Italy is a treasure chest packed with gems waiting for your discovery. Your custom tailored tour guides you along the well-known wonders before it reveals the splendor mere footsteps away from the beaten path. Hidden towers of Renaissance cities crest over the rooftops as the textured cliffs of the Ligurian coast conceal an ancient monastery. Fishermen set out along the Mediterranean on boats to offer the best views of land and sea, along with secret fishing spots. You could spend your entire...
Rome – Arrive in the Eternal City
The days of the Republic fade into the imperial monuments of Rome. Cobblestones pave the ancient neighborhoods and church spires soar above the contemporary restaurants and cafes. Neoclassical fountains trickle against a background of baroque villas. Your flight lands at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport where your private transfer meets you at baggage claim. The city has a tangible history that spans millennia, and it’s visible in the statues, structures, and cathedrals that line the streets. Romans move to a fast, vibrant pace but also take the time to relish the beauty of the day and bask in the Dolce far Niente, the sweetness of doing nothing.
Your guide will meet you in the lobby and lead you through a magnificent introductory tour of the city that begins at the Roman Colosseum. The monolithic figure towers over the broad avenue that leads to the Roman Forum. The Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch that stands between to the two famous spaces of the city, celebrates the Romans' victory over Mexentius during the Battle of Milvian Bridge in the 4th-century. The arch stands at nearly 70 feet tall and yet is dwarfed by the preserved walls of the Colosseum. The outer walls contain three levels of arches, each framed by decorative columns.
The edifice was inaugurated in the 1st-century AD and could hold up to 50,000 Romans. The aroma of ancient earth emanates from the arena floor as tiered seating encircles the amphitheater and provides visitors with ample views of the gladiatorial games. In medieval times, the structure became a fortress, occupied by two warrior families of Rome. Your guide will lead you into the recently opened underground area where cages once held wild animals and gladiators prepared for the games. The passageways are narrow but tall, and you will find fragments of frescoes etched into the travertine marble that once lined segments of the subterranean halls.
Rome – Rome’s History and Artistry
In the morning, the locals will set their boats into the Tiber River and row against the quiet current as the sunlight drapes over the cobblestone walkways that line the waterway. Castle Sant’Angelo overlooks the banks on the edge of the ancient city. After breakfast, your guide will lead you to the Vatican for an all -encompassing tour of the famous independent city and its impressive collection of art. St. Peter’s Basilica was erected over a 4th-century church and completed in the 17th-century as Michelangelo’s dome soars over the square at a height of more than 136 feet.
You can climb the 320 steps to the top of the dome for a pleasant view of Rome’s glistening rooftops. You can find Michelangelo’s Pieta as it adorns the right nave; his signature decorates the Madonna’s breast, which makes the pieta the only work the artist ever signed. The aroma of oils and candles lingers in the walls of the Vatican Museum above the freshly polished marble floors. The galleries and halls are as immaculate as the art displayed in them.
Four rooms on the second floor collectively create Raphael’s Rooms due to the master artist having decorated the walls and ceilings between 1508 and 1524. The first room you enter is the Sala di Costantino, named for the fresco that depicts Constantine’s defeat of Maxentius. The Stanza dell Segnatura will take your breath away, decorated with the masterpiece The School of Athens. A bright light washes over the vibrant hues of the classical setting as if bathed in sun. Philosophers and scholars gather around Plato and Aristotle, each depicted as an artist Raphael looked up to in his time.
Rome – Local Sampling the Secrets
Water trickles out of the Fountain of the Four Rivers, surrounded by the baroque palaces that overlook Piazza Navona. Artists set their easels out on the cobblestones and capture the natural light as it washes over the detailed images of the four major rivers of the world. A person could spend their entire life in Rome and still not uncover all the beauty and history of the Eternal City. The day is yours to discover as many wonders as you can, as you follow your guide to experience the city like a local while listening to the hidden charms and finding the best monuments and cuisine away from the narrow beaten path.
Your guide will take you first to a café celebrated for its tiramisu. Locals park their Vespas outside and take a moment to savor the airy, creamy treat before continuing their day. You could make your way to the Capitoline Museums, a collection of the three oldest museums in the world that are filled with artwork and artifacts from the Roman Empire and beyond, or visit ancient seaport of Ostia Antica.
But before either of those, your guide will lead you to the Capuchin crypt beneath the Church of Our Lady of the Conception. The church was built in the 17th-century, and the friars were quickly ordered to transfer the remains from the old church to the new crypt. The crypt was divided into six small chapels and decorated with over 4,000 bones of friars of the church. The bones have an artistic arrangement, placed with attention to visual aesthetic and religious symbolism. The cold temperature and macabre décor add layers of mystery to Rome and the church’s history.
Cinque Terre – Bask in the Stunning Coast
Lush ivy dangles over the ochre and orange colored buildings in the neighborhood of Trastevere, south of the Vatican as a light breeze rustles the verdant trees in the manicured Vatican Gardens. Rome maintains an enchanting allure whether you stay in the city for five minutes or five decades. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you north to the edge of the Italian Riviera at La Spezia. From there, you will board a local train as you venture through the hills that separate the five towns of Cinque Terre from the bustle of Italy. The tunnel opens, and you have an immaculate view of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea as it sweeps to the horizon.
The rugged mountains texture the coastline as the scent of lemon trees mixes with olive trees, and forests carpet across the upper reaches of the hills. Stop in the town of Riomaggiore, the first of the towns connected by a coastal trail that winds nearly seven miles long and provides unparalleled views of the towns and the sea. Pastel-colored homes encircle the narrow inlet of the cliff, to rise along the rugged mountainside. Old Nazi bunkers watch over the hilltop to add a layer of contemporary history to the medieval ambiance of town. You can head down to the shoreline and board a small boat with a local guide.
In the midmorning light, the boat sets sail onto the water where you can cast a line within view of the gorgeous village. Whether you catch four fish or no fish at all, the peaceful time you spend on the water allows you an immersion into the culture of the Ligurian Coast as you appreciate its natural beauty. The boat takes you to the second of the five towns, known as Manarola. The buildings are set on tiers that ascend from the harbor to the cliff-top and the aromas of pesto and focaccia bread drift out of the cafes. If you caught a fish, you can have a local restaurant grill it for you and fill the sea air with lemon zest and garlic.
Cinque Terre – Private Cooking Lesson
In the morning, the water breaks against the rugged boulders at the base of the mountains and mists into the air. On the northern shores of the Italian Riviera, surfers catch the waves as fishermen set out to the horizon in the search of a perfect catch to bring back to the fish market. From Riomaggiore, you could take the long hike along the undulating cliffs and mountains to hidden grounds of the San Fruttuoso Abbey. The monastery was constructed in the 10th-century from stone found naturally in the area. The water once flowed beneath the base archways to allow visitors and supplies to travel into the abbey’s cellars. Today, a sandy beach separates the abbey from the glowing turquoise water.
Parts of the church contain medieval embellishments while the façade contains a Romanesque design. The nearby watchtower was erected in the 16th-century and provided protection to the monastery during pirate attacks to the region. Nearby stands a submerged statue known as Christ of the Abyss, which reaches a depth of 55 feet below the sea’s surface. The bronze statue glows beneath the clear blue sea, visible from a glass-bottom boat. When you return to town, you have time to visit Monterosso to explore the town or lay on the beach before you embark on a private cooking lesson to learn the secrets of the region’s cherished pesto dishes.
Florence – Medieval Pisa and Lucca
In the morning, take one last view of the Ligurian coastline to absorb the variety of colors that emanate from the facades of Riomaggiore and the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Meet your private transfer in La Spezia and continue to the historical city of Pisa, which once had the most powerful navy in Italy. The city was instrumental in the defeat of the Saracens in the 11th-century before Pisa relinquished its maritime might to Genoa. The city is quiet, but also youthful outside of the Campo dei Miracoli as students come from around the world to study in the university that opened in 14th-century.
Your guide will lead you around the treasures of the city, from the Sacred Field to the Palazzo dei Cavalieri, before you arrive at the main piazza, home to the city’s immaculate Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Tower was a monument dedicated to the city’s maritime victories beginning the year 1173. The marble and stone were too heavy for the soft soil which caused the edifice to lean as more tiers were later added. 294 steps lead to the top of the tower and provide a view of the cities rooftops. In Lucca, you can walk along the medieval town walls that stretch nearly two miles in a circuit around the historical area.
The ramparts connect eleven bastions and six gates, with a height of nearly 40 feet. In the 19th-century, Napoleon’s sister turned the fortifications into a stunning public garden. When you arrive in Florence, your private transfer will take you to San Miniato al Monte, a quiet church that overlooks the Piazzale Michelangelo and offers views to the entire city. The church was erected in the 11th-century and maintains the finest Romanesque architecture in all of Tuscany. Step inside to hear the monks chant, which takes place every weekday as their soft voices echo off the walls of the nave to add a sensual atmosphere to the view of the city beyond.
Florence – Art, History, and Mysteries
In the morning, the cafes along Piazza Signoria and Piazza al Duomo set out their umbrellas along the cobblestones as the aroma of fresh, sweet brioche emanates from the bakeries that are hidden by the Renaissance architecture. The green, pink, and white façade of the Duomo rise above the city’s red-tiled rooftops. Brunelleschi designed the brick dome of the cathedral, which stands 376 feet above the meandering streets of Florence. Your guide will meet you in the morning to take you on a marvelous, immersive tour of the city’s history and artistry.
Among the crowd of beautiful buildings, your guide will lead you along the Via Torta, medieval towers first built in the 13th-century. Many of the towers were incorporated into the taller buildings as the city grew, when you view the rooftops, you can see the old towers as they reach above the structures along Borgo San Jacobo. Florence is a virtual open-air museum, filled with abundant statues and master architecture that reflects on the city’s Roman origins to contemporary boutiques that are framed by Renaissance grandeur. Your guide will points to the plaques along sporadic walls, as mentioned in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.
Inside the Galleria dell’Accademia, busts and statues stand out from the bleached white walls as the school continues to teach students various forms of art, from sculpting to painting. Musical instruments fill an entire gallery, to highlight the city’s attachment to opera and composition. A long, wide hallway leads to the incredible form of Michelangelo’s David. The sculpture is 17 feet tall and was designed in the early 16th-century. The detail of the human form creates an image both delicate and bold as it stares stoically into the distance.
Florence – Depart for Home
Sometimes, the best treasures appear when you are not searching. Florence alone contains upwards of 1,200 Madonnas that watch over the city. The tradition began in the 13th-century and remains a huge part of the Florentine topography. Today your private transfer will meet you at the hotel to escort you to the Florence airport to begin your journey home. The beauty and pleasures of Italy abound and encourage you to extend your time in the welcoming country. You could spend your days exploring Tuscany to venture along the rolling sun-drenched hills to the villages of Pitigliano or Fosdinovo, and finish your days sipping wine in Chianti.
- Enjoy the hidden tunnels of the Colosseum recently opened for visitors eager to view where the gladiators once prepared for the arena
- Discover the treasured art of the Vatican Museums on a private guided tour to learn about the history beyond the beauty of memorable works
- Sample the flavors of Rome when unraveling the secrets of the city, from the best tiramisu and gelato to the city’s best espresso, led by a local guide
- Witness the remarkable Capuchin crypt in Rome decorated with the bones of past Friars
- Set out on a cruise along the Ligurian coastline in view of Cinque Terre to catch fish or enjoy the panorama
- Visit the San Fruttuoso Abbey, nestled between the coastal cliffs and reachable only by walking trail or boat
- Indulge in the subtle and enchanting flavors inspired by the Ligurian coast during a private cooking lesson in Cinque Terre
- Witness the dramatic list of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the often-overlooked charm of the city
- Stroll along the walls of Lucca to discover the beauty of the historic city center
- Delve into the Renaissance streets of Florence on a guided tour to view the hidden embellishments of the architecture
- Wander through the Galleria dell’Accademia for an unforgettable view of Michelangelo’s David
- Listen to monks chant in a traditional Romanesque church overlooking the entire city of Florence
The history of the cities in Italy has shaped the culture around the past as it combines cuisine, architecture, and art into the daily life of the locals. Your 8-day tour of Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre immerses you into the traditions of the people and the majesty of the landscape. Your flight lands at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome where your private transfer awaits your arrival. The city maintains a contemporary bustle with citizens as quick to get to work as to enjoy an espresso in the piazza beneath the golden sunlight. Your private guide meets you at the hotel and to lead you on an introductory tour of the city that takes you through the highlights of Rome’s ancient history.
Next day, indulge in the righteous path as you follow your guide through Vatican City and the Vatican Museums and then explore Rome’s treasured restaurants and the culture around the open piazzas. Continue as you venture into the secrets of the city with a wander along the Ancient Appian Way as you stroll through the Capitoline Museums, and venture into the Capuchin crypts. Your private transfer will meet you at the airport the following day to escort you north to La Spezia, the closest city that borders the five towns of Cinque Terre. Board the local train and enjoy the brief scenic ride to Riomaggiore before you take a stroll along the streets before moving out onto the water for a private cruise.
You can cast a line into the sea if you like before you head to the Manarola, the next town over. Use the train to visit each part of Cinque Terre or venture along the various trails that overlook the coast. Wake up the next morning for a trek over the hills to the secluded San Fruttuoso Abbey or take a private boat to the isolated shore. Relax on the beach of Monterosso before you enjoy a private cooking lesson to learn the delicious traditional recipes of the region. Continue the next day as you meet your private transfer in La Spezia and stop in Pisa.
Your tour will take you along the treasures of the city before you visit the Campo dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower. Continue to Lucca to embrace the medieval architecture as embodied in the preserved ramparts. In Florence, enjoy a panoramic view of the city at Piazzale Michelangelo and listen to the monks perform their nightly chant at San Miniato al Monte. Next day, your guide will lead you on an all-encompassing tour of the city through the secret structures and enchanting art both in and out of the museums that are yours to discover. To conclude, your private transfer will escort you to the Florence airport for your flight home, though you may extend your stay and enjoy the magnificent landscape and warm culture of Tuscany.
$2,195 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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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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