Italy and Switzerland History Tour

A 9 day trip to Italy & Switzerland 
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The thrill of the Swiss Alps and majesty of Italian artistry reflect the grandeur of possibility during your custom-tailored Switzerland and Italy historical tour. The regal mountains topped with glassy glaciers surround the iconic towns and historic villages of Switzerland. Paintings and sculptures of Italian masters decorate fascinating chambers of former kings and represent the rebirth of artistic ingenuity. Travel from Rome to Lucerne, Bern to Pisa for an unrivaled look at the awe-inspiring majesty of preserved medieval streets, Renaissance masterpieces, and preserved ancient ruins.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Switzerland – Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lucerne, Bern, Meiringen, Furka Pass, Zurich

Italy – Roe, Vatican City, Florence, Venice, Milan, Pisa, Murano

Departure Dates 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Rome – Settle into the Comforts of the Eternal City

Rome has had an influence on the Western World for over two millennia earning the name the “Eternal City.” The mixture of art, ruins, cobblestone streets and vibrant cafes highlight a culture shaped by a history of diversity and renewal. Your flight lands at Fiumicino Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon arrival. The stunning city shines with medieval piazzas and lavish fountains, ornate churches and a daily enjoyment of the life’s sweetness. The comforts of your luxury hotel welcome you to the city allowing you the remainder of the day at leisure to wander along the exciting narrow streets at the center of the city.

Nestled between the ruins of the Roman Forum and the open space connoting the Circus Maximus stands the atmospheric Palatine Hill. Pine trees tower over the edging slopes offering shade against the warm Roman light while the hill provides fantastic views over the majestic ruins. The site was considered instrumental to the beginning of Rome acting as the supposed site where Romulus founded the city in the 8th century BC. Emperors erected luxurious villas embodied in the remains of the Domus Flavia, the former imperial palace dating back to the 1st century. The complex served as the center of imperial Rome for three centuries consisting of a public hall, throne room, basilica, and large banquet hall.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Rome – Vatican City and the Ancient World of the Roman Empire

The returning morning light washes over the marble steps shaping the famous Scalinata di Spagna, the Spanish Steps, connecting the forecourt of the Trinità dei Monti church with the Piazza di Spagna, which was named for the presence of the Spanish Embassy. After breakfast, your private guide greets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you to the stunning collection of artifacts on display in the Vatican Museums. Vatican City is one of the smallest independent states in the world encompassing 110 acres with approximately 1,000 permanent residents.

The museums were first established in the 16th century during the papal reign of Pope Julius II and then enlarged by successive pontiffs over the following centuries. The halls and corridors of the museums overtake over four miles consisting of artifacts contributed to the Egyptians, Etruscans, and Greeks, as well as captivating works by Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque artists from Italy. Your guide takes you to the often-overlooked papal picture gallery, which displays the final work of Raphael, La Trasfigurazione, painted between 1517 and 1520. The work embodies the Italian High Renaissance by depicting an allegorical narrative of Jesus in glory between Moses and Elijah above a meeting of the Apostles. After exploring the Vatican and its stunning collections, you return to the heart of ancient Rome to visit the Forum.

The impressive ruins highlight the grandiose history of the capital city within the confines of the political, religious, and social center erected over an Etruscan burial ground. The Basilica Fulvia Aemilia has foundations dating back to 179 BC and once contain a 328-foot long public hall and faced with a two-story tall portico. Bases of the 16 massive columns supporting the façade, as well as pillars acting as bolsters to the interior gallery are all that remain of the former opulence of the building once possessing African marble, bronze coins, and precious artistic merit.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Florence – Explore the Cradle of the Renaissance

The marvelous city of Florence crosses the banks of the River Arno and retains the lavish décor of the Medieval architectural design embellished by the incredible artistic achievements of the Renaissance. After breakfast, you travel by fast train to the city that acted as the Cradle of the Enlightenment supporting artists, architects, and poets like Michelangelo, Vasari, Micholozzo, and Leon Battista Alberti. The medieval city walls continue to wrap around the historic city center while the dramatic dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore adds luster to the fascinating skyline.

Brunelleschi designed the remarkable feat of architectural engineering in the 15th century by using a catenary arch for support resulting in the largest unreinforced brick dome ever built. The dramatic image stands nearly 375 feet tall supported by elegant walls of green, white, and pink marble. You can hear your footsteps echo through the soaring vaulted ceilings in the nave. A painting by Domenico di Michelino from the 15th century depicts the epic poet Dante standing in front of Florence with images from the Divine Comedy taking place in the background.

You stand underneath the dome and notice the stunning detail of The Last Judgement fresco wrapping around the cupola. The elaborate work encompasses 38,750 square feet. You continue to Piazza Santa Croce, where the elaborate blue and white marble façade stands elevated over the public square. An elegiac but poignant statue of Dante Alighieri watches over the piazza. The church has become a center for art, as well as a mausoleum for some of the city’s greatest names, Michelangelo, Galileo, Ghiberti, and Machiavelli among them.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Venice – Find Piazza San Marco and Murano Island

For a unique and serene view of Florence, you wake before dawn to watch the sunrise over the city from the stunning vista of Piazzale Michelangelo. The hidden church of San Miniato al Monte sits above the piazza behind a verdant wall of cypress trees. You have views to the tranquil vineyards and rolling hills of Tuscany on the outskirts of the main city as well as a sweeping panorama of Florence’s historic towers, tiled-rooftops, and regal dome of the Duomo. After breakfast, you board the luxury car of the fast train to Venice for a different perspective on the aesthetics of historic charm.

The iconic gondolas wind through the twisting canals and beneath the walkways arching over the water. Palaces with opulent marble facades glisten along the twisting waterway of the Grand Canal, which stretches approximately two miles until reaching the lagoon. The scent of fresh produce overtakes the seafood aroma emanating from the Rialto Market. Your guide introduces you to the grace and grandeur of Piazza San Marco, home to glistening façade of the eponymous basilica and the mixture of white and pink hues washing across the Doge’s Palace. The mixture of colors and masterful Venetian Gothic architecture creates a soft pattern resembling lacy lattice made of Istrian marble columns pink marble from Verona.

The original palace was made of wood and acted more like a fortress for the Doge instead of the Byzantine-style opulent complex erected between the 14th and 15th centuries after the original structure burnt down. You enter the Hall of the Great Council, which acted as the seat of power for the lower house of parliament during the Republic. The harmonious proportions accommodated as many as 1,800 spectators and participants discussing the necessary decisions of the Republic. The immaculate wall behind the high officials’ seats contains Tintoretto’s Paradise, which remains one of the world’s largest oil paintings.

Continue onto a boat to the island of Murano, known for a withholding, practicing, and mastering the art of glass-blowing. A small canal runs through the heart of the island reminding you of a smaller Venice. The Republic held the glass-blowing artisans in high esteem allowing the most popular among the artists to gain a wealth of aristocratic proportions. The Doge decreed all glass-blowing take place on the small, secluded island in the late 13th century due to fear of fires. You watch as a gaffer heats the glass in his studio and shapes it using a mixture of rolling the molten goblet against a steel beam or using a thick, folded rag for quick, less structured molding.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Zurich – Romeo and Juliet’s History and the Scenery of Switzerland

Verona is a serene town rich in archeology and legend located along a tight curve of the Adige River less than 72 miles from Venice. A quick train ride has you within the historic city center looking up at the fascinating preserved arches of Roman amphitheater in Piazza Brà. The enormous structure was erected in the 3rd century AD and remains in use each summer during the Verona Opera Festival when the 44 rows of stadium seating can accommodate up to 22,000 spectators. The surprising feature is one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman amphitheater in all of Italy. Walking through Piazza delle Erbe, you find the sounds of a soothing fountain emanating from the center of the public square surrounded by charming cafes and elegant palaces.

The fountain was erected in the 14th century as the Madonna di Verona by repurposing an ancient marble statue originally placed on the Roman Capitol Hill in the city in the 4th century. You reach the home of Juliet Capulet located through a small passageway decorated with love notes and messages of support dedicated to the patron of love writ eternal in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A bronze statue stands beneath the iconic balcony. Lovelorn, curious, and affectionate strangers continue to write letters Juliet answered by a committee of volunteers known as the Club di Giulietta.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Zurich – Gorgeous Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Stunning Lucerne

In the morning, the beauty of Switzerland returns with the sunlight. The charming capital of Swiss commerce retains its historic charm in the form of the Old Town embodying enchanting narrow streets, sloping rooftops, and elegant spires. After a delicious breakfast accompanied by decadent hot chocolate, your guide leads you off to the city for a full day exploring the marvelous scenery and historic towns of Switzerland beginning at Interlaken. The mountain peaks reflect in the crystal waters of Lakes Thun and Brienz. Funiculars climb up the rugged cliffs offering views to the lush valley and surrounding summits.

Flowerbeds in the Höhematte Park shimmer with bright color amid views to the soaring Jungfrau, a summit of the Bernese Alps reaching 13,642 feet above sea level. Interlaken is more of a collection of villages rather than a city, exemplified in the old neighborhood of Unterseen, which hosts a parish constructed in 1471 complete with a Late Gothic tower. Traditional wooden chalets contain the iconic sloping rooftops and colorful facades reminiscent of classic mountain villages. You venture into the natural charm of Grindelwald, a village in alps at 3,392 feet above sea level. The history of the village dates back to documents written in the 12th century accentuated by the sparkling tongues of Oberer and Unterer Glaciers. Geraniums decorate the Alpine chalets bursting with color against the verdant pastures.

You can venture to the Schwarzhorn summit hosting a metallic walkway clinging to the cliffs above a 148-foot drop. The remarkable views overlook the plains, rocky slopes, distant peaks, and trundling waterfalls. The sweet charms of Grindelwald’s pastoral setting give way to the historic center of Lucerne located on the shores of Lake Lucerne and the mouth of the River Reuss. The preserved medieval core of the city retains a sense of Old-World charisma emanating from the collection of historic buildings surrounded by the peaks of Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, Mount Titlis, and Jungfraujoch. Wander along the Spreuerbrücke, one of two covered wooden bridges in the city. Spreuerbrücke was erected in the 15th century and painted with 45 unique depictions of the danse macabre decorating the rafters.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Milan – Bern, Meiringen, and the Furka Pass en route to Milan

After breakfast, you set out for Bern, the capital of Switzerland looking out over the verdant valley from atop a sandstone ridge. Bridges connect the city over the flowing waters of the Aare River joining the historic city center with the newer neighborhoods. Elegant arcades wind through the streets beside sloping roofs reflecting the prosperity of the city since the 17th century. The medieval charisma of the historic center retains winding cobbled lanes and hidden bookstores adding to the fairytale ambiance of old statues and over 100 trickling fountains.

The most famous fountain was erected in 1520 and depicts the ogre known as Kindlifresserbrunnen. Parents and grandparents of Bern used the allegorical figure as a threat to the children of the city who misbehaved. Local lore claims the 11 figures scattered around the city’s fountains represent vices and virtues who flow with wine at midnight on Christmas but possesses those who drink it. You continue to Meiringen, the birthplace of deliciously sweet meringues and the setting where Arthur Conan Doyle left the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes to parish. The scent of pastries fills the streets of the 13th-century historic town situated at 2,000 feet above sea level on the valley floor of the Brünig Pass.

The stunning waters of Reichenbach Falls cascade down seven steps. It is at the base of the waterfall where Sherlock Holmes died during the final altercation between Holmes and Moriarty in “The Final Problem.” Your escort leads you through the grandeur of the Furka Pass linking the central Swiss Alps at Adermatt to Uri. The scenic route offers views to Rhone Glacier before you descend beneath the snowcapped peaks.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Rome – Morning in Milan before Visiting Pisa and Reaching Rome

In the morning, the trendy cafes along the banks of the Navigli Canal set out tables and chairs for their daily business. The charming neighborhood strung with lights fills with the scent of espresso and freshly baked pastries. You spend time at the heart of the city witnessing the stunning Gothic architecture of the Duomo. Over 3,400 statues and 135 spires texture the fascinating structure designed with the filigree of a fairytale castle. The extravagant detail culminates in the largest stained-glass windows of the Christian world bringing light and color into the nave.

You travel south leaving the unique beauty and fast-paced streets of Milan behind in route for Rome. After crossing into Tuscany, you stop to explore the remarkable history of Pisa, once the supreme naval power of the Mediterranean Sea until defeated by the Genoese in the 13th century. The affluence of the city-state showed in the remarkable structures erected across the city, most notably in the Piazza dei Miracoli, which continues to host the dramatic cathedral, stunning baptistery, and renowned Leaning Tower. You visit the Campo Santo, or Sacred Field, for a blend of ancient and contemporary history.

Local legend states the former burial grounds was erected over shiploads of earth brought back from Golgotha during the Fourth Crusade around the 13th century. Gothic architectural style permeates the courtyard hosting Pisan patricians and Roman sarcophagi. During the Second World War, allied bombing caused the original lead roof to melt destroying a series of 14th and 15th-century frescoes decorating the walls. The peeled paint revealed the original sinópie, the artist’s sketches made in red ink often filled in by students but showing the original outline of the once celebrated frescos.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Rome – Depart for Home

Rome feels familiar in the morning when the scent of roses and tulips emanates from the market in Campo de’ Fiori. The waters of the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona gush into the waiting pool set beneath allegorical figures of the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Rio de la Plata. They represent the four major water sources known to Western World by the 17th century. Artists set up their easels amid the Baroque palace facades to paint the beauty of the piazza in the best light. Your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby after breakfast and escorts you to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home bringing an end to your incredible historical tour of Switzerland and Italy.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,032
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

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.