Elite Golden Circle small group
Rome-Siena-Florence-Verona-Venice-Verona-Sirmione Lake Garda Lake-Lake Como-Milan-La Spezia-Portovenere-Vernazza-Manarola-Lucca-Pisa-Montepulciano-Rome
2019 depart Sun: Apr 07,21. May 12,19,26. Jun 02,09,16,23,30. Jul 07,14,21,28. Aug 11,18,25. Sep 08,15,22. Oct 06,13,20.
4* hotel from: $3062 pp (s/sup $622)
day 1 sun Rome-Siena-Florence
07.30 to 07.45 pick up from your centrally located hotel or 08.00 at meeting point and departure by motor coach to Siena the beautiful medieval city renowned for the Palio horses race. Discover along the streets, Palazzo Salimbeni, which is now used as the headquarters for the Banca Monte dei Paschi Di Siena, it was built in the 14C. Visit the main square of the town, Piazza del Campo, a beautiful seashell shaped sqare, where the famous Palio horse race is held every year on 02 July and 16 August. Do not miss the chance to discover the impressive facade of the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, covered with colourful local marble, same marble used by artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Bernini. Before you go, do not forget to taste the typical local dishes such as “Pici” Home made pasta and the almond biscuits “ricciarelli”. Then proceed to Florence where you arrive around 14.00. Your tour manager will assist you if you wish to visit the Museum such as Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio. Your welcome dinner is based on a traditional Tuscan menu.
day 2 mon Florence
After breakfast meet our local guide to visit the fascinating backstreets of mysterious Florence: from Piazza del Duomo, with its Baptistery and Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral to Ponte Vecchio, from Piazza della Signoria with its Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dell’Orcagna up to the streets paved with stone, where you'll find authentic masterpieces wherever you direct your gaze. This intense tour in the very heart of Florence will uncover the many wonderful “must see” places of interest. Free time for lunch and in the afternoon your tour leader will accompany you to discover the excellence of traditional local productions: visit one of the most famous jewellery where you can admire the collections of Florentine mster goldsmiths; stroll through the San Lorenzo markets or along the boutique lined streets where you can admire elegant Florentine leather goods that represent the essential of local artisan creative. Finally, you will be delighted to visit an ancient perfume workshop which still produce fragrances using the same methods and recipes of medieval monks.
day 3 tue Florence-Verona-Venice
Our morning departure for Venice will be enhanced by a stop to explore the streets of the historical centre of Verona (UNESCO World Heritage site). You will be fascinated by the ancient Roman Arena, built in 30 AD, it can host over 30,000 people attending international musical concerts and the Verona Arena Festival, a summertime opera celebration that draws classical music lovers from all over the world. After taking some photos of the arena, head to Juliet's House, the structure that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Wander back to Piazza Bra and free time for lunch. Proceed to Venice, travel by boat to Saint Mark’s Square where you meet local guide who will introduce you to the most important buildings such us the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile, the Clock tower, the Library. Here you’ll be told about the birth of the city and its glorious history. Walk through the hidden Venice, its alleys, lovely canals, picturesque campos (squares) and witness its everyday activities. Reach the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, the heart of the city with its market area. At the end of the visit have a lovely walk to your hotel for check in followed by a typical dinner at a local restaurant.
day 4 wed Venice
After breakfast join your tour leader for a boat ride across the Lagoon to the colourful island of Murano to get an inside peek into the world-famous glass-blowing workshops of this island. Attend a glassmaking demonstration by a master craftsman, and enjoy time to browse the showroom featuring finished works of art. Return to St Mark’s Square and afternoon at leisure for shopping and private visits.
day 5 thu Venice-Sirmione (Lake Garda)-Lake Como-Milan
Check out after breakfast and departure for Sirmione, known as the Pearl of Lake Garda, as the poet Catullus wrote "the gem of all the peninsulas". The visit of the village commences with the suggestive Scala Castle of medieval times, built at the end of the 13C by the Lords of Verona. Along the narrow medieval streets one reaches the Parish Church of St Maria which contains many images and paintings to be admired together with different altars and precious 18C marble sculptures. Slightly uphill, one reaches the St Salvatore Church, which dates to the 8C. At last, after admiring the park of the prestigious Villa Cortine and the nearby Villa of Maria Callas, you arrive to the entrance to the Grotte di Catullo. This area is the most important archaeological area of the entire Lombardy region with imposing remains of what has once been a luxurious Roman Villa on Lake Garda.
In the afternoon, proceed to Lake Como, with your tour leader walk you through all the historic highlights. As we stroll through the ancient streets in the heart of the town, surrounded by Roman walls, we can admire beautiful Romanesque and Baroque churches, Piazza Volta and Piazza Duomo, with its charming old Town Hall building, called Broletto with its characteristic bell tower and the superb 600-year old Cathedral.
Departure for Milan where you can enjoy a panoramic of the city’s highlights: the Sforzesco Castle, medieval Piazza Mercanti, Piazza della Scala, admire the marble facade of the Duomo of Milan (Cathedral), and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. Conclude your tour in the historic Piazza del Duomo. In the evening check in at the hotel, dinner and overnight in Milan.
day 6 fri Milan-La Spezia-Portovenere-Vernazza-Manarola-Lucca
Depart after breakfast for an unforgettable day dedicated to the discovery of one of the most amazing and enchanting landscapes: the Cinque Terre, suspended between the sky and the sea, the small towns hang from sheer cliffs surrounded by hills and vineyards. You will enter into a little piece of heaven. By touring the coast line by boat, you will have the possibility to admire this amazing landscape from the seaside, (in the event of rough sea, the visit will be done partly by coach and partly by train).
During the tour, the boat will reach Portovenere and free time for photos in Portovenere, Vernazza and Monterosso, walk the narrow streets and immerse your self in a colourful postcard!
Then you will reach La Spezia by train andfrom here you continue by private motor coach to reach Lucca, in the Tuscan Region. Walk the cobblestone streets, explore the Squares and old Renaissance architecture. Note the birthplace of local composer Giacomo Puccini. Admire the medieval buildings along Via Fillungo, peek inside St Frediano’s church, visit landmarks like the Cathedral of San Martino, Piazza Anfiteatro and Torre delle Ore and finally do not forget to taste Buccellato bread!
At the end of the walk we arrive at our hotel for dinner and overnight in Lucca.
day 7 sat Lucca-Pisa-Montepulciano-Roma
Breakfast and check out. Depart for Pisa, where you can visit the heart of the city independently. Admire the Cathedral Square with its Duomo di Pisa, Campo Santo, the Baptistry, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Here you have free time for lunch and shopping, in the afternoon we travel across the Val d’Orcia area, famous for its superb wine production and for the amazing landscape, symbolic of the Tuscany Region. Enjoy a stop at Montepulciano. Surrounded by its ancient city wall, Montepulciano is the symbol of the power and wealth of noble families from the 14C to 16C. Be enchanted by the beauty of Piazza Grande with the magnificent Duomo and Palazzo Tarugi; we continue to the Fortezza and the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, one of the symbol of Renaissance art. Montepulciano is well known for the great production of red wine, it’s "Nobile di Montepulciano" is one of the most appreciated Italian wines in Italy and abroad, with its distinct peculiar flavour. Within the city walls you can find several historic cantinas. Time at leisure to taste local wine or perhaps some souvenirs...
Proceed to Rome where we are expected to arrive at approximately 19.30.
Inclusions: twin share at 4* hotels centrally located, American buffet breakfast daily, 4 dinners, ground transportation by deluxe motor coach with air conditioning, boat trip and trains in the Cinque Terre, English speaking tour escort, sightseeing tours as per itinerary, local tour guides, service charges and taxes.
Exclusions: meals not mentioned above, drinks, arrival & departure transfer, gratuities and city tax.
Optional: extra nights before and after the tour, arrival and departure transfer and optional suggested tour.
Hotels: Florence/Palazzo Ricasoli, Venice/Hotel Continental, Milan/4* Hotel Antares Concorde or Stahotel Business Palace, Lucca/Grand Hotel Guinigi (or similar)
Notes: maximum 25 participants. Only one suitcase per person (any size) plus one hand luggage. During the Venice film festival on 27 Aug & 3 Sep, the group could be hosted in alternative hotels in the Venetian lagoon. City tax to be paid directly to hotels
Some departures may be bilingual English/French