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Grand Italy & Sicily

Duration 17 days

Destinations visited :
  • Italy
    ,

Art, food, and scenery combine in this 17-day guided tour through Italy. Revel in Renaissance artwork housed in the Vatican Museums and gaze at Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. See Rome’s iconic Colosseum as a Local Expert shares its history. In coastal Cinque Terre, stop in two fishing villages and cruise the rugged Ligurian coast, admiring the colorful homes perched on the cliffs. See statues of Neptune, Hercules and Cacus, and feast on a steak dinner and local wine in Florence. In Sorrento, meet a Local Expert for a cruise to Capri, where you can take an open-top taxi to the top of the island for an unapparelled view of the Mediterranean Sea. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, meet a restauranteur who will share his farm-to-table philosophy and serve you freshly made orecchiette pasta.

Take a look at your day-by-day itinerary or contact us on 0207 620 8952 to find out more.

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.
Hotel: Hotel Romanico Palace, Rome.
Meal: Dinner with Wine

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.
Hotel: Hotel Romanico Palace, Rome.
Meal: Breakfast

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.
Hotel: Best Western Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

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.
Hotel: Best Western Regina Elena, Santa Margherita Ligure.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 5

Lake Maggiore.
Head north to the beautiful Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lakes 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 an optional cruise to Isola Bella to explore the palace and admire the stunning and immaculate Italian style gardens.
Hotel: Hotel Simplon, Baveno, Italian Lakes.
Meal: Breakfast

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? Your travels continue through the Soave vineyards, passing Padua, and on to the canals of Venice.
Hotel: Bellini Venezia, Venice.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

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 by master craftsmen 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 before having an afternoon to enjoy at leisure.
Hotel: Bellini Venezia, Venice.
Meal: Breakfast

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, 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. Enjoy a traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina steak dinner paired with delicious local wine, a specialty not to be missed.
Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 9

Florence, Birthplace of the Renaissance.
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.
Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli.
Meal: Breakfast

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.
Hotel: Hotel Regina, Sorrento.
Meal: Breakfast

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 and return to Sorrento where the rest of the day is at your leisure.
Hotel: Hotel Regina, Sorrento.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 12

Sassi di Matera and Alberobello.
After breakfast, discover two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First you will visit Matera for an in-depth guided 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.
Hotel: Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 13

Alberobello.
Join your Local Expert to 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.
Hotel: Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

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.
Hotel: Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina Riviera.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 15

Taormina and the Dawn Coast of Europe.
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 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. Perhaps join an optional experience to Mt.
Hotel: Hilton Giardini Naxos, Taormina Riviera.
Meal: Breakfast

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.
Hotel: Best Western Ai Cavalieri Hotel, Palermo.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

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.
Meal: Breakfast

Authentic Dining

  • Florence: Enjoy a traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina dinner in the city known for its delicious cuts of steak.
  • Alberobello: Stop at a cellar for a local insight into the robust wines of the region with tasting.
  • Alberobello: After embracing the town as its natives do, enjoy Dine-at-Home experience as you are welcomed into the home of a local for a freshly-prepared meal, typical of the region. Dine with the family for dinner and learn more about their life.
  • Dining Summary: 16 Breakfasts (B) and 8 Dinners with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

Insight Experiences

  • Vatican City: Be among the select few to gain VIP access to the Vatican Museums, see the Bramante Staircase and Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Venture inside St. Peter’s Basilica and see Michelangelo’s Pietà, and the splendid dome.
  • Rome: Explore the backstreets of Rome and experience local life, alongside a passionate Roman who will explain how modern life takes place around ancient treasures like the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, the Living Room of Rome.
  • Venice: Visit an artisan showroom and workshop to see master craftsmen honouring age-old Venetian crafts.
  • Florence: Visit the Accademia Museum with a Local Expert to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David.

Stay in Style

  • Rome: Located in the heart of Rome, the luxurious Hotel Romanico Palace offers easy access to all the historical sites of the Eternal City.
  • Alberobello: The Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenic surroundings.

Top Rated Highlights

  • Rome: See the mighty Colosseum and Roman Forum. You will also see other medieval buildings, including Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches, scattered throughout the city.
  • 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.
  • Italian Lake District: Experience the social ritual of la passeggiata.
  • Verona: During your orientation, walk past the well preserved Roman Arena to Juliet’s balcony in the courtyard of a Renaissance villa.
  • Venice: With your Travel Director cruise to St. Mark’s Square and see the Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark’s Basilica.
  • Venice: Delight in the magic of this charming city as you are serenaded, travelling through the atmospheric canals by gondola.
  • Florence: Enjoy a walking exploration with your Local Expert to see the Florence Cathedral, with its bell tower and baptistery and wander through the open-air gallery of Piazza della Signoria.
  • Florence: See the area around Santa Croce Basilica, famous for the quality of its luxury goods and witness a leather-work demonstration.
  • Pompeii: Walk with a Local Expert through the cobbled streets of this ill-fated town, frozen in time since the 1st century.
  • Sorrento: Perched upon the cliffs, lookout to see the mighty Mount Vesuvious across the Bay of Naples.
  • Isle of Capri: Cruise to this famous isle through beautiful blue Mediterranean waters to meet your Local Expert.
  • Isle of Capri: Explore Capri town with your Local Expert and see the whitewashed houses, winding alleyways, small cafes, fashionable boutiques and artisans studios.
  • Isle of Capri: Ride in style back to the port by open-top taxi.
  • Matera: Visit this UNESCO World heritage Site and see famous Sassi or cave dwellings, which were home to about 20,000 people until 1950.
  • Alberobello: Led by your Travel Director, explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing the Trulli of Alberobello. Circular structures with conical roofs that are domed within, built from local limestone and stacked without using mortar.
  • Taormina Riviera: Visit the ancient Greek Ampitheatre with your Local Expert. Set on a cliff, open to the sky, take your seats and enjoy the view through the crumbling arches to snowy Mount Etna.
  • Taormina Riviera: During your orientation with your Travel Director, visit the courtyard of Palazzo Corvaja, seat of the first Sicilian parliament, and stroll along Corso Umberto to Piazza IX Aprile.
  • Palermo: With a local historian, see the Teatro Massimo en route to Quattro Canti Square to glimpse the Fountain of Shame.
  • Palermo: Visit Palermo Cathedral and walk through the Palace of the Normans to stand in the jewel-like Palatine chapel for an up-close look at some of the finest examples of Norman art.

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.
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Grand Italy & Sicily

Art, food, and scenery combine in this 17-day guided tour through Italy. Revel in Renaissance artwork housed in the Vatican Museums and gaze at Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. See Rome’s iconic Colosseum as a Local Expert shares its history. In coastal Cinque Terre, stop in two fishing villages and cruise the rugged Ligurian coast, admiring the colorful homes perched on the cliffs. See statues of Neptune, Hercules and Cacus, and feast on a steak dinner and local wine in Florence. In Sorrento, meet a Local Expert for a cruise to Capri, where you can take an open-top taxi to the top of the island for an unapparelled view of the Mediterranean Sea. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, meet a restauranteur who will share his farm-to-table philosophy and serve you freshly made orecchiette pasta.