Transfer to Stresa on wonderful Lake Maggiore, where you will stay the next four nights. Welcome drink before dinner, an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
This morning, drive to the town of Como and follow the shore of the lake to Tremezzo, where you visit the world famous Villa Carlotta. This wonderful Villa is set in 70,000 square metres of romantic Italianate Gardens and faces across Lake Como to the Bellagio peninsula. The classic gardens boast fountains and pergolas and in spring time is famous for its rhododendrons and azaleas. Later board your private boat and enjoy a cruise on Lake Como, past a number of striking lakeside villas, to delightful Bellagio. This beautiful town is situated at the tip of the peninsula separating the lake’s two southern arms, with the Alps visible across the lake to the north. It’s time to relax in this delightful town which boasts peaceful villas and gardens nestled by the lakeside, elegant shops and walkways plus stylish al fresco dining at its very best. Later, return to Stresa. Dinner tonight is included in a local restaurant.
There is nothing like a day in the mountains – especially amongst some of the highest and most dramatic in the Alps! Following a deep valley, reach the mountain village of Macugnaga, close to the Swiss border. Used as a location in many films, the village is famous for its beautifully preserved wooden huts and chalets, and the stunning backdrop of the Monte Rosa (Pink) Massif and the 4638 metres high Dufourspitze – Europe’s second highest mountain. Your time is at leisure to explore the village and surroundings, and perhaps take a mountain cable car ride (subject to operating) to enjoy lunch and the extraordinary views. Later today, visit the delightful town of Orta San Giulio beside the beautiful, and some say most romantic of all the lakes – Lake Orta. Your evening is at leisure in Stresa.
Boarding your private boat, you visit the famous islands of Lake Maggiore. First stop will be Isola Bella where you have included entrance and a guided tour of the palatial Borromeo villa and gardens, which dominate the island. The villa boasts Murano glass chandeliers, gobelin-covered chairs, intricate tapestries and paintings. The spectacular formal gardens rise behind the ornate villa, with patterned flower beds falling in terraces, with statues and ornamental stonework completing the Italianate style. Next, visit Isola Pescatori (the Fisherman’s island). Lunchtime is at leisure on this small, picturesque island with its quaint cafés and restaurants set amongst the old houses with wooden balconies, tiny boats and fishing nets. The afternoon and evening are at leisure in delightful, lakeside Stresa.
Bidding farewell to Lake Maggiore, drive east and arrive at Lake Garda late morning. This is the largest of the Italian lakes, with a circumference of approximately 100 kilometres; it is surrounded by lemon and citrus groves and is the meeting point of three Italian regions. There will be time at leisure for lunch in one of the colourful and diverse lakeside towns. You stay in the foothills of the Dolomites, in the superb CastelBrando for the next two evocative nights.
After a leisurely start, visit nearby ‘Venezia’ (Venice) – arguably one of the most romantic cities in the world. At Tronchetto, board a private boat to take you to St Mark’s Square, where you join your expert local guide for a walking tour. The rest of the day is free to meander through the myriad of narrow, water lined streets and alleys spanned by humped back bridges.
A leisurely start today as you travel south to Tuscany. Arrive in the charming spa town of Montecatini Terme mid afternoon. This was once a favourite ‘cure resort’ of the crowned heads of state from all over Europe. Stay here for the next five nights, in a traditional family run, 4-star hotel, close to the major sights. As a highlight, this evening drive into the picturesque Tuscan countryside, for a dinner at a local olive oil farmhouse estate.
Today is dedicated to nearby ‘Firenze’ (Florence). You are joined by a local guide who will bring to life this truly beautiful city, which is otherwise known as the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’. Your tour starts with a visitto the famous Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and numerous other extraordinary Italian, Florentine and Renaissance works of art. See the Duomo and take in the magnificent statues in the Piazza della Signoria. Your afternoon is entirely free to enjoy Florence at your own pace. Espresso coffee on Piazza Santa Croce where Michelangelo is buried? A gelato whilst strolling across the Ponte Vecchio? Don’t forget the excellent shopping.
The first stop today is in one of the most typically ‘Tuscan’ towns in the area, Lucca – a medieval walled city, filled with palaces, churches, ancient houses and the former home of Puccini, where he wrote Turandot. Walk on top of the city walls for the very best city views, or visit Piazza San Michele and stroll along the shops of Borgo Giannotti. Later, visit Pisa with its famous Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery in the magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli. This afternoon, visit a local farmhouse to enjoy an olive oil tasting accompanied by Tuscan wines and a selection of antipasto including local meats, cheese and bread – all specialities of this region.
A delightful day is planned as you explore the famous Cinque Terre. The name means ‘five lands’ and comes from the five unspoilt fishing villages that cling to the cliffs, overlooking the sea. A coastal boat ride will be arranged for you to admire the spectacular scenery and almost inaccessible fishing villages, and to visit Portovenere and Monterosso. Return journey to Levanto by train.
The whole of today has been purposely left entirely at leisure. This is a perfect opportunity for you to do as little, or as much as you want! Maybe take the local train back to the museums and shops of Florence. Alternatively explore Montecatini’s old centre and parklands, or pamper yourself in one of the spas. Perhaps just relax in your hotel or sip wine in a café and watch the world go by!
Short drive across Tuscany to the fairytale ‘town of towers’ San Gimignano, famous for its 13th and 14th century Tuscan towers. Exploring the pedestrian walkways of this hilltop town is an absolute delight. Lunchtime will be at leisure in the beautifully preserved streets of medieval Siena amongst the great sights such as the gothic town hall and the Piazza del Campo, scene of the famous Palio horse race.
Next, wind up to the hills of Umbria and the wonderful walled town of Spoleto where you stay the next two nights. Medieval Spoleto is easily explored on foot. There are numerous romanesque churches and cobblestoned alleyways lined with shops, bars and trattorias.
Spend this morning in the nearby beautiful Umbrian city of Assisi. Badly damaged by earthquakes in 1997 the city, dominated by two medieval castles, undertook a remarkable programme of restoration which soon brought it back to all its glory. On arrival in Assisi a local guide will be joining you for a tour of the Basilica of St Francis with its magnificent frescoes. Afterwards there is time for you to explore Assisi at your own pace. Returning to Spoleto, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Perhaps take a leisurely walk along the path around the castle and across the medieval viaduct in to the Umbrian countryside. This is the real Italy!
Driving south past Vesuvius, visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, where a local guide takes you through the city that was buried under volcanic ash in AD 79. Paintings, furniture, mosaics, sculptures, graffiti and even loaves in ovens are wonderfully preserved. From here it’s only a short drive to the Amalfi coast and the port town of Minori, where you stay for the next three nights. A perfect base for visiting all the local sights and soaking up the unique atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast.
Amalfi coast, by ferry and across to Marina Grande on the island of Capri, which the Roman emperor Tiberius made his capital. On arrival, a local guide will take you up to the top of the island to explore the charming village of Anacapri. In the main town, Capri, visit the Giardino d’Augusto overlooking the Faraglioni, before ‘My Time’ amongst the boutiques and galleries. Your evening is at leisure in Minori.
The Amalfi coast is famous for its twisting, winding scenic drive with picturesque villages and towns hugging the cliffs and craggy coves. This morning, cruise from Minori along the dramatic coastline and spend time exploring Amalfi. Your afternoon is at leisure in Minori.
Early evening, visit of the most scenic towns along the Amalfi Coast, Ravello. Perched on the mountain, commanding panoramic views across the coast, Ravello is evocatively described as being “nearer to the sky than it is to the sea”, and has been a favourite haunt of artists and composers for centuries. After free time to explore, dine on the terrace at the elegant Villa Fraulo.
Arriving in the ‘Eternal City’’ of Rome, drive right into the heart of the ancient empire, past ancient buildings, magnificent squares and monuments, to enjoy a visit to the mighty Colosseum. Later, check into your central Rome hotel.
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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.