Day 1: Australia –– Rome
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible Italian holiday.
Day 2: Rome
Welcome to Italy! Arrive in Rome and make your own way to your hotel. You are then at leisure to enjoy this historic city and relax after your flight.
Your hotel: Patria (or similar)
Located only 300 meters away from Stazione Termini, in Rome’s historic center, Hotel Patria welcomes you in elegant rooms, with all modern comforts, in a warm and relaxing atmosphere. If you are looking for a hotel with great tradition and prestige, this hotel offers a comfortable facility well served by public transportation that will take you to the city’s most beautiful places.
Day 3: Rome (B)
After breakfast, make your way to the central pick-up point for a guided tour of Imperial Rome and the Colosseum. Arriving by coach at Piazza Venezia you will see the impressive Il Vittoriano monument. Continue on foot to the famous Piazza Del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo from where you will have a fantastic view of the Roman Forum. By coach you will then drive by the Circus Maximus and the Aventino Hill. Stop to admire the beautiful statue of Moses by Michelangelo located in the Church of St. Peter’s in Chains. Conclude your tour with a visit of the majestic Colosseum, an iconic symbol of this eternal city.
Day 4: Rome –– Florence (B)
This morning, make your way to the station for your train to Florence. Relax as the train takes you north through Lazio to the capital of Tuscany. Make your own way to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure. You may wish to wander the quaint alleyways and picturesque plazas.
Your hotel: Delle Nazioni (or similar)
This charming property is located in the heart of downtown Florence, just to the east of the central train station – Santa Maria Novella. It is ideally situated, providing excellent access to the main tourist attractions like the Duomo, as well as the shopping districts, conference centre and exhibition halls.
Day 5: Florence (B)
Start off your day with a guided walking tour of the city. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, but there is so much to see, it can be hard to know where to start. This 2 hour small-group walking tour is ideal for checking off top attractions such as The Cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio and Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Day 6: Florence – – Venice (B)
This morning, make your way to the station for your train to Venice. Enjoy the views as the train takes you through Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto before arriving at St. Lucia station. Make your own way to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Your hotel: Hesperia (or similar)
This little hotel is situated in the historic centre, looking onto the Canale di Cannaregio. It has recently been restored, using carefully chosen traditional materials and, while offering every modern comfort, still retains a typical Venetian style. The Hotel Hesperia provides an excellent, personalized service, thanks to the fact that the owners are always present, and available to give their constant care and attention to the needs of their guests.
Day 7: Venice (B)
Explore the “Queen of the Adriatic” at your own pace today. Don’t miss St. Marks’ Square, St. Marks’ Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs. Also worth visiting is the lagoon island of Murano who are famous for their glass making.
Day 8: Venice – – MSC Mediterranean Cruise (B,L,D)
Today, make your way to the port for your 7-night deluxe MSC cruise.
Your cruise ship: MSC Sinfonia
Even before MSC Sinfonia sets sail, stepping on board is like embarking on a voyage of discovery. With its impressive array of new features and facilities, the ship is now even better equipped to satisfy every need. There’s a world of new experiences to discover on board, day after day, moment after moment.
Day 9: Split (B,L,D)
With its seafront cafés and ancient alleyways, shouting stallholders and travellers on the move, bustling, exuberant Split is one of Croatia’s and the Mediterranean’s most compelling cities, it’s easy to see this feeling when you step aground from your MSC cruise. It has a unique historical heritage too, having grown out of the palace built here by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 295AD. The palace remains Split’s central ingredient, having been gradually transformed into a warren of houses, tenements, churches and chapels by the various peoples who came to live here after Diocletian’s successors had departed.
Day 10: At Sea (B,L,D)
Enjoy the day at sea on your deluxe ship as it makes its way along the beautiful Croatian coast to Santorini.
Day 11: Santorini (B,L,D)
You can’t say you have been to Greece on holiday without seeing the natural wonder of Santoríni. As your ship manoeuvres into the great caldera of Santoríni (Thíra), the land seems to rise up and clamp around it. Gaunt, sheer cliffs loom hundreds of metres above the deep blue sea, nothing grows or grazes to soften the awesome view. The only colours are the reddish-brown, black and grey pumice layers on the cliff face of this, the largest island in the mini-archipelago. Using a spectacular two-hour footpath along the lip of the caldera you reach the village of Imerovígli and further to the north Firostefáni, both of which have equally stunning views.
Day 12: Mykonos (B,L,D)
Mýkonos is the quintessential image of the Cyclades. In summer most people head out to the beaches during the day, so early morning or late afternoon are the best times to wander the maze of narrow streets. The labyrinthine design was supposed to confuse the pirates who plagued Mýkonos in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it has the same effect on today’s visitors. From your cruise ship you’ll pass the archaeological museum on your way into town, which was specially built in 1905 to display artefacts from the cemeteries on Rínia Island, opposite Delos.
The Folklore Museum, housed in an eighteenth-century mansion, crams in a larger-than-usual collection of bric-a-brac, including a basement dedicated to Mýkonos’s maritime past. The museum shares the promontory with Mýkonos’s oldest and best-known church, Paraportianí, a fascinating asymmetrical hodgepodge of four chapels amalgamated into one. Beyond the church, the shoreline leads to the area known as Little Venice because of the high, arcaded Venetian houses built right up to the water’s edge on its southwest side.
Day 13: Dubrovnik (B,L,D)
A walled, sea-battered city lying at the foot of a grizzled mountain, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most popular cruise destination, and it’s not difficult to see why. The former medieval town was reshaped by Baroque planners after a disastrous earthquake of 1667; Dubrovnik’s historic core seems to have been suspended in time ever since.
Walk through the city and admire the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, inside there are a couple of Italian paintings, including Titian’s polyptych The Assumption behind the main altar. Immediately south of Luža – the square centre of the medieval town – is the Rector’s Palace, former seat of the Ragusan government. The current palace is a masterpiece of serene proportion, fringed by an ornate arcaded loggia held up by columns with delicately carved capitals. Entered via a narrow passageway is the fourteenth century Franciscan monastery, whose late Romanesque cloister is decorated with rows of double arches topped by a confusion of human heads and fantastic animals.
Day 14: Ancona (B,L,D)
Ancona hits you with a tangle of commercial buildings only two steps away from the Mediterranean Sea. A stiff climb from the port area, passing Ancona’s well-signposted Roman remains along the way, will take you to the pink-and-white Duomo. Mostly built in a restrained Romanesque style, this is contrasted by an outburst of Gothic exuberance in the doorway’s cluster of slender columns, some plain, others twisted and carved.
The most memorable feature is a screen along the edge of the raised right transept. However, it may be the views from here, the cruise ships and the ferries lined up in the port and the coast fading into the haze, that remain longest in the memory. Ancona’s large, three-storey Museo Archeologico in the old quarter is a fair place to while away an hour or two, its wacky moulded ceilings vaulting over a collection of finds ranging from red- and black-figure Greek craters to a stunning Celtic gold crown.
Day 15: Venice –– Australia (B)
Bid farewell to Italy and make your own way to the airport today.
Day 16: Australia
Arrive home today.