Venice – Levanto – Tuscan city – Florence’s prestigious museum – Santa Maria – Pretty Hilltown of Spello – Rome
Check in to your Venice guesthouse in the afternoon, and then enjoy some free time to get to know Italy’s lagoon city. Stretch your legs on a stroll around the city’s enchanting bridges, canals and 16th-century piazzas, and then make your way back to your guesthouse in the early evening for a welcome meeting with your guide at 6pm.
Enjoy breakfast and head out the Venetian island of San Giorgio with your guide. After a vaporetto (water bus) ride from central Venice to the island, step onto dry land and climb the steps inside San Giorgio bell tower to enjoy a picture-perfect panoramic view over the Venetian lagoon. Soak up the vistas, and then return to Venice, finishing your excursion with a traghetto (gondola ferry) ride across the Grand Canal.
How you spend the rest of your day is up to you. Perhaps explore the canal-locked city by foot to see top Venice attractions like St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. World-class museums such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection can also be found in the city; entrance is payable locally, but the gallery’s impressive contemporary art collection is well worth the expense.
Leave Venice after breakfast and travel by train from Santa Luisa Station to Levanto in the northern coastal region of Liguria. The unassuming little town is popular for its location, near to the stunning Cinque Terre –- a UNESCO World Heritage-listed region where five fishing villages cling to the cliffs.
After checking in to your Levanto hotel, hop on a train to the Cinque Terre and explore at your own pace. If you’re feeling energetic, hike all the foot trails that link the five villages together; it’s a great way to discover the area’s dramatic coastal scenery. Alternatively, shorter walks can be done such as a 25-minute walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola. Just remember to wear suitable footwear as the terrain is steep and rocky. Trains also link the villages up, and you can use your Cinque Terre travel card to cover more ground quickly.
Return to Levanto by train at a time that suits you. Relax in the evening and enjoy a meal in town (own expense).
Enjoy breakfast, and then make the most of a full day of free time to explore the Cinque Terre some more or relax in Levanto. If you decide to return to the Cinque Terre, perhaps head out on a sightseeing cruise to admire the scenery from the water, or venture out on a sea kayak if you’re feeling adventurous. Round-trip transport to the Cinque Terre, transport around the villages and all activities are at your own expense.
Alternatively, stay in Levanto and experience Liguria’s culinary delights during a pesto-making class in a local restaurant. Pesto is a specialty of the region and is often served with pasta, green beans or potatoes, or dolloped into a hearty minestrone soup. Focaccia is also a local treat, and you’ll sample some thick slices of it along with Ligurian cheese and ham.
Check out of your hotel and travel by train to the Tuscan city of Pisa, roughly two hours away. Enjoy some time to see the highlights of the city at your own pace. With landmarks like the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa as well as Pisa Duomo to see, the city is a sightseer’s delight. Note that climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa is payable at your own expense and, on some occasions it may not be possible as the lines are often long.
Meet your guide back at Pisa Centrale Station, and then relax on your 2-hour train journey to Florence – Tuscany’s capital and cultural heart. Bursting with Renaissance treasures, the city was home to some of Italy’s most prominent painters; Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi were just a few of the Renaissance painters who flourished in Florence.
After checking in to your hotel, make the most of your free afternoon and sightsee independently. Stroll through Piazza della Signoria to see a life-size copy of Michelangelo’s David statue, visit Boboli Gardens or check out the gold shops on the Ponte Vecchio. Then, head out to a local restaurant for dinner in the evening.
Relax over breakfast and capitalize on a full day of free time to explore Florence’s prestigious museums, relax or do some more sightseeing. The city is home to the world-class Uffizi and Accademia galleries, which hold Renaissance treasures aplenty, as well as incredible architecture such as Brunelleschi’s Dome at Florence Duomo.
Maybe take a stroll to Piazzale Michelangelo, a terrace that boasts outstanding views of the city, or visit some of Florence’s renowned pavement-side cafes or restaurants. All activities and entrance fees are at your own expense.
Check out of your hotel after breakfast, and then relax on your 2.5-hour train journey from Santa Maria Novella Station to Perugia, Umbria’s vibrant capital. Perched atop a rocky hill, Perugia started out as a Roman settlement before becoming a thriving center for trade in the Middle Ages. Today, the city is a bustling University town with architectural relics that hark back to its former years.
After leaving your luggage at your hotel, explore the charming town at your own pace, perhaps visiting the National Gallery of Umbria to see Italian paintings, murals and sculptures from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Palazzo dei Priori is another top Perugia attraction, and a visit to the historical fort is worth the entrance fee. All activities and entrance fees are payable at your own expense.
After breakfast in your hotel, take the train with your guide to the pretty hilltown of Spello, a short distance away. While best known for its medieval architecture, Spello also boasts some fantastic wine bars. Head inside a locally loved enoteca to enjoy a light lunch and tasting session, where you’ll sample glasses of easy-to-drink Umbrian wine.
Having enjoyed the food and wine, spend your afternoon exploring Spello’s streets independently. If time permits, pay a visit to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore to see incredible frescoes by the Renaissance artist Pinturicchio. Then, meet your guide at the pre-arranged time and return to Perugia by train. Spend your evening at leisure.
After breakfast, bid Perugia a fond farewell, and travel south by train to Rome – Italy’s colorful capital city. The journey to Rome Termini Station lasts roughly two hours, so sit back and relax, admiring the scenery of Umbria and Lazio flashing past.
Check in to your Rome hotel in the early afternoon, and then spend the rest of your day doing whatever you wish. The city is made for sightseeing, with countless ancient monuments and statuesque buildings at every turn. Check out Vatican City, home to St Peter’s Basilica, or visit the Roman Forum or the Colosseum where gory gladiatorial battles were once an everyday event. Admire Bernini-designed fountains in Piazza Navona and stop for an obligatory photo with the crowds on Rome’s Spanish Steps.
Spend your final evening in the company of your guide and group members, with a farewell dinner in town.
Check out of your hotel after breakfast, finishing your 9-night tour in central Rome.