Day 1 - 2
After landing on the outskirts of the Eternal City of Rome, a private driver will take you from the airport and transport you through the verdant undulations of Tuscany until you reach arresting Assisi, the home of one of the Catholicism’s most beloved saints and the birthplace of the Franciscans. The town is dominated by the impressive expanse of the incredible Basilica di San Francesco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 and one of the key sites for Christian pilgrimage in Europe. Take in the incredible Gothic interior of the Upper Church and the impressive portico before marveling at the simply spectacular nave, whose floods are covered with patterned marble and whose walls and ceilings reflect the brightness of the countryside beyond, shimmering blue and serene green, passionate red and soothing gold. From the incredible art to the unbeatable legacy, this is a church that is not to be missed.
The tour continues to Siena, whose historic city center is a World Heritage Site, riddled with winding cobblestone lanes and fringed with a number of impressive structures, like the Santa Maria Church and the Torre del Mangia that juts dramatically within the city’s skyline. The interior of the Siena Cathedral is breathtaking, gilt with gold and crowned with glory, while the red brick Palazzo Publico is striking and impressive, covered with flags and vivid banners during the twice annual horse race known as the Palio. The Pinacoteca, the city’s painting gallery, is also worth a visit.
The day ends in fantastic Florence, the capital of Tuscany and the center of the most important art movement in the Western world, the home to the Medici and Machiavelli, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Enjoy dinner at one of the city’s famous trattoria’s, where you can feast upon a perfectly prepared bistecca alla fiorentina and enjoy the region’s sumptuous sweets like tiramisu and gelato.
Day 3 - 4
There is truly no place in the art world quite like Florence, filled with the reminders of one of art’s great ages and crowned by the monuments of its greatest practitioners. Today begins at perhaps the city’s most famous spot, as you take in the green, red and white marble that decorates the front and the towering dome of brilliant Brunelleschi that captivates the eyes as it looks upon the famed Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo of Florence. You can marvel at the incredible size of the interior and in the amazing construction techniques that helped make the cathedral’s dome a marvel of Renaissance engineering. Then climb to the top of Giotto’s brightly-colored bell tower to get a view over the dome of the Duomo, the city of Florence, and the brilliant stretch of Tuscany beyond.
Once you return to the ground, you’ll want to check out the famed doors to the Florence Baptistery, designed by Ghiberti and depicting scenes of Biblical history with such stunning skill that no less an authority than Michelangelo deemed them “the Gates of Paradise.” Your tour of Florence continues to Santa Croce, notable for its architecture but renowned as the final resting place for some of the greatest names in Italian art and culture: Rossini is lauded by Cassioli, while the inspired sculptures that grace the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo speak to the legacies of these great minds centuries after their passing.
The tour of Florence continues in the halls of the city’s famed Accademia, the central school of art that now houses some of the greatest works of Michelangelo in existence. Make your way past the masterworks of lesser lights – the cyclonic rise of dramatic action that makes up the main body of "The Taking of the Sabine Women" is as stirring as it is unique, and there are a number of fine paintings that line the walls here. The main attraction, however, is the sublime statue of David, one of the greatest works of Michelangelo and a seminal monument to the power of humanism and the appeal of Renaissance ideals. This immaculate statue, which never fails to amaze, is flanked by the artist’s famous “Slaves,” projects for the tomb of the Pope that the artist left uncompleted at his death, their ghostly faces and incomplete limbs seeming to struggle against their marbled captivity.
Day 5 - 6
Make your way east across the spectacular scenery of Northern Italy as you turn to the shores of the Adriatic, bound for the City of Canals, romantic and resplendent Venice. While on your way to Venice, you’ll stop by the charming town of Padua, a university town that was once the hometown of a young math and science professor named Galileo Galilei. The city center is scenic and attractive, filled with arcaded streets that lead into the communal expanse of a festive piazza. You’ll certainly want to visit the Romanesque masterpieces that is the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, a major pilgrimage site for Christians seeking to appeal to the patron saint of lost things, where friars are on call to bless the sick and heal the wounded. The interior is impressive, with the reliquary being particularly noteworthy, though somewhat gruesome.
Reach the shores of the sea and wind your path along the waterways of enchanting Venice, your final stop in this unforgettable excursion through the great art capitals of Italy. Cruise the Grand Canal and take in the sites on board a private water taxi, or catch a seat on the edge of the Piazza San Marco to watch life go by in the center of this unforgettable metropolis. Enjoy the last of the day a cocktail in hand and the small tapas-like plates that Venetians love so well on the table, with nothing to do but enjoy the sun setting over the domes of the churches on the islands of the lagoon.
Make your way around the major sites of the city, taking in the impressive churches and the imposing political buildings that reflect the past might and glory of what was once called The Most Serene Republic. Marvel at the stunning mosaics and the opulent architecture of Saint Mark’s Basilica, one of the most iconic sites in the city and the home to a wide array of impressive art and important artifacts. Visit the Doge’s Palace right next door and learn about the history of the Venetian city-state, ruled by the Doge for centuries and dominating the sea trade unlike any other unit of its kind, setting new trade routes and plundering the successful barges of opposing cities. You can visit the notorious dungeons and cross over the world-famous Bridge of Sighs, romanticized by Byron as the place where convicts got their last look at inspiring Venice.
After a delicious lunch, you’ll head across the lagoon to visit some of the lesser-known parts of Venice, the home to highly skilled artists and artisans that are producing some of the finest wares in the country. Visit a glassblower or glass making factory on the famous shores of Murano – where you can take home a relic of this most famous of Venetian trades – or make your way through the brightly-colored homes of Burano, where you’ll find some of the most intricate, delicate and beautiful lace in the world, as well as charming locals and delightful cafes. After this incredible exploration into the heart of Venice’s bustling artistic community, you’re sure to have a new appreciation for the incredible array of artistic expression in this one-of-a-kind city.
Today sees you leaving Venice, returning to your home country or continuing on to another tour extension. Whether this is your last day in Italy or just one more moment on your fantastic vacation, you’re sure to remember the past few days with incredible fondness, reveling in the stories and memories that you made in the heart of this captivating country.
While other countries may certainly compare, no other nation on Earth has an artistic history that surpasses that of incomparable Italy, the home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, of Titian and Palladio, of Dante and Brunelleschi. This five-day trip will give you a glimpse of their greatest works, right in the heart of the cities in which they lived and worked and inspired the world. From the banks of the River Arno to the shores of the Adriatic, this is a vacation for the art lover in all of us.
Experience the quotidian glory of the smaller towns in Italy, from the astounding Basilica of Saint Anthony (Francis) in Assisi to the darling medieval city center of Siena. Marvel in the highpoints of the Italian Renaissance as the landmarks of Florence, like the stirring Santa Maria del Fiore and the impressive collection of the Uffizi. Get inspired yourself as you make your way past the charming villages and scintillating scenery of Northern Italy, before ending your trip along the romantic canals and within the entrancing environs of singular Venice.
This is the trip for those who own their own easels and long to paint for a living, for those who marvel in the accomplishments of some of the world’s greatest minds, for those who wish to experience history in a unique and unimaginable way. Italy has seen some of the most accomplished artists in world history and has been the home to some of history’s best loved thinker and poets: It’s time for you to discover Italy for yourself.
$2195 per person (excluding international flights)
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