Italy Explorer Tour - XITX
Number of Days: 17
Includes the must-see destinations in Italy as well as experiencing the fantastic food, rich culture, beautiful landscapes and historic ancient sites of one of the world's most popular travel destinations. Highlights of this tour include Rome, ancient Pompeii, the 'trulli' houses of Alberobello, Verona, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence and Siena. This is a guaranteed departure, and you will be accompanied for the duration of your trip by an experienced tour leader.
DAY 1: RomeMeet up with your tour guide at our hotel in the afternoon, then this evening enjoy a ‘Rome by night’ driving tour, where you’ll see the many historical sights of Ancient Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and Pantheon. During the tour we stop off at a local restaurant for our Welcome dinner (included).Experiences: Tonight enjoy a evening driving tour of Rome - see the capital in all it's glory, including views of the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, Castle d'Angelo, the Tiber river and more. Try some classic Roman cuisine and get to know your tour leader and fellow travellers at the welcome dinner. Typical local dishes include penne carbonara, spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, as well as a range of meat dishes, including roast chicken and beef.Accommodation: Hotel Cristoforo Colombo, or similar
DAY 2: Rome – SorrentoLeaving Rome, we’ll head to the Sorrento peninsula, stopping off along the way to see Mount Vesuvius and to explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii, destroyed in 79AD in a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Upon arrival on the Sorrento peninsula we have a two night stay. This area is famous for limoncello (a sweet lemon liqueur), the perfect way to finish off your included dinner this evening.Experiences: See Mount Vesuvius and explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii - preserved since ancient times under meters of ash and pumice, it offers superb insights into life (and death) in the ancient Roman Empire. A local guide will introduce you to the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.After arriving in Sorrento you will be treated to a Neapolitan dinner. As Sorrento is on the Mediterranean coast, seafood features heavily in the local cuisine. You can expect to enjoy dishes such as fresh fish, margherita pizza - which was created in this region - and meatballs. After the meal, why not opt for a glass of limoncello; this sweet lemon liqueur is a speciality of this area and is commonly taken as a digestif at the end of the meal.Accommodation: Giosue A Mare Hotel Oriente or similar
DAY 3: SorrentoYour Italy tour continues with a free day in Sorrento. A gorgeous old town hugging the coastline, the Sorrento peninsula is our base for the day. Explore the towns in your own time, or alternativelychoose our optional excursion to the famous Isle of Capri, where you can spend some free time exploring the rugged coastline, ancient Roman ruins and stylish piazzas.
DAY 4: Sorrento - Matera – AlberobelloToday we’ll head east and explore the southern Italian region of Apulia, taking a comfort stop along the way in the ancient cave city of Matera. Known as "la Città Sotterranea" (the Subterranean City), it is famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the ‘sassi’. Later we'll arrive in Alberobello, and enjoy an orientation tour of the region's famous ‘trullo’ houses. These beautiful 14th century whitewashed stone huts have iconic conical roofs, and are specific to the Itria Valley. This afternoon you’ll have free time to further explore Alberobello; check out the trullo church of St Antony and the trulli museum.Experiences: Comfort stop in the ancient cave city Matera. Remains from 7,000 BC were found here, and the historical centre and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Explore the 14th century trulli stone houses, the Parrocchia Sant'Antonio di Padova church, and the Trullo Sovrano museum. Originally constructed as temporary shelters and storehouses by farm labourers, the trulli are now permanent features of Alberobello. Puglia - the ‘spur’ and ‘heel’ of Italy’s ‘boot’, is a great agricultural area, producing much of Italy’s durum wheat, so this is the perfect place for you to try the best fresh pasta in the world.Accommodation: Hotel Astoria, or similar.
DAY 5: Alberobello – TaorminaThis morning we’ll make our way to the ‘football’ of Italy, taking a drive through the beautiful Reggio Calabria region before enjoying a ferry crossing to the island of Sicily. Prepare for a stunning view of Mount Etna as we make our way to Taormina, where we’ll enjoy an evening walking tour and dinner.Experiences: Walking tour of Taormina on the island of Sicily. One of the most popular holiday resorts in Sicily, the city was founded by the Greek's who built an amphitheatre in a stunning hilltop location overlooking Mount Etna.Regional foods to try: Why not try, pasta alla Norma, it is among Sicily's most historic and iconic dishes. It's made with tomatoes, fried aubergine, grated ricotta salata cheese, and basil.Accommodation: Hotel delle Palme, or similar.
DAY 6: TaorminaEnjoy a free day to relax on Sicily's beautiful beaches, or explore the island's quaint towns. The town of Taormina itself is one of Italy’s most popular summer destinations, perched on the side of a mountain and offering medieval churches, a castle and Greek amphitheater. For those looking to explore further afield, you can choose our optional excursion to Syracuse. The Sicilian town of Syracuse is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is notable for its rich Greek history, culture and amphitheatres. Here, you will have time explore the town as well as ancient Greek and Roman ruins including the Theatre of Syracuse and the Ear of Dionysius.
DAY 7: Taormina - Catania – AgrigentoToday we’ll drive to through the heart of Sicily, along the way taking a comfort stop in Catania. With a Unesco-listed historic centre boasting many beautiful baroque buildings. This afternoon, get your cameras ready as stopping at the ‘Valle dei Templi’ (Valley of the Temples), one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture. We’ll then arrive at our accommodation in Agrigento.Regional foods to try: For dessert why not try Cassatelle alla Trapanese, these are small soft crescents of dough filled with cream, ricotta, chocolate chips and with icing sugar and served hot.Experiences: Comfort stop in Catania, a vibrant and energetic city, with a UNESCO-listed historic centre, where palazzi (grand residences) tower over baroque-style squares. Explore the Valley of the Temples, a national monument of Italy and archaeological site in Agrigento. The Valley includes the remains of seven temples built in the Doric style. BAccommodation: Hotel Dioscuri Bay Palace, Hotel Akrabello, or similar.
DAY 8: Agrigento - Marsala – PalermoEnjoy a beautiful drive this morning as we make our way round the western tip of Sicily to the island's capital, Palermo. Along the way we'll make a comfort stop in Marsala, a city built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaion, and famous for it's Marsala wine. Arriving early afternoon in Palermo, you’ll enjoy a walking tour to introduce you to the city’s highlights. Founded more than 2,700 years ago by the Phoenicians, Palermo is noted for its history, culture, architecture and food. Sights you'll see on you walking tour include the San Giovanni degli Eremiti church, Piazza Indipendenza, Porta Nuova (The New Gate) and the Cathedral of Palermo.Regional foods to try: Arancini are stuffed rice balls which are coated with breadcrumbs and then deep fried. They are usually filled with meat and tomato sauce, mozzarella, and peas.Experiences: Drive along the western coast of Sicily, with stunning views of the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. Take a comfort stop in Marsala, an historic city famous for its sweet dessert wines, marble-paved streets and stately baroque architecture. Enjoy a walking tour of Palermo; see the highlights of this historic city, a melting pot of cultures over the centuries. Make a note of all the places you want to explore further on your free day tomorrow.Accommodation: Hotel Athenaeum, or similar.
DAY 9: PalermoEnjoy a full day to further explore Sicily’s capital. Over the centuries Palermo has been colonized by many different rulers over the centuries, including the Greeks, Romans and Normans. This melting pot has resulted in a variety of architectural styles for you to explore in the historic old town. This evening, we’ll take an overnight ferry back to the Italian mainland.
DAY 10: RomeThis morning we arrive back on the Italian mainland and make our way back to Rome, to explore the capital and northern Italy. Arriving early afternoon you'll have the rest of the day to explore before enjoying an included dinner this evening. Typical local dishes include penne carbonara, spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, as well as a range of meat dishes, including roasted chicken and beef. B,DAccommodation: Hotel Cristoforo Colombo, or similar
DAY 11: RomeToday we’ll take a guided walking tour of the city, stopping off at the landmarks that have made Rome a perennial favourite with travellers all over the world. See ancient Roman architecture, medieval buildings, Renaissance artworks and more remnants of Rome’s illustrious past as capital of this incredible country – and of the Roman Empire at large. Be sure to see sightseeing highlights like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and the countless other attractions that make Rome famous the world over. Later, you’ll have the option of taking a guided walking tour of the Vatican City. Marvel at glittering artworks, vast marble halls and opulent architecture – all part and parcel of the Vatican’s status as the seat of papal power. Eating and drinking well is also an important part of Roman life, and as they say, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ Try excellent Italian cuisine, and grab a famous Roman gelato while sight-seeing.Regional foods to try: Visit a pizzeria and grab a slice. True to Roman tradition, you won't get many toppings, but the pizza is cooked in wood fired ovens to thin, fresh and chewy perfection. Bellissimo.Experiences: we take a locally-guided walking tour of the city, stopping off at some of the sightseeing highlights that make Rome famous. Highlights include the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, the Roman Forum and more.
Accommodation: Hotel Cristoforo Colombo or similar
DAY 12: Rome - Orvieto – VeniceLeaving the capital behind, we'll drive through the region of Umbria. Known as the 'fruit bowl of Italy', it is famous for its produce, food and beautiful mountainous landscapes. Prepare for one of the most spectacular sights in Europe as we approach Orvieto, a city perched dramatically atop sheer vertical volcanic rock. We'll take the funicular up to the historic centre, where you'll have some free time to explore and see the sights, including the exquisite facade of the Cathedral of Orvieto, the papal residence and the Albornoz fortress, before we travel on to Venice. We'll get a classic Venetian view from the famous Rialto Bridge on our orientation walking tour. While in Venice you also have the opportunity to board a gondola and see Venice the traditional way, try classic Venetian cuisine, visit the famous museums and art galleries and enjoy the Venetian experience.Regional foods to try: Indulge in the local cuisine. Venice is of course located on a lagoon, and is therefore heavily influenced by seafood, including cuttlefish and sardines. Be sure to ask your tour leader for their recommended restaurants, and don't miss out on trying tiramisu - translating as "pick me up" it is a delicious combination of coffee liqueur soaked-sponge with mascarpone cheese.Experiences: Comfort stop in Orvieto with time to explore and see the main sights in this incredible town perched upon a volcanic hill. In Venice, your tour leader takes you on an orientation tour, to see the highlights, including the Rialto bridge, St Mark's Square and views of Doge's Palace. BAccommodation: Elite Residence Hotel, NH Laguna Palace, Hotel Complex Ambasciatori & Delfino, Hotel Venezia, or similar.
DAY 13: VeniceTake the time to explore today on your free day in Venice. Marvel at this incredible city, which features more artistic masterpieces per square kilometre than any other place on earth. Speak with your . Explore tour leader for suggestions for your free day in Venice.
DAY 14: Lake Garda - Florence – TuscanyToday, we make our way to the beautiful city of Florence, stopping along the way in Lake Garda for a photo opportunity. Then, we make our way to Florence for a guided walking tour. Learn more about the heritage of this city, which stretches back through the ages to encompass Renaissance artworks and Roman ruins. Sights to see in Florence include Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Croce and of course Michelangelo’s David. A cultural and political focal point during the Renaissance, Florence is endowed with a huge variety of important buildings and famous artworks. We’ll then make our way to our accommodation in Tuscany.Regional foods to try: Lampredotto is a Florence street food, consisting of the fourth stomach of the cow cooked in a broth and then served with salsa verde or/and spicy sauce.Experiences: Lake Garda photo stop. In Florence, enjoy a locally-guided walking tour taking in some of the city’s most famous attractions.Accommodation: Hotel Massimo d'Azeglio, Hotel Meridiana Florence, or similar
DAY 15: TuscanyEnjoy the option of a free day today in beautiful Tuscany, where options include further time in the city of Florence or exploring the spa town of Montecatini. You also have the option of joining a free optional excursion to Pisa and Cinque Terre. A highlight of any tour to Italy, you’ll be able to snap photos of this legendary structure and explore the grounds. We will then continue on to the stunning coastal town of La Spezia, the gateway to the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre literally means ‘Five Lands’ and consists of five coastal cliff-side towns linked by rail and by footpaths. Overlooking the Mediterranean and amply supplied with fresh produce from the surrounding farms and homesteads, this is a region with all the ingredients to make for an unforgettable day.
DAY 16: San Gimignano - Siena – RomeThis morning we make our way through one of the world’s most picturesque countryside landscapes, admiring Tuscan farmhouses, vineyards and olive groves as we drive by. Our first stop of the day will be in San Gimignano, a small walled hill town. Known as the 'Town of Fine Towers', it offers beautiful Romanesque and Gothic architecture and 12 well-preserved tower houses. We'll then make the short drive to Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for the 'Palio' horse race held twice a year in the main piazza, or public square. We'll enjoy a wine tasting accompanied with antipasto, before we head back to Rome and round the off the day with a farewell dinner together on our last night of the tour.Regional foods to try: Enjoy a wine tasting with antipasto, which translates as "before the meal" and is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. Typical antipasto includes cold cured meats, olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, cheeses and peperoncino.Experiences: Comfort stop at the town of San Gimignano. Famous for its medieval towers, it is a real gem of the region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, 13 of the original 70 towers remain, providing an iconic and unforgettable skyline that sets it apart from the many other hill towns in Tuscany.Visit the UNESCO World Heritage town of Siena, famous for the Palio horse race, held each year on 2nd July and 16th August. This bareback horse race has taken place since the 14th Century in the main town square of Siena, and the 17 participants represent local families, or contrade. Enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by antipasto.Accommodation: Hotel Cristoforo Colombo, or similar.
DAY 17: RomeYour 17 day Italian adventure concludes after breakfast.
- 16 nights' accommodation in twin rooms with private en-suite facilities.
- Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure a private room. Services of your tour leader, who will be on hand with advice
and tips to ensure that you get the most from your trip.
- You can also book any of the optional excursions available during your tour with your tour leader.
- 16 breakfasts, 1 antipasto, 7 dinners. Taxes and fees.
- Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days).
- Modern air conditioned coach with reclining seats, TV for showing DVDs, and toilet.
- 18 Experiences (including guided walking tours, orientation walks, driving tours of cities plus other exciting experiences).
- 16 nights' accommodation in twin rooms with private en-suite facilities.
- RRP $5,060 per person. Single supplement additional $1495