Italy, Vatican City
Venice, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Milan, Padova, Verona, Bellagio, Isola Bella, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Portofino, San Fruttuoso,...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Your customizable 3-week best of Italy tour captures the beauty, charm, elegance, and glamour of the most popular cities and towns and brings you from Venice to Rome, Bellagio to the Amalfi Coast. Discover the splendor of the Colosseum and the prestige of marble palaces rising out of the Grand Canal, and then Indulge in the complex flavors of treasured Tuscan wine and the ancient preserved life frozen in Pompeii. The dynamic architecture of Florence and fascinating artwork of Pisa will create...
Day 1 - 3
Venice – Arrive in Venice and Explore the City and Island Highlights
Venice embodies grace and audacity, grandeur and elegance as the charming gondolas and stunning marble palaces line the winding canals. With 118 islands consisting of six neighborhoods that are connected by approximately 400 bridges, Venice is a unique city that captures the hearts and the imaginations of visitors from all around the world. Your flight will land at Marco Polo Airport, where your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival. You will then travel by vaporetto across the famous Grand Canal to reach the private jetty of your luxury hotel that overlooks the quiet waters of a narrow channel. Three days in Venice provides a perfect amount of to discover and explore the splendors of the city and the marvels of the islands scattered across the Venetian Lagoon.
A private tour of Venice will immerse you in the iconic beauty of the Rialto Bridge, the cobbled walkways, and St. Mark’s Square. The Campanile towers over the public plaza at 323 feet tall are crowned with a golden figure of Archangel Gabriel. The five bulbous domes of eponymous Basilica reach 141 feet tall and reflect the mixture of Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic architectural styles that date back to the ground plan from the 11th century. More than 500 columns are crafted from rare marble, alabaster, and jasper that support the church accentuated by the gilded majesty of 45,639 square feet of mosaics. Your guide will offer incredible historical and cultural detail and give you the stories behind the adornments, including the geometrical and natural patterns of the inlaid marble floor that overtakes 22,593 square feet with the occasional animal or floral design molded from marble or glass.
Spending time in the Venetian Lagoon also offers the opportunity for visiting the famous islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, which are known for glassblowing, lacework, and a peaceful escape from the crowds of Venice respectively. When visiting Murano, you can wander along the cobbled lanes and stroll beside the canals where colorful fishing boats wade in the water. The island’s main attraction remains the glassblowers and their studios, which have been on the island since the 13th century after the Doge transferred the artisans from Venice out of fear their kilns would start a fire. Enjoy visiting one of the many artists on the island during a demonstration watching them heat the glass while using poles, rails, water, and thick cloths to shape the material into their desired form.
Milan – Visit Padova and Verona before the Night in Milan
The city of Padua offers a different perspective on the beauty of Veneto and feels a world’s away from the particular grandeur of Venice’s marbled mansions and sophisticated network of canals. Medieval lanes retain a sense of Old-World ambiance and lead to Italy’s second-oldest university with churches and villas abounding from when Padua and Verona fought for dominance over the surrounding plains. While in Padua, your guide will take you through the fabulous frescoes that decorate the Cappella degli Scrovegni, which boasts the city’s collection of masterful Renaissance frescoes. The cycle painted by Giotto was attributed by later artists like da Vinci and Dante for moving Italian thought out of the Dark Ages with illuminating works that added humanistic characteristics to Biblical figures. The cycle of frescoes lines the walls within the brick chapel and captures the vulnerability of the Passion and the compassion in the Kiss of Judas.
Continue to Verona, the city famous as the home of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Standing halfway between Venice and Milan, Verona also has a remarkable history that dates back to the 1st century BC and began as a Roman colony. Romanesque churches from the 11th-century rise above the narrow, cobbled lanes and the dramatic town walls continue to touch the banks of the Adige River. The Roman amphitheater erected in the 3rd century AD retains four arches and impressive stadium seating with of 44 rows of seats that can host up to 22,000 spectators for a single event.
The stadium remains in use each July and August during the Verona Opera Festival, while the home of Juliet Capulet attracts lovelorn visitors from around the world eager to pay homage to the heroine of passion and receive a blessing for their affection. An archway decorated with letters of gratitude, appreciation, or sorrow leads into the villa courtyard. Beneath the iconic balcony stands a bronze statue of Juliet. A team of secretaries continues to answer the mail sent to fans of Juliet.
Day 5 - 7
Bellagio – Enjoy the Italian Alps and Towns of the Lakes Region
The famous Lakes Region of Italy abounds with gorgeous scenery full of leafy streets that are paved with stone, soaring alpine summits that are reflected in the glassy blue waters, and medieval towns with Romanesque fortifications that juxtapose the modern elegance of the Italian Alps. Bellagio acts as the perfect base along the edges of Lake Como for exploring the waters, the forested landscape, and the stunning villas around the Lakes Region. Gardens frame the colorful tower homes and preserved buildings, while chic boutiques line the esplanade and weave around narrow lanes.
A long flight of stairs connects the upper plateau of town with the boat landing while the alpine forest spreads across foothills at over 751 feet above sea level. The Romanesque Basilica of San Giacomo was erected between the 11th and 12th centuries with a fabulous bell tower that hovers above the winding streets of the town. Using Bellagio as a gorgeous base from which to explore, you can easily visit the Borromean Islands on the neighboring waters of Lake Maggiore, which extends for 40 miles crossing the border into Switzerland.
Isola Bella is one of the most popular and beautiful destinations along the Borromean Islands thanks to the fascinating 17th-century palace, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. The Music Room holds a stunning collection of antique instruments and fabulous artwork, while also hosting the unique history of having Mussolini nearly join the Allied Forces against Hitler in 1935. The gardens of the palace remain a fascinating demonstration of Baroque design captured in embellishments like the grottoes decorated with intricate pebble-dashing made with black and white patterns along the ceiling. White peacocks wander the grounds freely accentuating the magnificent height of the ten terraces reaching a prominence of 105 feet and covered with lush rows of citrus orchards, cherry trees, magnolias, and oleanders framing the mountain views.
Day 8 - 10
Monterosso – Relish the Charms of Cinque Terre and Gulf of Poets
The five villages of Cinque Terre embody the beauty of Italy’s coastline and the landscapes that had remained untouched for centuries before the railway connected the country and tourism expanded to include the lesser-visited charms outside of the main cities hosting famous artwork. Cinque Terre is a masterwork of art itself with lovely pebbled beaches, colorful tower homes, narrow winding lanes, and terraced gardens that are filled with citrus orchards, olive groves, and vineyards that overlook the elegant waters of the Ligurian Sea. The most northerly town of the five is Monterosso, which offers an easy connection Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore via the renowned hiking paths or now with a short, scenic train ride.
Visiting Cinque Terre is about experiencing the ambiance and culture of the towns that are separated by mountainous outcroppings and rugged cliffs, but that also retains a historical connection through donkey paths and fishing boats. The beach at Monterosso has a fabulous strand of lounge chairs shaded by umbrellas, perfect for relaxing to enjoy the afternoon. Three defensive towers that date back to the 16th century remain standing over the old village, and you can spot the remains of the 12th-century colossal Neptune seemingly carved into the cliff at the edge of holding up a platform at 46 feet tall. The statue was damaged during World War II when it lost its arms and trident with a later storm adding to the weathered, ancient look of the contemporary figure.
Discovering the splendor of the Ligurian coast over these three days will take you to the Gulf of Poets as well, home to the charming towns of Lerici and Portovenere, in addition to the hidden Abbey of San Fruttuoso. A guided boat excursion will take you along the water for a full day of exploration spent along the gulf beginning with the secluded Abbey that is reachable only by water, or with a challenging hike through along the rugged coastal landscape. The Abbey was erected between the 10th and 12th centuries and acted as a sanctuary for monks, a den for pirates, and a fishermen’s hideaway from harsh storms. Locals often use the strand as a hidden beach to enjoy the Mediterranean sunlight and the refreshingly crisp, clear waters. Your guide will point into the sea offshore where a 50-foot tall bronze statue of Jesus looks upwards to the source of light.
Day 11 - 14
Florence – Traverse the Famous Beauty and History of Tuscany
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most famous regions thanks to its spectacular natural beauty and seemingly endless collection of pristine medieval towns that overflow with enchanting artwork. The impressive level of sophistication is practiced in architectural design, painting, illustration, sculpting, and even science. Three nights spent traveling through Tuscany will introduce you to the famous towns and cities spread across the renowned verdant rolling hills covered with celebrated vineyards and rows of fragrant cypress trees that begin with Pisa and Lucca. Pisa is known for the sensational Leaning Tower, which reaches nearly four degrees in leaning to create a difference of 12 feet between the base and top of the tower. The distinctive display of Pisan Gothic design derives from the rows of thin columns and narrow arches resembling a contemporary wedding cake displayed on the dramatic façade of the cathedral as well.
Follow your guide next into an often-overlooked highlight of Pisa at the Sacred Field or Campo Santo. What was once the biggest attraction in the city was profoundly affected by Allied bombings during World War II, which caused the original Renaissance frescoes that decorated the walls to melt. The structure was built in the 13th century with shiploads of mud taken from the Golgotha in Jerusalem after the Fourth Crusade. Instead of the colorful artwork many associate with the Renaissance, the structure reveals the original drawings in red ink made by the artist as opposed to the painting often filled in by students or assistants.
Florence becomes the perfect home base during your time in Tuscany for its central location and its captivating collection of historical and cultural highlights including the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia dell’Arte. The stunning Palazzo Vecchio looms above the 14th-century public square of Piazza della Signoria and showcases the power and prestige at the city’s center with evidence of Roman and Etruscan remains uncovered beneath the pavement. Two days of guided tours in Florence will introduce you to the heritage and to the culture of the city that captures the spirit of Dante and the works of Michelangelo with the looming allure of the Medici and the captivating flavors of gelato. Venturing into the Uffizi Gallery with your guide will bring you through the famous artwork that spans the 13th to the 18th centuries across 139,000 square feet. The chronological display of work allows you to view the works of famous artists against their contemporaries including the marvelous perspective of Caravaggio with his famous 16th-century painting Bacchus.
The charming Tuscan town of Montepulciano then provides a perfect place for relaxation, where you can wind down and sample an array of local wines among the medieval architecture with fine Baroque hints adorning the churches. Etruscan foundations support the 14th-century Renaissance grandeur of Piazza Grande and the unique stonework façade of the Cathedral. The vineyards sprawl across the hillside and the ridges around town thrive in the fertile soil and lead to underground cellars at the base of the hill resulting in the special characteristics for which the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is known. Sample the delicious wine in one of the local cellars to find aromas of cherries red berries drifting out of the glass.
Day 15 - 17
Rome – Visit Orvieto and an Immersive Exploration of Rome
The town of Orvieto is located less than 65 miles north of Rome situated atop a soft crag of tufa overlooking the Paglia valley. Stroll through town at your own pace before reaching Rome for a half-day spent uncovering the remaining Etruscan ruins and preserved medieval charms of the city embodied in the Cathedral. The captivating Gothic design features a façade of colorful black basalt and yellow limestone that is adorned with stained glass, sculptures, and stunning gilded mosaics that accentuate the Gothic characteristics instead of the usual Byzantine quality associated with the typical artwork.
Rome captures the essence of Italy while simultaneously acting as a separate entity with both well-known landmarks and hidden experiences, with a surprising array of churches and ancient monuments around every corner. Three nights in the Eternal City unveil the true majesty of ancient architecture like the Colosseum, cultural staples like pasta, and the incredible collection of heritage on display in the Vatican Museum. When visiting the Colosseum, your guide highlights the dramatic features of the façade with the outer walls standing over 187 feet tall. The feat of ancient engineering retains examples of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns that decorated the lower, middle, and top floors respectively along the outer wall while fragments of painted stucco reliefs decorate the main entrances. The interior provides an elaborate view of ancient life in Rome when looking into the Hypogeum, a labyrinth of walls beneath the main stage where gladiators once trained and prepared before a match, and trainers kept wild exotic animals.
Your guided tour of the Vatican encompasses both St. Peter’s Basilica and the treasures inside the museum galleries. The Basilica acts as the centerpiece of the Papal State with foundations dating back to the 4th century under which St. Peter was buried. Light filters through the large windows to cause the gilded ceilings and polished marble to glint in the nave. The exterior dome designed by Michelangelo soars above the square 450 feet tall and was inspired by the ancient cupola that crowns the Pantheon. Michelangelo’s respected Pietà stands to the right after entering the nave and depicts a youthful, graceful Mary holding Jesus after the Crucifixion. The intricate, delicate humanistic detail captured in stone brings the characters to life.
Day 18 - 20
Ravello – Traverse Naples and Delight in the Amalfi Coast
Naples boasts an exuberant character with colorful and chaotic streets that spread outward from the historical harbor. Famous pizzerias continue in the tradition of crafting customary flavors inspired by traditional flavors as well as the surrounding land and sea. Antique Baroque churches hold masterpieces of art like the Veiled Christ in Cappella Sansevero. The cluster of narrow stepped lanes in the Santa Lucia neighborhood holds traditional bakeries, artisan workshops, and cafes indicative of Neapolitan life. Your tour through Naples will embrace the city’s immense history with a visit to the National Archeological Museum which displays the vibrant collections of artifacts uncovered at ancient excavations like Pompeii and Herculaneum before leading you through the preserved archeological site Pompeii.
The old Roman port city was covered in pumice stone and ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Shops, homes, and public spaces conserved for nearly 2,000 years offer a surprising impression of ancient life, in addition to the infamous images of citizens frozen in suspended action encased in ash. From the Large Theater, your guide can point across the Bay of Naples to the lingering peak of Mount Vesuvius. The theater could seat up to 5,000 audience members with the top rows commanding the best views of the surrounding city and the volcanic summit in the distance.
Move next to use the gorgeous mountaintop-town of Ravello as your center, and your private driver will escort you along the 25-mile road famously referred to as the Amalfi Coast. Not having to drive on the thrillingly windy roads will allow you to relish the scenery and relax in the towns you choose along the way. Ravello stands at 1,198 feet above sea level overlooking the glowing azure Tyrrhenian Sea and the fragrant terraces brim with orange and lemon groves. Savor the lush gardens with elaborate historical villas, the 11th-century Romanesque architecture of Cathedral of San Pantaleone, and the incredible panoramic view from the terrace of Villa Rufolo as each accentuates the beauty of the coastline and the elegance of Ravello.
Visit the towns of Vietri sul Mare, Amalfi, and Positano for the full flavor of the famous seaside captured in the rising tower homes and winding streets of Positano, as well as the colorful fishing boats wading in the calm waters of the small marina. Spend a day on your own, and determine your plans based on your move. You could traverse the renowned cliffs and mountainous landscape of Capri, an island that has enchanted Roman emperors and Hollywood starlets alike with incredible views of the distinctive Faraglioni rock stacks jutting out of the water. You could also explore the captivating sapphire glow of the Blue Grotto, or wander the chic boutiques and restaurants that wind along the cobbled lanes of Capri Town.
Naples – Depart for Home
The splendor of Italy has taken you from the elegance of Venice to the welcoming charms of the Amalfi Coast, basking in the reflective waters of Lake Maggiore to embracing the sensational depiction of Renaissance learning in Raphael’s masterpiece, School of Athens decorating a wall in the former Papal Apartments. Italy’s unique mixture of artistic and natural grandeur shapes the distinctive culture shared by the different regions of Italy while also remaining very specific to the local heritage. After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you in your hotel lobby at Ravello and escort you around the bay to reach Naples International Airport for your flight home.
- Explore the fascinating history of Pompeii as preserved in pumice and ash that captures the daily life of ancient Roman citizens
- Discover the captivating treasures on display in the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, including Michelangelo’s Pietà
- Wander the incredible galleries in the Uffizi, home to an impressive collection of masterworks including Caravaggio’s Bacchus
- Witness the unique outline of a master fresco in Pisa’s Campo Santo, the initial drawing completed by the master artist
- Traverse the exceptional natural beauty and charming ambiance captured in Monterosso al Mare and the neighboring coastal towns of Cinque Terre
- Bask in the elegance and grandeur of Italy’s Lakes Region when visiting the Baroque Borromean Palace on Isola Bella
- View the initial inspiration for the Early-Renaissance movement in Giotto’s fresco cycle that decorates the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padova
- Delight in the letters that adorn the antique archway and atmospheric courtyard set beneath the iconic balcony of Juliet Capulet’s home in Verona
- Take in the dramatic design of the Colosseum on a tour of Rome’s renowned ancient sites
- Sample the distinctive flavors of Montepulciano’s Vino Nobile when uncovering the charismatic ambiance of Tuscany’s famous medieval towns
The must-see highlights of Italy will include the Renaissance of Florence, the fascinating foundations of Rome, the vibrant chaos of Naples, and the sophistication of Venice during your custom-tailored best of Italy tour. Three weeks in Italy gives you enough time to venture off-the-beaten-path and into new and exciting destinations, or you can linger longer in the towns and cities that spark your imagination. Whether interested in the inspiring works of Italian masters or eager to wander the cliff-side streets in the villages of Cinque Terre, drawn to the extravagant architecture of Isola Bella or the vineyards that spread across the Tuscan hills, Italy shines with timeless beauty. Sumptuous cuisine, radiant artwork, and the welcoming ambiance of the fabled cities will give you the experience of a lifetime with Italy’s legendary passionate charisma following you wherever you go.
Your quintessential tour of Italy will begin with three nights in Venice as you visit St. Mark’s Square and the six different neighborhoods known as Sestieri. Traverse the three fabled islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, which embody unique histories and bring fascinating scenery rising out of the Venetian Lagoon. The broader culture of Veneto becomes clear when visiting the alluring cities of Padova and Verona, home to spectacular frescoes by Giotto and captivating Shakespearean connections. Three nights in the Italian Alps will then take you along the villages that overlook Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, from Bellagio to Stresa, reaching an extravagant zenith at the Baroque palace on Isola Bella.
Enjoy three nights in Monterosso al Mare, the most northerly town of Cinque Terre for ample time spent strolling through the charming ambiance of the tranquil cliff-side villages, as well as visiting the Gulf of Poets, named for the frequent visitors of Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. Discover the hidden grandeur of the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, and then the prestigious marina of Portofino. Four nights in Tuscany will then reveal the region’s special magnetism that encompasses the preserved defensive walls of Lucca, the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the prestigious artwork of Florence. You can also visit the Cathedral in Siena and the seductive wineries of Montepulciano.
Wander the quiet sophistication of Orvieto’s Gothic architecture before spending three nights in Rome, the Eternal City boasting extensive ruins, exuberant churches, and the cherished works on display in the Vatican Museum. Visiting the Amalfi Coast over three nights will begin with a tour of Naples’s fantastic National Archeological Museum and enduring magnetism of Pompeii. Two days in Ravello offers plenty of opportunities to traverse the towns along the Amalfi Coast and also visit the illustrious island of Pompeii. Interested in adding more can’t-miss experiences to your dream Italy vacation? Click here to read travel reviews from other Zicasso travelers.
$5,770 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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