18206
Italy
The Best of Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice
Learn about three great Italian cities as you visit Rome’s preserved ruins, explore Renaissance architecture in Florence and discover renowned cathedrals and cuisine of Venice.
Program No. 18206RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
4,399
Flights start at
800
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14 days
13 nights
30 meals
12 B 9 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Flights depart from North America.
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrivals, Orientation, Welcome Reception
Rome
L,D
Hotel Diana

Activity note: Hotel check-in is available from 2:00 p.m.

Morning: The group leader will be in the lobby of the hotel to greet arriving travelers. Leave your luggage with the desk clerk and join the group leader for a walk in the neighborhood late morning. Guest check in is available from 2:00 p.m.

Lunch: We will gather in the lobby at 12:30 where the group leader will lead the way to the hotel restaurant for lunch. Plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After you have the key to your room, settle in, freshen up and relax, then meet back in the hotel lobby area at 4:00 p.m. for an orientation walk in the neighborhood to identify ATMs, pharmacies, stores, restaurants, etc., The short walk circles back to the hotel where you will gather in the meeting room for a briefing session. The group leader will greet everyone and lead introductions with a Welcome Cocktail (or fruit juice). We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel's rooftop restaurant. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Welcome to Rome, Forum, Colosseum
Rome
B,L,D
Hotel Diana

Activity note: You will be on your feet most of the morning. Walk along uneven paths and original pavement of cobblestone. Good walking shoes are a must for the visit to the Colosseum, especially for the steep and uneven steps to reach the upper level. Elevator near the entrance of the Colosseum. If, at the conclusion of the visit, you want to ride the elevator down the ground level, you will have to double the amount of walking to meet the rest of the group at the exit.

Breakfast: This day and for the next four mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room, begin to unravel the multiple layers of Roman history through the sharp insight of a professor who will set the stage for your explorations. After a short break, board the coach for the brief ride to the closest drop off point in the pedestrian only area of the Colosseum/Forum. A local expert leads the visit of the Colosseum, built in the year 80 CE and unveils some interesting anecdotes of entertainment so many centuries ago.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the Piazza del Colosseo. A typical Roman menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Guided visit continues to Via dei Fori Imperiali. With the temples and columns as a backdrop, the local expert's description will bring to life the Forum as the center of the commercial, civic and religious activity of Rome. Coach back to the hotel. Some free time before dinner.

Dinner: At a characteristic trattoria near the hotel that features regional cooking. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, Free afternoon.
Rome
B,D
Hotel Diana

Activity note: Coach drop off point is a few blocks from and an uphill walk to the museum entrance. Reserved entrance time at Vatican Museums diminishes the wait in line. The visit requires negotiating multiple flights of steps and walking the long corridor to the Sistine Chapel (distance is about 1/2 mile). Please note that even with a reserved entrance you can expect crowds as thousands of people visit the museum collections and Sistine Chapel every day of the year.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to the closest drop off point for the Vatican Museums. Meet the local expert who leads the visit of part of the vast collection. The extraordinary works of art in the museum will amaze you, notable are the ancient Roman statues, and of course, Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Your guide will lead you out a back staircase which leads to the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica. Inside the basilica marvel at Michelangelo's Pietà and Bernini's bronze canopy over the main altar. At the conclusion of the visit, walk across the Piazza San Pietro to board the coach back to the hotel.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore a museum or a city neighborhood on your own. Suggestions are given on site.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a stroll and perhaps a drink or gelato at a café near the hotel.

DAY
5
Piazza Walk, Borghese Gallery Art Treasures
Rome
B,L
Hotel Diana

Activity note: Extensive walking (about a mile) in the heart of Rome's pedestrian only area from coach drop off point and between the area from Piazza Navona to the Pantheon. Stairs to reach second floor of the Gallery Borghese.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast, a local expert leads the walk in the heart of Rome to three landmarks: the Baroque Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, Roman temple built in 126 CE. The walk concludes at Piazza Navona, whose buildings are set on the seating of Domitian's stadium.

Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant just off the elegant Piazza Navona. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Coach to the Borghese Gallery, the private pleasure and reception palace of Cardinal Scipio Borghese, an avid art collector and patron of the young Bernini. Reserved entrance time. On display in the Gallery are important paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Botticelli and Titian. The highlight of the collection are the emotionally charged sculptures by Bernini, a true evocation of the Baroque. Coach back to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the type of eatery that fits your budget and taste. The group leader will have suggestions where to go for small plates, or a full-course dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Palazzo Massimo, Train to Florence, Neighborhood Walk
Florence
B,L,D
Rivoli Boutique Hotel

Activity note: The Palazzo Massimo is situated right around the corner from the hotel. Few stairs to reach the entrance, elevators inside. Short walk (350 yards) from the hotel to the train station, comfortable ride on the train, short walk (300 yards) to the Florence hotel. The 1/4 mile orientation walk explores the neighborhood of the hotel and the Duomo.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Check out of hotel. Your bags will be delivered to the hotel in Florence. The hotel in Rome will safely store your carry on bags during the morning excursion. Short walk to Palazzo Massimo alle Terme to see a fine collection of ancient Roman art with spacious and light filled exhibition spaces. Notable is the seated bronze boxer and frescoes from Villa Livia, Augustus Caesar's wife's dining room. Walk to a restaurant in the neighborhood of the hotel.

Lunch: Enjoy a light lunch, fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Stop back at the hotel to pick up your carry-on bag. Walk to Termini, the train station. Travel on the train with just your carry-on bag. High speed train to Florence departs mid afternoon; the ride is about 1.5 hours. Short walk from the Florence train station to the hotel. Check in and settle in. Late afternoon neighborhood walk to orient you to the location of ATMs, pharmacies, stores and shops.

Dinner: Enjoy Tuscan dishes at Ristorante Benedicta, the fine restaurant in the lobby of the hotel. Fixed menu of Tuscan fare, plated table service. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Evening: Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the heart of Florence on your own.

DAY
7
Duomo, Medieval Florence, The Medici
Florence
B,L
Rivoli Boutique Hotel

Activity note: The walk from the hotel to the Duomo is about half a mile.

Breakfast: This day and for the next four mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: Walk to the Duomo, the heart of Florence. Meet the local expert for the visit of Florence's cathedral and most famous landmark and another site of interest in the Duomo Museum complex. The museum has recently reopened after a major renovation and modernization.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the Duomo and mercato. Enjoy a set menu of regional cooking with plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Some free time after lunch. Nearby is the Market of San Lorenzo, the downtown historical fresh fruit and meat market. Along the road, "bancarelle" vendor carts sell various Florentine specialties: leather, scarves, pottery and souvenirs. A late afternoon classroom session on Medieval Florence and the Medici family at the hotel's meeting room.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Renaissance Art, Bargello, Uffizi Gallery
Florence
B,D
Rivoli Boutique Hotel

Activity note: The walk to the Bargello, about 3/4 mile, traverses the heart of Renaissance Florence. Short walk to the Uffizi. A small elevator (cap. 3 persons) for disabled visitors may be accessible at the Uffizi Gallery. There is a long flight of stairs to reach the exhibition rooms of the gallery. Expect some crowding in the museum; it is a popular destination for art aficionados.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room an art historian gives an overview of medieval and Renaissance art in preparation for the visit to the Uffizi Gallery. The group leader will add on a brief information session to go over the logistics of moving about in Venice. After a short break, set out on foot for the National Museum of the Bargello where an art historian will give insight on Florentine Renaissance sculpture.

Lunch: Lunch on your own. There are a variety of cafés, gelato shops and places for casual dining in the vicinity of the Bargello and Uffizi.

Afternoon: Meet at the designated time and place for the reserved entrance time for the Uffizi. The visit is self-guided and you are free to spend as much time as you wish. This is the most extensive collection of art, tracing the development from Gothic to medieval to Renaissance to Mannerist paintings in the world. You will find many recognizable masterpieces, including Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and the Primavera, some Titians, Michelangelo's Holy Family, and a few Caravaggios as well as Artemisia Gentileschi. There is a coffee bar at the end of the second corridor, on top of the Loggia, with a wonderful view of the watch tower and Duomo where you can get a refreshment and rest.

Dinner: At a restaurant in the Piazza della Repubblica enjoy a set menu (plated table service) of regional dishes. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Take the long walk back to the hotel along the Arno River.

DAY
9
Accademia, Free Afternoon
Florence
B,L,D
Rivoli Boutique Hotel

Activity note: The walk to the Accademia museum is a little over 1/2 mile.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Set out on foot for the Accademia for an onsite lecture on Michelangelo's David, one of the most famous statues in the world. Admire the unfinished statues known as the “Prisoners” because they appear to be forcefully emerging from the marble. After the art historian concludes the explanations, feel free to remain in the Accademia to visit other exhibitions, such as early musical instruments, or the museum book shop.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the vicinity of the mercato, enjoy a light lunch. Water and a soft drink are included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Florence at your own pace.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, a set menu. Water and wine are included.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a stroll along the bank of the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio.

DAY
10
Transfer to Venice
Venice
B,L,D
Hotel Principe

Activity note: Walk from the hotel to the train station is 350 yards. High speed train to Venice. The walk from the Venice train station (Santa Lucia) to the hotel is about 400 yards.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel, depositing your bags in the lobby. The group leader will supervise the loading of the bags onto a van headed directly to Venice. The bags will be transferred to a barge to be delivered to the hotel. Set out on foot for the Florence train station. High speed train to Venice departs mid morning, arriving just in time for lunch at the hotel. Short walk to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Check into your room after lunch. Settle in and meet in the lobby around 4 pm. In the hotel meeting room, a local historian will share insights into Venice's Legacy. Set out with the group leader on a Neighborhood walk that will point out the location of ATMs, pharmacies, stores and vaporetto stops.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
St. Mark's Square, Ducal Palace
Venice
B,L,D
Hotel Principe

Activity note: Ride the public vaporetto to St. Mark's Square. Walks in Venice involve crossing multiple bridges that span the canals. The visit through the many rooms of the Ducal Palace requires climbing a few flights of stairs. Narrow passages through the rooms of the Prisons and over the Bridge of Sighs.

Breakfast: This day and for the next four mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: Travel along Venice's famed Grand Canal on a vaporetto boat (Venice's public transportation system) to St. Mark's Square. Meet the local expert for the visit of the Ducal Palace, seat of civic and political power. Doges embellished the residential quarters and ceremonial chambers of the Great Council with lavish artwork, including murals by Tintoretto and Veronese. The visit concludes in the spacious courtrooms and the Prisons, connected by the Bridge of Sighs. Those convicted of crimes walked from the courtroom to prison across the infamous bridge, so called because of the prisoners reaction knowing it was their last glimpse of light and air.

Lunch: Sample some Venetian dishes at a trattoria. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free afternoon. Use the vaporetto pass to ride up and down the Grand Canal or explore the Lido. The pass issued to you is valid for unlimited rides on the major routes during your stay in Venice.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel. Choose from a select menu. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Rialto, Gondola Ride
Venice
B,L
Hotel Principe

Activity note: Walks in Venice involve crossing multiple bridges that span the canals. Assistance offered getting in and out of the gondola.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Ride the vaporetto to the Rialto. Meet the local guide who leads the walk through the oldest part of Venice. The walk concludes at the market where you will have some free time to browse the carts selling fruits, vegetables and seafood.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the Rialto, sample a variety of Venetian dishes. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Short walk to San Marco for an expert-led visit of the cathedral. Built during the 13 C.,there are more than 45,000 sq. ft. of mosaics adorning the church, giving the impression of streets of gold. Experience the city from a different point of view as you enjoy a gondola ride along the canals of Venice. Some free time before your independent dinner.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the type of eatery that fits your budget and taste. The group leader will have suggestions where to go for small plates, or a full-course dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
The Craft of Glass Working in Murano
Venice
B,D
Hotel Principe

Activity note: Enjoyable boat ride to the island, minimal effort to walk around the streets of Murano. Low bridges to cross if you explore more of Murano or venture to Burano on your free time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Vaporetto to the island of Murano, famous for the craft of glass making. Part of the city and about a mile off in the lagoon, Murano is a mix of low houses and glass making workshops. Some free time to stroll the narrow streets along the canals.

Lunch: On your own. There are various cafés and trattorias on the small island of Murano.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon. With your vaporetto pass you can easily take the boat from Murano to explore the island of Burano, whose leaning tower rivals that in Pisa. Here you can find Venetian lace and small shops where you can watch the crafters create their handiwork. Or, return to main cluster of islands that make up Venice by getting off the vaporetto at San Marco or the stop closest to the hotel.

Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants at our farewell dinner at the hotel. Fixed menu, plated table service. Wine is included with this meal to toast new friendships.

Evening: At leisure. Use your vaporetto pass for an evening ride down the Grand Canal when the boats are not as crowded and the light from the palazzi shine and create ripple effects on the water.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Transfer by water taxi from the hotel's private dock. Your bags will be loaded onto and off the boat but at the airport dock there are some steps to reach the road. Under a covered path, the walk to the terminal (about 300 yards) flanks the parking lot. If you have trouble managing your luggage on the flat path you can use a baggage cart. Drop in a euro coin to release the trolley at the airport dock; it will be returned to you when you lock the trolley at the terminal's baggage cart stand.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel; continental style for participants with early morning departures.

Morning: Program concludes. Departure transfer to Venice Airport.