The quality of Italian goods is known around the world, from handmade leather shoes to creamy gelato, glossy gondolas to delightful table wine. Artisan goldsmiths have passed down their trade for generations and chefs have learned to create succulent seafood meals as they watched their mothers cook. Your custom tailored tour gives you a hands-on cultural experience of Italy to learn the secrets of fishing in the Ligurian Sea and the shaping of molten glass into elegant décor in Murano. Do more...
Rome – Arrive in Italy’s Capital and Enjoy the Charms of the Eternal City
Rome is the icon of Italy, adorned with cathedrals and cobblestone streets, ancient columns and sumptuous cuisine. Your flight lands at Fiumicino Airport where your private transfer waits to greet you. As you venture into the city, your heart will race with excitement as you will walk the same streets as emperors and well-known artists, celebrated architects and famous stars of Italian and American cinema. History is palpable the moment you arrive in the heart of Rome near the Pantheon, the most complete of the ancient structures in the city, which has stood for more than two millennia.
The temple was built in honor of the planetary gods, for whom the dome represents, with a large hole in the center that opens to the sun. The structure supports the largest unreinforced solid concrete dome in the world, which inspired the likes of the US Capitol building along with St. Peter’s Basilica. Granite columns surround the façade, topped with Corinthian accents as the interior contains vaulted ceilings and elaborate tombs, including that of the Renaissance painter Raphael. The Pantheon encapsulates the glory of Rome and its continued grandeur, as an Italian city, a former city-state, and a representation of the former empire.
Rome – Discover Ancient Rome and Delight in a Gelato-Making Class
In the morning, students make their way to the banks of the Tiber River to enjoy a quiet cappuccino on a small barge that wades against the river’s current. The sunlight washes over the city and glints off of the various church spires that are visible above the Baroque buildings. Your guide will meet you after breakfast and escort you to the highlight of the city, the Colosseum. The magnificent outer wall reached a height of more than 185 feet and was constructed with travertine marble reinforced with iron clamps instead of mortar.
Much of the stone taken from the wall has been used in various structures around Rome. The columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum are visible from the archways of the Colosseum at the top level of the arena one held 240 masts that supported a large awning that protected the audience from the sun. An earthy aroma emanates from the arranged seats that could hold up to 50,000 spectators as inside the arena floor is a labyrinth once covered by wood and sand. The tunnels are two-stories deep and hid the gladiators and exotic animals from the crowd.
After your detailed exploration of Rome’s standing ancient wonders, your guide will lead you to a quiet piazza that is home to an authentic gelateria open since the 1950s. You will be led into the back kitchen where you will make gelato from the simple ingredients of sugar, cream, and egg. Combined in a precise manner, you will slow mix in the preferred flavors of vanilla, chocolate, or pistachio. At the end of the class, you will have your perfect, creamy gelato to enjoy on a vibrant Roman evening.
Rome – Tour the Wonders of Vatican City and Meet a Master Cobbler
The elegance of the homes near Villa Borghese shines alongside the cobblestone streets as they stand near to some of the city’s finest restaurants. In the morning, the residents make their way to work, and the scent of espresso fills the neighborhood. Your guide will escort you to Vatican City to begin an early day of exploring Rome’s splendor. Vatican City is the world’s smallest independent state after the Pope reached a deal with Mussolini in the 1920s with the striking dome of St. Peter’s Basilica’s soaring above the square at a height of 435 feet.
Four massive pentagonal piers support the structure, which helps frame Bernini’s Baroque bronze canopy above the altar. The Vatican Museum houses some of Europe’s most famous pieces, including Michelangelo’s masterpiece The Sistine Chapel. The polished marble floors of the halls lead to the gilded galleries of the Map Room as Baroque frescoes enhance the opulence of the artwork and the palatial ambiance of the Vatican quarters. When you enter the Sistine Chapel, you will find the air wafts of candle wax and frankincense.
The walls glow with the pristine artwork that took Michelangelo four years to create. On the center of the ceiling, you will find the famous depiction of Creation as described in Genesis. Light separates from the darkness with the creation of the sun and the moon, along with the creation of Adam and Eve. The splendor of Vatican City could keep you searching and discovering endlessly, but will see the most important highlights before your guide takes you to a small cobbler’s workshop to learn the art of making fine Italian shoes that craftsmen say will last a person a lifetime.
Florence – Transfer to Florence and Relish a Painting and Wine Experience
In the morning, Rome fills with the aroma of fresh flowers that emanate from the corner florists across the city and the celebrated flower market at Campo dei Fiori. Your private transfer will meet you in the hotel and escort you away from the bustling city and into Tuscany. Florence is the capital of the Tuscan region and immediately captivates you with its Renaissance palazzos and public squares in its beautiful city center.
The Roman Bridge of the Ponte Vecchio arches over the Arno River as gold and silversmith shops line the cobbled walkways of the bridge. Graceful statues stand in the Loggia dei Lanzi and frame the southwestern edge of Piazza della Signoria. The arcade was erected in the 14th-century in a distinctive Florentine Gothic architecture. Two lions flank the loggia entrance as if protecting the bronze 16th-century masterpiece of Perseus, which depicts the mythological warrior that holds up the head of Medusa. The elaborate detail shows the humanity and rugged youthfulness of Perseus, along with the gore of Medusa’s severed head.
In a city renowned for its art, you never expect it to be out in the open for all to see. The inspiring figures in the graceful architecture of the Palazzo Vecchio welcome you to the Renaissance. Follow your artistic inspiration to a painting workshop just outside of the city center where your instructor will greet you with a bright smile and perfect glass of wine. You don’t have to worry about following in the footsteps of Michelangelo or da Vinci as your instructor will lets you take inspiration from anywhere, whether it be from your life back at home or along the streets of Florence. You can relax, sip your wine, and let your artistic expression unfold.
Florence – Tour the Renaissance City’s Highlights and Artisan Workshop
The scents of fresh baked brioche and focaccia drift over the cobbled streets of the city. Brunelleschi’s dome that adorns the cathedral is visible from everywhere in the city center. After breakfast, your guide will lead you on a private tour of the city’s most memorable art and architecture. Wander through the Uffizi Gallery for a tour of the incredible artwork that decorates the magnificent halls. Following lunch, your guide will introduce you to the elaborate galleries of the Galleria dell’Accademia where the exhibits showcase priceless musical instruments and realistic sculptures.
A wide hallway leads to the jewel of the museum, Michelangelo’s David. The statue stands 17 feet tall and is positioned on a platform with a dome that allows natural light to spill over from the marble figure. You can almost find the aroma of the quarry in Carrara from where the marble slab was taken as the incredible detail of the figure brings the biblical figure to life and towers over onlookers as if he were the Goliath. The splendor of it is almost too amazing, and you will wander around it and see it from every angle.
Next, cross the Ponte Vecchio to a neighborhood known as Oltrarno, between Palazzo Pitti and Piazza Santo Spirito, which the artisans of Florence have called home for centuries. Step in a tiny goldsmith’s shop known for tinkering with precious metals of all kinds to produce ornaments, furnishings, and jewelry. The art of goldsmithing in Tuscany dates back to the 14th-century, and the master smith will lead you on a tour of the shop and through the history of the trade before you to try your hand at crafting a delicate filigree.
Manarola – Travel to Cinque Terre for a Mediterranean Fishing Cruise
The sunlight washes over the marbled surface of the 14th-century church of Santa Croce. The interior opulence matches the exterior beauty as it exhibits the masterful tombs of famous Florentines such as Michelangelo and Galileo. You could spend a year in Florence and always feel stimulated by the famous artists, philosophers, and writers that have called the city home. Today, you will leave the Renaissance behind as your private transfer escorts you westward to the Ligurian Sea and the five towns of Cinque Terre. The hills of Tuscany fade behind the rugged Apennine Mountains as the pine and chestnut trees rise along the ridges.
Your private transfer will stop the car at an amazing overlook of the town of Manarola, one of the five towns of Cinque Terre before you settle into your luxurious and comfortable accommodation with a view of the sea. Vineyards blanket the hillside as private gardens grow basil the size of hedges alongside the flourishing olive groves. The town holds a 14th-century Gothic church with a rose window crafted out of Carrara marble as the16th-century watchtower was erected under the Genoese command to protect the coastline from pirates.
Pastel homes descend the cliff-side to meet the small natural harbor where you meet your private boat. Set out to sea for a serene view of the coastline and the turquoise water of the Mediterranean. The sea has a slightly salty and sweet aroma that is carried by the refreshing breeze. Cast a line and wait for a bite from swordfish or sturgeon. If you don’t like fishing, you can relax in the warm sunlight and bask in the beauty of Cinque Terre, both on land and on the sea. When you return to shore, your captain will lead you to a private home to cook the fish in a truly traditional fashion with Manarola flair.
Manarola – Relax with a Half-Day at Leisure before Enjoying a Wine Tour
In the morning, step out to the small piazza of Manarola to enjoy the pristine view and quiet atmosphere of daybreak. The scent of fresh espresso blends into the seaside air ad the first half of the day is yours to luxuriate in. Spend time near the harbor or stroll along the trails for which Cinque Terre is famous, whether taking the Lover’s Path to Riomaggiore or the more challenging trail up the more than 300 steps to Corniglia. In the afternoon, your guide will meet you along the vines that overlook Manarola on a path referred to as Schiacchetrail, referring to the regional sweet wine.
The aroma of the fresh vines overtakes the scent of the salt water. The soil takes on the various qualities of the region, which the vines then absorb. The sea breeze and mountain gravel add to the different flavors of the wines produced in the area. Your guide will explain the characteristics of each plot before you are led to an ancient wine cellar in the heart of town to sample the wines crafted from the grapes that spread across the hillsides. You will find the delicate aroma of melon, citrus, and vanilla, with a crisp oak flavor that lingers on your palate.
Venice – Venture to Venice to Tour the Grand Canal and a Gondola Factory
After breakfast, you will leave behind the graceful cliffs of Liguria for the labyrinthine streets and canals of Venice. The city is famous for its graceful architecture and meandering waterways, along with its unique history. Step aboard your boat to begin your private tour of the famous Grand Canal. Motorboats and gondolas glide across the cobalt water that surrounds the elegant palazzos.
Pass the Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute, constructed in the 17th-century as a tribute to the end of the plague. Contractors and architects have since driven more than one million planks into the lagoon floor to support the immense weight of the structure. The vibrant domes are visible from across the canal and matched only by the marvelous decorative frescoes of the interior, which includes Tintoretto’s Marriage at Cana. The aroma of fresh espresso drifts out of the cafes that line the more narrow canals that branch off from the main channel. Locals sit at outdoor tables to bask in the sunlight and enjoy the sound of the water as it laps at the walkways.
The Ca’ Rezzonico was built in the 17th-century and remains the greatest Baroque structure in the city that now houses the Museum of 18th-century Venice. On exhibit are the Rococo paintings and furniture that bring Venetian style to life. Your boat will stop on a side canal in front of an open door as a gondola designer will greet you and welcome you to his workshop. All gondolas are manufactured without design drawings and therefore each craftsman must have specific knowledge of shipwrights to provide a working, accurate vessel. Seeing a gondola half-made is a unique experience that allows you to see the contours of the body and ask specific questions about engineering or even the history of gondolas in Venice.
Venice – Explore Hidden Venice, St. Mark’s Square before partaking in a Glassblowing Class
After breakfast, step out of your luxurious hotel and you can see the bulbous domes of St. Mark’s Basilica that tower over the canal and the piazza. Your guide will lead you along the winding cobbled paths of the island to take in the beautiful palace and cathedral of St. Mark’s Square. The public space is the only square in Venice that holds the title of “piazza” and it has been the center of public life in the city since the Republic. The cathedral was erected in the 9th-century to house the remains of St. Mark. The Byzantine artwork and style came with shiploads of treasures to Venice after Constantinople fell.
Gilded frescos adorn the façade, protected by the various decorative arches. The interior is even more lavish with nearly 45,640 square feet of golden mosaics that create a luminous, ethereal ambiance. When the light catches a single section of the church, it is as if the sun has washed over the entire nave. The Doge’s Palace frames the edge of the square along the water, home to opulent décor that showcases the noble lifestyle of Venice’s decadent past.
After your tour of the square, venture next to the famous island of Murano to partake in a glass blowing class. A master glassblower will welcome you to their workshop and demonstrate how to perform the traditional Venetian art. The gallery warms from the heat needed to melt and mold the glass as you take note of each detail before you attempt the techniques yourself. From blending colors and threading flakes of gold into the design to shaping the glass into a box, necklace, or vase in the end, with the guidance of your instructor, you will create a true piece of Venice to take home with you.
Venice – Depart for Home
The canal bursts to life in the morning with travelers and locals that traverse the waterways. The cafes return their tables and umbrellas to the cobblestone streets as the aroma of fresh brioche emanates from the shops as the gilded Venetian masks glint in boutique window displays. You have found the splendor of Venice in the charming narrow canals and crisscrossing bridges as well as in the grand palazzos and ornate churches. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the private dock of your hotel and escort you to the mainland to meet your car. Continue to the Marco Polo Venice Airport to check-in for your flight home with all of your gorgeous handcrafted goods tucked into your bags as mementos.
- Learn the art of fishing during a cruise along the Mediterranean Sea, guided by the fishermen of the Cinque Terre
- Delight in the cherished cuisine of Italy with a private gelato making class in Rome
- Revel in the opportunity to create a traditional piece of Venetian glass during a private glass blowing demonstration in Murano
- Experience the magnificent Renaissance artwork of Florence before relishing a wine and paint class to produce a masterpiece of your own
- Enjoy a hands-on tour of the vineyards around Cinque Terre to learn the secrets of the soil and vines before sampling the wines in a historical center
- Witness artisan craftsmen perform their trade as their families have for generations in their workshops in Florence
- Indulge in the artistry of Italy with visits to Rome, Florence, and Venice’s most famous museums
- Partake in the art of shoemaking guided by a master cobbler in a hidden workshop in Rome
- Discover the time and effort it takes to craft a personalized gondola by meeting a workman who builds each piece by hand
Each region in Italy has perfected a particular craft, from pesto in Liguria to glass making in Venice, wine in Tuscany to gladiatorial games in Rome. Your 10-day tour gives you the opportunity to learn the pleasures of the Italian artisans and experience the splendor of Italian artistry. Sample wine and cuisine, discover secret walkways in ancient structures and learn the craft of steering a gondola while you travel to Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice to learn about the cultural history in a unique and exciting way.
You will arrive in Rome, and your private transfer will greet you at the airport. In the heart of the city, you will relax in your luxurious hotel just minutes from the ancient life of the city. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to stroll along the cobbled streets, visit the famous public piazzas, or even take part in a gladiatorial school. Next day, your private guide will meet you at the hotel and lead you on an engaging tour of Rome’s ancient monuments, from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum. Following your tour, you will meet with a local gelato maker to learn how to create the indulgent, creamy treats. Your journey continues to the Vatican City to stroll along the historical halls of the museum and wander through the incredible opulence of St. Peter’s Basilica.
In the afternoon, you will meet with a master cobbler to watch the techniques required to make a perfect pair of Italian shoes, before you craft your own personalized pair. Florence beckons to you next, and you will leave the Eternal City behind for the capital of Tuscany, framed by the region’s famous rolling hills. Enjoy a walking tour of the city’s open-air qualities before you take part in a relaxing wine and painting class. Move on the next day for a fabulous, immersive tour of the famous museums of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia before you visit the artisan shops in the Oltrarno neighborhood to see trades passed down for generations. Leave Florence behind for the gorgeous landscape and charming streets of the five towns of Cinque Terre, with your base in the comfortable hotel in Manarola.
In the afternoon, you will board a private cruise to enjoy a panoramic view of the Ligurian cliffs and, if you desire, cast a line into the water for a fishing expedition. When you return to shore, visit a private kitchen with a chef happy to cook your catch in a traditional Ligurian way. For the next day, you can stroll along the trails of Cinque Terre or relax on the beaches of Monterosso before your guided tour of the vineyards and cellars of the hillsides outside Manarola.
Your private transfer will meet you and escort you to Venice to tour the captivating Grand Canal. At the end of your tour, you will meet with a gondola craftsmen for a unique perspective of what it takes to build the celebrated vessels. You could even try your hand at steering a gondola on a private gondola tour. Next day, you will have a private tour of St. Mark’s Square and the remarkable artistry, architecture, and history located around the single piazza. Continue to Murano for a glassblowing display that allows you to make your own glass souvenir under the watchful eye of a guide. Your private transfer will meet you at the hotel dock and escort you to Marco Polo Venice Airport for your flight home.
$2,745 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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