MONDAY: ROME – ASSISI – SIENA – FLORENCE
At 07h15 you will depart from the Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio on a deluxe coach bound for Assisi. You will have some time at leisure to explore this tiny town, surrounded by walls built in the middle ages. Make sure to leave some time for visiting the basilica of St. Francis where you will see masterpieces by Giotto and Ciambue. After some more leisure time during which you should grab some lunch (not included) you will again board the bus travelling to Siena. This medieval town surrounded by ancient walls is known for the Palio, an annual summertime horse race around the shell-shaped town square, Piazza del Campo. From there you will continue to Florence, the day’s final destination.
Overnight: Florence (D)
Today will be spent exploring beautiful Florence, the “cradle of renaissance”, where Michelangelo, among others, helped Italian art reach its peak. Based on Etruscan-roman origins, the city flourished in the middle ages as a free “commune” and was further refined by the renaissance. You will be fascinated by its numerous monuments, churches, and buildings, like Santa Maria del Fiore more commonly referred to as the Duomo. As you walk past you will be sure to see the magnificent dome built by Filippo Brunelleschi which graces most pictures of the city. You will cross a small piazza and see the campanile tower (partially designed by Giotto) and thereafter the baptistery, with its bronze doors opening to the East that Michelangelo dubbed the “gates of paradise.” In the heart of the city, you will walk through Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo della Signoria (also known as Palazzo Vecchio), and see the basilica of Santa Croce. You will have lunch in a typical Tuscan restaurant at Piazza Santa Croce. Shortly thereafter the guided portion of today’s program will end and you have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to continue wandering the cobblestone streets of Florence discovering even further wonders, or perhaps you could take an optional tour to Pisa at your own expense.
Overnight: Florence (BL)
WEDNESDAY: FLORENCE – BOLOGNA – PADOVA – VENICE
In the morning you will depart to Bologna, a city well famous for almost 38 kilometers worth of elegant arcades (or porticos). From Piazza Malpighi, you will walk to Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore (Neptune square and Major square) located in the heart of the city, where you will find Neptune fountain. You will also see King Renzo’s Palace, Podestà Palace, and the basilica of San Petronio, one of the biggest in the world. Thereafter you will be given some time at leisure to grab lunch (not included). In the afternoon board the bus and continue toward Padova, home to Sant’Antonio basilica, one of the most visited churches by pilgrims of the catholic world. Later in the afternoon you will arrive in Venice, world-renowned for its classic gondola boats and its elegant, refined art.
Overnight: Venice (BD)
THURSDAY: VENICE – MILAN
After breakfast, you will depart to Milan*. Once there, you’ll have the day to explore this metropolitan city.
*Depending on final passenger numbers this transfer may be by train.
Overnight: Milan (B)
FRIDAY: MILAN – LAKE ORTA – STRESA – COMO
At 08h30 you will depart from the Best Western Galles Hotel to Lake Orta, a small and charming lake situated in the North-eastern side of the Piedmont region. Stop in the beautiful village of Orta San Giulio for a short visit. Then you will cruise to the island of San Giulio, just in front of the village. The island is the pearl of the lake, almost entirely occupied by the Mater Ecclasiae Monastery which is famous for studies on antique books. After a short visit you will ferry back to Orta and depart by bus to Stresa. Stresa, located on Lake Maggiore, is an international tourist resort situated in a central but also panoramic and picturesque position along the lakeside facing the ‘Borromee’ islands. You will have some time at leisure here for lunch (not included). In the afternoon you will cruise to Pescatori Island (Fishermen Island). Although the Island was characterized by its fisherman few families still maintain this activity but the identity of the small community remains intact and untarnished by modern advances. Then you will continue to Bella Island where you could choose to visit Borromeo Palace with its magnificent gardens (not included). After returning to Stresa you will have some leisure time during which you could have dinner (not included) before the bust travels to Como.
Overnight: Como (B)
SATURDAY: COMO – BELLAGIO – VARENNA – BERGAMO – BRESCIA
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before setting off on a short tour of Como, a small town with amazing natural panoramas of mountains, lake Como and wild alpine valleys. You will see the industrialized Brianzola hill, downtown Como, and the small houses in the village. The lake itself, sometimes called Lario, has long been famous for its y-shape, its three branches intersecting at Bellagio, which you will visit via boat. Separated by the lake’s two southern arms with the Alps dominating the horizon to the north, Bellagio is home to some of the most charming landscapes in Italy. Spend some time wandering around this picturesque village with its small streets, luxury hotels, villas, and gardens, perhaps stopping for lunch in one of the many cafés in town (not included). You will continue to Varenna that afternoon, where you will have a panoramic tour. Then travel on to Bergamo, a truly historic and artistic jewel characterized by its division of urban structure: the “lower town” (Città bassa) is modern and dynamic, while the famous “upper town” (Città alta) houses the city’s medieval history. After a short walking tour of the city center you will depart to Brescia, the day’s final destination.
Overnight: Brescia (B)
SUNDAY: BRESCIA – SIRMIONE – RIVA DEL GARDA – VERONA
Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, will be the next destination. You will have a panoramic tour of the lake’s western coast. Take in the splendid natural scenery, the brilliant colors, the Dolomites of Brenta and the gentle slopes of the Morainic hills. Enjoy the area’s rich vegetation, including lemon trees, oleanders, magnolias, and bougainvillea, which all flourish thanks to the Mediterranean climate. Given how richly fruit grows here you should make sure to taste some of the olive oil and wines made locally (not included). Then you will travel to Sirmione, where you will see Lake Garda and its surroundings at their finest. See the sun shining off of the lake’s blue waters and tree-lined shores, Sirmione cape, the castle, and the Grottoes of Catullus during a cruise. Back on land, you will have some time at leisure during which you could have lunch (not included) before departing to Riva del Garda on the northern side of the lake. There you will see its venetian-style historic center before departing to Verona.
Overnight: Verona (B)
MONDAY: VERONA – MILAN
This morning you will travel to Verona, the town made famous my Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet tragedy. This fascinating crossroad of historical periods and cultures (both classical and Germanic) is a blend of both Nordic and Mediterranean influences that is both ancient and modern. A walk through the city’s narrow streets will give you a taste of this varied past. You will see traces of its splendid roman origins, its medieval structures, its magnificent renaissance palaces, as well as the impressive fortifications protecting it. The combination of art and history will fascinate you. You will have some time at leisure before departing to Milan during which you could have lunch (not included). In Milan the tour will then come to an end and you will make your own way to your next destination. (B)