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Drawn to the good life? This Italian tour is la bella vita distilled. Explore Pompeii in the shadow of the notorious Mount Vesuvius. Stroll along the cobbled beachfront walkways of the Amalfi coast. Walk in the footsteps of ancient emperors and modern-day movie stars on the Isle of Capri. Traverse the five villages of the magical Cinque Terre. Bob along Venetian canals and drink in the charm of the Italian lake region. Enjoy free days in Rome, Sorrento, and Venice to do as you please. Eat pasta. Drink wine. See Italy like a local!
We use a variety of hotels in each destination, so you may stay in a hotel different to that listed here. Hotels are selected closer to departure date; you will receive a confirmed list one week prior to your departure date.
Welcome to Rome! If you arrive early enough, head into the city to see what Rome has to offer. An ancient city that has seen the rise and fall of entire empires, there is no shortage of historical real estate to feast your eyes on. Not to mention designer shopping and brilliant food. Meet up with your tour leader at our hotel in the afternoon, and prepare for the tour of a lifetime! Tonight, you’ll meet the rest of the tour group at our included welcome dinner.
Today, 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. Highlights today include the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Roman Forum. And let’s not forget Trevi Fountain – legend has it that if you drop a coin into the fountain, you’ll return again one day. In your free time this afternoon, why not visit the Coliseum, probably Rome's most recognisable landmark, and the centre of Roman social life. See where countless gladiators, martyrs, wild animals and other unfortunate souls did battle in the name of entertainment.
Leaving Rome, we’ll head to Sorrento peninsula via Pompeii. As it’s our first day on the coach, take the time to get to know your fellow travel companions, and listen out for tips on Italy from your tour leader. On our way to the coastal region of Sorrento, you will see Mount Vesuvius and we will stop at Pompeii to explore the ruins of this ancient Roman town, destroyed in 79AD in a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Preserved since ancient times under meters of ash and pumice, it offers superb insights into life (and death) in the ancient Roman Empire.
As we leave Pompeii behind, you will have the option to visit the beautiful Amalfi coast, with some free time to explore the town of Amalfi. Upon arrival on the Sorrento peninsula we have a two night stay. Amongst other things, this area is famous for limoncello (a sweet lemon liqueur), and this is the perfect way to finish off your meal.
A gorgeous old town hugging the coastline, the Sorrento peninsula is our base for the day. Explore the towns in your own time, and seek out little shops producing lace-work, ceramics and specialising in marquetry (the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to create incredible artwork). Alternatively, choose our optional excursion to the famous Isle of Capri. Capri has charmed everyone from Roman emperors to modern showbiz elites. Try it for yourself and enjoy the smooth mix of cafés, rugged coastline, ancient Roman ruins and stylish piazzas.
Today, we depart the coast and head north to Assisi, stopping en route in Cassino. Famed for the site of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, along with its rolling green hills, vineyards and rivers, the city was also the scene of fierce fighting in World War II, which left the town almost completely destroyed. After a comfort stop here, we continue on to the region of Umbria and the medieval town of Assisi, whose most famous son, St Francis, was born here in 1181. A charming town and the most popular pilgrimage site in Italy, you will enjoy the ancient churches and basilicas – many of them are just as St Francis would have seen them almost one thousand years ago!
Leaving the churches and basilicas behind, we head to Venice, stopping off for a comfort stop in Europe’s third-smallest state – San Marino. Claiming to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world, San Marino was founded by Saint Marinus on the 3rd of September 301, and is now one of the most popular day-trip destinations for visitors to the area. Situated on a hilltop, you will witness stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic sea. Later, we arrive in Venice in the early evening. You have the evening free to relax at the hotel, or explore Venice with the option to join your tour leader on a twilight water taxi cruise of the Venetian canals.
This morning we’ll take an orientation walking tour with your Expat Explore tour leader, who will introduce you to sights including the Rialto Bridge and St Marks Square. The rest of the day is then free for you to explore as you wish. Every visit to Venice should include a gondola ride, which your tour leader can organise for you, as well as a trip further out into the lagoon to visit Murano and Burano. These islands are famous for their glass-blowing and lace-making crafts respectively, and rows of beautiful multi-coloured houses. Alternatively you can simply relax and soak up the sun on the sandy beaches at Jesolo or Lido. There’s also The Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace to see, and any number of culinary delights to sample too!
First up today, we’ll stop off in ‘fair Verona’ to catch a glimpse of Juliet’s balcony, where Romeo supposedly wooed Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic ‘Romeo & Juliet.’ Beset by family feuds, drama and romance since its founding in Roman times, Verona has its share of stories to tell, and is an unmissable stop on Italian tours. Look out for the 2,000 year old arena and the ancient city gates. Later, we head to the Italian Lakes – and you’ll find out just why famous writers like DH Lawrence and Hemingway were so inspired by this region of Italy. Peek at palatial lakeside villas, and revel in the pleasant mix of luxury and rural charm.
Leaving the beautiful Italian Lakes, we head to the Cinque Terre region. Made up of five picturesque Italian towns, Cinque Terre features hiking routes and trains running regularly along the coastline between the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. With cars and motorcycles banned from the towns, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring the towns by train or by foot. Each town has it's own unique charm - we are certain you will fall in love with each and every one! As you explore, why not taste local wines along with local produce such as pesto, freshly-caught fish and sweet lemons? Unforgettable!
On our way to Florence, stop off at the famous town of Pisa to get a few shots of its distinctive Leaning Tower. This is a classic sight in Italy and well worth a visit. Bragging rights are all yours! Upon arrival in Florence, take an orientation tour of the city with your tour leader, exploring many of the most famous sights. Expect to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the replica of the statue of David. Then it’s time for another quintessential Tuscan experience: a visit to a local Italian leather shop to learn more about local leather crafting and why Italian leather brands have been dominating the fashion world for centuries. After exploring, it’s off to the Tuscan hills, where your accommodation for the night awaits. Later, you are free to search for that perfect Italian restaurant for dinner.
This 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.
After breakfast, we say goodbye to our travel companions and depart for home. We hope you have enjoyed your 12 day Italian tour. Arrivederci, Italia!
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