La Serenissima. La Magnifica. — 2 Days & Nights
DAY 1: WELCOME TO VENICE
Your Now Journey LOTUS experience 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 Adventure Leaders serving as your host and concierge along with LOTUS Class 5-Star Hotels for the perfect balance of activity, leisure time and experience, so you can truly soak up all that is Italy.
Getting to Know You, Venezia: Enjoy your private 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 Adventure Leader (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. Is Shopping on your mind? Welcome to Venice, indeed! So many options and your Now Journey Concierge has all the right places to excite!
Welcome to Venice Dinner: A Special Dining Event Tonight
We then make our way to our favorite restaurant in Venice where we will be delighted with cuisine from several regions throughout Italy including the Veneto, Lazio and Campania (all paired with delicious wines and premium beverages - and all included with Journey).
Accommodation in Venice, 2 Nights with breakfast
Lotus Class: St. Regis: Gand Room, Canal Side View
Other hotels used: Gritti Palace, Hotel Danieli or Similar
Birthplace of the Renaissance – 2 Days, 2 Nights
DAY 3: BOLOGNA AND ON TO FLORENCE
This morning enjoy a leisurely start with breakfast and then join your Journey Adventure Leader as we boat over to our private car and onward journey to Florence with a stop in the very special city of Bologna.
We zip along the Italian countryside and arrive in Bologna, known as La Rossa, La Grassa and La Dotta — the city's nicknames which mean, "The Red, The Fat and the Learned" — we like this article that explains a bit more.
Enjoy a light walking discovery of the heart and time for some lunch or just shop. Later we make our way to Florence to freshen up amd begin our chapter in Florence.
Rooftop Welcome to Florence
Let's meet on the rooftop lounge for the perfect viewpoint of Florence.
Welcome to Florence Dinner: Tuscany's Dining Delights You Tonight
Your Journey Adventure Leader 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 Florence, 2 Nights with breakfast
Lotus Class: Rocca Forte Savoy: Premium Room Category
Other hotels may be used: Grand Hotel Cavour, St. Regis or Similar
DAY 4: I'M IN FLORENCE!
Today's Adventure: Private Florence Secrets & Treasures
Journey's Florence 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 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.
Special Sightseeing Includes:
- Galleria dell'Accademia, The first art school of Europe: Skip-the-Line admission to experience Michelangelo's David in the Academy Gallery.
- Palazzo Vecchio: Cosimo I de’ Medici asked his favorite architect Giorgio Vasari to enlarge the palace in the middle of the 1500s, and it was at the this time that the palace became known as the “old palace.”
- 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.
- 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.
Your Now Journey Adventure Leader is on hand to help with afternoon activities: 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 Adventure Leader will invite you to an optional dinner tonight or you can explore Florence at leisure.
DAY 5: INTO THE TUSCANY SUNSHINE
Today's Adventure: Tuscan Towns, Wines & Scenes
It's a great day to explore further 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. 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!
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 our winery estate in the heart of Tuscany - simply stunning.
We 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.
Mid to late-afternoon we enjoy a leisurely drive to the delightful hill town of Cortona for our next chapter in the very heart of Tuscany. An absolutely beautiful town awaits us and an equally authentic welcome dinner is included.
In the mid to late Tuscan afternoon we will arrive at our hotel in Cortona. Your Journey Adventure Leader 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: Cortona
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 Adventure Leader 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.
Journey Exclusive: Special Apericena in Cortona
Tonight you will join your Journey Adventure Leader for a Journey exclusive welcome "aperitivo" called Apericena by the modern Italians.
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 di Cortona - Hotel & Spa: Junior Suite Room Category
Or other hotels: Relais Falconiere, Villa Marsili or Similar
DAY 6: A DAY IN CORTONA
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.
Options for Today
Might we suggest:
• Cooking Class from Cortona
Just outside of Cortona, in the company of an expert chef, participants learn how to make several courses including a dessert. It is a different experience where the participants learn to prepare a multiple-course meal and then partake in the sampling of the prepared dishes while enjoying the olive oils and wines of the region! -Duration 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.
• Tour of Siena
— 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 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 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 Adventure Leader will invite you to an optional dinner tonight or choose to enjoy your last night in Cortona at your leisure.
A Thousand Roads Lead Always to Rome — 3 Days, 3 Nights
DAY 7: ARRIVING THE EMPIRE OF ROME
As we make our way to Rome, we find ourselves going back in time as our surroundings begin to slowly turn into the very center of ancient Rome.
We arrive at our hotels and check in. The locations of our hotels in Rome are within a minute or so walk of the incredible Pantheon.
We check-in, freshen up and then meet for our Discovery Walk.
Discovery Walk: Rome
You will meet the Journey Adventure Leader for a walk through the very heart of Old 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. 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.
Welcome to Rome Dinner: The Cuisine of Lazio Kicks Off the Dining Experience
Tonight you will join your Journey Adventure Leader for a special welcome to Rome dinner complete with premium beverages and wine from the region of Lazio, Campania and Toscana.
Accommodation in Rome, 3 Nights with breakfast
Lotus Class: The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel: Jr. Suite Room Category
Or other hotels used: St. Regis, Grand Hotel de la Minerve or Similar
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DAY 8: EXPLORING ROME | AFTER-HOURS TO THE VATICAN
Today's Adventure: Vatican City After-Hours Access
Enjoy a Discovery Walk with your Adventure Leader this morning, with balance of day at leisure until late this afternoon when we will enter Vatican City with our After-Hours Entry. 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.
Our vehicle is waiting nearby to whisk us back to the hotel.
Special Sightseeing 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.
Journey is Different: Your Journey Adventure Leader will invite you to an optional dinner tonight after the Vatican or you can explore Rome at your leisure.
DAY 9: DISCOVERING IMPERIAL ROME
Today's Adventure: Private Imperial Rome
This morning we will enjoy our walking tour of Rome. 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.
We're making our way to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the town center of the Roman Empire, for our special access, in-depth touring experience, complete with admissions.
Special Sightseeing Includes:
- Colosseo: Flavian's amphitheater known popularly as the Colosseum. Admission and Guided Tour of the Colosseum: Heart of The Empire. Enjoy Skip-the-Line entrance.
- Foro Romano: Admission and Guided Tour of the Roman Forum ~ 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.
- 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.
Farewell to Rome Dinner: A Very Special Evening
Tonight join your Journey Adventure Leader for our included 'Farewell to Rome' event.
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!
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. We say Arrivederci to the coast today or perhaps you might want to extend your stay to the Amalfi Coast? Inquire with us about adding another night or more on the Amalfi Coast.
Are you wrapping up your Journey in Rome? Enjoy our included Departure Transfer to the Rome FCO Airport.
Be Our Guest! Add an extra night in Sorrento at a reduced rate with our promotion — inquire!
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