Day 1: Australia – – Rome
Depart Australia today to begin your journey of Italy.
Day 2: Rome
Today, arrival in to Rome! On arrival, please make your own way to your hotel. There are plenty of transport options with the quickest being the Leonardo Express train from the airport to the city.
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, boasts St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Day 3: Rome (B,D)
In the morning, meet your Tour Escort and then embark on a full day tour of Italy’s historic capital city. You will be joined by a local expert who will guide you through the priceless art collection of the Vatican Museums, culminating beneath Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-track entry and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bramante Staircase, an area of the Vatican closed to the general public. More of Michelangelo’s breath-taking creations are on display in the adjacent St. Peter’s Basilica, before you cross the Tiber to overlook the Forum and the Colosseum, the Roman Empire’s great gladiatorial arena. After learning about the role this ancient structure played in Rome the rest of the day is then yours to discover this cultural city at your own pace. In the evening, join your fellow guests and Tour Escort for a welcome dinner to get to know your fellow travellers.
Day 4: Rome – Pompeii – Sorrento (B)
After breakfast we begin our journey to Pompeii, the opulent Roman town which was preserved by layers of ash from the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Here you’ll find Europe’s most compelling archaeological site: the ruins of Pompeii. Today, 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. On leaving Pompeii, the coach will follow the spectacular clifftop road to the picturesque coastal resort of Sorrento overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. On arrival the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 5: Sorrento (B)
Sorrento, or Land of Mermaids. Land of Orange and Lemon Groves. Land of Colours. This small city in Campania has earned a plethora of alluring names. Famed for its sea cliffs, the town’s steep slopes look out over azure waters to Ischia, Capri and the Bay of Naples. The outlook is spectacular!
Today is free to explore Sorrento at your own pace. The town remains a popular resort and is home to fabulous restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops which sell traditional locally produced ceramics and lacework. Worth a visit is the Museo Correale, with its Neapolitan arts and picturesque gardens with stunning views along the coastline. Stop by the Basilica di Sant’Antonino, Sorrento’s oldest church and named after the town’s patron saint, or take a stroll from Piazza Tasso down Via Pieta en route to the elegant 15th century cathedral. The former fishing village of Marina Grande harbour welcomes those who wish to relax under a sun-umbrella or dine in one of several excellent fish restaurants.
Optional Tour: The Isle of Capri – A chance to visit one of the most beautiful islands in the world – Capri. You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the port, from where a 20-minute high-speed ferry will transport you to Capri. The island remains a holiday playground for the rich and famous, its intoxicating mix of flowers, narrow lanes and alleyways a lure for past visitors as diverse as Julius Caesar and Gracie Fields. The island is awash with jewellery shops and chic boutiques, and your walking tour of the stylish streets may have you believe you are on the catwalks of Milan. There is an optional visit to Villa San Michele in Anacapri or for just a few Euros, you could take the chairlift to the head-spinning heights of Mount Solaro. At the end of your visit, take the ferry back to Sorrento and you will be transferred to your hotel.
Day 6: Sorrento – Florence (B)
This morning, say farewell to Sorrento as we make our way up the boot. Today’s journey heads north, travelling past Rome and into the Province of Umbria, Italy’s green heartland and the only Italian region that has neither the sea nor another country as its border. Continue into Tuscany, famed for its picture-perfect landscapes and superb cuisine. Arrive in Florence late afternoon and immediately capture the essence of the heart of the Italian Renaissance.
One of the city’s most iconic sites is the Florence Cathedral, with its terra-cotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and bell tower designed by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David,” while the Uffizi Gallery exhibits preeminent works such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”
After we check in to the hotel, the evening is yours to enjoy this spectacular city.
Day 7: Florence (B)
After breakfast, join a Local Expert for a tour of this cultural hub. We begin with the Academy Gallery to see Michelangelo’s beautiful statue of David, considered by many as the most beautiful (and most famous) statue ever made. Continue to Giotto’s bell tower and next door see the “Gates of Paradise” which adorn the Cathedral. Visit the Piazza della Signoria – an open-air museum and still the political heart of Florence. The Piazza was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. After, stroll on to Piazza Santa Croce, famous for its Basilica and luxury shops. The joys of Florence are varied by personal taste so the afternoon will be free for your own personal exploration.
Day 8: Florence – Cinque Terre – Portofino – Genoa (B)
This morning we leave Florence for a 2-hour drive before being met by a local guide who will accompany you on a boat trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cinque Terre, a string of centuries-old seaside fishing villages set on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. The oldest of the villages is Monterosso, located on a hilltop and where the main attractions are the Old Castle, the Church of Saint John the Baptist and the Convent of the Capuchin. On leaving Cinque Terra, continue to the elegant seaside village of Portofino, with its colourful houses, boutiques, café bars on the piazzetta and luxurious yachts moored in the harbour. The day ends in Genoa, capital of the Liguria region.
Day 9: Genoa – Lake Maggiore (B)
In the morning, head north to the beautiful Italian Lake District, a favourite retreat of the rich and famous. The 3-hour drive meanders through pretty Alpine scenery before arriving at Lake Maggiore, situated on the south side of the Alps and the second largest lake in Italy. Lake Maggiore, a long, thin lake on the south side of the Alps, is noted for its picturesque setting amid greenery-covered mountains and contains many islands. On arrival, we cruise out to the lovely Borromean Islands, visiting Bella and Isola Madre and learn about these secluded paradises in the middle of Lake Maggiore. The most famous and fabulous of the islands is Isola Bella, an immaculately landscaped garden of an island named after the wife of one of the Borromeo, Isabella. The island has been completely transformed into a terraced pyramid of formal gardens hemmed by lined by statue-topped balustrades and clipped lawns strutting with pairs of much-photographed white peacocks. After, relax and enjoy an afternoon at leisure at this popular resort town on a beautiful lake.
Day 10: Lake Maggiore – Verona – Venice (B)
Today, continue to Verona, situated in northern Italy’s Veneto region and most famous as being the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. You will have a chance to walk to Juliet’s balcony in the inner courtyard of the Capulet home, as well as visiting the wellpreserved Grand Arena, a 1st century amphitheatre which is still used for open-air concerts and an annual opera festival.
Then following a 2½ drive, you will arrive in Venice. 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 11: Venice (B)
After breakfast, you will be taken on a private boat tour of three of Venice’s islands where you will stop at a glass-blowing factory on Murano. One of the oldest and most respected trades in Venice. 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 it’s handcrafted lace. The first laces date back to 1500 and initially their workmanship taked 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.
The afternoon is then free to discover Venice Island’s many treasures at your own pace. A visit to Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) is a must including the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs of course. Some say no visit to Venice can be complete without a ride on one of the iconic gondolas, and you will have time to take a trip on the famous Grand Canal as well as through the smaller canals around the neighbourhood of Venice should you wish (on own account).
Day 12: Venice – Embark on cruise (B,D)
Today, your tour of Italy concludes after breakfast. At the appropriate time, make your own way to the port to board your deluxe 7 night Mediterranean cruise of Croatia and the Greek Islands on board the Rhapsody of the Seas.
Day 13: Kotor, Montenegrio (B,L,D)
This afternoon we make port in Kotor. Kotor is a fortified town on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, in a bay near the limestone cliffs of Mt. Lovćen. Characterized by winding streets and squares, its medieval old town has several Romanesque churches, including Kotor Cathedral. Located where the Balkans meet the Adriatic, Kotor sits on a deep bay surrounded by soaring cliffs. A hilltop fortress stands guard over the walled medieval Old Town, where you’ll find small piazzas, elegant palazzos, lively cafés and shops to explore.
Day 14: Corfu, Greece (B,L,D)
Wake up as we make our way into the port of Corfu. Corfu is a magical mix of history, culture and nature that has enchanted great powers from the Byzantines to the British. Visit the countryside and beaches, explore elegant palaces or stroll the streets and lanes of the Old Town. Its rich culture reflects years spent under Italian, French and British rule before it was united with Greece in 1864. Beaches range from the fine sand and shallow waters of Ayios Georgios to the water sports and party atmosphere at Cavos.
Day 15: Athens, Greece (B,L,D)
Discover the splendours of Greece’s epic past in the ancient city that is also the capital of a modern nation. The hilltop Acropolis has overlooked Athens for 2,500 years. Below, a parklike promenade links many iconic sights. Athens has been the centre of Greek civilization for some 4,000 years. Both ancient and modern, with equal measures of grunge and grace, bustling Athens is a heady mix of history and edginess. Iconic monuments mingle with first-rate museums, lively cafes and al fresco dining.
Day 16: Mykonos, Greece (B,L,D)
Today we are in one of the most popular Greek islands, Mykonos. Mykonos mixes sun, fun, glamour and tradition. Relax at a beach and wander the maze-like streets of the scenic, chic port town. Delos, a sacred islet of antiquity, is a boat ride away. Mykonos is famous for its beaches. Get lost amidst the endless waters of the Aegean or visit the birthplace of Apollo on this historic island.
Day 17: Argostoli, Greece (B,L,D)
Today watch as we cruise to the Ionion Islands, before making port at Kefalonia. Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionion Islands, is perfect for nature and history lovers. Discover rugged mountains, forests, golden beaches and dramatic coastline. In the port of Argostoli explore a vibrant culture shaped by a rich past. This lush green island with breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters of greenish-blue colours will leave you speechless.
Day 18: At Sea (B,L,D)
Today, enjoy a relaxing day at sea to enjoy everything your ship has to offer. Jam pack your day with every type of activity or simply do nothing! The choices are endless.
Day 19: Venice – – Australia (B)
This morning we arrive back in Venice. Disembark from your cruise ship and make your own way to the airport. Depending on the time of your flight, you might wish to store you baggage at the port and enjoy the day in Venice before making your own way to the airport to board your flight home.
Day 20: Australia
Arrive home today.