Grand Tour of Italy and Sicily    *alt*

17 days, from £3599
Insight Vacations
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Explore the wonders of Italy, as you enter the Vatican Museum in VIP style, visit the fishing villages of the famous Cinque Terre and join an expert vintner for a tasting of Puglia??s most celebrated blends. From picture-perfect Capri to romantic Sicily, discover the very best of Italy.

Tourtype: Regional Europe

Additional Included Highlights
Rome: Visit St Peter's Basilica. See the mighty Colosseum and Roman Forum as well as other medieval buildings, Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches, scattered through the city.

Baveno: Join us for the Italian the social ritual of la passeggiata.

Verona: See the Roman Arena and Juliet's balcony and the reputed Capulet home.

Venice: A vaporetto cruise delivers you to St Mark's Square. See St Mark's Basilica, the bell tower, clock tower, Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs.

Florence: See the Gates of Paradise adoring the baptistery and the basilica where Michelangelo is buried. Witness a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration.

Sorrento: See an intarsio demonstration and enjoy views over the Bay of Naples across to Mount Vesuvius.

Alberobello: See the clustered trulli, built with from limestone and without mortar.

Taormina Riviera: Visit the courtyard of Palazzo Corvaja and stroll along Corso Umberto to Piazza IX Aprile.

Palermo: See Quattro Canti Square. Visit Palermo Cathedral.

Top Rated Highlights
Isle of Capri: Cruise to this famous isle and in the style of the jet-set, enjoy a ride by open-top taxi. Your Local Expert will show you around the narrow alleyways and exclusive boutiques.

Matera: Visit this UNESCO World heritage Site and see famous Sassi or cave dwellings, which were home to about 20,000 people until 1950.

Taormina Riviera: Explore this fascinating place with your local Expert. Visit the Greek Theatre, see Palazzo Corvaja and wander Corso Umberto to admire the views from Piazza IX Aprile.

Palermo: Discover the Sicilian capital with your Local Expert. See Teatro Massimo, the Quattro Canti Square and the Fountain of Shame. View the composite architectural styles of the Palermo Cathedral and visit the Palatine Chapel, showcasing some of the finest examples of Norman art.

Pisa: Your Local Expert will show you the baptistery bristling with marble spines, the colonnaded bell tower lurching behind the 11th century cathedral and of course, the famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles.

Cinque Terre: Led by your Local Expert, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site with dedicated time to explore two of the five charming fishing villages.

Portofino: Get a taste of the 'sweet life' when you visit this elegant fishing village, before cruising to Santa Margherita.

Venice: Delight in the magic of this charming city as you are serenaded, travelling through the atmospheric canals by gondola.

Florence: Visit the Accademia Museum with a Local Expert to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, David. Then enjoy a walking exploration to see the Florence Cathedral, with its bell tower and baptistery. Wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Santa Croce.

What's included:
Included Insight Services
* Our highly-skilled Travel Director will ensure your journey is seamless, serving as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend overseas.
* Enjoy the comfort of Insight's luxury, air-conditioned, 40-seat coach with double the standard legroom and onboard washroom.
* Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary.
* We carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door.
* Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency We also include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
* Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available).
* From time to time, your Travel Director will enchant you with an Insight Flourish, which is a local specialty representing the destination.
* If your arrival and/or departure flights are as per the itinerary start and end dates, then transfers are available at scheduled times. If your flights are outside these times, or you have booked additional nights accommodation with Insight Vacations, you may purchase transfers or make your own way from/to the airport.

Tour style: Regional Journey


 Day 1 Welcome to the Eternal City of Rome.

Your complimentary, private transfer takes you to your local departure airport. Rome is not only the modern capital of Italy, but also a spectacular encyclopedia of living history. You will be met on arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport. At 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30 transfers depart for your hotel. Join your Travel Director at 17:30 and get to know your fellow travellers over a pleasant evening during your Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.(Dinner with Wine)
Hotel Romanico Palace, Rome.

 Day 2 VIP Vatican and Rome with a Local.

In the morning, you will be joined by a Local Expert to guide you through the art collection of the Vatican Museums, culminating beneath Michelangelo's famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-tracked entry and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bramante Staircase, a part of the Vatican usually closed to visitors. More of Michelangelo's genius is on display next door in St. Peter's Basilica. With time at leisure, perhaps venture inside the Colosseum to learn about the mighty Gladiators? Rome is about art, antiquity, piazzas and pizzazz, and our included walking exploration has it in abundance. Toss a coin into the spectacular Trevi Fountain, see the Pantheon, the best preserved monument from the Roman period, and enjoy free time in Piazza Navona.(Buffet Breakfast)
Hotel Romanico Palace, Rome.

 Day 3 Pisa and Santa Margherita Ligure.

Enjoy a delightful drive through rolling countryside dotted with cypress trees, passing vineyards and olive groves to Pisa. With a Local Expert, view the incredible Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles from which Galileo is said to have conducted experiments on velocity and gravity. See the splendid cathedral and baptistery, decorated with mosaics and designs in solid marble. Your journey continues to the pretty seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Best Western Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.

 Day 4 The Charms of the Cinque Terre.

Head for the famous Cinque Terre, which translates to Five Lands, located on a gorgeously wild yet hospitable part of the coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit two of the picturesque fishing villages before taking the train to Santa Margherita Ligure, and then journeying on to Portofino. There is plenty of time for you to admire the coloured houses, browse the boutiques and stay a while in the cafe bars on the piazzetta, watching the yachts moored in the harbour. Should weather permit, return with a cruise along the rugged Ligurian coast to your hotel in the resort of Santa Margherita.(Buffet Breakfast)
Best Western Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.

 Day 5 Lake Maggiore.

Head north to the beautiful Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lake District and the town of Baveno, noted for its narrow cobbled streets and charming 16th century square. On arrival, settle into your hotel and take in the magical scenery. In the evening, why not join a private cruise to Isola Bella to explore the palace and admire the stunning Botanical Gardens?(Buffet Breakfast)
Hotel Simplon, Baveno, Italian Lakes.

 Day 6 Fair Verona and onto Venice.

Follow the southern fringes of the Alps to romantic Verona, the setting of one of literature's most tragic and best known love stories between star-crossed lovers. See the ancient Roman Arena, still used for Opera performances and stand beneath Juliet's balcony in a Renaissance courtyard of the supposed Capulet home - can you recite Shakespeare's immortal words? You travels continue through the Soave vineyards, passing Padua, and on to the canals of Venice.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
B4 Bellini Venezia, Venice.

 Day 7 The Magic of La Serenissima.

Even for the experienced traveller, there can be no better joy than waking up in Venice. Admire the art of glassblowing when you visit a traditional arts centre on Giudecca Island. Then cruise by private launch along canals lined with ornate palaces to arrive at St. Mark's Square where St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs await. Board your gondola to be serenaded through the beautiful canals, passing water-lapped doorways and Rococo palaces. Relax amongst the romantic atmosphere as you drift along in. The afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure.(Buffet Breakfast)
B4 Bellini Venezia, Venice.

 Day 8 A Scenic Journey to Florence.

Bid farewell to Venice and begin your journey to Renaissance Florence. Join your Local Expert to see Michelangelo's David when you visit the Accademia Gallery. Walk to the cathedral and see Giotto's bell tower and the Gates of Paradise on the baptistery. Wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria gazing at statues such as Neptune as well as Hercules and Cacus, along the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Your exploration will finish in front of the basilica where Michelangelo lies buried in Piazza Santa Croce, famous for its quality goods.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli.

 Day 9 Florence, Birthplace of the Renaissance.

(Relaxed Start) Start the day with a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration, then there is plenty of time to shop with the rest of the day at your leisure. Perhaps join an Optional Excursion to explore the hilltop town of San Gimignano?(Buffet Breakfast)
Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli.

 Day 10 Ill-fated Pompeii and on to Sorrento.

Journey south through the volcanic hills of Frascati to Pompeii, which was buried in A.D. 79 by Mount Vesuvius' catastrophic eruption. Walk with a Local Expert through the preserved cobbled streets for a glimpse into the daily life of civilisation during the Roman Empire. Follow the clifftop road to the resort of Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples.(Buffet Breakfast)
Hotel Regina, Sorrento.

 Day 11 Capri, the Isle of Dreams

Meet your Local Expert and cruise to the beautiful Isle of Capri. The funicular railway takes you up to Capri town where you will explore the narrow alleyways and have time to browse exclusive boutiques and enjoy the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Descend to the port by open-top taxi, just as the jet-set do. On return to Sorrento, investigate the art of intarsio or marquetry wood inlaying before continuing to your hotel.(Buffet Breakfast)
Hotel Regina, Sorrento.

 Day 12 Sassi di Matera and Alberobello.

After breakfast, discover two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First you will visit Matera for an in-depth exploration of the extraordinary Sassi which are troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock. Here is the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean and were inhabited by about 20,000 people up until 1950. Matera was also used as the setting for 'The Passion of the Christ'. Continue to Alberobello, the second UNESCO World Heritage Site and your home for the next two nights.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.

 Day 13 Alberobello.

(Relaxed Start) Admire the trulli of Alberobello - small, circular structures with conical roofs and clustered together like mushrooms. They are built from local limestone and stacked without using mortar. Venture into the surrounding region, a paradise for wine-lovers. Join an expert vintner for a tasting of Puglia's most robust and structured red wines. For your Dine-at-Home experience, you are invited to join a local and their family. See Nonna making pasta and enjoy a freshly prepared meal together, traditional of Southern Italy.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.

 Day 14 Sicily and the Taormina Riviera.

The local roads will take you south, following the shores of the Gulf of Taranto to the mountainous Calabria region. Travel along the Purple Coast to the very 'toe' of Italy and board your ferry bound for Sicily. According to ancient legend, it was here at the Straits of Messina where the twin whirlpools of Scylla and Charybdis carried unwary seafarers away to their doom! After you disembark, continue to the Taormina Riviera.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina Riviera.

 Day 15 Taormina and the Dawn Coast of Europe

(Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert for a visit to the Greek theatre. Set on a cliff and open to the sky, take a moment to sit in this ancient theatre and absorb the view through the crumbling arches to snowy Mount Etna. Stroll on to the tiny courtyard of the Palazzo Corvaja, Taormina's grandest building. Further along the elegant Corso Umberto, the Piazza IX Aprile offers panoramic views. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at your own pace.(Buffet Breakfast)
Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina Riviera.

 Day 16 Palermo, Capital of Sicily.

Head to the Sicilian capital of Palermo. On arrival, your Local Expert will show you the highlights of the capital. Pass the huge Teatro Massimo to the Baroque Quattro Canti Square and glimpse the beauties of the Fountain of Shame. Palermo Cathedral has been altered over the years and a venture inside will help you to appreciate the composite architectural styles. Next, head to the amazing Palatine Chapel in the Palace of the Normans. With the outside completely covered in glittering 12th century mosaics, it provides an insight to what's within. Join your travelling companions and Travel Director at a local restaurant for an unforgettable Celebration Dinner of delicious local cuisine and wine.(Buffet Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Best Western Ai Cavalieri Hotel, Palermo.

 Day 17 Depart Palermo.

Your journey draws to an end with departure transfers arriving at Palermo's Falcone'Borsellino Airport at 06:00 and 08:00. On arrival at your home airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your private transfer home.(Buffet Breakfast)

Tour Map