Italy, Vatican City
Rome, Campo de’Fiori, Pantheon, Vatican City, Bologna, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Venice, Cinque Terre, La Spezia, Vernazza, Rapallo, Portofino, Camogli, Stresa, Isola...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Northern Italy is a land of culture and charm, where wonders are draped along the water, and the atmosphere is always relaxed. When you want to take it slow on vacation, this is where you come. Handcrafted for senior travelers, this luxury tour spends three nights in each of four exceptional destinations: Rome, Bologna, Cinque Terre, and Lake Maggiore. Travel with a leisurely pace to discover the art, history, food, and tradition as you take in all of the legendary sights.
Rome – A Leisurely Afternoon in Rome
Rome sets the scene, a magnificent city that traverses eras and has always stayed true to itself. While it is famous for the Colosseum and a variety of Baroque architecture, the Eternal City is also an immensely local city. Romans hang out on piazzas, sipping on their espressos while watching the world go by. Beautiful aromas seep out from trattoria restaurants, and families join tourists that walk the streets. Central Rome is also laid-back, mostly too narrow for vehicle traffic. So although it’s a bustling capital, it can make a good place to unwind and settle into the vacation. And when the Spanish Steps and Pantheon are only around the corner, there are few better places to start a historical immersion.
Rome – Baroque Beauty and Roman History
Meet with your guide this morning and take a leisurely tour through the best of Rome. Mixing short walks with public transport, which is far quicker than driving, you will tour 2,000 years of masterpieces. The Roman Forum is best early in the day, before the afternoon crowds. Gaze up at the columns, stand beneath the sphinx, and continue up to the third floor of the Colosseum. From here, you can gaze upon immortality and then put on some VR glasses to visualize how this World's Seven Wonder has changed over the years. What’s left of the republic is but one piece of Rome, and through the afternoon you take in the city’s Baroque and Renaissance styles.
Bernini and Borromini are the legends here, architects who forever shaped the cityscape. Admire the Fountain of Four Rivers beneath the Egyptian obelisk, explore the sculptures in Borghese Gallery, and grab a coffee at one of the city’s quieter piazzas. Your guide can be flexible, and it is really about how much you want to see. That will probably depend on your energy levels as well, especially as it’s your first full day in Italy. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is an iconic place to finish, where the Bernini elephant awaits just a two-minute walk from your hotel.
Rome – Discovering the Vatican Museums
Bernini’s greatest masterpieces are in a different country, but just ten minutes away in Vatican City. Wander along the sweeping colonnade of St Peter’s Square with majestic statues gazing down on your footsteps. Head into St Peter’s Basilica and surround yourself with its extravagance, marble, and bronze all around you as light filters softly into the nave. Continuing the journey with your local guide, you can explore the best of the Vatican Museums, a jigsaw puzzle collection of Greek sculptures, medieval tapestries, Renaissance art, and world-famous facades. End the visit in the Sistine Chapel, beneath Michelangelo’s ceiling, then settle into a leisurely afternoon and evening back in central Rome. You should find it a wonderful city for sitting at a cafe and watching the world go by.
Bologna – Markets, Medieval Bliss and the Best Gelato
Take the train to Bologna with two hours whizzing through the heart of Italy in first-class comfort. Disembark into a lively, almost medieval atmosphere, locals wandering to markets as arched colonnades flow freely through the streets. As in Rome, your hotel is central and within short walking distance of the city’s major highlights, along with various piazzas and cafes. Your guide will take you on an orientation tour from San Petronio Basilica to Piazza Maggiore, the grand centerpiece of Italy’s gastronomic capital. Along the way, you can visit two food markets with aromas and sounds spilling all around you. It will be time for a gelato workshop this afternoon as you learn how to turn fruit into lush ice cream.
Bologna – All the Best Food of Emilia-Romagna
There is hardly any walking today as you take a tour of Emilia-Romagna. Drive through the bucolic countryside with olive groves and rolling hills filling the panoramas. Stop in Parma and inhale the smell of a prosciutto factory, before tasting the aged hams. See how Parmigiano cheese is created, the factory tour also concluded with a tasting. Explore the village of Modena and learn why it produces such revered balsamic vinegar, then wrap up the tasting experience with lunch in a trattoria. An informal eating house without a menu, the chefs serve a different set meal each day, and in the culinary capital of Italy, this is quite an extravagant feast for the palate. The afternoon and evening are left free in Bologna.
Bologna – Day Trip to Nearby Venice
It will be just over an hour and a half on the train to Venice, so you can spend the day in the city of canals, where gondolas and grand architecture are so memorable along the water. Float luxuriously, a sense of freedom in a city without honking horns or traffic. Walk across St Mark’s Square then over the Bridge of Sighs. Sit down for a seafood pasta lunch, local specialties served in an elegant 14th-century dining room. Travel back out along the canals, a gondolier taking you slowly back to the railway station and the 90-minute journey back to Bologna. Venice is small enough to explore in half a day, and it is a leisurely day trip, Italian railway lines leading you through small villages, quiet towns then out to the coast.
Cinque Terre – A Train Journey Along the Coast
The fishing villages of Cinque Terre were cut off from the world for centuries. Hidden beneath the cliffs, they were only accessible by boat. Although a couple of roads have been added, these villages remain as peaceful as they come. Travel to La Spezia and take the train along the Cinque Terre cliffs, gazing down on colorful coastal townhouses. Your destination is Rapallo, a pretty little enclave that is ideal for senior travelers. It is quiet here, and although popular with visitors, highly authentic. So after six days in cities, you check into the second half of the vacation: tranquility along the water.
Cinque Terre – Seaside Resort Indulgence
Settle into a cafe overlooking the Mediterranean. Sip on a cappuccino, and then order another. Take a very leisurely stroll along the waterfront, watching the fishing boats come in and out. If you feel like walking, it is possible to stroll to the next village, but that does involve a lot of steps. You can also get back on the train to travel between the five villages of the Cinque Terre. But the main idea today is to sit back and soak up the beauty of local Italy. Step inside 15th-century churches, choir song echoing through their nave. Wander the waterfront, checking out the shops and restaurants. Do some people watching and take a photo next to all the colorful houses. Then return to the hotel and look over the Mediterranean, listening and smelling the village.
Cinque Terre – Boating to Portofino and Camogli
Fishing boats are the best way to get around this coastline, especially now they have been spruced up for 21st-century travel. Heading out on a private boat tour, you will cruise to Portofino, an island of faded grandeur and soft pastel colors. Dozens of cafes fill the main square, and there’s an indulgent atmosphere to accompany the sound of chatter. Inside the island’s San Giorgio church you find relics from St George, while at the Brown Castle there’s a real sense of medieval life. Return to the boat and keep cruising, next to Camogli, as idyllic a place as any to slurp on gelato. Continue to another Cinque Terre village then boat back along the coastline, admiring it all from a new angle.
Stresa – Relaxing Along Lake Maggiore
Aristocratic villas line the waters of Lake Maggiore, memoirs to two centuries of wealthy visitors. Stresa is your base, home to languorous cafes, ringing church bells, and quiet gardens. Getting here is the longest journey of the trip, so the afternoon and evening are left free upon arrival. Senior travelers usually find Stresa a lovely place to rest up and relax. It’s barely three streets across and so easy to get around, with hardly a vehicle in sight. Down by the water you look across to the mountains while the choice of restaurants ensures there’s something for you: from an intimate courtyard with fine cuisine to a top-floor terrace with sunset views.
Stresa – Spending a Day in Italian Switzerland
Stresa is a serene base for making day trips into the Alps and lakes of Northern Italy. Today you can head off along winding roads, twisting and turning to Lugano and the Italian piece of Switzerland. Admire the change in architecture, especially in Lugano’s arcades. Explore the mix of Italian and Swiss, incongruent in some aspects but harmonious in others. And take in the most extravagant vistas, the connection between Italy and Switzerland arguably the finest mountain view in Europe. Return to Stresa, and after an active day, you have another quiet evening, lounging along the lakeshore in the style of old European royalty.
Stresa – A Boat on Lake Como
Another easy day trip today, first by road and then by boat across Lake Como. Mountain peaks reflect in the glassy water as small mazy villages stretch along the shore. Driving around this three-legged lake is time-consuming. But it’s easy by boat, hopping from one village to the next, stopping for a coffee and a quick walk, then continuing. Ravenna, Menaggio, Tremezzo, Bellagio – you get a glimpse at the full quartet of famous villages. Each can be covered in 30 minutes but you’ll probably want to stay longer, especially when you find a nice terrace for wiling away the day. There are no time limits of course. Just relax and enjoy the waterside atmosphere, before returning to your own private place along Lake Maggiore.
Milan – Brief Da Vinci Exploration and Departure
After a relaxed morning, you will transfer to Milan and your outbound flight. This tour for senior travelers has a final treat in store. Seen as you are in Milan already, it makes sense to stop by Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Proudly stretching around a relatively small and seemingly inconsequential church, it’s a work to compare with the Sistine Chapel from day three, such detail and emotion gazing down upon you. After taking it in, you will head to the airport to catch your connection to home.
- Relax on the Cinque Terre coastline with several nights in a colorful village that is as picturesque as they come
- Explore the highlights of Rome from the Colosseum to the world’s finest Baroque architecture
- Spend time in Italy’s food capital, Bologna, including a gelato-making workshop
- Soak up the waterside charm of Lake Maggiore as you spend three nights in Stresa
- Take a day trip to Venice and gondolier down the Grand Canal
- Taste ham in Parma, try balsamic in Modena and learn the secrets of Italian pasta
- Discover the Vatican Museums with your private art guide and enjoy everything from classical sculpture to Michelangelo’s greatest work
- Boat across Lake Como and spend half a day in Italian Switzerland, a great comparison point to Northern Italy
- Gasp at Da Vinci’s The Last Supper on route to departing from Milan
Northern Italy runs at a relaxed place. Time moves slowly, and there is always a spare hour for coffee at a cafe or a slow paseo, or walk, across town. Nothing is rushed, and small pleasures are revered, best illustrated in dedication to dining properly, and taking time for proper greetings. This region has become one of the very best for senior travelers, offering a laid-back vacation without compromising on stunning sights. Northern Italy is home to much magnificence, but it is the atmosphere that most senior visitors remember fondly.
That is not to say the sights are mind-blowing. Look forward to ancient Rome and the city’s Baroque treasures, the city of Venice, and the colorful seaside villages such as Vernazza on the Cinque Terre. Elaborate townhouses are yours to explore along lakes Maggiore and Como, plus the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square, San Petronio Basilica, and Portofino. And what about the food? Even the simplest dish is a highlight, especially when you travel to Italy’s culinary hub, the Emilia-Romagna region.
This handcrafted tour will celebrate Northern Italy’s laid-back style. Designed for senior travelers, you will spend three nights in each of four intimate destinations, with the second half of the journey entirely along the water. The idea is to travel slowly and get to know authentic Italy, a country where age is revered, and seniors are always respected. Private guides lead the way in each destination, using their local knowledge to take you closer. Transfers are straightforward and each day is kept casual with plenty of flexibility. Although there is some walking involved, particularly in the cities, this has been kept at a minimum while ensuring you do not miss any key sights.
Spend three nights in Rome then three in Bologna. Rome’s highlights are legendary and can fill countless brochures: the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican Museums, Borrini’s architecture, and the Spanish Steps. The city is surprisingly compact and has proudly preserved its local feel, so while popular with tourists, Rome remains a good introduction to authentic Italy. Bologna is Italy’s gastronomic capital, a city that takes its traditions very seriously as you can eat for hours and keep the rhythm leisurely. With food as a focus, you’ will delve into the city’s heart, and also visit other destinations in the Emilia-Romagna region, such as Parma and Modena. An easy trip to Venice will then complete the first half of your vacation.
From Bologna, you will head to the coast for three slow days in the Cinque Terre. The five villages here were cut off from the world for centuries, only accessible by small fishing boats. They have retained their old-world charm and still go without motor vehicles. You can relax along the water, take a boat to nearby villages, and feel the rhythm of Northern Italy’s traditions. End the vacation at Lake Maggiore, a destination that has been enchanting senior visitors for a century.
Once again, you can relax along the water to enjoy all the cafes, piazzas, and promenades. From this base, you can make an easy trip to Italian Switzerland and Lake Como, without compromising on the easy-going pace. There will be one last a final treat as you depart from Milan with a look at Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Like elsewhere, you can indulge in the sights while still finding time for coffee and a chat nearby. Are you planning your once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation to Italy? Consider browsing our Italy vacations page to add essential Italy experiences and activities.
$3,245 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.
- In-country transportation
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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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