Rome, Bologna, Siena, Florence, Venice
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Balance the stories of the ancients with the inspiring art of the Renaissance as you take in the opulent masquerades and intricate delicacies during your personalized Italy itinerary that is perfect for the first-time traveler. Listen to the echoes of gladiators in the subterranean labyrinth of the Colosseum, and then watch as the gilded frames glisten as they border the masterworks found inside the Vatican Museum. Wander the hidden corridor that connects Florentine palaces and learn how...
Venice – Arrive in Venice for an Introductory Cruise on the Grand Canal
The labyrinthine city of Venice captivates visitors from around the globe with its rich history that embodies the style of the former Republic. The Grand Canal sweeps along the edges of the city over a winding two miles as the Byzantine domes of St. Mark’s Basilica adds a golden glow to the city’s beautiful skyline. The stone streets and arching bridges rise around the narrow canals for an unforgettable ambiance that fills the city entirely.
Your flight will land at Marco Polo Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival. You will then make your way to the dock along the Grand Canal for your first striking view of the city on the lagoon. Vaporettos glide along the water leaving whitewater in their wake as speedboats cruise in the wide space of the Grand Canal, weaving around floating barges. The larger boats offer a reminder of the continued usage of the waterway as the main artery of transportation around the lagoon.
After you get into the city and settle into your hotel, you will then board a private boat for your official introduction to Venice’s 118 islands that are connected through 400 footbridges set across 170 canals. The scent of the water fills the air, accented by sporadic bursts of melted butter and confectionary sugar emanating from the freshly made bussolai buranelli, a cookie shaped like the Grand Canal. Your guide will bring you under the iconic Rialto Bridge. The striking stone figure was erected in the 16th century to replace the earlier wooden bridge, and 6,000 timber piles support the arching stone that stretches more than 72 feet long.
Venice – Discover Iconic Venice with a Secret Tour and Mask Making Class
The sunlight will wash over the canal and return the turquoise hues to the shimmering water with the light of the morning. The scent of pan del doge will drift out of the bakeries, embodying the leisure and luxury of the past in the pastry’s dried figs, nuts, and honey. After breakfast, your guide will greet you at your hotel and escort you to the grounds of St. Mark’s Square. The towering, glinting domes of St. Mark’s Basilica reach heights of over 140 feet tall and will arrest your attention immediately. Your guide will point to the frescoes that adorn the half-domed recesses along the façade. Your guide will take you into the courtyard near the Porta della Carta, the ceremonial entrance to the palace as Gothic pinnacles with allegorical figures of the Cardinal Virtues flank the gateway, crowned with a bust of St. Mark.
Inside the palace, your guide will quietly divulge the secrets of the Doge by taking you to the Chamber of the Secret Chancellery. Wind along a narrow stairway to reach the wooden lockers that once contained private documents of the hidden council. Coats-of-arms decorate the lockers that date back to the late 13th century. The unique atmosphere offers the palpable knowledge that many of the decisions regarding the future of Venice were once made in secret within the chambers.
After a full morning of exploring, you will then spend the afternoon with a master crafter to create your own Venetian mask. You will find the fascinating history of the mask will surprise you and having your own creation and piece of traditional art will be a perfect memento of your trip to Venice.
Venice – Explore the Islands on the Lagoon with Glass Blowing Instruction
The scent of espresso will emanate from the cafes and hidden corner bars of Venice and entice you in for a morning cup of coffee. As you stroll the streets, the beautiful glitters and paints bring the vibrant colors of Venetian masks fill shop windows and showcase the historical wealth and style for which the Republic was known. Having now made your own mask, your appreciation for the artistry involved will further your interest in the intricate and varying designs.
After breakfast, you will board your boat from the hotel’s private dock and venture deeper into the lagoon to visit the secluded islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. The wind will blow through your hair and carries hints of the briny water over the boat. The colorful homes of Murano line the narrow canal that bisects the heart of the island. Cobbled lanes meander away from the rippling water, and sporadic wood plinths rise along the banks. Stone bridges arch over the canals that lead to the hidden glass shops as flowers blossom on the second-story windowsills of private homes.
You will enter into a studio in which glassblowers continue to craft the celebrated art with much skill and artistry. Venice’s Doge moved the glassblowers to Murano in the 13th century to prevent fires on the main island and regulate the master artists within the confines of the Republic, and you can see why as the heat blasts from the furnace. The artist will shape the bubbling, colorful glass by rolling it against iron planks or a hefty rag until formed to the artist’s liking.
Florence – Transfer to Florence for a Tour of Historical and Culinary Bologna
The aroma of frittelle, the national cake of the Venetian Republic, will drift through the aisles of the Rialto Market in the morning to offer a delicious accompaniment to the rich fragrance of fresh espresso. After breakfast, your private vaporetto will escort you over the lagoon to reach the shores of the mainland. You will then continue south towards the borders of Tuscany and the city of Florence. Stop along the way in historical Bologna to wander along the fabled arcades and experience the cuisine in the city known to Italians as La Grassa, the “Fat One.” Renaissance towers punctuate the skyline, and the arcades reach nearly 20 miles in total. Students linger around the grounds of the University of Bologna, which was founded in the 11th century, making it one of Europe’s oldest.
Your guide will lead you around the marvels of the fascinating city, accentuated by the aromas of freshly made lasagna and simmering ragu that inspired the name “Bolognese.” After strolling along the adjacent piazzas of Maggiore and Nettuno to view the shimmering copper statues that adorn Neptune’s Fountain, you will continue to La Piazzola, a magnificent open-air market that overtakes the Piazza Mercato. The square once contained the 13th-century cattle market and now holds 400 vendors that range from artesian crafters to florists and jewelers. Instead of dining in one of Bologna’s renowned restaurants for lunch, your guide will take you to a private kitchen to learn the art of Bolognese cuisine, beginning with how to create the traditional pasta of Emilia-Romagna, tortellini. You will leave Bologna overflowing with Italian cuisine and be ready for a quiet evening in nearby Florence.
Florence – Tour the Uffizi and the Markets of Florence
The jewelers on the oldest bridge in the city, the Ponte Vecchio, open their doors to passersby in the morning light. The Arno River rushes beside the sloped banks and is decorated with crew rowing against the current. The dome of the celebrated Basilica crowns the heart of the city, reaching heights of more than 375 feet above the cobbled piazza as you stand on the Ponte Vecchio. Your guide will greet you at your hotel and escort you along the cobblestones that line the boulevards and hidden lanes between the historical palaces and enticing cafes to reach the Uffizi Gallery.
The museum was designed in the 16th century as the offices for Florence’s magistrates, and the upper halls look down into the narrow, rectangular piazza that is framed by statues of Italy’s greatest thinkers and decorative columns that offer a view of the banks of the Arno River. You will follow your guide along the stone stairwell that leads to the galleries on the second floor. The sunlight will pierce the windows and shine against the gilded frames and polished marbles. You will trace the history of Italian and Florentine art as the medieval period gave way to the rebirth of classical features and details that date back to between the 14th and 18th centuries. You will soon reach a gallery that displays Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi. The master artist created the painting in the 1670s to depict Mary and Child with the Magi kneeling.
Florence – Visit Stunning Siena, San Gimignano, and Pienza
The vendors inside the San Lorenzo Market will call out to passersby with artisan ties, shawls, and scarves on offer while leather workers showcase handmade coats, bags, and shoes. The brick dome of the nearby church adorns the private chapel of the Medici family, memorializing the prestige of the famous family. After breakfast and a morning stroll, you will set out for a day beneath the Tuscan sun to wander along the towering cypress trees and sprawling vineyards. The verdant hills roll to the horizon and are decorated with sporadic oak and olive trees. You will reach the picturesque town of Siena, which once rivaled Florence as a cultural and military powerhouse in the region between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Cobbled lanes wind around the Gothic red brick architecture and lead to the main square of Piazza del Camp. Nearby, the soaring tower of Torre del Mangia stands nearly 335 feet tall. The Gothic features of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta soon capture your eye as the dramatic spires and black and white marble stripes of the façade offer a glimpse of the artistry you will find on the interior. The Cathedral was finished in the early 14th century and features a large window that crowns the central doorway. The stripe motif continues along the columns and archways that are set beneath the vaulted ceilings, which are painted with night blue and gold stars to represent the sky. You will look to the floor to find a collection of 56 fresco panels that depict the Biblical history and local folklore, including a version of the She-Wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.
Rome – Traverse a Dairy Farm and Orvieto before a Walking Tour of Rome
Vendors return to their stalls at Mercato Centrale in the morning light. The butchers tend to their meats with cheese mongers bring their selections to the refrigerated displays. The scent of grilled bread and rich olive oil permeates the air amongst the fresh eggplants and zucchini. Your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby after breakfast and escort you south towards Rome, the epic city to which all roads lead. You will stop en route at a private dairy farm to learn how to make delectable pecorino cheese.
Sheep graze on the lush grass that covers the farmland as you follow your guide along the grounds to learn about the art of making cheese from milking to pasteurization. The sheep’s milk simmers and boils to separate the curds from whey. A delightful tangy and salty aroma fills the room as the cheese forms, and then ages for as little as 20 days to retain a soft consistency.
You will then enter into the tasting room to sample the flavors of the aged cheese, cutting into the hard rind to find the familiar soft texture on the inside. The older the cheese is, the more pungent the aroma and the more vibrant the flavor. You will taste distinctive nutty notes that pair perfectly with olives and wine and savor every bite. After you have had time to try it all, you will continue to the marvelous town of Orvieto before reaching the ancient streets of Rome. Meet your guide in your hotel and venture out onto the streets at the heart of the Imperial city to discover the incredible blend of ancient and Baroque artistry.
Rome – Experience Roman Culture with a Half-Day Tour of the Ancient City
The sandstone walls of the Castel Sant’Angelo shine with golden hues as the morning sunlight rises over Rome. The thick columns that frame the entrance to the Pantheon contain silver colors from the incredible concrete that is set beneath the marvelous dome. After a traditional breakfast of espresso and a sweet brioche sprinkled with pistachio, you will set out into the depths of the ancient city in the shadow of the Colosseum. The outer walls stand more than 185 feet tall and contain Doric pillars on the first floor, Ionic columns on the second story, and Corinthian columns that wrap around the top floor.
Your guide will lead you through the corridor to view the famous arena. The carved stone creates dramatic rows with a capacity for 50,000 spectators while the stadium floor has given way to the walls of the Hypogeum, an underground maze which hid the gladiators and exotic animals bound for the arena. The dust of the ancient stadium has settled, and the Mediterranean sunlight bakes the historic stone. You can imagine the cacophonous calls of the audience as gladiators battled for supremacy as you walk the corridors and explore it all. You will pass the Arch of Constantine on the way to the Roman Forum, noticing the intricate details of the 4th-century reliefs.
Rome – Enjoy a Tour of the Vatican and its Incredible Art
The water of the famous Trevi Fountain trickles into the waiting pool as the coins flicker in the pools of the fountain below the picturesque poses of Oceanus and the galloping horses. After your breakfast nearby, you will venture to the cobbled grounds of St. Peter’s Square. An obelisk stands at the center of the oval layout drawing your eye to the dome that stands nearly 450 feet tall. The museum was founded in the 16th century and has grown to one of the world’s greatest collections of art from around the globe. The galleries overtake more than three miles, displaying Egyptian mummies and Etruscan bronze statues.
You will be able to pass through the Map Gallery, a fabulous room that stretches nearly 400 feet long and is decorated with 40 topographical maps of 16th-century Italy. The panels shimmer with gold filigree and captivate, and then the wonders of the museum continue as you enter the Raphael Rooms, which were once the private apartments of Pope Julius II. The master artist decorated many of the rooms, including the library, where the masterpiece The School of Athens continues to adorn the walls. The bright, detailed painting features contemporaries of Raphael as the celebrated philosophers of Greece, including da Vinci representing Plato. The halls lead you into the crowning jewel of the Vatican Museum, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
Rome – Depart for Home
Artists return to the cobblestones along Piazza Navona in the morning to capture the sunlight washing over Bernini’s famous fountains. The aroma of fresh espresso drifts through the doors of the many cafes, and you will soon settle into a chair to enjoy the ambiance with all it offers. The trickling waters of the Fountain of the Four Rivers fill the air, and visitors from around the world visit the southern edges of the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin to find the Bocca della Verita, made famous in a touching moment between Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday. After breakfast and one last morning in Rome, your private transfer will greet you at your hotel to make your way together through the heart of Rome to reach Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
- Uncover the secrets of Venice during private tour that will show the hidden chambers of the Doge’s Palace and isolated charms of St. Mark’s Basilica
- Learn the coveted art of glassblowing during a private demonstration and instruction on the fabled island of Murano
- Wander the gilded galleries of the Vatican Museums to find the works of master artist Raphael and the breathtaking frescoes of the Sistine Chapel
- Enjoy a lesson in crafting homemade pecorino cheese, one of the favored cheeses of Tuscany during a private tour of a dairy farm
- Witness the marvelous collection of paintings and sculptures on display in celebrated Uffizi Gallery in Florence
- Traverse the historical city of Bologna to view one of the oldest universities in Europe before learning how to craft handmade tortellini with a private chef
- Make your own Venetian mask during a crafty lesson to combine your personal style with the legendary grace and glamour of the Venetian Republic
- Discover the unique mosaic floor panels that decorate the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena
- Relish the historical towers, preserved medieval walls, and fabulous Renaissance architecture found in the small towns of Tuscany
- Follow in the footsteps of the Medici as you traverse the hidden Vasari Corridor and San Lorenzo Basilica in Florence
Italy displays tangible beauty with a soulful splendor that embodies the independent culture of ancient city-states while also celebrating a strong national identity. Your 10-day tour will excavate the past for an exciting, immersive experience for first-time visitors to the country as you journey through Venice, Florence, and Rome for an unforgettable visit. Your travels will begin with your arrival at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, and your private transfer will escort you to the water to board your vaporetto. Enjoy an introductory tour along the famous Grand Canal to view the palaces, bridges, and unique way of life along the lagoon as you travel into the city towards your hotel.
Your boat will moor at the private dock of your luxury hotel and you will quickly settle into the comforts of the city. Wake the next morning and your guide will lead you on a fantastic tour of Venice’s secret history. Explore the hidden chambers of the Doge’s Palace and the oft-overlooked artistry of St. Mark’s Basilica. Make your way next to an artisan mask maker’s studio to craft and decorate a personalized Venetian mask. The following day, you will board a small boat for a scenic journey and a private tour of the celebrated lagoon to visit the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Wander along the colorful homes, enjoy the verdant landscape and the lively art studios before learning how to craft a perfect memento with a glassblowing demonstration.
Move next to travel south towards Florence, with a stop in the region of Emilia-Romagna to explore the city of Bologna. Traverse the arcades and 11th-century University before partaking in a private cooking class focused on the celebrated tortellini. Once in Florence, you can visit the Church of San Miniato al Monte to hear the Gregorian chants at sundown. Visit the galleries of the Uffizi Museum the next day to fully appreciate the collection of art that represents the 13th to the 18th centuries. Travel the Vasari Corridor that connects the museum to the Pitti Palace across the Arno River, and then wander along the churches and boisterous stalls at San Lorenzo Market with an afternoon at your leisure.
The following day, you will have a private tour of Tuscany with a stop in the medieval cities of Siena and San Gimignano to view the towers, churches, and preserved culture. Enjoy the charms of the Renaissance town of Pienza before returning to Florence for the evening. As you travel the next day, stop at a dairy farm en route to Rome to learn how to make the preferred Tuscan cheese of pecorino. Continue to the town of Orvieto to view the cobbled lanes, historical homes, and dramatic location atop a volcanic plateau. Upon reaching Rome, partake in a private walking tour to view the fabulous squares and Baroque architecture.
Uncover the ancient world of Rome the next day with a private visit to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. You will also visit Capitoline Hill and the museum before enjoying the rest of the day at your leisure. The next day, your guide will lead you through the marvels of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum, and then a bike tour of the Appian Way to find the ancient tombs along the historical road that connects Rome to the southeast port of Bari. Your private transfer will meet you after breakfast the next day and escort you to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home. You may also want to continue your travels into other regions of Italy, so consider reading how our best Italy travel agents and partners worked with our other travelers for the Italian vacation they had always dreamed of.
$2,745 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
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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