Italy, Vatican City
Rome, Florence, Vatican City
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Italian villas embody grace and history with gardens that emote beauty, elegance, and tranquility. Your custom tailored Italy itinerary will lend insight into the rebirth of garden splendor and the pure enchantment of traditional estates in and around Rome and Florence. Stroll through orange groves and private greenhouses that grow exotic plants and then explore cypress-lined country roads and opulent homes that are adorned with dramatic terraces. Linger in the scent of hyacinth and discover Roman...
Rome – Arrive in the Eternal City for an Introductory Tour
Rome is a city of riches that ranges from the greenery in the Borghese Garden to the treasures on display inside the vast collection of churches and museums spread throughout the city. Your flight will land at Rome Fiumicino Airport and your private transfer will greet you upon arrival. The aroma of fresh-made pasta fills the city’s historical center, and the cafes have tables and chairs set along the cobbled lanes with views of the preserved statues, fountains, and architecture for your enjoyment. Your accommodation is situated inside a 19th-century palazzo that once hosted the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.
Oranges trees blossom in the gardens and offer the zesty scent of citrus, which will make you feel as though you have already left the bustling city for the countryside of Lazio. But before venturing into the city, you will have a chance to explore the grounds of your hotel and discover a secret garden of more than 30,100 square feet. Yew trees line the walkways as white roses bloom against the emerald leaves. Your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby when you are ready eager to set out into the famous piazzas of Rome and lead you to the trickling water of the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona.
Rome – Full Day Tour to Explore the Gardens and Monuments of Rome
Borghese Park fills with visitors each morning all eager to stroll, jog or cycle along the walkways. An 18th-century replica of the Temple of Aesculapius adorns the shores of the artificial lake as orange trees bloom in the grove that overlooks the manicured hedges of the English style garden. Your guide will lead you through the marvels of the public space that covers nearly 200 acres. Fern and cypress trees frame Siena Square and couples row boats along the rippling waters of the lake.
The vastness of the park borders contrast with the cozy ambiance of the private garden tucked behind your villa. After traversing the historical walkways, halls, and labyrinthine walls of ancient Rome through the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, your guide will lead you into Vatican City. The gardens spread over more than 55 acres and reach their zenith at 200 feet above sea level. Stone walls frame the north, south, and western edges of the gardens and accentuate the Renaissance and Baroque styles found throughout.
Stone pines and cedar trees grow along the edges of the Renaissance labyrinth and wandering through the gardens of the Vatican will bring a sense of ease and serenity. The tranquil ambiance will allow you to reflect on the beauty of the garden, the history of Vatican City, and the artistry of the monuments that are dedicated to patron saints, including Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the evening, you will step into the galleries of the Vatican on an after-hours tour for another uniquely peaceful experience in keeping with your garden itinerary.
Rome – Half-Day Excursion to Tivoli to Visit Preserved Villas
The morning light will wash over the tan hues of Palazzo Barberini, and the exuberant palace features stunning gates, an elliptical spiral staircase, and beautiful terraced gardens that offer a sense of solitude amidst the endless movement of Rome. Your guide will greet you at your hotel and escort you to the town of Tivoli, which is located in the hills outside of Rome. The town became a center for Roman aristocracy eager to escape the summer heat of the city and embrace the cool climate of the summit that overlooks the Aniene River. Hadrian constructed his villa over nearly 300 acres in the 2nd century AD.
The preserved estate offers insight into the aesthetic of the Emperor who commissioned life-sized replicas of structures he found interesting along his travels across the empire, with a particular focus on figures from Greece and Egypt. The scent of sunbaked stone fills the air as the water in the original reflective ponds continues to reflect the remaining ruins found around the villa. The Canopus represents a branch of the Nile River and contains a buttress wall along the east. The Emperor would hold summer banquets along the edges of the pool set beneath the lingering statues that span the nearly 400-foot long reflective pool. You will discover a replica of the iconic image of Hermes standing beneath an archway while the original statue is on display in the museum next to the Canopus.
Florence – Transfer to a Charming Villa in the Renaissance City of Florence
In the morning, the aromas of freshly baked brioche and decadent espresso will overtake the scent of hyacinth and wisterias. Locals return to paths of Borghese Park as the returning sunlight shines off of the opulent façade of the Villa. Your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby after breakfast and escort you north towards Florence. Stop in the Tuscan countryside to experience the renowned beauty of the country roads lined with cypress trees and oaks shading the edges of expansive vineyards as the lush hills roll into the horizon. Medieval towns crown the distant hilltops and you will arrive at a gorgeous villa near Chianti to view the Renaissance architecture and landscape as preserved for hundreds of years.
Double columns frame the white plaster façade as remains of the original medieval watchtower continue to decorate the grounds. The garden was crafted in the 18th century with a double staircase and manicured hedges, and the spiced aroma of cypress trees sweeps across the gardens. Wisterias overflow at the base of the villa, turning the mustard hues emerald. The hedges have unusual geometric shapes that hide the fragments of ancient ramparts as they run along the grounds. You will continue to the medieval town of Siena to view the strong walls and narrow cobbled lanes, stopping to sample an array of wines and cheeses before arriving in Florence for the evening.
Florence – Relish a Full Day Tour of Florence’s Monuments and Gardens
Florence is the city of the Medici and Michelangelo’s David, a city of Renaissance allure and the flowing waters of the Arno River. Wake up to the beauty of your centrally located palazzo hotel, nestled among the historical buildings of Florence and with the sanctuary of its own private garden. The streets in the morning fill with the aromas of caramelized brioche that drift from bakeries that are tucked into the medieval alleyways. The city of cobblestone and historical homes has a surprising amount of greenery that adds a touch of charm to the splendor of the art and architecture that are abounding throughout the city.
Your guide will greet you after an early breakfast to introduce you to the Uffizi Gallery, which is located next to Piazza Signoria. The palace grounds were originally constructed in the 16th century as the magistrate’s office but soon housed the collection of art crafted under the patronage of the Medici family. The marble hallways and large, gilded windows enhance the luster of the old structure. The galleries feature statuary and paintings crafted by some of Western Europe’s most famous artists. Your connections to the beauty of manicured gardens and nature will draw you to Botticelli’s La Primavera, which was crafted in the late 15th century.
The allegorical context of the work commemorates the beauty of nature and the cycle of the seasons, along with the nature of the human condition. Your guide will lead you through the galleries, eventually taking you through the Vasari Corridor, a hidden passageway that travels over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and connects to the Pitti Palace in the neighborhood of the Oltrarno. Exit the passage and take to the lavish Boboli Gardens to enjoy the open air along the more than 10 acres of space.
Florence – Delight in a Custom Tailored Cultural Tour of Florence
Students and crewmembers take to the waters of the Arno River at dawn to row against the strong current. The sunlight shines on the surface water and spreads over the rooftops of the Renaissance city. Cafes place tables and chairs along the cobbled lanes and around the piazzas where patrons can enjoy a strong espresso while watching the city pass by. You will meet your guide in the morning ready to indulge in the cultural history of Florence, from the unique architectural embellishments of Santa Croce Basilica to the marvels of the brickwork dome that adorns the central Cathedral, referred to as the Duomo. Your guide will point to the distinctive character pieces found across the city, including the stone bull’s head that crowns the capital on Santa Maria del Fiore Church.
A private room in the Old Palace was once the hidden refuge for Francesco I de’ Medici, the Duke of Tuscany at the turn of the 17th century. The vaulted room was used as a treasure trove and filled with illustrated panels and artistic works that were collected by the Duke over a lifetime of travels. The center of the studio features a fresco that depicts Prometheus receiving jewels, which blends religious motifs with mythological figures and exemplifies the Renaissance and Baroque movements. While many people linger beside the baptistery looking at an intricate copy of the “Gates of Paradise,” your guide will lead you into the Museo dell’Opera, located behind the Duomo, to view the original three doors molded in bronze.
Florence – Revel in a Visit to the Celebrated Private Gardens of the City
Bakeries along the open roads of Florence fill their display cases with lavish cakes and colorful fruit tarts. The aroma of schiacciata, Tuscan focaccia bread, drifts through the doors with an aroma of olive oil and salt. Your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby after breakfast and lead you through the familiar avenues of Florence, including the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Travel along through the Oltrarno neighborhood to reach the Viale Francesco Petrarca. The outer walls hide the 17 acres of private gardens, the largest of any private green space in Europe located within a city.
The botanical gardens began in the 16th century and have retained a connection to the arts and sciences over the centuries. The thick walls frame a small door that will turn your tour into an adventure inside a secret garden. The doorway offers you an unforgettable entrance into an idyllic oasis of 19th-century garden design as it overtakes the 16th-century villa grounds. Vegetable gardens grow tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini as sculpted lions adorn the walkways and pop their heads out from the underbrush.
The city walls were built in the 16th century under Cosimo I de’ Medici and brush against the borders of the villa to mark the former boundaries of the city. Masonic symbols adorn the neo-Gothic tower as the feature spirals upwards into the sky. The estate maintains more than 4,000 species of plants that fill the air with the essence of oak, cedar, and horse-chestnut trees.
Rome – Venture to Ladispoli to Visit a Private Garden en route to Rome
The streets of Florence return to life in the morning with locals frequenting their favorite cafes for a quick espresso before venturing to work. The bells of the Duomo ring against the new day and join the sound of footsteps that are echoing against the cobblestones. Today your guide will escort you out of Florence and lead you back towards Rome. En route, you will stop at a private villa located on the outskirts of the Eternal City that is known for its spectacular gardens. Villa Lante was erected in the 16th century and gained notoriety a century later due to the identical square houses embellished with Mannerist style.
The gardens provide an enchanting ambiance and are filled with the sounds of waterfalls, trickling fountains, and the beauty of hidden grottoes. Water moves as if choreographed to dance along the terraces, and the twin houses stand to one side of the Quadrato with the remaining three sides framed by tall box hedges. The centerpiece fountain rises out of a larger body of water decorated with stone boats. The terraces reach a height of more than 50 feet with each level providing a splendid panorama of the garden, a series of shaded seats, and a long stone table on which Cardinals presumably held feasts.
Rome – Depart for Home
In the morning, the sunlight will pierce the windows of the Villa Borghese, a 17th-century palace established under the patronage of Cardinal Borghese. The interior holds the galleries of the Borghese Museum, home to one of the largest private art collections of Western European works, which includes Venus as crafted by the sculpture Canova. The Trevi Fountain will be empty of visitors, allowing the pearlescent pillars to glimmer above the rushing turquoise waters as you take it all in one last time. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel when you are ready and escort to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
- Discover the serene ambiance and vibrant blossoms of the Vatican gardens before partaking in a private after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums
- Stroll amongst the ancient grounds of Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli to view the preserved walls, sculptures, fountains, and pools of the Emperor’s getaway
- Explore the largest private garden inside a European city at the Torrigiani Gardens in Florence
- Traverse the stunning cascades and terraces of the greenery at Villa Lante, where Cardinals and Italian aristocrats would meet
- Delight in a private tour of the Uffizi Gallery to wander along the hidden Vasari Corridor that leads to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
- Explore the treasure troves found in Florentine museums and find hidden rooms covered in art along with images of the Garden of Eden cast in the bronze doors of the Gates of Paradise, housed inside the Museo dell’Opera
- Enjoy a unique visit to a Renaissance-era villa in the Chianti countryside for insight into the preserved lifestyles of the past amidst the vineyards of Tuscany
- Relish the comforts of your luxurious villa-style accommodations in Florence and Rome with access to their beautiful private gardens
From ancient Rome to contemporary Florence, your 9-day Italy itinerary will bring you into gorgeous gardens and historical villas to experience the intricate beauty that has been rediscovered and restored. The majesty of your Italy itinerary begins with your arrival in Rome as your private transfer will meet you at Rome Fiumicino Airport and escort you to your villa situated in the historical center of Rome. Visit the private garden and orange grove before meeting your guide in the lobby, and then enjoy your introductory tour of Rome through the celebrated piazzas, along the fountains, and into the marvels of the Pantheon.
Wander through the walkways of Borghese Park the next day as you follow your guide along the grandeur set beside the eponymous museum. Continue to Vatican City to explore the verdant gardens before partaking in an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museum, home to the Sistine Chapel. Wake the next morning and travel to the hilltop town of Tivoli outside of Rome for a full day spent visiting Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. Depart from Rome the next day and make your way north towards Florence. Delight in the scenic view of the Tuscan landscape and make a stop at a Renaissance villa outside of Chianti to explore the charming gardens and lavish home before continuing on to Florence for the evening.
The next day, your guide will lead you on your private tour of the Uffizi Gallery and highlight the masterworks on display. Take the Vasari Corridor over the Arno River to reach the Pitti Palace, and then spend time visiting the opulent galleries before taking in the elaborate design of the Boboli Gardens. The following day, your guide will introduce you to the vibrant cultural history of Florence on a full day tour, taking you to the top of the Cathedral’s dome and to view the bronze doors known as the Gates of Paradise.
You will continue to discover the splendors of Florence the next day with a visit to the private Torrigiani Gardens, with the the remainder of your day at your leisure to stroll through the medieval lanes, visit the Accademia Gallery, or take to the gardens in the neighboring village of Fiesole. Wake the next day and your private transfer will lead you back towards Rome with a stop en route to visit the enchanting Villa Lante and La Posta Vecchia, the former home of J. Paul Getty. Conclude as you you make your way to the Fiumicino Airport by private transfer with plenty of time to check-in for your flight home.
$2,470 per person (excluding international flights)
- 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.
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