Highlights of Italy
Italy may not lie at the geographical heart of Europe, but it lies at the heart of European culture and once ruled one of the largest empires ever known. From the top of its boot to the tip of its toe, Italy offers a wealth of riches. To the north lie the Alps and the Italian Lakes; to the west Genoa; to the east the canals of Venice; and to the south Tuscany and Umbria, with the glorious art treasures of Florence. Rome, Naples, and Capri lead on to the unspoiled southern region of Calabria.
Cruise the canals of Venice. Visit the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and others at the Santa Croce Church, and view masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s David at the Academy of Fine Arts. Admire the 180-foot tall Leaning Tower in Pisa, and see the 12th-century bronze door panels on the Cathedral that depict the life of Christ. View the highlights of Rome: its Colosseum, Forum, Mamertine Prison, and the Vatican where you will behold such wonders as mighty St. Peter’s Basilica and the exquisite Sistine Chapel.
The sequence of touring and days may be altered to adjust to religious holidays, special closings of sites, air schedule changes, etc. Hotels listed subject to availability. Meal inclusions may vary by departure.
DAY 1, USA/ROME
Departure from the USA as we begin our journey to Rome. Dinner and breakfast are served on board. (meals aloft)
DAY 2, ARRIVE ROME
We arrive in the “Eternal City” of Rome this morning and drive into the city to visit the Colosseum, begun about AD 72, and the best-known structure remaining from ancient Rome. It was capable of holding more than 50,000 to view gladiatorial contests, hunts, mock naval battles and perhaps Christian sacrifices. Many of the materials from this magnificent edifice were later used in the construction of various churches and palaces. We also see the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, which still contains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome nearly 2000 years after it was built. This afternoon we check in to our hotel with the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Then this evening we enjoy an evening tour of Rome during which we see sites such as the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. (meals aloft,D)
Today we have a full-day sightseeing tour of this historical city. We tour the Sistine Chapel and see the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. We see St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Our touring includes a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, especially noted for the 5th-century Roman mosaics in its nave. The largest church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rome, it is often used personally by the pope. We also visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome and which ranks first among the four great “patriarchal” basilicas of Rome. This evening we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 4, ROME/ASSISI/FLORENCE
Today we travel to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis. We see the city’s basilicas including the San Francesco Basilica, consisting of two churches surmounting a crypt. In the upper basilica are Giotto’s magnificent frescoes, showing 28 scenes from the life of St. Francis in imaginative detail. The lower church contains frescoes by Simone Martini, Cimabue and Pietro Lorenzetti. The tomb of St. Francis is in the crypt. We also visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli Church and its Porziuncola Chapel, where Francis came to understand his vocation clearly and thus began the Franciscan movement. Following our time here we travel on to Florence, capital of Tuscany and home of the Renaissance, for dinner and overnight at our hotel.(B,D)
DAY 5, FLORENCE
After breakfast at the hotel, we enjoy a full day guided tour including a visit to the Academy of Fine Arts, home to a fine collection of Michelangelo sculptures, including the original David. There also is a Pieta and an incomplete St. Matthew. We visit the Duomo, the cathedral church of Florence, also called the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, constructed between 1296 and 1436 AD. We also tour the Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence), one of the largest churches of Florence, situated at the center of the city’s main market district, which serves as the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
Today we tour the Uffizi Gallery, housed in a palace that was built in the 1560s. The collection here was founded by the Medici family and bequeathed to the city in 1737. As well as paintings by artists including Bellini, Titian and Canaletto, the gallery also houses sculpture, jewelry and early scientific instruments. We also tour the Galleria Palatina in the Pitti Palace, which displays a large collection of Renaissance paintings that once belonged to the Medicis. Dinner and overnight at our hotel. (B,D)
DAY 7, FLORENCE/PISA/GREVE IN CHIANTI/VENICE
We travel southward to Pisa, where we view the famous Leaning Tower, then continue on to Greve in Chianti, the principal town in the Chianti wine district. Here we tour a winery and have the opportunity to taste some of the region’s wines. Following our visit we continue on to Venice for overnight. (B)
DAY 8, VENICE
Take in the energy of St. Mark’s Square on our tour today and see famous sites such as the Bridge of Sighs and the Clock Tower. We visit St. Mark’s Cathedral, the most famous in Venice and a well-known example of Byzantine architecture. Adjacent sits Doge’s Palace, which once served as the home of Venice’s chief magistrate and today has been preserved as a museum. Later today, seize the opportunity to take an optional gondola ride along Venice’s famed canals. We enjoy dinner in a local restaurant this evening and then return to our hotel for overnight. (B,D)
DAY 9, VENICE/USA
This morning we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the USA. (B, meals aloft)