Day 1: Australia – – Venice
Depart Australia today to begin your tour of Italy.
Day 2: Venice
Today, arrive in to Venice! On arrival, please make your own way to your hotel.
Few cities can claim such a priceless art and history heritage as Venice. This unique city with its magical, spectacular scenery is not just beautiful; it is a real miracle of creative genius: a city built on mud, sand and the slime of a difficult, inhospitable landscape. Venice is the symbol of wise government and freedom. The lagoon was its only defence, there were no palace guards except the Arsenal workers and no parade ground except the sea. During centuries of feudalism and barbarism, Venice symbolised democracy and civilization.
Day 3: Venice (B)
After breakfast, you will be taken on a half day guided boat tour of three of Venice’s islands where you will stop at a glass-blowing factory on Murano. Learn about the Murano glassmakers, arguably some of the most famous glass artists in the world. We then visit the Island of Burano, famous for its handcrafted lace. The first laces date back to 1500 and initially their workmanship takes place in posh houses, employing needle-and-thread without a canvass as prop. We then continue on to the sparsely populated island of Torcello. Here we visit the oldest cathedral in Venice. According to an ancient inscription, it was founded by the exarch Isaac of Ravenna in 639, when Torcello was still a rival to the young nearby settlement at Venice.
Day 4: Venice – Florence (B)
Today, travel south to Florence, a shrine to the wonders of the Renaissance, with more artistic treasures per square metre than any other city in the world! One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. On arrival, we enjoy an exciting half day guided walking tour and after drive through a stretch of olive groves and vineyards before arriving at your hotel for check-in.
Day 5: Florence – Pisa – Florence (B)
After breakfast we cross the Arno Valley onto Pisa. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Piazza del Duomo, see the famous Leaning Tower as well as the beautiful sculpted marble cathedral. Already tilting when it was completed in 1372, the 56m white-marble cylinder is the bell tower of the Romanesque, striped-marble cathedral that rises next to it in the Piazza dei Miracoli. See the Baptistery and the cemetery, according to a legend the cemetery was born around a layer of earth brought by ship from the Holy Land after a Crusade in the 12th century. Later arrive back to Florence to enjoy free time exploring the city.
Day 6: Florence – Umbria Region – Assisi (B)
This morning we drive south from Florence to Umbria, the green heart of Italy known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine, particularly foraged truffles and wines. On arrival in to the spiritual city of Assisi on the slopes of Mount Subasio, we visit St. Francis’ Basilica and enjoy a walking tour with a local expert.
Day 7: Assisi – Pompeii – Sorrento (B)
This morning, stop at Cassino to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery and view the Benedictine Abbey. After, we arrive into Pompeii, the affluent Roman town which was buried under tons of ash which poured down from Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Enjoy a guided tour where you can walk through the preserved remains, revealing the daily life of Roman civilisation which was captured in a few dramatic moments. You will be led through the ancient cobbled streets, houses, temples, shops and cafes by a local guide, who will impart the history of one of the world’s most fascinating archaeological experiences. We then leave Pompeii and continue our drive to the Amalfi coast before arriving in Sorrento for our overnight.
Day 8: Sorrento (B)
Today, enjoy a free day at leisure to enjoy the stunning Amalfi coast!
Day 9: Sorrento – Villa San Giovanni – – Messina – Taormina (B)
Today, we leave Sorrento and drive south via Salerno before boarding a ferry at Villa San Giovanni to cross the straits of Messina to the rugged and historic island of Sicily and to the beachside resort town of Giardini Naxos near Taormina. On arrival we drive to the hotel for check in.
Day 10: Taormina (B)
Spend the day relaxing in this fun Sicilian resort town. Perhaps swim and sunbathe or shop for handmade lace on the Corso. Consider joining an Optional Experience to Savoca, the village made famous by ‘The Godfather’, and the crater of Sicily’s active volcano, Mount Etna, widely regarded as one of the most impressive in the world (available locally).
Day 11: Taormina – Agrigento (B)
Travel through the vineyards of the southern hills towards Agrigento, a hilltop city on Sicily’s southwest shore. It’s known for the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas and the Valley of the Temples, a vast archaeological site with well-preserved Greek temples. On the modern city’s outskirts is the Museo Archeologico Regionale Agrigento, with artifacts and a telamon (giant male statue). West lies Scala dei Turchi, an unusual stepped white cliff overlooking sandy beaches.
Day 12: Agrigento – Palermo (B)
Today in Agrigento, enjoy a half day guided tour that takes you on a tour of the Valley of the Temples. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to five ancient Greek temples dating from the 6th century BC. These are some of the grandest Grecian remains outside of Athens. After, we continue on to the city of Palermo.
Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics.
Day 13: Palermo – – Naples (B)
Today enjoy a half day guided tour of the capital of Sicily. Palermo delivers a heady, heavily spiced mix of Byzantine mosaics, Arabesque domes and frescoed cupolas. Explore the historic centre of Palermo on a walking tour led by a knowledgeable local guide. Learn about the city’s history as you see landmarks including Teatro Massimo, the Palermo Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Palermo (Palazzo dei Normanni) – part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop by the Chiesa del Gesù (Casa Professa), an elaborate 16th-century church, and view the Palazzo Pretorio (Palace of the Eagles). Stroll around the Piazza Pretoria and Piazza Bellini, and browse tempting treats in renowned food markets that offer Sicilian cuisine. Tonight, we board an overnight ferry back to the Italian coastline of Naples.
Day 14: Naples – Rome (B)
This morning we arrive into the port of Naples. After disembarking from our ferry we re-board our coach and begin the drive north to the incredible capital of Rome!
We then embark on a full day tour of Italy’s historic capital city. Head to the Vatican City, the smallest nation in the world! Headed by his holiness the Pope, it is the administrative and spiritual capital of Roman Catholicism. It boasts a priceless art collection and is probably per square foot the richest country in the world! Visit the Vatican Museum, one of the largest museum complexes in the world. A must see is the Sistine chapel. The most famous square of Vatican City is St. Peter’s Square with St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world.
Pass the ruins of the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus – the Hippodrome – known for its ancient chariot races, which was reconstructed by Hollywood for ‘Ben Hur’! Pay tribute to the brave Gladiators of Rome, with a photo-stop at the Colosseum. At this amphitheatre, the notorious and gory gladiatorial games were held, where they fought one another and wild animals while the crowd roared!
See the triumphal Arch of Constantine, one of the most important commemorative monuments of antiquity and then drive through Piazza Venezia, the main square in Rome, where the grandiose monument to the reunification of Italy is often referred to as the Marble wedding cake! Continue the tour at the famous Trevi Fountain. Legend has it, that if you make a wish and toss a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain, you are sure to return to Rome!
Day 15: Rome (B,D)
Enjoy the day at leisure before we make the short drive to Civitavecchia port to board your deluxe MSC cruise of the Western Mediterranean!
Day 16: La Spezia, Italy (B,L,D)
The port at the head of the majestic Gulf of La Spezia, an impressively sweeping panorama of islands and rough headlands renamed the Gulf of the Poets, is workaday La Spezia. A major naval and shipbuilding centre, it has a fine art gallery, the Museo Amedeo Lia, probably the finest collection of medieval and Renaissance art you can enjoy on a holiday to Liguria. Sandwiched between the hills and the sea, La Spezia is now a largely pedestrianized grid of streets behind the palm-fringed harbour front promenade of Viale Mazzini and busy Via Chiodo, focused around the main pedestrian spine of Via del Prione and the central market square of Piazza Cavour, where there is a great selection of fish and other stalls.
Day 17: Genoa, Italy (B,L,D)
Genoa is marvellously eclectic, vibrant and full of rough-edged style; it’s a great cruise excursion. Indeed “La Superba” (The Superb), as it was known at the height of its authority as a Mediterranean superpower, boasts more zest and intrigue than all the surrounding coastal resorts put together. During a cruise to Genoa you can explore its old town: a dense and fascinating warren of medieval alleyways home to large palazzi built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Genoa’s wealthy mercantile families and now transformed into museums and art galleries. You should seek out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Renaissance palaces of Via Garibaldi which contain the cream of Genoa’s art collections.
Day 18: Cannes, France (B,L,D)
With its immaculate seafront hotels and exclusive beach concessions, glamorous yachts and designer boutiques, Cannes is in many ways the definitive Riviera resort, a place where appearances count, especially during the film festival in May. The old town, known as Le Suquet after the hill on which it stands, provides a great panorama of the curve of Cannes’ bay. On its summit stand the remains of the fortified priory lived in by Cannes’ eleventh-century monks, and the beautiful twelfth-century Chapelle Ste-Anne. The Musée de la Castre, in the remains of Cannes’ eleventh-century priory, holds an extraordinary collection of musical instruments from all over the world, along with pictures and prints of old Cannes and an ethnology and archaeology section.
Day 19: Palma de Mallorca, Spain (B,L,D)
Palma is a vibrant place and a world away from the heaving tourist enclaves of the surrounding bay. The obvious landmark to see in Palma is the Catedral, which dominates the Mediterranean Sea waterfront and backs onto the oldest part of the city, a cluster of alleys and narrow lanes whose northern and eastern limits are marked by the zigzag of avenues built beside – or in place of – the city walls.
Day 20: Barcelona, Spain (B,L,D)
Barcelona – Spain’s second city, and the self-confident capital and port of Catalunya – vibrates with life, and there’s certainly not another city in the country to touch it for sheer style, looks or energy. A short walk to Barcelona city centre will take you to discover its world-class art museums and its fashionable designer restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. And in Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary church of the Sagrada Família and the world-famous boulevard that is the Ramblas.
Day 21: Ajaccio, France (B,L,D)
Ajaccio is a relaxed and good-looking place for a visit to Corsica, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of smart cafés, restaurants and shops. The core of the old town of Ajaccio – a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch, which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina – holds the most interest.
Day 22: Rome (B)
This morning, disembark from your cruise. Your guide will be waiting for you at the port to transfer you to your hotel. On arrival, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 23: Rome – – Australia (B)
Today, your tour of Italy concludes after breakfast. At the appropriate time, make your own way to the airport for your homeward flight.
Day 24: Australia
Arrive home today.
Please note: Some flight may arrive home 1 day later