DAY 1: WELCOME TO VENICE
Upon arrival to Venice Marco Polo Airport, enjoy our included Airport Arrival Transfer with Meet & Greet (in Deluxe and Classic). You board our water taxi and are whisked away across the lagoon of Venice to San Marco island. Upon arrival, you will check-in, drop luggage and then relax until our Discovery Walk.
Later this afternoon you will enjoy a get-to-know-Venice at Christmas Time Discovery Walk.
Discovery Walk: Venice at Christmas Time
You will enjoy a get-to-know-Venice Discovery Walk — a hallmark of the Journey style of traveling and exploring new destinations hosted by your Journey Tour Captain. We will take in the beautiful sights of Piazza San Marco, the "Campanile" or clock tower, the Grand Canal and more.
Enjoy some time at leisure before meeting tonight for a special 'Welcome to Venice' evening from one of our exclusive perspectives to see Venice.
Welcome to Venice Dinner (Deluxe and Classic)
We then make our way to our favorite restaurant in Venice where we will be delighted with cuisine fit for the season and the region (all paired with delicious wines and premium beverages - and all included with Journey).
Accommodation in Venice, 2 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: Luna Baglioni, Palazzo Bonvecchiati or Similar
Classic: Hotel Bonvecchiati or Similar
DAY 2: EXPLORING VENICE
Today's Optional Adventure: Venice Christmas Traditions
The perfect time to be in Venice!
Venice's Christmas Traditions & Historic Venice
You may want to consider our optional Walking Tour of Venice's Christmas Traditions. This is Journey's unique touring experience through the dramatic and historic port city with special attention paid to the local traditions during the holiday, all with our Local Guide. Learn of Venice's fascinating and colorful past, including everything from Napoleon to an exploration of her many back alleys and streets (called calles). Venice's character springs to life as we make our way through her nooks and crannies and mysterious alley ways.
Journey's professional local guide provides expert commentary as we enter the fascinating and colorful Basilica San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica). Then we go back in time with our visit to the Doge's Palace, the Old Prison (and yes, you will learn about the gentleman Casanova), and the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Sightseeing included in this option:
- Doge's Palace: Skip-the-Line Entrance to the Doge's Palace (meaning Duke or Governor's Palace), the seat of the Republic of Venice's historic power.
- Venice's Old Prison: The Prisons of Venice: Found inside the Doge's Palace, are the older and new prisons.
- Bridge of Sighs: The bridge made famous for its window and last view of blue sky and freedom as prisoners are marched to their sentence.
- Basilica San Marco: Enjoy the beautiful mosaics and how they reflect and dance in the light. Your Tour Captain "paints the picture" of the history and opulence that is the Basilica San Marco prior to entering. Once inside, enjoy 'silence' as you observe its beauty encased in Byzantine architecture.
- Piazza San Marco: and our "Secret Treasures of Venice:"
- Walking Delights: Learn about the Clock Tower (Campanile), Caffé Florian, Napoleon and the Winged Lion
- Enjoy included admission/entrance to Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana at your leisure.
Special Included Adventure: Venetian Gondola Experience
Just before sunset consider enjoying our Gondola ride through the canals of Venice with our professional musicians to make the ambiance perfect. On occasion inclement weather will prevent the gondola ride. In this scenario you will be refunded.
Enjoy the balance of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Journey is Different: Your Journey Tour Captain will invite you to an optional dinner after the Gondola ride, and they can also help you with dining reservations if you choose to explore lovely Venice on your own.
DAY 3: ONWARD 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 some time to freshen up, we begin our chapter in Florence.
Discovery Walk: Florence at Christmas Time
On the Discovery Walk we will orient you to the very heart of historic Florence while learning of some of the Holiday traditions of the Florentines. 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.
Enjoy the balance of the afternoon at leisure until our welcome dinner tonight.
Deluxe Included Welcome Dinner
Classic: Why not join us for the Welcome to Florence Dinner?
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. $90 per person.
Accommodation in Florence, 2 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: Grand Hotel Cavour or Similar
Classic: Hotel Renaissance or Similar
DAY 4: CHRISTMAS IN FLORENCE!
Today's Adventure: Florence Christmas Traditions, Secrets & Treasures
Now Journey's Florence Christmas Traditions, Secrets & Treasures tour boasts a variety of fine sights to see including Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery's Bronze "Gate of Paradise," Giotto's Bell Tower, Signoria Square, and more as the Now Journey Tour Captain takes you on a walking adventure. 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. This experience will reveal local traditions only found in Florence at Holiday time.
Sightseeing Included in this Option:
- Our tour includes the 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.
- 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.
- 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 Christmas Traditions, 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) or just explore at your leisure. This Basilica is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, and Marconi, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).
Enjoy the balance of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Journey is Different: Your Journey Tour Captain will invite you to an optional dinner tonight or you can explore Florence at leisure.
DAY 5: GOOD MORNING TUSCANY
Today's Adventure: Tuscan Delights
It's a great day to explore further into the Tuscan countryside as we enjoy hill towns lined with shops of local treasures and tastes.
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. San Gimignano 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 San Gimignano, we enjoy free time to explore the city of towers. San Gimignano also has several distractions for shopping - so dig in and enjoy!
Journey Included Exclusive: Winery Experience
Enjoy our in-depth tasting experience at our winery estate in the heart of Tuscany - simply stunning. You will enjoy a tour of the production facilities and cellars, followed by a delightful wine-tasting paired with perfect morsels for lunch. Buon Appetito!
Our lunch palate-pleasing appetizers, including pecorino cheese, bruschetta, and other local farm-to-table delights. You'll get your fill of classic Chianti and Super Tuscan varieties along with delicate cuisine hand-made by the chef.
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.
Should you opt for the Winery Experience you will arrive Cortona mid to late-afternoon. We will enjoy the leisurely drive to the delightful hill town of Cortona for our next chapter in the very heart of Tuscany.
In the mid to late Tuscan afternoon we will arrive at our villa hotel in Cortona.
Discovery Walk: Cortona at Christmas Time
On the Discovery Walk of Cortona we make our way to its very heart to learn about its fascinating past with Etruscans and Romans, as well as Hollywood. Your Journey Tour Captain welcomes you to the Tuscan countryside and tonight's special Italian experience.
We continue our walk as we explore Via Nazionale up to Piazza Garibaldi and finally into Piazza della Repubblica where you will Learn about the plains of Trasimeno and of the amazing battle of the same name: The Roman-Carthaginian Battle. Soak up the afternoon sunshine as we slow down and enjoy a typical Tuscan evening.
Deluxe Included Apericena
Classic: Upgrade to enjoy our Special Apericena in Cortona
Tonight consider joining your Journey Tour Captain for a Journey exclusive welcome "aperitivo" called Apericena by the modern Italians, $55/person.
It's the perfect complement for your palate after a day of great cuisine and wine. Our dinner aperitivo provides a just-right, light meal finale 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: Monastero Hotel & Spa 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.
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 part, 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.
Journey is Different: Your Journey Tour Captain will invite you to an optional dinner tonight or choose to enjoy your last night in Cortona at your leisure.
DAY 7: ONWARD TO ROME
After breakfast, we make our way to Rome and we find ourselves going back in time as our surroundings begin to slowly turn into the very center of ancient Rome.
You will arrive at the hotel, check in, freshen up and then meet for the Discovery Walk.
Discovery Walk: Rome at Christmas Time
You will meet the Journey Tour Captain for a walk through the very heart of Old Rome and see some of the amazing decorations of the Holiday. Rome is beautifully decorated with lights, nativity scenes and Christmas trees.
We begin our exploration of Rome beginning with an elephant and continue to immerse ourselves in over 2000 years of history of the 'Empire. We enter 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 Fiore (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.
Deluxe Included Rome Welcome Dinner
Classic: Option to Upgrade
Welcome to Rome Dinner
Tonight you might want to join your Journey Tour Captain as they escort you to our welcome to Rome dinner. $95/person.
Accommodation in Rome, 3 Nights with breakfast
Deluxe: Iconic Pantheon Rome Hotel or Similar
Classic: Albergo Santa Chiara or Similar
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DAY 8: ROME
It's Christmas Eve in Rome!
Today's Optional Adventure: Vatican City
Consider this optional tour of the Vatican ($165/person). Enjoy a visit of 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.
Sightseeing Included in this Option::
- 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.
Enjoy the balance of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Optional Dining Tonight
Consider joining your Now Journey Tour Captain for an optional dinner or explore at your leisure.
DAY 9: ROME
This morning enjoy a leisurely start to your day with breakfast and time to enjoy the morning.
Later today you may want to explore ancient Rome.
Today's Optional Adventure: Walking Tour of Rome
Consider our amazing walking tour of Rome at Christmas with lunch to follow ($135/person). 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.
Sightseeing included in this Option:
- We will enjoy views of the Colosseo or Flavian's amphitheater known popularly as the Colosseum, along with the Roman Forum, Foro Romano.
- Capitoline Hill: We ascend this amazingly sculptured and architecturally inspirational locale.
- 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.
- Christmas Day Lunch
Deluxe Farewell Dinner Included
Classic: Option to join us to celebrate our time in Italy: Farewell to Rome Dinner
Tonight join your Journey Tour Captain for our included 'Farewell to Rome' event. $85/person.
Our days have been filled with Christmas lights and new sights, amazing tastes and even some new discoveries - tonight, enjoy reflecting on the incredible journey we've had together in Italy at Christmas Time. It has been a Journey of Adventure and Discovery, along with making new friends!
Tomorrow we will say, 'Arrivederci Roma!' but tonight we sing and make melody in the very heart of Rome.
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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