Essence of Italy 10-Day Tour 2019-2020

The Ponte Vecchio Bridge hanging over the Arno River in Florence, Italy
A 10 day trip to Italy 
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Embrace elegance, style, ancient history, and la dolce vita during your classic and customizable tour of Italy that immerses you in treasured traditions and preserved majesty. Blend the beauty of the sea with the vibrant heritage of legendary artwork that is found in the grand marble palaces of Venice and the Mediterranean allure of the Amalfi Coast. View the Renaissance masters of Florence and excavate the wealth of history that was once buried beneath ash at Pompeii. Cruise the Venetian lagoon, climb to the top of the Colosseum, and indulge in fresh seafood at Positano for a classic Italian experience that is crafted just for you.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
View of Saint Peter's Basilica at dawn in Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Beautiful view of the Grand Canal with the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in the background
Narrow stone pathway in Pompeii, Italy
View of gondolier rowing his gondola through a Venice, Italy canal
Downward view of Giotto's Bell Tower in Florence, Italy
The Roman Colosseum at midday surrounded by tourists
Colorful view of the Positano Village on the Amalfi Coast in Italy
The gorgeous Ravello Gardens on the Amalfi Coast, Italy
Interior view of the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore with statue of Jesus Christ in the foreground
Downward view the rooftops of Tuscany, Italy
A Venice, Italy canal filled with boats running through colorful buildings | Murano Island
Close up of detailed artwork on Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Venice, Florence, Rome, Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii, Murano, Torcello, Lucca, Barga, Vatican City

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Venice – Arrive in the City on the Lagoon with an Introductory Tour

The city of Venice glows with light from the sun, glancing against the marble palaces lining the winding canals. The classic image of the city with gondolas as they glide through the hidden waterways remains preserved along the 118 islands that are connected by more than 400 bridges. Your private transfer will meet you at Marco Polo Airport upon your arrival and will escort you into the epic grandeur of Venice, which features the splendor of historic feasts and the opulence of the Ducal Palace.

Your guide will meet you in the luxuries of your hotel lobby for an introduction to the city’s marvels along the banks of the illustrious Grand Canal. You will board a private boat that will allow you to discover the history, beauty, and charm that derives from the intricate marble features of the Rialto Bridge to the lavish façade of Palazzo Corner della Ca’Grande. The 16th-century palace was built with the intention to impress and continues to astonish visitors with a first floor that is adorned with Ionic columns that lead to a second floor that is decorated with Corinthian columns. The Baroque features of Palazzo Grassi blend with Classical elements, including four wings that were designed around a beautiful rectangular courtyard and are now covered for exhibitions that are supported by the Fiat Motor Company.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Venice – Enjoy a Full Day Cultural Tour of Venice and the Canals

The captivating ambiance of Venice will return in the morning with the zesty aromas of fritole, which are donuts that are made with lemon and Marsala wine and accompanied by the rich scent of espresso. Your guide will meet you in the lobby and will be eager to introduce you to the marvels of classic Venice that will be set beneath soaring campanile that stands 323 feet tall. Your guide will provide historical and cultural context to the elaborate design of St. Mark’s Basilica with its famous domes and gilded mosaics before leading you through the lavish displays of artwork and imperial aesthetic in the Doge’s Palace.

The intricate detail of the statues that decorate the façade highlight the focus of artisans who helped shape the Gothic design that is known for its Istrian marble columns. You will reach the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, which is the Hall of the Great Council and where you will find the immense, 14th-century hall that held the lower house of Venetian Parliament, accommodating up to 1,800 citizens. Artists such as Veronese and Tintoretto decorated the room in the 16th century, including Tintoretto’s Paradise that sat behind the seat of the Doge and high officials.

In the evening, you will discover the divine flavors of the sea during a meal that will be cooked by a Venetian sailor who will use delicious, seasonal, and fresh ingredients to capture the essence of local cuisine and Italian charm. The aroma of fresh fennel will drift over the garden setting as you sip wine and indulge in five delectable courses that highlight the feast of seafood that the Venetian lagoon offers. This classic meal will include handmade pasta with fresh fish or polenta and grilled prawns.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Venice – Explore the History and Artistry of the Venetian Lagoon

After breakfast, your guide will lead you on a fabulous tour of the Venetian Lagoon that will take you away from the banks of the Grand Canal to reach the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Your discovery of the heritage around the lagoon will begin at Murano, which is the island that is famous for glasswork and the artisans who pass down their knowledge of the handmade art through the generations. You will uncover the splendor of the island during a private glassblowing demonstration, during which the artisan craftsman will demonstrate the necessary balance between the elements in order to heat, shape, and cool the glass, bending it to the contours of their choosing while crafting a vase, chandelier, or plate.

After visiting the island of Burano, you will continue to Torcello, which is an island that is often overlooked for the famous glass of Murano but possesses incredible, Byzantine mosaics and a tranquil nature reserve. The cathedral retains the aromas of frankincense and myrrh in addition to the hints of briny water from the lagoon. The artwork inside the 7th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria dell’Assunta glimmers with gold and precious stone with the most prominent piece, The Last Judgement, which highlights both the growing power of Venice and the separation of the city’s artistic perspective from the style of Byzantium and Ravenna.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Florence – Discover the Treasures of Florence with a Guided Tour

The aromas of espresso will fill the dining room of your hotel in the morning with the vibrant sounds of the Rialto Market as it brims nearby with fishmongers who showcase their fresh calamari and clams by shouting to passersby. Your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you to the train station where you will board your first-class car on the fast train to Florence. You will have plenty of time to settle into the comforts of your luxury hotel in the city center that is known as the Cradle of the Renaissance before meeting your guide at the hotel.

The majesty of Florence will open to you during your private tour that highlights the spectacular works of the Renaissance that were crafted by architects and artists such as Brunelleschi and Michelangelo. The sensational work of Michelangelo stands at the end of a long hall with the famous David reaching 17 feet tall. The statue was crafted from a single piece of marble and depicts the Biblical king as he stares stoically into the distance before his battle with Goliath. The detail of the muscles, hair, and facial features bring the legendary character to life through the stone.

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

Day 5: Florence – Delight in the Beauty of Medieval Tuscan Villages

Your vision of classic Italy will immerse you in the countryside of Tuscany after breakfast with your private guide who will then lead you to the charming medieval towns and villages that are scattered in the hillsides. Cypress trees line the country lanes, and luscious grapevines line the rolling hills in neat rows. The aroma of olive orchards will fill the air, accompanying a slight pine scent from the strewn woodlands before you reach the beautiful city of Lucca. The massive walls that were built between the 16th and 17th centuries continue to protect the city center’s shaded piazzas and welcoming cafes.

The defenses reach more than two miles long, stand nearly 40 feet tall, and are lined with footpaths that lead to the botanical garden, which is decorated with cedar trees. Guinigi Tower soars above the city at the center, standing 145 feet tall and dating back to the 15th century. You can climb to the top of the tower to view the cityscape from above the rooftops while enjoying the shade from the large holm oaks that decorate the roof, which once symbolized the joining of two noble houses.

You will continue your discovery of Tuscany’s beauty at Barga, which is a village that preserves the slow pace of life in the Italian countryside. Stone houses line the winding, cobbled lanes that lead to views of palaces that once belonged to rich merchants between the 15th and 17th centuries. The Romanesque cathedral crowns the heart of town with cafe terraces that overlook the narrow alleys and fill the air with the aromas of espresso and pastries. You can glance beyond the plateau and enjoy the view that spreads across the landscape and reaches to nearby Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Rome – Visit Charming Orvieto and Visit the Marvels of Ancient Rome

Before reaching the remarkable history of Rome, your private transfer will escort you from Florence to the charismatic town of Orvieto, which is located atop a volcanic promontory in the region of Umbria. The panoramas sweep across olive and cypress trees, and the vines that streak the countryside are set beneath the hanging, cobbled lanes and medieval piazzas of the city. You will find the most prominent architectural feature in the center of Orvieto in the form of the Gothic cathedral with a façade that resembles a wedding cake. Black basalt and yellow limestone cause the exterior to glint, and it is emphasized by the gilded mosaics and stained glass. Your guide will offer the remarkable history and heritage of the cathedral, including explaining the uniqueness of the mosaic designs and how they reflect a Gothic and not the Byzantine aesthetic.

After settling into your luxurious accommodation in Rome, your guide will lead you through a private tour of the ancient ruins that embody the prestige of the empire and the depth of history that remain in the modern city. The Colosseum towers above the surrounding piazza with thick, dramatic walls that reach 187 feet tall. Your guide will point out the fragments of painted stucco reliefs that once adorned the four main entrances to the Roman amphitheater. You will have the opportunity to reach the top floor of the Colosseum for a unique view of the stadium that once accommodated crowds of up to 50,000 people. You can look down into the hypogeum that is located beneath the former stage and find a two-story labyrinth that once provided training grounds and storage rooms for the gladiators before their matches.

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

Day 7: Rome – Revel in the Majesty of Historic Rome and the Vatican Museum

In the morning, the sunlight washes over Rome as artists return to the Piazza Navona to capture the famous fountains and surrounding former palaces that shine in the new light. The aromas of peonies and roses will drift through the streets, deriving from the flower stalls that are located across the city. Your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby and will be eager to show you the splendor of the piazzas, palaces, and cafes for which Rome is famous, taking you along the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon but beginning with the iconic feature of the Trevi Fountain. The gorgeous attraction was built in the 17th century and has been immortalized in films as the largest fountain in Rome.

The images of Oceanus as he presides over his watery kingdom with horses, tritons, and shells adorn an ancient aqueduct that was established during the 1st century BC. You will have the opportunity to participate in the legend of throwing a coin over your shoulder into the water, which promises of future visits to Rome. You will continue with your guide to the Vatican Museum for an exploration of the sensational art and a unique history that is reflected in the various galleries that display collections of artifacts from around the Mediterranean. The papal apartment of Pope Julius II possesses a series of frescos by Raphael, including the famous School of Athens. You will find the remarkable painting overtaking an entire wall where contemporary masters of Raphael stand-in for allegorical figures such as da Vinci for Plat and Michelangelo as Heraclitus. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Positano – Visit the National Museum and Traverse Ancient Pompeii

You will travel to the city of Naples in the morning by high-speed train and enjoy the scenery from your first-class compartment as you travel from the capital in Lazio to the bustling streets along the Bay of Naples. The scent of delicate shell pastries that have been stuffed with citrus cream will fill carry through the city from the celebrated bakeries throughout the day. Your guide will meet you at the train station and escort you to the remarkable National Archeological Museum of Naples for a unique perspective on the sensational history in and around the bay.

The galleries are located inside the 16th-century cavalry barracks and feature an immense collection of antiquity, ranging from artifacts that have been excavated at Pompeii to Farnese statues that include the massive, 10-foot-tall Hercules. The serene ambiance inside the galleries will highlight the beauty of the various artworks and the prestige of the collection that is embodied in the 20-foot-long mosaic from Pompeii that features Alexander the Great in battle with remarkable detail, revealing the unbelievable artistic abilities of classical artisans.

You will continue to the sensational city of Pompeii, which was covered in up to 20 feet of ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. You will see the summit of the volcano as it rises above the city in the distance from the open plaza of the Roman Forum. The replica statue stands in front of the Temple of Apollo between the remaining 48 Ionic columns, and the scent of dry soil will fill the air around the court that was once used as a market and the center of civic life. You will also view the Teatro Grande, which could hold up to 5,000 spectators and remains in use during the summer for Son et lumière shows.

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

Day 9: Positano – Uncover the Towns of the Amalfi Coast with a Cooking Class

The scent of lemons will stem from the terraced orchards that grow on the edges of Positano in the morning as you enjoy the views of the pastel facades that line the streets and the sapphire blue water of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Fishing boats wade in the small marina after returning from early hours a sea in search of a fresh catch for the day. Your private driver will greet you in the lobby and will be ready to traverse the 25-mile shoreline that is known as the Amalfi Coast. The light will shine against the majolica-tiled dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta as you leave town en route for the gorgeous views of Ravello, which is situated 1,198 feet above sea level.

The 11th-century cathedral dominates the skyline of Piazza del Vescovado with a whitewashed façade and triple-arched marble portal that are visible from the outdoor tables and chairs of the nearby cafes. You will visit the celebrated terraces of Villa Rufolo, which is a 13th-century complex that shines with marvelous Moorish and Norman influences. The cloisters and towers crown the terraces while you can enjoy the cliff’s edge terrace above the sea, which sweeps across the coastline that once inspired Wagner to compose his opera, Parsifal. Each year, the terraces erupt with song while hosting the annual Wagner Festival. You will return to Positano in the evening with the opportunity to learn about the art of the local cuisine, focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients. The aromas of garlic and tomatoes will fill the kitchen as your private chef guides you through preparing handmade noodles and delicious seafood that embody the delights of the local and celebrated flavors. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Positano – Depart for Home 

In the morning, the aromas of the sea will overtake the scents of fresh espresso and buttery pastries. The shops along the winding, terraced roads will reopen their doors, revealing window displays of elegant ceramics that are complete with images of lemons and Roman pastorals. A traditional cobbler can handmake sandals for customers while they walk along the cobbled lanes. After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby and escort you around the Bay of Naples to reach the airport with plenty of time to check in for your flight.

What’s Included: transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,745
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.