Get lost in the beauty and history of two northern Italian cities, the Italian Riviera and Tuscany. Milan and Turin are two of Italy’s economic and cultural centers each with its unique history, art and architecture. The Italian Riviera or Ligurian coast will entice you with the classically beautiful seaside towns of Cinque Terre, Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. Escape into the heart of Tuscany with visits to Montecatini Terme, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano and the capital of art – Florence.
Departure from the United States on your overnight flight to begin your tour in Milan.
Upon arrival in Milan, you and your English speaking tour escort will meet your private motorcoach driver for a direct transfer to your 4* hotel in Milan. Relax and make yourself comfortable for the remainder of the day. Meet your fellow travelers and tour leader for a Welcome Dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking local guide for a tour of Milan – the capital of the Lombardy region and the center of Italian finance, industry, fashion and design. Although it’s the 2nd most populous city in Italy, Milan is Italy’s modern economic engine with its own colorful history. Your local guide will bring you on a panoramic tour of this vibrant city rich in culture and the arts. You’ll visit La Scala Theatre and Museum, perhaps the world’s most-famous opera house. The first incarnation of La Scala was built in 1778; but it was rebuilt and remodeled after both fire and war. Home to famous conductor Toscanini, this classic opera house staged the world premieres of operas by Rossini, Verdi and Puccini among others. The theatre’s museum has a 100 year history itself and contains hundreds of pieces of art, musical instruments and artifacts from numerous composers, musicians and performers all connected with La Scala. Next, you’ll visit the iconic Duomo – Milan’s cathedral. This centerpiece of the city is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the 3rd largest church in the world. It took over 600 years to complete with more than 75 architects and engineers contributing. With this many people involved, you see the result is a Gothic style heavily influenced by Renaissance features. The interior will impress you as well with its tri-colored marble floor and some of the highest stained glass windows in the world. You’ll see the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – the beautifully designed 19th century shopping arcade that connects both La Scala and the Duomo. You’ll pass the Palazzo Brera which was once a Jesuit college, but today houses Milan’s main art academy and its gallery, an observatory, a botanical garden and a National Library. Also see the Sforza Castle – an imposing red brick castle built in a medieval Renaissance style and located next to Milan’s historic park, Parco Sempione. The castle today houses many historical museums with art by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Enjoy your lunch in a local Milanese restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). After lunch, your tour will finish with a special visit to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and a viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. This church, also a Dominican convent, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Last Supper was painted on one of the convent’s refectory walls in the late 15th century. Due to the fragility of da Vinci’s masterpiece, only 30 people at a time will be allowed to view the painting for a maximum of 15 minutes. The rest of the day is at your leisure and enjoy dinner on your own tonight.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive through the Lombardy and Piedmont regions to the city of Turin. Upon arrival in Turin, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person) and meet with your local English speaking guide for a tour of the city. Turin is the magnificent capital of the Piedmont region located in the shadow of the Alps. This industrious city was the birthplace of the Italian automotive industry, the capital of the Royal House of Savoy and the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. The Residences of the House of Savoy are various palaces in and around the historical center of Turin and were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997. Your tour will bring you past the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace, which is the icon of Turin and shows the wealth and splendor of the former Italian royal family. Adjacent to the Palace is the Turin Cathedral which houses a chapel that was constructed solely to keep the famous Shroud of Turin. These main sites are both located on the Piazza Castello which is lined with theatres, museums and cafes. You’ll also see Piazza San Carlo, Turin’s Baroque-styled square designed in the 17th century and a famous gathering point in the city. Your tour includes a visit to the Egyptian Museum which is said to hold the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt. First opened in 1824, the Museum is the only one in the world dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture besides the famous Cairo Museum. Learn the history of Turin’s involvement with Egyptology and how the Museum came to be built in this city. The remainder of the day is at your leisure, but this evening, enjoy a group dinner at a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Enjoy a free morning to explore Turin and grab some lunch on your own. After lunch, depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive through the city of Genoa and province of Liguria en route to your 4* seaside hotel in the Lido di Camaiore area. Upon arrival at your hotel on the Tuscan coast, check-in and that evening you’ll enjoy a group dinner at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for an excursion to the charming coastal villages known as Cinque Terre. Almost unreachable by car, these 5 villages are built onto the rugged cliffsides and are connected by paths and trains. Cinque Terre is a designated Italian National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. First, you’ll drive to the beautiful Ligurian city of La Spezia and make your way to the first village – Manarola. This fishing village, with spectacular views, dates back to the 14th century and is famous for Sciacchetrà – a sweet wine produced only in Cinque Terre’s terraced vineyards. You’ll take the special Cinque Terre railway to another village – Monterosso. This railway line was constructed in the 1870’s and was an engineering feat of its time. To link these Cinque Terre villages by railway, it took the building of numerous bridges and tunnels into the naturally rugged landscape. Monterosso is the last of the 5 villages on the coast and the only one with a stretch of sandy beach. The village, split into both old and new towns connected by a single tunnel, is famous for its lemon trees and its Capuchin Convent perched high above Monterosso Bay. Relax and enjoy a lunch in a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). After lunch, you’ll take a boat departing from Monterosso that sails along the entire Cinque Terre coastline offering superb panoramic views. Stopover in the town of Portovenere, a delightful town on the end of a peninsula with coves and caves that inspired poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. Upon docking back in La Spezia, drive back to your hotel where you can relax for the remainder of the day and have dinner tonight (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a day in beautiful Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. Drive up the coast to the town of Rapallo, a classic seaside resort town with a large harbor and a small medieval castle on the seafront. Your local tour guide will accompany you on a short boat ride to the iconic Italian resort village of Portofino. Known as a popular spot for international celebrities, Portofino’s intimate harbor, colorful houses and unique peninsular location makes it a destination like no other. This small fishing village (population is around 500) became a tourist spot in the 1950’s. Depart Portofino by boat and follow the coastline to the town of Santa Margherita Ligure. This larger seaside town has all the charm and character of other waterfront villages, but has an air of calmness that’s missing in the busier tourist spots. Spend some time and enjoy a group lunch at a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person). Return via boat to Rapallo and meet back up with your private motorcoach. Relax on your drive to Montecatini Terme – a charming Tuscan spa town. The town’s modern baths were first constructed in the 18th century and became a popular destination for artists, musicians and composers during the Belle Epoque era. Today, it’s Italy’s top destination for thermal spa treatments. Check in to your 4* hotel and enjoy dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a morning excursion to the city of Pisa. Your English speaking local guide will show you the famous Square of Miracles. On the square stands the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Cemetery and the famous Leaning Tower. The entire Duomo complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These structures are all unique examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture. While construction on the Duomo began in 1064, the campanile (the leaning bell tower) took over 170 years to build as it was done in stages. Learn all about the history of the Leaning Tower and the efforts to preserve it over time. Entrances to the Tower, the Duomo and Italy’s largest Baptistery are included. Enjoy a group lunch at a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person) before returning to Montecatini Terme. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to either relax or further explore the town. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a Tuscan excursion to the city of Siena and a stop at a San Gimignano area winery. Drive through the picturesque Tuscan hills into the medieval city of Siena. Your English speaking local guide will show you the city’s seashell shaped main square, Piazza del Campo, famous for its annual horse races called Il Palio. Go on a walking tour of Siena’s historic city center which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its stunning medieval architecture. Have an enjoyable group lunch at a local restaurant (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person) and also enjoy some free time to further explore the city. After your departure from Siena, see the walled hilltop town of San Gimignano, famous for its amazingly well-preserved medieval architecture and for its location in the middle of Chianti wine country. Stop in the San Gimignano/Chianti area for a unique winery visit accompanied by a wine tasting. Fall in love with the Tuscan landscape as you depart the winery and return to your hotel in Montecatini Terme. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel for a day trip to the city of Florence, famously called the art capital of the world. Highlights include the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge and the city’s main square, the Piazza della Signoria. Here you’ll see the impressive Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of city government beginning in the 14th century. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio is the stunning Neptune’s Fountain. The Loggia dei Lanzi is an open-air sculpture gallery next to the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery. See such Renaissance masterpieces as Perseus With the Head of Medusa and The Rape of The Sabine Women. Head over to the Piazza del Duomo and take in the beauty of the marble facades. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the main attraction and its red dome, built by Brunelleschi, defines the Florentine skyline. The Duomo’s bronze Baptistery doors were called the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo. You will be given a ticket that permits entrance to the following parts of the Duomo complex:
Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore): completed in the 16th century and currently the 3rd largest church in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Brunelleschi’s Dome: iconic Cathedral dome constructed with red bricks built in 15th century. Visitors are required to climb 463 steps.
Giotto’s Bell Tower: the best example of 14th century Gothic architecture in Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors are required to climb 414 steps.
Baptistery: sitting opposite the Cathedral, UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the 11th – 12th century – one of the oldest buildings in Florence, magnificent mosaic ceiling and bronze doors
Crypt of Santa Reparata: from a staircase in the Cathedral’s nave, descend to find the 5th century church that was discovered after an archaeological dig in the 1960’s, originally stood where the present-day Cathedral is and the crypt contains tombs of notable figures such as Brunelleschi.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: museum dedicated to the building of the Cathedral and pieces of art it has housed over the centuries, marble, brass and silver statues are beautifully preserved including a set of the original Baptistery doors and Michelangelo’s The Deposition. The 3rd floor opens up to a panoramic terrace with unparalleled views of Brunelleschi’s Dome.
Enjoy some free time for lunch and to use your Duomo complex ticket or to further explore Florence. Return to your hotel and prepare for a Gala Farewell dinner tonight in Montecatini Terme (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Transfer with assistance by your private motorcoach from your hotel to Florence Airport. Say “Arrivederci Italia!” as you return home with wonderful memories of your journey to discover the timeless beauty of Milan, Cinque Terre & Tuscany.