Every day in Italy has got to a great day as we explore the cultural wonders of Italian art and food on this sumptuous tour. Featuring 4 nights in Rome visiting all its historic and wonderful sights to Florence to stand and gaze upon David in all his glory. We try our hand at several cooking classes with a variety of Italian regional flavours (Tuscan, Bolognian). All that great fresh food, the architecture and the fashionable people; this tantalizing tour of Italy has it all.
– All airfares & taxes (Emirates)
– Stopover in Dubai on the way to Italy and on the way home
– Accommodation in 3-star & 4-star hotels
– 18 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
– Touring by modern air-conditioned coach
– Group tipping
– Services of English-speaking Tour Director and local guides
– Assistance of your Tour Leader, Mandy Page
– Land Only price on application
– Extending your stay – before or after Tour Dates
– Group Size: 18 travellers (max)
After meeting up in Auckland and our short pre-tour briefing we board our Emirates flight to Dubai.
On arrival in Dubai early this morning we clear customs and immigration and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
This morning we travel to the airport for our flight to Rome. On arrival we transfer to our hotel. There are so many things to do and see in Rome that if you would like to Mandy will take you walking in the streets around the hotel.
We start the day with priority entrance to the Colosseum with our expert, professional guide. It’s a jump into the history of the Roman Empire and the glory and power of the Caesars. Near the Colosseum (the largest amphitheatre in the world) we will continue on to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This afternoon is at leisure (but when is it ever completely empty when Mandy has an offering of things to see and places to go). There are so many iconic sites in Rome; we will do our best to make sure you see them all: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps and all those churches.
A visit to Rome would not be complete without a visit to St Peters and Vatican City. Within this, the smallest country on the planet, are some of the finest art pieces of the Renaissance. Again we will be jumping the lines to get into the Vatican Museums when we arrive and are able to see the treasures without waiting for hours. The Vatican owns a lot of art so we intend to take in the Gallery of Tapestries, the Geographical Maps and the beautiful Raphael’s rooms before arriving at the famous Sistine Chapel.
After all this glorious art we will skip over to St Peter’s Basilica where we avoid the long lines and have priority entrance. When we are at St Peter’s we will enter the main church complex but also visit beneath to the crypt where the Popes are buried. Then we are going to take a trip outside the centre of Rome and visit the catacombs along the ancient Appian Way. We have dinner at our hotel.
Today is a special day to make sure you get to see what you have always wanted to see in Rome. Some people like to visit Museums, or use the Hop On, Hop Off Bus, find a café for coffee and pizza or come along with Mandy to take in everything we haven’t crossed off her list of Must-Do/See/Taste when in Rome.
This morning we travel by coach to the Renaissance-style Villa d’Este, a gorgeous palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden. Villa d’Este is a masterpiece of Italian Gardens, decorated with a massive and impressive number of fountains, nymphes and grottos, inspired by the gardens of Babylon. We are visiting here to see living art – the inspiration for many gardens which were created in England plus an excellent example of art maturing and continuing to bring pleasure even centuries after its creation. We then travel on to Assisi. This tranquil place in Umbria is famous because of St Francis. However it has much to recommend it as it has a very special ambience and is a delight once all the passing tourists have gone. The views across Umbria are breath-taking and here’s hoping we find a nice drink, a comfortable chair and a panoramic view as sun sets. We have dinner at our hotel. (Plus the delights of Lemoncello).
Today we are going to explore this medieval town with its massive Basilica of Saint Francis. The Basilica is beautifully decorated with frescoes which illustrate St Francis’s life. Not ego driven, St Francis had a simple approach to life which still inspires today.
After all this art and history it will be time for lunch in a typical Italian restaurant. This afternoon is at leisure, which means if you would like to go with Mandy she will be taking you for a walk outside the town walls and into the lovely countryside.
This morning we travel to Montepulciano, a Renaissance wine town built on volcanic rock. Whilst in Montepulciano we will enjoy wine tasting and lunch. Afterwards we move on to Siena, a beautiful city who once competed against Venice and Florence for power, wealth and artistic beauties. We have a guided walking tour of the ancient town which includes the incredible Piazza del Campo, the main square. This huge space is used for the annual horse racing amongst rival neighbourhoods within the city. Surrounding the campo are numerous cafés, restaurants, shops and important buildings. Beyond the busy centre are quieter backstreets and we will learn everything about the Contrade, the 17 medieval city districts. During our visit in Siena we will also have the opportunity to have a surprise tasting of a typical product. We then travel to Volterra, a small town on the top of a hill.
Volterra has a long history and goes back before the Romans to the Estruscans. Little is known about these people but the art they left behind is wonderful. The day is for you to enjoy as you would like: museums, shopping, Roman Ruins or simply having some down time. However if you would like you can join Mandy on a walk around Volterra and see some of its highlights plus a yummy lunch. The hotel we are staying at has a wonderful garden where we will gather for a drink and a catch-up as we watch the sun set over the Tuscan countryside.
What a day today is going to be as we are going to Florence — one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On the way we are going to pop into San Gimignano. San Gimignano is renowned for its “medieval skyscrapers”, high walls and narrow streets that typify most people’s image of a Tuscan hill town. This charming place has everything you would expect in a Tuscan town; cypress lining the roads, walls encircling the town and unforgettable views across the valleys. After some free time in San Gimignano, we will taste some refreshing Gelato and fortify ourselves for a Wine Tour. Let’s face it; we are in Italy, we are also in Tuscany and what could be better than an intimate discovery of vineyards, olive groves and tasty cheeses. So, brace yourself; it’s a feast for the senses as we work our way through wine scents and flavours. Some of the best wines ever produced have come from the hills just outside of Florence. This is an introduction to the quintessential Tuscan wines: the world-renowned Supertuscans. Precious wines that sometimes are difficult to find outside the latest vintage – or even to get a taste of. We will visit three different wineries located amidst the rolling hills of the Chianti wine region. A sommelier will guide our experience as we taste and learn about the different methods of wine production in two famous wineries plus a family-run organic farm and winery. Just to make sure we don’t all get drunk on the wine tasting we will stop at a villa to enjoy a gourmet lunch in its “enoteca”, (1000-year-old cellar). At the end of the day we check in to our Florence hotel and we can all collapse into bed and dream of grapes and green hills.
Florence means Art and so what better place to start than the masterpieces in the Accademia Gallery. Once again we will skip the long entry lines and jump straight in to viewing David. Then we are going to take in the Uffizi Gallery (skipping long entrance lines). We can’t leave Florence without visiting one of the most important art galleries in the world. Here, we will admire numerous works of art by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Giotto, Cimabue and Masaccio. Our local guide will let us in on the secrets of the Renaissance masterpieces for which the museum and Florence are famous. Nearly every photo collection of Florence includes the famous Duomo, its beautiful church. We are going to have a visit, covering more than 1,500 years of history. For the more adventurous among us there is the climb up to the Museum panoramic terrace to admire the grandiose Dome up close. Then we will all need a spot of refreshment so we walk a few steps from the Cathedral square, for a delicious taste of Chianti wine and tidbits of cheese with balsamic vinegar. We have dinner at our hotel.
Today is a very special day; a cooking class in Florence. This master class is designed for our small group and we will have a hands-on experience of the scents, tastes and secrets of Italian cuisine. We begin with discovering where Florentines buy their authentic gourmet Tuscan products and ingredients. Then its don the apron time as we listen to the Chef, and commence with the chopping, mixing, and kneading… required to make the most delicious lunch we’ve ever tasted. Whether you are a beginner or an expert with the apron, it doesn’t matter because we will all be in this experience together. At this stage of the day its time for a rest, so back to the hotel.
Yesterday was a full-on day so we are going to take it easy this morning with the official start to the day being mid afternoon. For those who wish to, Mandy will take you to some places in Florence. This afternoon on the official programme we are going to learn how to make Pizza and Gelato just like the Italians do! This well known food is also a pleasure to make and our chef will help make the experience an enjoyable one.
Our last chance to take in the beauty of Florence as we are off to Bologna today. Our introduction to Bologna and its incredible food is with lunch at an excellent local restaurant. This afternoon we have a walking tour of this great city. The highlight will be visiting the Basilica San Petronio on Piazza Maggiore and the Archiginnasio Palace – Europe’s first University. In the evening we will discover our own café or trattoria around Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno for a memorable meal. After all, this is Italy’s gourmet capital!
As Bologna is famous for its cuisine it is appropriate we have a walking food tour. We will get to see the local markets and taste the freshest of produce. Our task for today will be ‘Which is my favourite food ingredient’? There is much to do and see in Bologna; if you would like to join Mandy she will do her best to make sure you walk some of the delicious food off and also discover a fun place for dinner tonight.
After breakfast, we meet our guide for a tour in the Bologna countryside. We will visit a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy with tastings of different cheeses. Then its on to a Prosciutto factory where we will enjoy a guided tour and tasting. Believe it or not after all this tasting it will be time for lunch where we will be treated to a typical Italian meal. After lunch we head off to a vinegar factory to finish off the day with understanding about the variety and tastes of this important cuisine ingredient.
This morning we travel to Venice by coach. What a day we have exploring the highlights of this famous city through the most characteristic and important places for its history. Once the richest Italian city with its trade along the Silk Road, the patrons made their city into a monument to Renaissance architecture and art. We have a local guide and entrance tickets to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. Then its some free time so we can fulfil life-long dreams of a gondola ride or simply getting lost in the streets and bridges of Venice. After our lovely visit to Venice its back to Bologna and our Farewell Dinner at a first class local restaurant. We will be such experts now on Italian food and wine that we can expect some humorous stories of past cooking and tasting experiments.
This morning is at leisure and then we transfer to Bologna airport for our flight to Dubai. We have an overnight in Dubai before we return to the airport tomorrow morning.
This morning we board our Emirates flight to New Zealand.
Home to New Zealand with special memories of our time in beautiful Italy.
Mandy is one well-travelled person, having visited all 7 continents!
She is interested in the arts and has an unquenchable fascination with ancient history and cultures. You’ll benefit from Mandy’s extensive travel experience, and especially enjoy her infectious laughter.
Fantastic, Mandy went out of her way every day to check up on everyone, was very inclusive and informative. An excellent leader, strong and direct.
Mandy an exceptional tour leader. A lovely caring personality. Always fun.
Mandy did a great job of meeting the needs of a disparate group. We enjoyed her roadside walks and ability to keep us amused with stories, jokes, crosswords, etc.