Italy, Vatican City
Rome, Assisi, San Gimignano, Venice, Florence, Siena, Padova, Ravenna, Pisa, Vatican City, Verona
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The cultural and historical Italian Peninsula becomes an open-air museum filled with enchanting flavors and captivating stories that will enrich the deep corners of the cities, towns, and countryside during your personalized senior tour of Italy. The charm spreads from Rome to Venice, Florence to Verona accentuating the restored marvels of ancient life and the majesty of Renaissance works propelling Western Europe from the Middle Ages. Treasures glow in the sunlight revealing works by Giotto and...
Rome – Arrive in Rome with the Day a Relaxing Day at your Leisure
Rome is a city of captivating artwork with a welcoming culture inspired by the endlessly changing dynamics spanning more than 2,500 years. The wealth of history layers the streets with myths, legends, folklore, and religious retellings scattered across ancient ruins and vibrant churches. Restaurants serve dishes passed down through generations of homecooking and brings a variety of mouthwatering aromas into the lavish piazzas. Your flight lands at Fiumicino Airport, where your private transfer meets you at customs. Entering into the city brings a torrent of iconic images to the forefront passing the vast complex of the Diocletian Baths and soaring walls of the Colosseum. You can settle into the comforts of your luxury hotel in the center of city with the remaining to enjoy the sights, aromas, and pulse of Rome day at your own pace.
The renowned Mouth of Truth sits in the foyer outside of the doors of Santa Maria Cosmedin Church. The tall stone disc carved in the 1st century AD contains the face of a human with hollow holes in the eyes and mouth. Historians theorize the plate was used as a ceremonial well cover, a fountain decoration, and a manhole cover in ancient times. However, the unique history of the marble feature stems from the medieval superstition brought back to pop culture with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the award-winning film Roman Holiday. A person would place their hand inside the mouth of the frieze, speak their truth, and the mouth would bite off the hand of liars.
Rome – A Guided Highlights Tour of Rome’s Fascinating History
After breakfast, your guide leads you to the heart of the ancient City and along the walls of the Colosseum. The remarkable structure was erected in the 1st century AD and remains a celebrated feat of engineering. The outer walls reach 187 feet tall with few remaining details of artwork that once detailed the façade along the four main entrances. After entering the massive structure capable of holding 55,000 spectators, you notice the stage of the amphitheater open providing a view to the labyrinthine Hypogeum below. The walls provided a secluded space where gladiators could train, and workers tended to caged exotic wild animals.
After exploring the ancient wonders of Rome around the Colosseum and ruins of the Forum, you can continue along the timeline to reach the Renaissance at Capitoline Hill. Acting as the original citadel of the city and the house of the Roman Senate since the 12th century, Michelangelo beautified the piazza with his personal aesthetic during a 16th-century redesign. The master artist and architect rendered the facades of the three bordering palaces looking inward to the square including the Palazzo Senatorio, Rome’s city hall. The contrast between the preserved grandeur of the Renaissance versus the scattered stones and standing pillars of the former imperial capital are striking in revealing how Rome continues to meet the demands of its current inhabitants.
Rome – Remarkable Works and Artifacts of the Vatican
Vatican City became one of the smallest independent states in the world in 1929 after Pope XI, and Mussolini came to an understanding regarding the “Roman Question,” with the temporal power of popes over the civil territory. You will make your way with your private guide into the heart of Vatican City at St. Peter’s Square. The remarkable Egyptian obelisk stands at 84 feet tall and was brought to Rome from Heliopolis in the 1st century AD to mark the Caligula’s circus. In the 16th century, the obelisk was moved to the center of St. Peter’s Square during the refurbishment and enlargement of the Vatican. Inside the museum, your guide leads you through the incredible galleries bursting with gorgeous artwork including frescos by crafted by Raphael.
The bright colors of the master Renaissance artist decorate the walls and ceiling of the Raphael Rooms. After rediscovering the artistic traditions and aesthetics of the past, Raphael used symmetry and humanistic features to compose elegant works including “School of Athens.” The captivating fresco depicts the birthplace of Western Civilization in its Golden Era with contemporary artists, designers, philosophers, and scientists of Raphael’s acting as allegorical figures of the past. Your guide points to the image of Plato, who takes the form of Leonardo da Vinci and Heraclitus who is pictured as a brooding Michelangelo. You also find the image of the young Raphael hidden in the crown on the lower righthand side peering out at the viewer.
Siena – The Charming Medieval Streets of Assisi en route to Siena
In the morning, the aroma of fresh espresso drifts out of the bars scattered across the different neighborhoods of Rome. Locals quickly drink their coffee and nibble on a sweet cornetto before continuing to work. After breakfast, your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby eager to drive you out of the city bound for the remarkable Tuscan countryside and the celebrated medieval city of Siena. Before crossing into Tuscany, you venture into the plains of Umbria and reach the hilltop town of Assisi. The fascinating small settlement has a history of pre-Roman life leading back to the 5th century BC and leading to a large Etruscan establishment.
The aromas of fresh espresso and delicious cheeses linger in the streets throughout the day. The cobblestone lanes wind along the slopes of the Mount Subasio, which stands over 4,232 feet above sea level. Looking out over the landscape, you have a clear view across quiet plains to the Assisi’s formal rival and capital of the Umbrian region, Perugia. The Basilica of St. Francis acts like an entryway to town. The impressive architecture dates back to the 13th century drawing pilgrims from around the world interested in paying their respects to the pious St. Francis.
The lower church carved partially into the rugged landscape was built first in the 13th century with a Late Romanesque design featured in the specific vaulting. The upper church hosts Gothic vertical lines embracing the title of the oldest Gothic church in the country. Wandering through the lower basilica, your guide points out fabulous frescoes dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, the most famous of which were crafted by Giotto. The master artist known for bringing about the rebirth of classical artistic aesthetic depicted the life and times of St. Francis.
Siena – The Tuscan Medieval Towns of Siena and San Gimignano
The gorgeous city of Siena has captured and maintained the splendor of medieval architecture and artistry, and the streets are like an open-air museum celebrating Gothic monuments. The scent of sunbaked stone drifts from the protective city walls and the brightly painted districts retain their 17th-century arrangement. Artisan boutiques line the cobblestone lanes while the aromas of sweet pastries drift through the doors of delicious pasticcerie crafting local specialties.
The Duomo was consecrated in the 12th century atop a former Roman temple. The majestic cathedral contains architecture and artwork that combine medieval and Renaissance designs with adornments crafted by Giovanni Pisano, Nicola Pisano, Pinturicchio, and Piccolomini, as well as Donatello and Bernini. The mixture of Romanesque and Gothic architecture shines along the interior with intricate red, white, and green marble. A fascinating collection of 56 floor panels inlaid with local folkloric and biblical scenes create a dramatic effect. The scent of myrrh filters through the air amid the alternating stripes of dark and light marble running around the building. An image of Romulus and Remus suckling the She-wolf adorns the center of a stunning floor panel revealing the importance of city mythology in connection with religiousness in the city’s history.
You will continue to San Gimignano to wander along the preserved medieval city crowning a hilltop overlooking the famous rolling greenery of Tuscany. At the height of the Middle Ages, the city gained affluence as an important stop along the pilgrimage route leading from France to Rome. Profiting families demonstrated their wealth by erected grand towers throughout town with 13 of the original 70 still standing for a distinctive skyline above vineyards, cypress trees, and hills of the countryside. Torre Grosso is the tallest remaining tower and reaches a height of 177 feet tall. Railings along the stairwell make it easier and safer to climb the 500 steps to reach the top of the tower offering views to the Apuan Mountains some 120 miles to the north.
Florence – Pisa’s Famous Monuments and Tour the Streets of Florence
The city of Pisa was a remarkable naval power built on the foundations of the ancient Roma port settled on the banks of the Arno River. By the 11th century, Pisa’s navy had gained a reputation for defeating the mighty Saracens at Messina and Palermo acting as the genesis for the city-state’s rise to Mediterranean maritime dominance. The city shines around the Campo dei Miracoli, which was erected with spoils brought back from the First Crusade leading to flourishing commerce and industry. After falling to the Florentines in the 15th century, the ruling Medici added their touch of architectural adornments with canals and bridges adding to the thriving economy.
Inside the Campo dei Miracoli, the renowned Leaning Tower leans nearly four degrees leaving the top of the structure out of alignment with the base by over 12 feet. Your guide will then encourage you to visit the Campo Santo. The Sacred Field was erected in the 13th century after knights returned to Pisa from the Fourth Crusade with mud brought back from Golgotha, the sacred site where Jesus was crucified. The Sacred Filed has since operated as a burial ground with a Gothic tracery open to the verdant courtyard and a cloister hosting the sarcophagi of famous Pisans and Romans.
During World War II, the 14th and 15th-century frescoes along the walls were badly damaged during an American artillery bombardment melting the lead roof in addition to causing irreparable damage to the artworks. However, the tragic loss of the paintings revealed the artist’s original sketches made in red pigment for insight into the sinópie, showcasing the most important contribution the prominent artist can make to a fresco as opposed to the painting itself, which was often completed by students or assistants.
Continue to Florence, the enchanting “Cradle of the Renaissance,” where the brilliance of artistic and scientific rebirth is embodied in the dramatic dome of the Cathedral soaring at 375 feet above the surrounding piazza.
Florence – The Artistry of the Uffizi Gallery and Enjoy the Afternoon
In the morning, the scent of fresh pastries drifts through the quiet lanes and cobbled streets of Florence emanating from the hidden bakers positioned around the city producing delicious confections for the restaurants and bars of Florence. Visitors venture to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in the city dating back to the 14th century as a reconstruction of the original 10th-century bridge. Dominican friars added a sense of harmony and proportion to the structure once used as a defense system against invading armies, as well as a place for artisans and merchants to make or sell their wares. The tradition of jewelers and goldsmiths placing their shops on the bridge dates back to the 16th century.
After breakfast, you enter into the Uffizi Gallery, the famous structure built in 1581 as the magistrate’s office. The galleries opened officially to the public in the 18th century formally becoming a museum in 1865. The galleries are designed on a timeline allowing you to follow the evolution of artwork in and around Tuscany between the Byzantine period and the Renaissance. The transition culminates for you upon seeing Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. The 15th-century work depicts the goddess Venus emerging from her clam shell. The humanistic characteristics of the goddess and the allegorical depictions of Zephyr and Hora bring an indelible symmetry to the painting drawing your eye directly to Venus.
Ravenna – A Balsamic Excursion before Navigating Ravenna
At breakfast, you can enjoy the simple pleasures of espresso and sweet pastry like an Italian as the scent of freshly pressed Italian roast fills the dining room of your hotel. Your private transfer meets you in the lobby eager to introduce you to the unique flavors of traditional balsamic vinegar at a family-operated consortium. The history of balsamic vinegar dates back to the 11th century. The scent of sweet syrup fills the air as you enter the grounds of the vineyard producing the delicious, luxury balsamic known for its layered flavors.
Your guide explains the way producers must cook must over direct heat in an open vessel reducing the contents to a third of the original volume. The liquid then rests in casks of oak, mulberry, chestnut, or even juniper wood aging for a nice balance. Your guide offers a sample of the fresh must where you find a tart, acidic taste. Traditional balsamic is aged for more than 12 years, resulting in a caramel-like taste. You have the opportunity to sample balsamic aged for more than 25 years producing a stunning balance between the sweet and sour notes.
You will continue to the city of Ravenna whose marvelous mosaics have remained protected since the 5th century when the city acted as the capital of the Western Roman Empire. You can begin your exploration of the city at the Neonian Baptistery, which was first erected in the 5th century in brick. The typical octagonal building is one of the oldest structures in the city and offers a stunning example of early Christian architecture. The intricate mosaics span the entire dome flecked with shimmering gold causing the figures to spring forth from the artwork.
Padova – The Charming City of Verona before Reaching Padova
In the morning, you cannot help but think about the 10th-century Romanesque architecture of the Basilica di San Francesco and the flooded crypt causing the mosaic floors to shine in the scattered light. The natural light spilling through the windows shines one the large tomb of Dante Alighieri, the master Tuscan poet who helped make the Florentine dialect the official Italian language due to the popularity of his epic The Divine Comedy.
After breakfast, you travel by private transfer to the city of Verona. The city stands on the curve of the River Adige as the water spills out of the Alps. The historic city center retains the foundations of the original Roman colony dating back to 89 BC with the original Roman amphitheater towers over Piazza Brà and was erected in the 3rd century AD during the reign of emperor Diocletian. The interior continues to accommodate up to 22,000 spectators when used for the Verona Opera Festival each summer. The heart of the city beats to a quiet welcoming rhythm at Piazza delle Erbe. The picturesque square was built over the Roman forum adorned with a 16th-century canopy supported by four columns. A beautiful statue from the 14th century trickles in the center of the piazza topped with an ancient marble statue repurposed to represent the Madonna.
You continue to the fabled home of Juliet Capulet, the most famous Veronese in history. Even as a fictional character, Juliet and Romeo’s star-crossed love story has inspired visitors from around the world keen on receiving the heroine’s blessing in love. Notes line the archway leading into the renowned courtyard. The balcony where Juliet famously stands asking for her Romeo was erected in the 1930s. Visitors pose beneath the bronze figure of the young lover. Many lost in the ways of love continue to write letters to Juliet and receive responses from a Secretary of Juliet.
Venice – The Beauty of Padova and a Brenta Canal Cruise to Venice
In the morning, the charming town of Padova returns to life with a relaxed ambiance stemming from the student population attending the historic university. The aroma of espresso continues to filter through the streets and grandeur of the Renaissance squares gliding beneath the affluent Byzantine domes of the St. Anthony Shrine. The city sprang from Roma origins dating back to the 6th century BC. The medieval architecture protects the second-oldest university in the country leading to the fresco cycles decorating the Cappella degli Scrovegni. The chapel was erected in the 14th century as the private place of reflection for the wealthy Scrovegni family.
The striking artwork by Giotto inspired the likes of Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vasari, who all declared the artist ended the “Dark Ages,” by depicting biblical figures with humanistic attributes. The approach to artwork changed the way people looked at art and themselves by crafting panels of Jesus from Annunciation to Ascension. An image of Jesus staring down at Judas casts a sharp eye on the traitor as he gestures for the fateful last kiss. The unusual techniques at the time included impasto, which allowed the figures to emerge from the walls like a three-dimensional form.
After discovering the charming town, you board a boat bound for the Venetian Lagoon traveling by way of the Brenta Canal. The waterway once acted as an easy source of transferring goods to and from the Venetian Republic beckoning to the aristocracy interested in building lavish villas along the banks as getaways from the crowded city. Small towns have slowly risen up between the villas only accentuating the grace and grandeur of the palaces like Villa Foscari. You stop long enough to explore the fascinating mansion built in the mid-16th century as a showcase of influential architectural theories. Many of the flourishes in the villa are painted with vases, terraces, and gardens embedded into the walls as frescoes instead of architectural features.
Venice – Venice’s Grandeur on an Embracing Highlights Tour
The scent of fruits and vegetables fills the square at the Rialto Market near the base of the Rialto Bridge. The famous arching walkway was erected in 1588 after the previous wooden bridge collapsed. The elevated position provides a great view of the canal where boats pass along the winding waterway and gondolas careen beneath the bridge itself. Your guide leads you through the marketplace to reach the famous public square of Piazza San Marco. The sunlight glints against the golden image of Archangel Gabriel whose figure tops the 323-foot tall campanile. The Doge’s Palace stands adjacent to Byzantine style architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica.
The bulbous domes soar above square at 141 feet tall. The foundations were erected in 829 AD after merchants returned from Constantinople with relics of the saint. The interior shines with 500 columns crafted from rare stones like marble, porphyry, and alabaster. The unique glisten spreads around interior with gold encompassing 26,048 square feet. The impressive Venetian Gothic façade of the palace captivates visitors from around the world accentuated by the Romantic notion of the Bridge of Sighs, the walkway leading into the depths of the prison cells below the palace offering one last glimpse of the city before entering the darkness.
Venice – Depart for Home
The marvels of the Grand Canal return into view in the morning light. The stunning Santa Maria della Salute adds a dramatic dome to the skyline of the city dating back to the 17th century. Venetians erected the Baroque church in thanks for the end of the plague. The landmark demanded architects place an extra million plinths in the canal to support the weight of the structure. After breakfast, your private transfer takes you across the canal to the mainland and continue onward to Marco Polo Airport for your flight home.
- Relish the sight of Renaissance artwork and architecture with a tour of the Vatican galleries featuring works of Raphael and Michelangelo
- Witness the stunning artistry on display in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery ranging from the Byzantine era to the height of the Renaissance
- Explore both the subtle and the robust flavors of traditional balsamic vinegar crafted in with custom, heritage, and taste in mind
- Embrace the splendor of Venice on a walking tour revealing the stunning marble palaces, iconic canals, and shimmering gilded mosaics
- Travel down the Brenta Canal on a serene cruise highlighting the wealth of the Venetian aristocracy through sensational preserved villas
- Traverse the medieval streets of Siena for a charming vision of antique life in the famous Tuscan countryside
- Follow in the footsteps of St. Francis in charismatic town of Assisi where the grand basilica dedicated to the saint retains captivating history and artwork
- View the enchanting works of Giotto in the Cappella degli Scrovegni of Padua revealing artwork that inspired an emergence from the Middle Ages era of art
- Discover the fascinating Byzantine architecture and mosaics preserved in Ravenna, the former capital of the Western Roman Empire
- Uncover the hidden splendors of the Sacred Field in Pisa where the original sinópie is visible after World War II
Embrace country roads and the scent of espresso, lavish art and an unhurried pace during your 12-day senior tour of Italy that will immerse you in the authentic charms of the country’s treasured culture. The heritage of the country dates back more than 3,000 years with ruins illustrating the grandeur of the Roman Empire and the artistic sensibilities of the Etruscan mourning rituals. Farmers’ markets glow with an array of vibrant colors and medieval towns retain a sense of wonder soaring above the charms of meandering verdant valleys.
The depths of your adventure in Italy will begin with your arrival in Rome, the contemporary capital of the county. Each day in Italy brings the best of a given city, town, or region and will open your eyes to the marvels of history as you experience the splendors left by the previous generations. Rome displays the grace, prestige, and ruthlessness of the former Papal State and empire with medieval buildings wrapping around the narrow warrens that lead to the open ruins. Baroque palaces, the fascinating engineering of the Colosseum, and the stunning architecture designed by the likes of Michelangelo and Vasari are all around, and the Vatican opens treasures of papal aesthetics and surprising artistic freedom moving from gilded scenes of heavenly presence to the humanistic representation of biblical characters.
Moving north into Tuscany will bring you through the charming Umbrian countryside and hillside town of Assisi. The walled streets lead up the slopes to a medieval fortress and down to a plateau on which the Basilica of St. Francis stands, gilded with remarkable frescoes by Giotto and other contemporary artists. The medieval scenery of Tuscany tops the hills with the preserved walls of Siena offering spectacular views of the verdant slopes, vineyards, and olive groves. Explore the city that is covered with radiant frescoes, and a unique grand piazza is set beneath the towering soaring hall. The towers of San Gimignano reflect the former affluence of the town situated on the popular pilgrimage route Via Francigena connecting France to Rome.
As you continue, Pisa will illustrate the prestige of maritime trade and the unique attributes of medieval architectural engineering while Florence embodies the grandeur of the Renaissance in design, artistry, philosophy, and cuisine. The Uffizi Gallery hosts artwork like Botticelli’s La Primavera and Brunelleschi’s sensational dome crowns the prestigious Duomo.
Outside of Florence, the stunning flavors of balsamic vinegar make their appearance on a family-owned property that has been passing down the secrets to producing the delicious condiment for generations. Sample the Italian specialty before discovering the Byzantine history of Ravenna, glowing with gilded mosaics, incredible frescoes, and the tomb of one of Italy’s most famous sons, Dante Alighieri. Visiting Verona accentuates the Romance encapsulated in the love of Rome and Juliet, as well as the lavish gardens of splendid villas.
Wandering Padova combines the quiet charms of a university town with the breathtaking frescoes decorating the walls and ceiling of the Scrovegni chapel. Travel down the Brenta Canal for a view of the art and aesthetic of Venetian aristocracy before the fall of the Republic among the historic villas decorating the water’s banks. The sites in Venice become ingrained as a wonder of Italy stemming from the masterful designs of St. Mark’s Square, the hidden history of the Doge’s Palace, and the treasured flavors of the city’s traditional cuisine. Consider learning more about our senior travelers’ best Italy vacation experiences by reading their Italy travel reviews.
$3,295 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
- 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.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.85 stars based on 116 reviews
"Our guides...truly gave us a nice taste of these cities...
Reviewed By Josie P.
"Our vacation with this travel agency and the travel planner...
Reviewed By Morgan F.
"It was a seamless experience."
Reviewed By Jonathan A.
"All of the organization involved was right on the mark...
Reviewed By Bryan P.
"[This travel company] recommended hotels and tours for...
Reviewed By Thomas C.
"Our trip planner is terrific, she listened to what we wanted,...
Reviewed By Mark N.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era