• $4,595
  • $600
  • Sofia Travel
  • Moderate
  • Land Only

Enjoy the full Italian experience on this intimate, personalized tour. Soak up the beauty of Tuscany, marvel at the grandeur of Florence and Rome, and immerse yourself in the matchless culture and cuisine of Italy. Travel with the Sparks family through medieval Tuscan hill towns and family-run vineyards, enjoy engaging lectures on Roman society and Renaissance art, and stay in the most picturesque locations on this expertly curated journey. Extension available to the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

 


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ITINERARY

April 11/12 – Depart USA, Arrive Florence
Depart USA, arrive Florence, Italy. Check-in to our hotel in the heart of this amazingly preserved Renaissance city. Step back in time to the age of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the Medici as we settle in for three nights. After a welcome reception, introductory meeting and cultural orientation, we enjoy our first taste of the wonderful Italian cuisine at a local trattoria. (D)

April 13 – Florence: Duomo, Duomo Museum, Duomo Baptistry, Academy, Central Market
Florence is truly one of the world’s most amazing cities. Our walking tour will include many of the signature works of the Renaissance as we learn about the city that launched modern European culture. We’ll begin at the heart of Florence, the magnificent Duomo, capped by Brunelleschi’s gigantic, red-tiled dome. On the Baptistry of St. John we see Ghiberti’s famous Gates of Paradise, a seminal work of Renaissance sculpture, before continuing to the Academia to see perhaps the greatest work of art from the Renaissance: Michelangelo’s David. We then get a taste of modern Florentine life at the bustling Central Market before free time to shop at the stalls of the outdoor San Lorenzo market or an optional climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome for stunning views of the city. In the evening we enjoy dinner out and Italy’s best gelato. (B,D)

April 14 – Florence: Walking tour, Uffizi Gallery
Our second day in Florence begins at the Piazza della Republica followed by an up close examination of the groundbreaking sculptures of the Orsanmichele. Arriving at the political center of Renaissance Florence, the Piazza della Signoria, we explore this grand square with its public sculpture gallery, the Loggia dei Lanzi. We then tour the Uffizi Gallery, which contains the single greatest collection of Renaissance art on the planet, including works by Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, and Caravaggio. After lunch, we visit the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge dating back to 1345 spanning the Arno River. (B)

April 15 – Siena: Walking tour, Duomo & Piazza del Campo
Beautiful Siena is magical with its medieval streets and impressive heritage that has remained amazingly intact for the past 800 years. Strolling through the town, we visit the impressive cathedral with its fantastic intricate inlaid stonework and enjoy free time in the stunning main square, the Piazza del Campo. In the late afternoon we arrive to the amazingly preserved medieval hill town of San Gimignano. This picture-perfect Tuscan town will be our home base for the next three nights as we explore Tuscan culture, cooking, history, and wine. (B,D)

April 16 – San Gimignano free day, Tuscan Vineyard Tour and Farmhouse Dinner
The morning begins with a guided tour of San Gimignano as we visit the 13th century Palazzo Comunale and cathedral with time for an optional climb to the top of one of San Gimignano’s famous Medieval towers. In the afternoon we head to the nearby village of San Donato where we visit a family run vineyard and farmhouse. After sampling the wines, we sit down to a festive Tuscan spread in this unforgettable setting. (B,D)

April 17 – San Gimignano free day, Tuscan Cooking Class
After a free morning to explore the Tuscan countryside, we head to the town of Certaldo for an unforgettable cooking class from a Tuscan chef. Make and eat fresh pasta and traditional desserts while sipping wine and soaking up the vivacious culture of Tuscany. (B,D)

April 18 – Assisi: Walking tour, Basilica of St. Francis
Walled Assisi is miraculous with its many churches, including its main church dedicated to the matchless life of St. Francis. St Francis was born here as the son of a wealthy merchant. After renouncing his earthly possessions and living a life of holiness and poverty, Francis was venerated as one of the chief saints of the Catholic Church. His basilica is a magnificent tribute to the venerated man, with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue and Martini. We then head to a family run country villa in the Umbrian countryside for dinner, a walk through the gardens, and overnight. (B,D)

April 19 – Rome: Walking tour, Borghese Gallery
All roads lead to Rome. For thousands of years tourists, merchants, and pilgrims have journeyed to the city of seven hills on the Tiber. Rome has unarguably one of the richest, fullest histories of any city on earth, all the while incorporating some of the finest architecture still surviving. Upon arrival, we visit the elegant Borghese Gallery, a refined museum housed in the former Borghese estate that contains the greatest collection of Baroque sculpture by the artist Bernini. After marveling at the delicacy of his works and the paintings by Raphael and Titian, we check into our hotel located in the heart of this ancient city. (B,D)
Itinerary

April 20 – Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona
Our day begins at the world famous Colosseum, where we’ll marvel at the impressiveness of Roman architecture while learning about the deadly games that once took place. We then walk down the ancient Sacred Way to the heart of the Roman Empire, the grand Roman Forum, where we see the Temple to Divine Julius Caesar, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and the Senate building. After leaving the forum, we take a walking tour to Rome’s most famous sites, including the Trevi Fountain, Column of Marcus Aurelius, and the unforgettable Pantheon before ending our day in the picturesque Piazza Navona. (B)

April 21 – Rome free day, Vatican City
In the morning take an optional excursion to the Vatican City for a visit to one of the world’s most important museums. After admiring the greatest works from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance masters, we visit the stunning Sistine Chapel where we marvel at its famous frescoes by Michelangelo. We end our tour in monumental St. Peter’s Basilica, the spiritual center of the Catholic faith and its grandest church. In the evening, we gather together for our closing meeting and a final, celebratory dinner. (B,D)

April 22 – Depart Rome, Arrive USA
Depart Italy or enjoy a four night extension to the matchless Amalfi Coast. (B)

OPTIONAL AMALFI COAST EXTENSION:

April 22 – Ravello
Leaving Rome, we arrive in Ravello in the afternoon and we check-in to our five star accommodations for three wonderful nights in this beautifully serene hillside town overlooking the Amalfi Coast. (B)

April 23 – Ravello free day
The day is at leisure to enjoy Ravello. Shop at the stores of local artisans, marvel at the view, stroll through the immaculate gardens, and enjoy this one of a kind setting. (B)

April 24 – Boat Tour to Capri
Today you have the opportunity to explore the unforgettable towns of the Amalfi Coast as they were meant to be seen: from the beautiful blue waters of the sea. As an optional activity, you can board our privately chartered boat and sail along the coast to the famous island of Capri. Resort island to Roman Emperors and Italian nobles, we enjoy the natural beauty and charm of this green island. We then return along the coast with time in the picturesque towns of Positano and Amalfi before returning to Ravello. (B)

April 25 – Pompeii, Naples
Departing Ravello, we visit the haunting ruins of Pompeii as we step back in time inside ancient bath houses, private homes, and an amphitheater. We continue to Naples where we check in to our hotel located high above the city with beautiful views of Mount Vesuvius from the verdant rood garden. Take an optional walking tour through the heart of historic Naples and enjoy the world’s best pizza. (B)

April 26 – Depart Naples, Arrive USA
A morning departure brings us to the Naples airport for our departure from Italy. (B)

HOTELS:

Florence Hotel degli Orafi April 12-15
San Gimignano Hotel Relais Santa Chiara April 15-18
Spoleto Villa Zuccari April 18-19
Rome Hotel Ponte Sisto April 19-22
Ravello Hotel Palazzo Avino April 22-25
Naples Hotel San Francesco Al Monte April 25-26


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