Classic Italy, Small Groups    *alt*

14 days, from £5490
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Classic Italy, Small Groups are grand Italy holidays all inclusive, small group style! Smaller groups, averaging 24 Tauck guests, enjoy an intimate travel experience on our two-week Italy best-seller... at small, chic hotels in the heart of Sorrento, Rome, Venice and Florence... in the Vatican Museums and Michelangelo's vast painted drama on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where your small group enjoys a Tauck Exclusive, after-hours visit... along the blue expanse of the Mediterranean along the Amalfi Coast... or Cinque Terre... in the lavish halls of the Doge's Palace in Venice, and in that city's great St. Mark's Basilica, site of another Tauck Exclusive, after-hours visit... at the haunting ruins of the Colosseum... in the passion of Renaissance scenes in the Uffizi... in the panorama of rolling vineyards from the heights of Orvieto... in a country village under the Tuscan sun... or at your first taste of Umbrian cuisine. Unhurried, unherded, in small intimate groups, like family - you find yourself on the trip of a lifetime.
Special "Ferragamo" departures - ask at booking for details.


 Day 1 Arrive in Naples... then cocktails in Sorrento...

One of Tauck's most popular small-group Italian holidays begins at 6:00 PM at Grand Hotel La Favorita. A transfer is included from Naples International Airport or Naples Train Station to Grand Hotel La Favorita in Sorrento. Surrounded by gardens and perched atop a cliff overlooking the Gulf of Naples in Sorrento's historic center, your landmark hotel has a rooftop restaurant and poolside terrace with stunning views. Classic Italy, Small Groups gets underway with a welcome cocktail reception at the hotel, followed by dinner at a nearby local restaurant... and one of the most fabulous two-week Italian holidays begins.

 Day 2 A drive along the spectacular Amalfi Coast

Rise early for an unhurried drive along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular drives in the world! Fantastic rock formations drop vertically into the sea; sub-tropical vegetation on the hillsides, together with colourful Mediterranean flora, create bewitching landscapes. Stop for a visit in the seaside cathedral town of Amalfi on the Bay of Salerno, with its many medieval antiquities. Continue winding through vine-draped hills to Ravello, a 'terrace over the sea' known for its dramatic villas; its panoramic views of the coast offer a picture-perfect backdrop for a lunch of local specialties. Return to Sorrento in the afternoon to explore its charming piazzas and small alleys on your own this evening; the historic center of town, and the old Roman streets, make this day one of the highlights of Tauck's Italian holidays.

 Day 3 Ancient Pompeii, then on to eternal Rome

Travel from Sorrento to Pompeii, a prosperous Roman city of 27,000 until it was frozen in time at the moment it was completely buried by volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The doomed city lay undisturbed for more than 1,700 years, until exAcaAvaAtions began in the 18th century and are still in progress today. Most Italy holidays include a visit to Pompeii - but with Tauck, a walk through the ruins of Pompeii with a local expert provides a special connection as you learn what life was like in Italy in the 1st century AD. Arrive late afAterAnoon in Rome, where you'll spend the next three nights.

 Day 4 St. Peter's & after-hours at the Vatican Museums

No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Vatican, a state and city all in one. First, your small-group sightseeing is highlighted by a visit to St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square... then, following an afternoon at leisure, a Tauck Exclusive after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums, home to a vast collection of art treasures (subject to availability and day of the tour may vary). This after-hours visit means you'll avoid the long lines and the usual crowds found earlier in the day; the experience is rich when you explore the treasures in the Vatican Museums at your own pace. See the Candelabra Gallery, Map Gallery, and the Tapestries; in the Sistine Chapel, gaze in amazement at Michelangelo's masterpiece ceiling - and be able to contemplate all that you see in quieter surroundings. It's a highlight that makes Classic Italy, Small Groups one of Tauck's most memorable Italian holidays... one that you'll remember forever.

 Day 5 A day in the Rome of the Caesars

In a small group, exploring the sights of Ancient Rome is especially intimate and informative. See the ruins of the Imperial Palace and Circus Maximus; we've pre-secured tickets for the Colosseum so you can bypass the lines and enter this amazing 2,000-year-old amphitheatre that is best known for its gladiatorial contests. And you'll get an authentic taste of Italian cuisine tonight when you dine at a local restaurant in Rome.

 Day 6 Orvieto's Duomo & a recital in Umbria

Journey to Orvieto, set on a 984-foot-high plateau overlooking vineyards below. Visit the Duomo of Orvieto, a notable Romanesque-Gothic cathedral built over a span of 300 years. The facade is a visual treat, a blend of sculpture and mosaic splashed with a palette of colours and magnificent bronze doors. Inside, view inspiring frescoes by renowned artists. After a trattoria lunch near the Piazza del Duomo, continue through the wine-producing regions of Umbria. Arrive in the little town of San Martino in Campo - just outside of Umbria's capital city, Perugia - and your home for the next two nights, Alla Posta dei Donini. The present-day hotel was created from two renovated villas dating to the 17th century - former homes to the Donini counts - whose guest rooms feature wood-beamed ceilings, canopy beds, period furniture, frescoes, drapery and exquisite fabrics; its warm hospitality, elegant decor and exquisite cuisine are reminiscent of the aristocratic country houses of centuries past. Tonight, attend a private recital in the frescoed music room of the Donini family, followed by dinner (wine included) at the hotel.

 Day 7 Old Assisi & a private wine tasting

Take a short drive to Assisi, a well-preserved medieval hillside town spread across the slopes of a mountain. Assisi was the home of St. Francis, who left a position of wealth and turned to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, founding the order whose followers became known as Franciscans. The town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significant art and architecture. You'll visit St. Francis Basilica, built by the people, which today houses some of Italy's great 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, as well as the final resting place of Assisi's beloved favourite son, the patron saint of animals. Enjoy some free time in the center of town, then return to your hotel for the evening. Please join us tonight for a private wine tasting at the hotel, followed by dinner with wine included.

 Day 8 The Tuscan countryside to seaside Viareggio

Depart Umbria and traverse Tuscany's lush, rolling landscapes; the beauty of nature has blended with the ingenuity of mankind for centuries - your travels through the rolling Tuscan hills take you through landscapes dotted with olive and fig trees that produce delectable local food products. Stop in a country village for some time to explore on your own before continuing your travels under the Tuscan sun to the seaside resort town of Viareggio, where you'll enjoy a walking tour on which you'll see the last home of famed opera composer Giacomo Puccini, and an overnight stay at the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte. Ah, the pleasures of Italian holidays...

 Day 9 Storybook Cinque Terre & on to Florence

For hunAdreds of years, Cinque Terre was acAcesAsiAble only by sea - five picture-book fishing villages nestled between the MediAterAraAnean's blue waters and the rugged coastal mounAtains. Cruise along the Italian Riviera for unparalleled views of this dramatic coast en route to the village of Vernazza for free time and lunch on your own. Experience a taste of daily life as you stroll the cobblestone streets and alleyways, stopping to sample locally produced wine, olives, and citrus fruit. Get a different perspective of the scenery as you travel back to La Spezia by train. Journey to Florence for a three-night stay in a newly renovated luxury hotel in the heart of the city. Dine at a local restaurant this evening.

 Day 10 The art of Renaissance Florence, revealed

Art and architecture whisper the history of the ages in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Your in-depth exploration of this beautiful city begins with a briefing by an art history lecturer, whose insights prepare you for a guided walking tour of Florence's Renaissance heart. Then enjoy a guided visit through the collections of works by many of the greatest artists of the 14th and 15th centuries - including Michelangelo's famous sculpture of David and paintings by Botticelli, Uccello, Ghirlandaio, del Sarto and others - at the inimitable Galleria dell'Accademia. Flourishing for more than four centuries, this world-renowned institution was established in 1563 as the first art school in Europe. The rest of the day is free; dine this evening at a local restaurant. On select "Ferragamo" departures, today includes an exclusive visit to the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, and a wine tasting reception hosted by a member of the Ferragamo family; ask at booking for details.

 Day 11 Masterpieces of the Uffizi & more

Join our local expert for a guided tour of Florence's inspiring Uffizi Gallery, a highlight of Tauck's Italy holidays. Originally a suite of offices, it was first used to display the Medici family's private art treasures in 1581 - thereby making it the oldest art gallery in the world. Its vast collection includes some of the most revered works of the Italian Renaissance, such as Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's The Holy Family, da Vinci's unfinished Adoration of the Magi, Bellini's Allegory and Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch. The remainder of the day in Florence is yours to explore as you please.

 Day 12 On to Venice & St. Mark's Basilica after-hours

Your journey continues as a high-speed train whisks you from Florence to Venice. Built on 118 small islands traversed by a canal network, this extraordinary city is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer by canal boat to your hotel, conveniently located near St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco); after lunch at your hotel, get an introduction to Venice on a walking tour with your local guide, including St. Mark's Square and an inside visit of the Doge's Palace, with its lavishly decorated rooms and Venetian masterpieces - including the legendary Bridge of Sighs, and the palace prison. Following time this afternoon to explore more of romantic Venice on your own, join us this evening for an exclusive after-hours guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica - the centerpiece of the square and the very heart of the city - without the distraction of crowds, with the ability to enjoy it at your own pace.

 Day 13 The romance of Venice, as you please

The entire day is free to do as you please in Venice - and to say that you have a lot to choose from is an understatement. There's visiting the museums, an eclectic group housing some of the world's most famed art; strolling the winding, narrow streets that lead to countless bridges; taking a boat to one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon such as Murano, Burano or Torcello where the arts, centuries-old crafts, and a kaleidoscope of color wait. This evening, indulge in the quintessential Venetian experience - a serenaded gondola ride on the canals - before joining us for a farewell cocktail reAcepAtion at the hotel, followed by dinner at a local restaurant to mark the end of one of our most popular Italian holidays.

 Day 14 Ciao! Journey home

One of Tauck's popular small-group Italian holidays ends in Venice. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Bauer Palazzo to Marco Polo Airport and/or Santa Lucia (only) Train Station; you should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.