Your tour commences this evening in the eternal city of Rome. Enjoy a welcome drink before dinner in a local trattoria. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Travel north along the Mediterranean Coast, past the cruise port of Civitavecchia, to Tarquinia. An expert local guide will join and show you around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tarquinia’s ancient Etruscan Necropolis. This is where you step back to pre-Roman times and learn about the very special Etruscan civilisation that thrived around 2,500 – 3,000 years ago. On a landscape scattered by ancient burial mounds, you will descend stairways to look inside the tombs, complete with colourful paintings and frescoes. Later, in the town of Tarquinia, you will also enjoy a tour through the National Etruscan Museum with its ancient sarcophagus, statues and artefacts. The artwork of this ancient civilisation is beautiful.
Lunchtime will be at leisure in Tarquinia. Continuing, the coach will drive through the undulating hills around Viterbo, to a small town called Bagnaia, to visit the ‘Mannerist’ style gardens of Villa Lante – an amazing, cascading set of water gardens created by the Duke of Bomarzo in the 17th century. Despite being voted one of the top gardens of Italy, due to its remote location, it is so peaceful and virtually without tourists. Delightful!
Your destination for the next three nights is the ancient Etruscan clifftop city of Orvieto. Access to the middle of the pedestrianised old town, and your hotel, is via an elevator up through the cliffs. In the evening, reboard your coach and drive outside town to the Abbey ‘La Badia di Orvieto’. First, enjoy a welcome drink in the ruins of this ancient Abbey, which date back 1300 years. From here, the views
across the valley are stunning and the city you see high up on the hill, across the valley, is Orvieto. What a magnificent location. Dinner is inside, under the vaulted ceilings of the converted abbey.
A local guide will take you on a walking tour of Orvieto and an included visit to the magnificent Cathedral. Inside, the statue of the ‘Pietà’ is astounding. After time at leisure to visit the cafés or do some shopping, enjoy a superb, private lunch somewhere very, special. Whilst the food is all homemade and delicious, the highlight will be accessing a system of ancient, Etruscan catacombs and caves via a stairway inside the restaurant. The caves are absolutely fascinating, and the food is terrific.
The rest of your day is free in Orvieto. Make sure you visit and walk down the amazing 72m deep, St Patrick’s Well. Called the ‘Pozzo di San Patrizio’, this engineering marvel is about 500 years old.
A relaxing day. First stop is at the Sacro Bosco in Bomarzo. Known as the Parco dei Mostri – or the Park of the Monsters and designed in the 16th century, the shaded pathways are filled with weird and wonderful sculptures.
You will be immersed in the surreal experience of a ‘monster world’ created 500 years ago. Here you will see
Neptune, the gods, enormous dragons, a war elephant, a huge tortoise, and two angry giants tearing each other apart.
There is a tilted stone house, serpents, monsters and enormous heads with mouths agape, appearing to scream at you. You can even walk inside that mouth! Hungry by now? It is time for a long, leisurely lunch on a tree-shaded, stone terrace, enjoying great food, whilst gazing out over the Lazio countryside.
Later, return to Orvieto and the rest of your day and evening is free.
Be prepared for a fascinating day as you’ll go well off the beaten track. First stop will be at a mysterious town called Civita di Bagnoregio. A thousand years ago, an absolutely picture-perfect, walled citadel was built on a rocky pinnacle in the middle of the ‘Badlands’. The land around eroded and subsided and eventually, access was only possible by a skinny unstable ridge. Bridges were built and then collapsed. Now there is a strong, 300-metre long stone and steel viaduct connecting this striking medieval, hilltop town with the rim of the huge crater. Probably the most striking hilltop town in all Europe. Inside are picture-perfect stone buildings, squares, flower boxes, cafés and magnificent views.
Next, visit the ancient Etruscan city of Pitigliano. You will love the winding streets, dark shady alleys, and the buildings which ooze history. The Jewish quarter is famous, and one of the oldest in Europe. Afterwards, you will pop just outside of town to one of the extraordinary ‘Via Cava’ – carved walkways which once linked Pitigliano with other nearby Etruscan cities. Amazingly, even now historians and Etruscan archaeologists do not know what their true purpose was! Up to 15 metres deep, walking along inside them is a very surreal experience.
Later, continue to the spa town of Chianciano Terme where you’ll stay for the next four nights. Dinner tonight is in the hotel.
Perugia is an ancient city, high on a hill and the historical heart of it is wonderful. It is often bypassed because in order to get a fully rewarding visit you need quality time. And that is what you have! On arrival, a local guide will take you on an escalator up into the dramatic ‘Rocca’. The subterranean ruins of this 500-year-old fortress contain the structures of the stone villas of the Perugian nobles that were converted into the foundations. Nowadays they are buzzing with commuters using these ancient passageways to cross the city to work.
Fascinating! Coming up to the surface, continue your walking tour through this splendid historical town. A highlight will be your visit to the glorious frescoed Collegio del Cambio and the colourful Cathedral. Lunchtime will be at leisure in this city, famed for its rich chocolate. On your return journey, you will enjoy an afternoon stop for coffee or gelati at one of the towns beside Lake Trasimeno. The rest of the day and evening is free in Chianciano Terme. Maybe enjoy a stroll through the parklands, or visit the quiet old town.
A leisurely start this morning as you visit another, but very different hilltop town, Cortona. The centre of town is car-free, and the cobblestoned streets radiate out from the picturesque central square. You will have ‘My Time’ to explore, shop, relax and find a charming café or al fresco trattoria to enjoy lunch.
Your afternoon is free back in Chianciano Terme. This is a spa town and there is a terrific Spa and Wellness Centre just a few hundred yards away from your hotel. Mud bath anyone? This evening, enjoy a wine and Pecorino cheese tasting in the ancient cellars of a nearby farmhouse in the Val d’Orcia. Their Val d’Orcia Pecorino is famous.
Afterwards, dinner will be on their wonderful terrace with stunning views directly over to the hilltop city of Montepulciano. This restaurant is part of a 600-acre homestead and all the food and wine comes from its own land.
The glorious landscape around you is called the Val d’Orcia. This whole valley has been listed by the UNESCO Heritage Organisation because of its unique character, beauty and the fact that it has remained unchanged for 600 years or more! The countryside has wide-open vistas of farmland, broken up here and there by cypress or umbrella pine trees lining zig-zag roads, up the rolling hills to charming farmhouses. The beauty was celebrated by Renaissance painters and some of the scenes from Ridley Scott film ‘Gladiator’, and the film ‘The English Patient’ were filmed here.
Our morning will be spent exploring stunning Montepulciano with its 14th century Palazzo Comunale and Duomo on the Piazza Grande. They love their food here, and you have time to visit the wine cellars, olive oil and local food and produce shops, as well as enjoy the shopping.
Lunchtime will be at leisure in beautiful Pienza. In the 15th century this non-descript, poor village was the birthplace of Pope Pius II. When he became Pope, he patronised this town and with his enormous wealth, transformed the town into what you see today. And that is why it is on the UNESCO heritage list. The compact, central Piazza Pio II is surrounded by 15th-century buildings, such as the Pienza Cathedral and Piccolomini Palace, his summer residence. The views down to the valley are vast, and the city just bursts with flower-filled window boxes and quaint walkways, shops and cafes. Utterly delightful!
Later, follow the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route, to Bagno Vignoni. This peaceful little town is unique in that the whole flooded central square is one giant thermal water lake. From the arcaded walkway at one end you can see the earth’s hot water bubbling into the surface, filling the huge pond. Time to take your shoes off and bathe your feet in the hot water channelled through a gully in the centre of a street.
Your day start will lunch in the picturesque town of Todi. Overlooking the River Tiber, as it flows on its way towards Rome, the central Piazza del Popolo is surrounded by the three palaces and is often used as the set for movies.
Later, visit a very special set of waterfalls. The Romans actually created these ‘Cascata delle Marmore’. In doing so they became Europe’s highest man-made waterfalls. 450 years ago, to avoid flooding, an ‘on/off’ switch was installed, and you will be there when it gets switched on. It is a remarkable experience to witness the dribble of water turn into a cascading, raging torrent! Make sure you follow the walkways up along the hillside, beside the falls, for the excellent views. So impressive. Moving on, stay your last night on the outskirts of Rieti.
To celebrate, a farewell dinner in your hotel – which happens to be a palatial villa!
After breakfast on the rooftop terrace, a transfer to the centre of Rome and to Fiumicino airport is planned for you.
Ask a personal travel manager about this deal.
Advertised prices are person twin share, tour only and correct at time of publication and are subject to availability and change at any time without notification due to fluctuations in charges, taxes and currency. Offer is valid on new bookings only. ^Bonus is included in the advertised price. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required within seven days to secure your booking. Deposits represent a booking fee and are non-refundable and non-transferable. A charge of $250 applies to each amendment made on deposited bookings. Unless otherwise stated, full payment is required 90 days prior to travel. In the event full payment is not received by the required date, an additional charge of $200 may be applied to cover extra courier fees for travel documents and tickets. Other conditions apply. Please contact your personal travel manager for full terms and conditions.