1

Madrid – The Capital of Spain with an Introductory Tour of the City

The Spanish capital is full of energy that winds around the layers of historic streets and grand plazas. The gorgeous architecture of the Gran Via is an opulent meeting place of culture, politics, ideas, and art in with its combination of Art Deco designs and Neo-Mudéjar styles. The Telefónica Building was erected between 1926 and 1929 as Europe’s first skyscraper and it hosts a view of the future in the Spanish Telecommunications Company with a structural height of 290 feet above street level. Your flight will land at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon arrival.

After spending time relaxing in your luxurious accommodations at the heart of Madrid, your guide will meet you in the lobby to provide you an authentic and thorough introduction to the city’s monuments. The tour leads you to the center of Madrid at Puerta del Sol, named for the emblem decorating the former city gate that once stood in the plaza. You find “Kilometer Zero,” a stone slab decorating the ground from which all distances on Spain’s national roads are measured. The plaza was also the scene of a historic resistance against the imposing forces of Napoleon Buonaparte in 1808. Lively cafes and elegant shops juxtapose the historical ambiance but bring a touch of contemporary charm.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 2

Madrid – Discover the Grandeur of Madrid on a Palace and Prado Tour

In the morning, you will follow your guide to the entrance of the stunning Royal Palace. One of the largest aristocratic complexes in Europe, it encompasses 3,418 rooms and spans 1,450,000 square feet. The regal space was designed to impress visiting nobility and aristocrats by symbolizing the Spanish throne’s divinity, wealth, and sophistication. The sunlight glints against the white Colmenar stone and granite, which creates the Neoclassical façade. Ionic and Doric columns were modeled after the works of Bernini who had intended the original designs to adorn the Louvre.

A history of Spanish kings looks down over the forecourt in the form of statues that decorate the balustrade. The interior is a masterpiece of lavishness captured in the imposing staircase, which leads to the apartments of King Charles III. A fresco on the ceiling depicts The Triumph of Religion and the Church, a stunning Rococo work of art solidifying the throne of Spain as the defenders of Catholicism. You will continue to the Prado Museum, which has a collection of more than 5,000 pieces of art spanning 100 rooms across three floors.

Paintings from the 12th to the 19th centuries reflect the evolution of artistic aesthetic in Spain including works by European masters and Neoclassical sculptors. While you explore the galleries, your guide will introduce you to the Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco, which was painted between 1612 to 1614. The work depicts an infant Jesus emanating light against the faces of barefoot shepherds who have gathered to pay homage to the baby’s birth.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Barcelona – Explore the Fascinating Barrí Gotic

In the morning, the scent of churros and chocolate will fill the dining room of your hotel. Madrileños dip the traditional Spanish donuts dusted with cinnamon and sugar into the chocolate for a sweet, crunchy start to the day. You will have a quick transfer to the train station and board the fast train to Barcelona. The enchanting Mediterranean ambiance sweeps across the coastline and into the historic depths of the city’s corridors containing hints of Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, and turn of the century surrealist architecture. Your guide will lead you through the stunning Gothic Quarter’s meandering cobblestone lanes. The narrow passageways host street musicians filling the quiet courtyards with the sounds of Spanish guitar.

Children play impromptu games of soccer in the hidden plazas underneath the watchful gaze of the cathedral spires. The stunning Catedral de Santa Eulalia was erected in the 13th century with a Romanesque façade but finished when the artistic aesthetic shifted to a more Gothic representation. The grandiose artistry contains an arched doorway and vertical buttresses that support the weight of the upper portions of the church. Gargoyles add to the mythical ambiance. For a mixture of the gothic allure of the district with a more contemporary artistic view, you find the Picasso Museum hidden inside the late Gothic palace of the Palau Berenguer d’Aguilar. The displays of the famous master artist celebrate his artistic development by positioning the drawings, paintings, and prints in order of their creation. This will allow you to follow the trend of Picasso’s vision as it changed over time.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Barcelona – Uniqueness with a Gaudí Tour and Cooking Class

The surreal vision of the architect Antonin Gaudí comes into view during your private tour of some of Barcelona’s most notable monuments. The towers of La Sagrada Familia soar above the city at 558 feet above the surrounding streets. Construction broke ground in the 19th century and continues to make changes to the massive project. Your guide will begin the tour of the gorgeous architecture that changed the vision of Barcelona at the Casa Mila on the elegant Passeig de Gràcia. The edifice was erected between 1906 and 1912 with an avant-garde design resembling a flamboyant sculpture more than a residential building.

Instead of straight, fine lines, Gaudí designed a structure with rounded edges and twining railings to resemble growing vines with a rooftop crowned by decorative chimneys. Ribbed archways in the interior support the overall structure for a unique perspective on the different styles a structurally sound building can take. In the afternoon, you will meet a private chef that specializes in the typical dishes of Catalonian cuisine. The scent of onions and tomatoes fills the kitchen before you have even started cooking. Smell the typical flavors of the Mediterranean landscape that grace the countertops before you begin chopping, dicing, and preparing the large spring onion used in making calçots.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Venice – A Sensational Welcome in the City on the Lagoon

At breakfast, the aisles in Mercat de la Boqueria fill with locals shopping for their groceries among the vibrant fruits and vegetables on display. The butchers hang large legs of cured ham while cooks open the restaurants and fill the dining rooms with the aromas of stewing tomatoes, garlic, and slow-braising ham. Your private transfer will greet you at the hotel and escort you to El Prat Airport for your brief flight to Venice, Italy. The City on the lagoon is famous for its opulent history, grand banquets, and a powerful navy that overtook pockets of the Adriatic Sea. Gondolas glide through the narrow canals between gorgeous marble palaces to reveal the elegant display of wealth for the former aristocracy.

Venice boasts its beauty on a grand scale embodied along the banks of the winding Grand Canal and the dome of Santa Maria della Salute. You will traverse the famous waterway that stretches nearly two miles for an introduction to the city and stop at the 17th century Church of Santa Maria della Salute. Residents of the Venetian Republic erected the graceful Baroque structure in gratitude for the end of the plague. The weight of the marble required 1 million extra timbers to be driven into the lagoon floor for extra support. Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande was built in the mid-16th century. It embodies the design of the High Renaissance in Venice as depicted in the Ionic and Corinthian columns that decorate the first and second floors respectively.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Venice – the Remarkable History of Venice at St. Mark’s Square

You will cross the renowned Ponte di Rialto, the Rialto Bridge, during your morning tour to find the Rialto Market brimming with locals searching for fresh produce and the daily catch. Fishmongers present squid, clams, and swordfish caught earlier in that day while farmers display produce grown on the farming island of Sant’Erasmo. Upon reaching Piazza San Marco, you will notice the soaring bell tower standing 323 feet tall and crowned with a golden image of Archangel Gabriel. The sunlight washes over St. Mark’s Basilica casting the façade in golden light.

The bulbous domes reflect the Byzantine influence on the Venetian Republic. During the developmental stages of construction, the merchants brought the relics of St. Mark back from Constantinople after the Crusades in the 9th century. The gilded frescoes on the porch add to the luster beneath the domes. The images represent stories from the Old Testament including the Creation, Cain and Able, and the story of Moses. You will enter the nave to find the aroma of frankincense and myrrh drifting across the reflective surfaces of gilded frescoes spanning 45,640 square feet. The sunlight fills through the upper windows causing the decorative frescoes to shine along the huge pillars, five domes, and rounded contours of the walls.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Florence – See the Florence and the Uffizi After-Hours

The fairytale charisma of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square reflects the combination of sumptuous pleasures and alluring artistry for which the Venetian Republic was known. After breakfast, you will travel to the stunning city of Florence, the Cradle of the Renaissance that inspired iconic artists and architects like Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, and Donatello. The palaces, churches, and museums of the historic city center symbolize the shift from the Medieval period into the captivating aesthetics of the Enlightenment. The enchanting dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore soars above the piazza at 375 feet tall. It utilizes more than 4 million bricks to craft the largest unreinforced brick dome in the world.

Leatherworkers display the elegant handmade wares across town concentrated near Piazza San Lorenzo. The aroma of fruity gelato filters through the collection of delicious gelaterie. In the evening, you will enter the famous Uffizi Gallery with your guide for an exclusive after-hours tour. The structure was erected under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici I in the 16th century to house the Florentine magistrate. The collected works of art on display became available for public viewing in 1785. The exhibit revealed tremendous works mainly crafted between the 14th and 16th centuries. Your guide will point out Sandro Botticelli’s work Adoration of the Magi. The fascinating work depicts several members of the Medici family.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Rome – The Charming Town of Arezzo en route to Rome

Arezzo is a city of beauty that has inspired poets for two millennia, since its time as a Roman military outpost. After a delicious breakfast in Rome filled with the aromas of freshly cut watermelon and fresh-squeezed blood orange juice, you will make your way to the city celebrated for its history, art, and churches. Roberto Benigni famously captured life in the sloping cobblestone streets of the small town in his Academy-Award winning film “Life is Beautiful.” Elegant palaces erected between the 14th and 16th centuries surround Piazza Grande.

The bell tower erected by Giorgio Vasari in 1552 is similar to the Gothic façade of the 13th century Palazzo della Faternitaå dei Laici. The tower remains one of Italy’s oldest working clocks. The chapel inside Basilica di San Francesco hosts one of the most remarkable works of Renaissance art painted between 1452 and 1466. Piero della Francesca created the cycle of frescoes entitled Legend of the True Cross. They tell the stories of the cross on which Jesus was crucified with the quintessential humanistic touches for which the Renaissance was celebrated. The stoic background figures have a stately presence amid the surrounding blossoming flowers and solemn expressions of the main cast of characters.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Rome – Monuments of Rome and Galleries of the Vatican Museum

In the morning, the aroma of freshly fried ciombole, Italian donuts dusted with granulated sugar, drifts out of the corner bars where locals enjoy cups of espresso. You will meet your guide in the hotel lobby before venturing into the bustling streets of Rome for an introduction of the city’s captivating monuments. The Pantheon was erected during the reign of Augustus between the 1st centuries BC and AD but was completed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The remarkable porch contains 16 massive granite columns with Corinthian capitals. Bronze doors covered in gold once decorated the doors until later popes melted down the precious metals for other projects in Rome.

The central dome has inspired the architectural ingenuity of artists over the past 2,000 years. It encouraged Michelangelo’s construction of St. Peter’s Basilica and Bernini’s design of Florence’s Duomo. The harmonious ambiance stems from the equal measurements between the height of the floor to the dome and the diameter of the dome itself, which reaches 142 feet. The structure was erected as a temple to Roman gods before it was consecrated a church in the 7th century BC. Eventually, it became a museum gallery hosting the tombs of Raphael and King Victor Emanuel II, the first king of a united Italy.

You will continue to the Vatican to visit its remarkable galleries. Admire the intricate artworks that date back to the Egyptians and represent the Etruscans, Romans, Medieval art, and the cherished works of Renaissance masters. The Vatican became one of the smallest independent states in the world in 1929. The museum encompasses 54 galleries and your guide will lead you into the Raphael Rooms. The lauded Renaissance artist decorated the wall with the Transfiguration commissioned by Pope Clement VII. The artwork depicts narratives from the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark with images of Moses and Elijah accompanying Jesus floating in front of glowing clouds.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Rome – Depart for Home

Artists venture to the Colosseum in the morning to capture the walls of the staggering structure in the returning light. The gargantuan amphitheater contains outer walls that reach 158 feet tall and built in the year 80 AD. The name derived from the former colossal statue of Emperor Nero that once adorned the entrance until. The scent of flowers emanates from the morning market at Campo de’ Fiori and mixes with the bright aromas of citrus fruits displayed by the vendors. After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby and escort you to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Visit the sensational galleries of the Prado Museum to view the sensational European Masers on display including works by El Greco
  • Traverse the streets of Barcelona for interactive views of Antonin Gaudí’s surrealist architecture while you spend time at the Casa Mila
  • Witness the marvelous gilded mosaics that span the rounded domes, columns, and ceiling of St. Mark’s Square in Venice
  • Wander the exciting rooms of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to find the remarkable works of Renaissance painters like Botticelli
  • Enjoy the flavors of Barcelona with a private cooking class celebrating the unique, authentic dishes of Catalonia
  • Relish time with the magnificent Italian masters decorating the Vatican Museum including works by Raphael
  • Explore the impressive grandeur of the Spanish Royal Palace in Madrid for views of elaborate Baroque and Rococo architecture and art 
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Detailed Description

Spain and Italy represent the pleasures of the good life with classic art, delicious cuisine, and an appreciation for the beauty of the past. Travel from Madrid to Rome and Barcelona to Venice for an exceptional blend of art, architecture, history, and flavor that reveals the depths of heritage on the Iberian and Italian peninsulas. Explore iconic monuments, cruise the cherished canals, and wander Renaissance streets of an overlooked Tuscan treasure for an insightful, enchanting experience.

The discovery will begin in Madrid, Spain as you explore the capital city. The grand streets and vibrant ambiance become an amalgamation of Spain’s diverse regional cultures. The Spanish Royal Palace, Prado Museum, and verdant grasses decorating El Retiro Park reflect the affluence and history of the classic city. Then, you will continue to Barcelona, which encompasses the vibrant differences between the fast-pace of the capital and the Mediterranean ambiance of Catalonia. The antique neighborhood of the Barrí Gotic contains the preserved medieval architecture that contrasts with contemporary images of Picasso’s artwork. The surrealist architecture of Antoni Gaudí becomes a prominent feature of the skyline in the form of La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Mila.

Arrive in Venice, Italy for an enchanting ambiance of a storybook to life. The marble palaces and gilded frescoes represent the affluence of the Venetian Republic. Gondolas cruise the crisscrossing canals and wind through the 118 connected islands that create the greater city. Your time in Florence will celebrate the Renaissance with captivating architecture and master artworks lining the walls of the Uffizi Gallery. The town of Arezzo captures the essence of Medieval and Renaissance architecture accentuated by the fabulous panorama overlooking the lush countryside of Tuscany. The Eternal City continues to attract visitors from around the world with promises of preserved ancient ruins and glimpses into the maintained beauty cultivated under the papacy. From the Pantheon to Vatican City, the tomb of Raphael to the works of the master adorning the walls of the former pope’s apartment, Rome remains a spectacle by combining ancient ruins, medieval streets, Renaissance art, and Baroque palaces.

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Starting Price

$2565 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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