Our Complete Day-by-Day Itinerary through Italy's Great Cities
Perfectly-balanced with most sightseeing in the mornings.
Our complete itinerary for your consideration: Our most popular Tour begins in Venice on Isola San Marco, enjoy Florence, 2 days in Tuscan countryside, and our finalé with the grandeur of Rome (consider extending to the spectacular Amalfi Coast).
Chapter 1: Welcome to Venice
La Serenissima: Venice: The Most Serene — 2 Days, 2 Nights
DAY 1: We begin in Glorious Venice – Venezia
One of Now Journey's most popular small group adventures begins upon arrival to Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Now Journey's approach to touring Italy is unique: we combine local expert Italian Guides with our Now Journey Tour Captains serving as your host for the perfect balance of activity and leisure time so you can truly soak up all that is Italy.
The Now Journey Style of Travel: Enjoy the Discovery Walk on Arrival Day
Our Discovery Walk is a hallmark of the Now Journey style of traveling when exploring new destinations — a brief orientation walk with your Now Journey Tour Captain (not to be confused with our immersive Sightseeing Tour that occurs the next day with our licensed expert Italian Guide). In Venice we will take in the beautiful sights of Piazza San Marco, the "Campanile" or clock tower, the Grand Canal and more. Afterward, enjoy some time at leisure before meeting tonight for a special 'Welcome to Venice' evening from one of our exclusive perspectives.
Welcome to Venice Reception and Dinner
Tonight we make our way to our favorite restaurant in Venice where we toast the beginning of our journey together.
Our gala dinner features cuisine from several regions throughout Italy including the Veneto, Lazio and Campania paired with delicious regional wines. Journey's approach to dining is unique in the travel world. We visit local and family-owned restaurants where you choose your dinner from the restaurant menu. We include premium beverages (wine, beer, cocktails, soft drinks).
The Deluxe travel package features the indicated included dinners. The Classic travel package includes the Welcome Dinner in Venice. Classic package guests may upgrade to all the included dinners - see your proposal for details.
Preferred Lodging on Venice's San Marco Island, 2 Nights with daily breakfast
Deluxe: Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal, Hotel Bauer, Hotel Saturnia & International or Similar
Classic: Hotel Do Pozzi or Similar
Chapter 2: Florence
Birthplace of the Renaissance – 2 Days, 2 Nights
DAY 3: WELCOME TO FLORENCE
This morning enjoy a leisurely start with breakfast and then join your Journey Tour Captain as we transfer by boat to the Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station for the included Fast-train passage to Florence. Your bags are portaged separately so you can enjoy the ride.
We zip along the Italian countryside and arrive in Florence at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station where we deboard the train for our short walk to our hotels in the very heart of Florence.
After checking in to our hotel and taking time to freshen up and have lunch on our own, we begin our chapter in Florence.
Discovery Walk of Renaisseance and Contemporary Florence
On the Discovery Walk we will orient you to the very heart of historic Florence. In addition to seeing many of the major sites including Giotto's Campanile (Bell Tower) and the Baptistery, the Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, we will enjoy entrance to Orsanmichele church and the church of Via Santa Margherita which was the parish of many Florentine families, such as Cerchi, Donati, Adimari and Portinari.
After our Discovery Walk, enjoy the balance of the afternoon at leisure until our welcome dinner tonight.
Welcome to Florence Dinner: Tuscany's Regional Specialties
Your Journey Tour Captain hosts an amazing welcome dinner in Florence with authentic Tuscan cuisine served by Fiorentini who love what they do. Florence welcomes us with a variety of regional culinary tastes, premium beverages, and ample portions of fine local wines from Toscana and Chianti.
Accommodation in the Heart of Florence, 2 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: Grand Hotel Cavour, Hotel Bernini Palace or Similar
Classic: Rosso 23 or Similar
DAY 4: EXPERIENCING FLORENCE
Today's Adventure: Florence Secrets & Treasures
Journey's Florence Secrets & Treasures tour boasts a variety of fine sights to see including Santa Maria del Fiori, the Baptistery's Bronze "Gate of
Paradise," Giotto's Bell Tower, Signoria Square, and the Galleria dell'Accademia, where Michelangelo's David is housed.
We will take our time walking through the Piazza della Repubblica, the famous Piazza Signoria with her old palace, Palazzo Vecchio, and make our way through the portico of the Uffizi complex before arriving at the Arno River and a visit to the "old bridge," or Ponte Vecchio. This was the only bridge in Florence to survive the World War II bombing raids.
Our Secrets & Treasures Walking Tour of historic Florence features:
• Galleria dell'Accademia: Skip-the-Line admission to experience Michelangelo's David in the Academy Gallery, the first art school of Europe.
• Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore: Our tour includes Florence's historic city center which is a World Heritage site that comprises the Baptistery, Campanile, and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore – also known as the Duomo. The 14th-century dome was created by Brunelleschi.
• The Gates of Paradise: See the magnificent Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery, so called by Michelangelo. Our Local Guide will comment on these impressive doors to the Baptistery created by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Until the 19th century, most Catholic Florentines were baptized here. The Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile whose perspective we enjoy from ground level are all part of the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiori complex.
• Orsanmichele: Entrance and tour of Orsanmichele: This church was originally built as a grain market in 1337 by Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione. Then converted into a church between 1380 and 1404.
• Walking Delights: We explore Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), the only bridge to survive World War II bombing.
Following our Secrets & Treasures adventure the balance of the day is at your leisure.
Interested in checking out the leather market? What about a climb of the Duomo? We can arrange visits, admissions and more for you in advance. Consider a visit to the Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and a minor Basilica of the Catholic Church. Many illustrious Italians are buried there including Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, Marconi, Machiavelli. Thus it is known as the Temple of the Italian Glories.
Chapter 3: Under the Tuscan Sun
Tuscany's Countryside — 2 Days, 2 Nights
DAY 5: GOOD MORNING TUSCANY
Today's Adventure: Tuscan Glory
It's a great day to explore further into the Tuscan countryside. After breakfast this morning, we bid Arrivederci to Florence and travel in our comfortable micro-coach into the Tuscan countryside.
Our first stop is the hilltop village of San Gimignano. One of San Gimignano's most impressive sights is the medieval skyline made up of 13 remaining towers. Dating back from the 11th century, the village rises on a hill dominating the Elsa Valley. The town increased in wealth and developed greatly during the Middle Ages thanks to the "Via Francigena", the trading and pilgrim's route that crossed it. Once in the village, we enjoy free time to explore the city of towers. San Gimignano also has many shops with local specialties and crafts and we will have free time to enjoy purchasing souvenirs.
Before departing San Gimignano, we'll toast our arrival into the countryside of Tuscany with a unique perspective and our first taste of Vernaccia, a white wine that hails from San Gimignano.
Journey Exclusive: Winery Experience
Enjoy our in-depth experience at a winery estate in the heart of Tuscany - in stunning surroundings. We will enjoy a tour of the production facilities and cellars, followed by a delightful wine-tasting paired with perfect morsels for lunch.
Our palate-pleasing appetizers and lunch include Pecorino cheese, bruschetta, and other local farm-to-table delights. You'll enjoy classic Chianti and Super Tuscan wines to complement the lunch. Buon Appetito!
Special Sightseeing today Includes:
• San Gimignano: Sightseeing and free time in the Tuscan hill town known for its towers.
• Exclusive Winery: Admission, Tour and Wine Tasting at our Estate located in the heart of Tuscany. Beautiful Property with stunning views, delicious varieties paired with sumptuous delicacies. You won't want to leave.
• Tuscany's Wine Road: Winding through the Tuscan hills, the wine road offers remarkable beauty, characterized by vineyards, wine cellars, distant rolling landscapes, and villages up in the hills.
To Cortona – Our home for the next two nights
In mid-afternoon we enjoy a leisurely drive to the delightful hill town of Cortona for our next chapter in the very heart of Tuscany. Your Journey Tour Captain checks you in and there is ample time to freshen up before meeting in the lobby tonight for a short walk to our special Apericena experience.
Discovery Walk through Bella Cortona
On the Discovery Walk of Cortona we make our way to its heart to learn about its fascinating Etruscan and Roman past and its modern connection to Hollywood. Situated on a commanding hill that overlooks Lake Trasimeno, Cortona is known for the infamous rout of the Romans by Hannibal and the Carthaginians. Its cyclopean walls, still preserved in great detail, are said to be 3000 years old. It was one of the twelve cities of Etruria.
Journey Exclusive: Special Apericena Experience
Tonight join your Tour Captain and fellow travelers for the new Italian meal, Apericena. Is it a snack? Is it dinner? No, it's Apericena! It's the perfect complement for your palate after a day of excellent cuisine and wine. Apericena provides the perfect light meal finalé to our beautiful day in the Tuscan countryside and in the magical ambiance of this delightful hill town.
Afterwards, enjoy the balance of the evening at your leisure.
Accommodation in Cortona, 2 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: Villa Marsili, Monastero di Cortona Hotel & Spa, Hotel San Michele or Similar
Classic: Hotel Italia or Similar
DAY 6: EXPLORING CORTONA AT LEISURE
Enjoy a full free day at your leisure in beautiful Cortona.
Many options are available from Cooking Classes to a day trip to Siena and more. Today, enjoy Tuscany at your leisure - perhaps it's a thorough exploration of delightful Cortona, a cooking class, horse-back riding, Vespa rental and much more.
Optional experiences to consider for Today:
• Cooking Class in Cortona
Enjoy this lesson with a local Italian chef in their home as you create 4 courses and then enjoy your creations paired with Vino (water, wine and non-alcoholic beverages included). Duration is about 3-5 hours. $248 per person.
• Horseback Riding Adventure
— Commences at 9:30/10:00am or 2:00/3:00pm. $99 per person for first 2 hours, $37 per hour for each additional hour. Front desk of hotel will arrange round-trip taxi for you at guest expense. Options available for beginner or experienced riders.
• Walking Tour of Siena with Round-trip Transportation
— Departs around 9:30am. $465 per person. The tour includes round-trip transfer from Cortona to Siena with a walking tour of Siena in the morning and some free time in the afternoon. Today's tour will walk you through the old Ghetto, the Tower District (Contrada della Torre), and through little alleys, and on to the Basilica dei Servi, from which point you can enjoy an amazing view of the old town. We will take in Orto dei Pecci; a pleasant and easily accessible garden, located just behind the main square: The serenity and tranquility of this green oasis, together with the view of the incredible Torre del Mangia will mesmerize you.
• Morning Walking Tour of Siena with Cooking Class in Afternoon
— Departs around 9:30am. $599 per person. Enjoy the morning tour (see description above) and then a special cooking class in the afternoon. Our driver then whisks you to a nearby villa where you will enjoy a tour of the vines, immersion in all things Wine, Balsamic, and Olive Oil followed by a cooking lesson. And, yes, you then enjoy the fruits of your labor. Our chef is capable and entertaining as you enjoy learning more about Tuscan cooking. We then return to the hotel in Cortona for a free evening.
• Cortona and the Franciscan Monastery Le Celle
— $190 per person. A classic private walking tour of Cortona comprises the Garibaldi Square with its magnificent panoramic view over the Valdichiana, the Church of St. Dominic built for the Dominicans with its medieval architecture and paintings by Luca Signorelli e Lorenzo di Niccolò, via Nazionale, the Republic Square with the Town Hall, the Church of St. Francis with its collection of objects owned to St. Francis of Assisi, Piazza Signorelli with Palazzo Casali and the Duomo. Then the tour continues by car outside the city walls of Cortona to the Franciscan Monastery of Le Celle, immersed in a forest and a place of an extraordinary beauty, calm and Franciscan spirituality.
• Cortona Ancient Walls, Fortresses, Convents and Churches
— $190 per person.
This is a walking tour on steep slopes in the oldest part of Cortona leading up to the very top of the hill. For this reason is suitable for guests who enjoy walking (hiking) on slopes. The prize at the end is a fantastic view of Cortona and the valley below and the beauty of this less frequented and untouched part of the town. Above the center, half-way up to the hill of Cortona, are the Church San Francesco and beyond a cypress-lined courtyard, is the 15th century Chiesa di San Niccolò. The 15th-century church has a small porch with slender columns and the interior houses paintings by Luca Signorelli: the two-sided panel-painting, Descent from the Cross and Madonna Enthroned, and a fresco, Madonna with Saints. Passing by the little church San Cristoforo and Porta Montanina we will stop on the top to visit the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita, the town's patron saint. Finally walking down through the old part of town through the narrow alleyways of the quarter called Poggio San Marco you will admire also the beautiful 12 Via Crucis Stations with mosaics by the Futurist artist Gino Severin, a native of Cortona.
Cortona is a small but fascinating hill town in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. It is situated on a commanding hill that overlooks Lake Trasimeno, known for the infamous rout of the Romans by Hannibal and the Carthaginians. Its cyclopean walls, still preserved in great detail, are said to be 3000 years old. It was one of the twelve cities of Etruria.
Soak in the morning: enjoy a walk through the vineyards, or a hike up to the castle or a leisurely stroll through the piazza and streets.
Chapter 4: Rome
A 1000 Roads Lead Always to Rome — 3 Days, 3 Nights
DAY 7: WELCOME TO THE HEART OF ROME
As we travel in our comfortable micro-coach (and Mercedes vans on some departures) to Rome, we find ourselves going back in time as we reach the center of ancient Rome.
On arrival into the city, we check in to our hotels which are located a short distance from the magnificent Pantheon.
Discovery Walk of the Heart of Rome
We begin our exploration of Rome beginning with an elephant and continue to immerse ourselves in over 2000 years of history of the 'Empire' with entrance to the amazing Pantheon and learn of its interesting history and continue our walk to soak up Piazza Navona, once a site where mock naval battles were held. We continue with our Discovery Walk as we pass through Campo de Fiori (field of flowers) - do you know the name of the figure whose likeness is crafted in the statue in this amazing campo? We walk by Largo di Torre Argentina and learn of Julius Caesar's fate. We will also see a "village of modern Roman felines."
Welcome to Rome Dinner: The Cuisine of Lazio
Tonight join the Tour Captain to our Welcome Dinner featuring the regional specialties and wines of the Lazio region. Journey's special approach to dining means that you choose what you like from the menu. Premium beverages - wine, beer, cocktails, soft drinks are included.
Accommodation in Rome's Historic Heart, 3 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel, Autograph Collection, Hotel d'Inghilterra, Palazzo Navona, Antico Albergo del Sole al Pantheon, or Similar
Classic: Hotel Navona, Albergo Abruzzi, Albergo Santa Chiara or Similar
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DAY 8 EXPLORING THE VATICAN
Today's Adventure: Vatican City Privileged Access
This morning we will enter Vatican City with our Priority Early Morning Privileged Entry (1 hour ahead of regular Vatican visitors). Enjoy a visit to the Vatican museums to see the amazing tapestries, the Sistine Chapel and its iconic ceiling, and St. Peter's Basilica and Square as the majestic Vatican City comes to life.
After our experience is complete we will exit at St. Peter's Square where you see the multi-color uniformed Swiss Guard on display as they guard the Vatican and the expanse of the beautiful piazza.
Journey's transports are waiting nearby when we're ready to head back to our hotels.
Our special sightseeing Walking Tour of Vatican City Includes:
• St. Peter's Basilica and Square: Admission and Guided Tour to St. Peter's Basilica: By design, we enjoy early admission around 8:15 am to avoid the large cruise and tour groups that arrive later in the morning. Enjoy Skip-the-Line special access with Admission Included.
• Sistine Chapel: Admission and Guided Tour of the Sistine Chapel: You will find inside the chapel The Last Judgment painting by Michelangelo, which he painted during the years 1535 to 1541. The work, designed on a grand scale, spans the entire wall behind the Sistine Chapel altar.
• Vatican Museums: Admission and Guided Tour of the Vatican City Museums: The Museums boast some of the most impressive tapestries and other works of art and sculpture found in the world.
*Please remember St. Peter's Basilica is an active church with celebrations and papal events that occur with short notice; Now Journey and our Guides cannot be held responsible for any cancellation or denial of entry due to last minute changes by the church leadership.
Enjoy the balance of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
DAY 9 EXPLORING MODERN & IMPERIAL ROME
Today's Adventure: Imperial Rome
After breakfast this morning, meet the Tour Captain and our City Guide for a walking tour of Rome. You will see ancient elements intertwined perfectly with present-day apartment buildings. Discover how modern Romans have combined their history into present-day experience. You will see ancient elements intertwined perfectly with present-day apartment buildings, and discover how the modern Romans have intertwined their vast history into present-day experience.
Our special sightseeing Walking Tour of the Heart of Ancient Rome Includes:
• The Colosseum of Rome: Flavian's amphitheater known popularly as the Colosseum or Colosseo. Special skip-the-long-line Entrance, Admission and Guided Tour of the amazing Colosseum of Rome.
• The Roman Forum: Special skip-the-long-line Entrance, Admission and Guided Tour of the Roman Forum or Foro Romano. We walk through the archaeological dig for unique perspectives of the Old Town Center of Rome, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Caesar's Palace, Curia or the Senate House, Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and the Triumphal Arches.
• Capitoline Hill: We ascend this amazingly sculptured and architecturally inspirational locale with its many statuary and works of art that pay homage to the Empire that was Rome.
• Walking Delights: Views of Trajan's Market, Palatine Hill, Caesar's Palace, Curia known as the Senate Building, the Vittorio Emanuele II National Monument, the Jewish Ghetto, and other historic landmarks.
Journey Exclusive: Farewell Dinner: A Celebration of Italy's Great Cities
Tonight join the Journey Tour Captain and new friends to celebrate our journey together. We will toast one another and our adventures through Italy's Great Cities and continue to our gala finalé dinner.
Our days have been filled with new sights, tastes and discoveries - tonight enjoy reflecting on the incredible journey we've had together. It has been a Journey of Adventure and Discovery, along with making new friends! As our journey of discovery ends, we reminisce about our exploration of magnificent Italy. Tomorrow we will say, 'Arrivederci Roma!' but tonight we sing and make melody in the very heart of Rome.
Arrivederci - until we meet again!
Day 10: DEPARTURE DAY: Arrivederci Italy!
Breakfast is included this morning should you have time before your departure. Most of our guests seriously consider extending your vacation to the Amalfi Coast for the perfect ending — it's 2 days and nights and includes Pompeii and treasures of the Amalfi Coast. See our optional extension below for proper temptation!
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Does your Journey end in Rome?
We highly recommend the enchanted Amalfi Coast & Sorrento Peninsula 2 day/2 night extension.
Extension to the Amalfi Coast & Sorrento Peninsula
OPTIONAL EXTENSION: DAY 10: NAPLES, POMPEII, THE SORRENTO PENINSULA & AMALFI COAST
Say Farewell to Rome as you join our extension to the amazing Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Peninsula. We make our way to Naples and the modern city of Pompei, where we find Pompeii (note the two i's) which is the ancient Roman city we will visit with our expert guide this morning.
Today's Adventure: Pompeii Ancient Site
On our tour of the World Heritage Site of Pompeii we discover the city that was lost for nearly 1700 years before its rediscovery in 1748. Our Local Expert Guide explains the fascinating history, tragic destruction and amazing preservation of artifacts under tons of volcanic ash.
Following our Pompeii experience, we continue to Sorrento,our home to explore the beautiful Amalfi Coast.
Welcome to Sorrento Dinner
Your Journey Tour Captain hosts an amazing welcome dinner in Sorrento in one of our favorite restaurants in Italy. The owner, Mario, and Chef Lena along with their family and team welcome us to dinner tonight in their enchanting restaurant. You will enjoy an incomparable evening of Sorrentine cuisine and hospitality. As always with Journey, you select what you wish from the menu. The regional specialties are accompanied by included premium beverages - wine, beer, cocktails, soft drinks.
Accommodation in Sorrento, 2 Nights with Breakfast
Deluxe: Hotel Minerva Sorrento, Grand Hotel Capodimonte or Similar
OPTIONAL EXTENSION: DAY 11: EXPLORING THE AMALFI COAST AT LEISURE
You will have today completely at your leisure to explore Sorrento or consider one of our optional adventures.
Highly Recommended: Option for the Day: Private Boat Tour to the Isle of Capri - $355 per person.
Enjoy our optional experience departing this morning and enjoy a boat trip to the Isle of Capri to enjoy free time on the Island. Then continue with our circumnavigation of the island, enjoy some time for swimming (towel service and refreshments onboard) and then we make our way back to Sorrento. On some itineraries, weather and seas permitting, we continue to Positano and the Amalfi Coast Highway back to Sorrento.
Your Journey Tour Captain will introduce Capri to you (and the other villa of Ana Capri). Occasionally, and when weather and seas permit, we are able to provide an experience that includes (in addition to round-trip service to and from Capri) time on the boat around the island with stops at various Grottos for viewing and swimming if you desire. We only "pass by" the Blue Grotto, we do not go inside the Blue Grotto as this usually takes the majority of the day.
Our Special Journey Finalé
After returning to our hotel, enjoy some leisure time and then meet on the terrace for our special Apericena to celebrate our time together. It has been a Journey of Adventure and Discovery, along with making new friends! Until our next Journey — Arrivederci!
OPTIONAL EXTENSION: Day 12: DEPARTURE DAY: Arrivederci Italy!
Breakfast is included this morning should you have time before your departure. Departure transfers are not included but we can arrange them for you. You can fly from Naples International Airport to your gateway for your international flight.
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