This is it: your Grand Tour of Italy. Seventeen days/sixteen nights touring the major regions of our amazing country! Beginning in the northeast, you’ll take in exotic, romantic Venice, then head west to chic and sophisticated Milan, world capital of fashion and design and home of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Up towards the Swiss border is lovely Lake Como, worth the trip even if you're not rich and/or famous. Heading south to the Mediterranean Coast you will tour the Cinque Terre, where you’ll find colorful villages, pesto, panoramic views and more. Then it's on to Florence, by way of Pisa, for highlights of the Italian Renaissance, and from there into the south of Italy, including the exquisite Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. Your trip winds up in Rome, where all roads lead and which you must see before dying. This is the trip of a lifetime… It is the complete Italian experience and it is all your own, because you're traveling with Your Own Italy.
• Private Mercedes transfers to and from the airport and train stations
• Business class seats on sigh-speed trains
• English-speaking tour guide throughout
• 16 nights’ accommodations total. Your choice of apartments in historic central Venice – 3 nights, Milan – 2 nights, Cinque Terre – 2 nights, Florence – 3 nights, Sorrento – 3 nights, Rome – 3 nights
• Introduction to Venice walking tour with gondola ride
• Private tour of San Marco, the Marciana Library, the Clock Tower and the Doge’s Palace
• Private boat tour of the islands of Murano and Burano with glass-making demonstration
• Private walking tour of Milan with visit to da Vinci’s Last Supper
• Day excursion on Lake Como to Bellagio and Villa Balbianello
• Walking tour of the five villages of the Cinque Terre with pesto-making demonstration
• Private tour of Pisa’s Cathedral and Leaning Tower
• Introduction to Florence walking tour including the Cathedral, Accademia Gallery, Baptistry and Duomo
• Private tour of the Piazza della Signoria and Uffizi Gallery
• Tour of the Chianti Region and wine-tasting with lunch in wine-producing villa
• Private tour of Pompeii with lunch in wine-producing villa on Mt. Vesuvius
• Full-day excursion in private car to Positano, Amalfi and Ravello
• Full day excursion with guide in private boat to Capri and Anacapri
• Introductory to Rome “Dolce Vita” Tour on the evening of arrival in Rome
• Tour of the Roman Forum and Coliseum
• Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
DAY 1: Private Transfer from Airport. Walking Tour of Venice with Gondola Ride
Your private driver will pick you up at Venice’s Marco Polo airport and take you to your hotel in the historic center. That afternoon, you will be taken on an introductory walking tour of the labyrinth also known as “hidden Venice” to enjoy the shops, cafés and colorful gondolas. Your introduction to Venice will culminate with an enchanting gondola glide through the canals of Venice. In a musical mood? A tenor will join to serenade you with opera arias as you sip wine and, if you wish, sing along.
DAY 2: Walking Tour of Venice’s Unique Sites
After a leisurely breakfast, you will tour the main attractions of one of the most unique cities in the world: Piazza San Marco, famous for its annual winter flooding; the top of San Marco's bell tower for magnificent views of the city; the Marciana Library and the Clock Tower; and the Bridge of Sighs, an enclosed span of white limestone built in the 1600s to move common criminals.
DAY 3: Explore Murano and Burano
A private boat will pick you up at the dock of your hotel and speed you through the Venetian Lagoon to two islands famous for their handicrafts and architecture: Murano and Burano. Known for its glassware shops and factories, Murano boasts a long and still-thriving tradition dating back to 1291, when glass artisans moved their kilns from the old city center. Exploring the island on foot, you will see glass shops, glass museums, and glassblowers creating works of art, view the splendor of the island’s Veneto-Byzantine palaces and churches, some with mosaics and ornamental motifs designed in the 12th century, and catch a glimpse of San Michele – Venice’s 19th-century cemetery – across the water. Burano, a miniature Venice, has been known since the sixteenth century for its lace, once considered the most refined in Europe. Browse local shops and find lace on display at a museum dedicated to the craft. Lunch will be in a restaurant on the canal with the colorful backdrop of the fuscia, deep blue and vibrant yellow fishermen's cottages that characterize this lovely island town.
DAY 4: Private Transfer to Milan with Tour of Milan
You will reach Milan by private car. After time for you to relax in your hotel in the center of town, your guide will pick you for an introductory walking tour of Italy’s most stylish city. This will be your opportunity to see da Vinci’s Last Supper, housed at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Following this you will spend some time in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glass-vaulted shopping arcade from the nineteen century that, with its fashionable shops and cafes, remains an important meeting point for the Milanese. Next on your walk: the grand medieval Sforza castle and fortress, once the seat of Milan's ruling family and now home to several of the city’s museums and art collections. Your tour sinds up at the Duomo, one of the world’s largest, most striking Gothic cathedrals, boasting no fewer than 135 spires and 3,200 statues.
DAY 5: Day Excursion to Lake Como
Lake Como is a day's jaunt from Milan and you will get there by private car. The town of Como is charming, with its own medieval cathedral. After lunch you will cross the lake by ferry. This area has been a popular haven for aristocrats and rich folk since Roman times. Often called the most beautiful lake in the world, Como's natural climatic and environmental splendors are set off to advantage by the lovely villas and palaces of the rich and/or famous that hug the shores. If you like looking at other people's money, this is where to do it.
DAY 6: Transfer to Monterosso in Cinque Terre
On your way by private car from Milan to Monterosso al Mare, one of the five villages in the Cinque Terre, you’ll stop for lunch and a stroll in charming Portofino, a former fishing village on the Italian Riviera with a picturesque harbor, colorfully-painted homes, and historical association with famous and artistic visitors. From there you'll head to Monterosso, where you will settle into your hotel and rest up for the following day's walking tour.
DAY 7: Walking Tour of the Five Villages with Pesto Making Demonstration
The five villages of the Cinque Terre are very do-able in a day. With your English-speaking guide, you’ll take the train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore and walk along the panoramic footpath that leads from the new to the old part of the village, where you will have a view of the “Via dell’Amore,” the rest of Cinque Terre coast, the harbor, and old Riomaggiore, and pass the ancient church of St. John the Baptist. At Manarola, one of the smallest villages, you’ll walk uphill to the village’s church, then through the vineyards or the upper village, as you choose. Then it's time to make pesto, a specialty of the region, with fresh basil you pick yourself and an old mortar to grind the ingredients in the traditional way. Lunch will include pesto bruschetta, meat and cheese platters, olives, and vegetable cakes accompanied by regional white wine. After lunch you’ll take the train to Vernazza, the pearl of Cinque Terre, where, with your local guide, you will explore its alleyways and enjoy the stunning views from the hiking path leading to Monterosso.
DAY 8: Private Transfer to Florence with Stopover in Pisa
You will be driven from Monterosso to Florence, but on the way you’ll stop at Pisa's Piazza dei Miracoli, a Romanesque building complex constructed from 1063 to 1350 that is unequalled in all of Italy in size, quality, and unique style. After having a look at the cathedral itself and its nearby baptistery, you may find yourself wondering why the bell tower gets all the attention. Nevertheless, you'll have a chance to climb to its top and find out why it's leaning and what has been done about it.
DAY 9: Walking Tour of the Museum of the Duomo, Baptistery, Piazza Della Signoria and Uffizi Gallery
Your private tour of Florence includes the Piazza della Signoria and its many sculptures, including a copy of Michelangelo's David (the original of which is in the Galleria dell’Accademia); the graceful Loggia dei Lanzi, housing Cellini's famous sculpture of Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa (1554) and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines; and a private tour of the incomparable Uffizi Gallery, where every painting is a Renaissance winner. Giotto, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and a glass of prosecco on a terrace overlooking the Piazza della Signoria: another day in Italy!
DAY 10: Visit to a Wine-Producing Villa in Chianti for Lunch and Wine-Tasting, Plus a Visit to Medieval S. Gimignano
The Chianti region, lying between Florence and Siena and bordered by the Chianti Mountains and the Elsa River, boasts delightful vistas of vine-covered rolling hills and cypresses, along with an unhurried pace of life and charming villages. You’ll visit the celebrated Machiavelli winery for a tour of the vineyard and a sampling of several different local wine, followed by a sumptuous lunch in the family’s villa. Your driver will then take you to the medieval gem of San Gimignano, “city of beautiful towers.” In its heyday, the town boasted 72 towers, but now only 14 remain, and, rising above Tuscany’s Elsa Valley, they give the town the appearance of a medieval dream. You will tour the Piazza della Cisterna, Piazza del Duomo Collegiata, and Romanesque cathedral, and will stroll along the ancient pilgrimage road, the Via Francigena. There will also be time to visit shops, browse for Santa Fina pottery and other handmade products, and purchase some saffron, a local culinary specialty.
DAY 11: Transfer to Sorrento and Tour of Pompeii
Your transfer from Florence to Naples will be by high-speed train. At the station in Naples you will be met by your driver who will take you to Pompeii for a private tour. Italy's most well-preserved ancient town, with intact streets and many buildings rising to the second story, Pompeii provides a window into the life of the ancients, both wealthy, who lived in airy, courtyard-centered homes decorated with vivid frescoes depicting lives of leisure, and middle-class, who ate "fast food" on the go and bathed in public facilities, all in the shadow of the Vesuvius. That's where you'll have lunch: at a wine-producing villa on Mt. Vesuvius. From there, your driver will take you to your hotel in nearby Sorrento.
DAY 12: Let the Coast Awaken Your Spirit
The winding roads that cling to the mountain side of the Amalfi Peninsula are no match for the skill of your Italian driver – just sit back and enjoy the ride! Your first stop will be Positano, a jewel of a town that clings to the side of a mountain. The Positano style of white linen dresses, artisan sandals, jewelry, and open air art exhibits is on display throughout the year. If it's hot, you'll want to savor a "granite al limone," or Italian lemon ice, available at any of the bars with terraces overlooking the sea. From Positano you head to Ravello, atop Mount Cerreto, where you will have lunch on the most spectacular panoramic terrace you have ever seen. You can stroll afterwards through the lovely gardens of Villa Ruffolo, home of the world-famous summer music festival, and will wrap up the day in Amalfi, where you will visit the eleventh century cathedral of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the town.
DAY 13: Dive into the Waters off Capri
This is a day to relax ... on a private boat to Capri. Your captain will take you to nearly-private coves of deep azure, and there's no need to bring towels or drinks…your guide is prepared for impromptu toasts of prosecco under the lovers’ cove - because everyone loves something! Upon docking, your private taxi driver will transport you in an open vehicle up the narrow, hairpin curves to Anacapri. A stroll at the top of the mountain to visit the famous Capri sandalmakers, a look toward the sea from the enchanting villa San Michele, and a sumptuous seafood lunch at a dockside restaurant where the fresh catch of the day is all that is offered will end your enchanted visit to Capri. Your captain will return you to Sorrento.
DAY 14: Private Transfer to Naples and High-Speed Train to Rome
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel in Sorrento and take you to the train station in Naples for the high-speed train to Rome, where a driver will be waiting for you to take you to to your hotel in the historic center. After relaxing, you will be picked up by your private guide who will take you on your “Dolce Vita” Tour. You’ll uncover the secrets locked in Bernini’s work, marvel at the Pantheon, the best preserved ancient Roman monument, toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure your return to the Eternal City and simply enjoy Rome’s charming streets in a leisurely Italian fashion. By the end of the tour, you will realize that your guide has not only shown you around Rome, but has taught you how to get around Rome making you feel almost like a native.
DAY 15: Walk in the Footsteps of the Ancient Romans
At the Colosseum, one of the largest structures of the ancient world, Romans once gathered to watch gladiator games, animal contests, and even reenactments of sea battles. A massive stone amphitheater which seated an estimated 60,000 spectators, it was built in only eight years. Your guide will tell you about its design and construction, political purposes, fighters (both willing and unwilling), and eventual demise as an arena. At the Imperial Roman Forum, you will hear about the myths and religions of ancient Rome as you wander through the ruins of meeting halls and temples, such as that of the Vestal Virgins, who maintained Vesta’s sacred fire and were considered to be almost goddesses. The most ancient Latin text ever found, the Lapis Niger (“black stone”), can also be found in the Forum, in a foundation of a column. Your tour will end on the Capitoline Hill, the smallest and most important of the seven hills of the Ancient Rome, and enjoy a wonderful view of the city and of the Imperial Forum.
DAY 16: Explore St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel for this signature Your Own Italy tour of The Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. The art of the Vatican is among the most recognizable in the world, with masterpieces by Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo. In leading you through the museums, your guide will convey the tantalizing background of these Renaissance masterpieces, the geniuses who created them, and the powers who commissioned them. In the stunning Raphael Rooms you will see the famous “School of Athens” fresco that depicts influential thinkers of ancient Greece mingling unknowingly with Raphael himself and some of his contemporaries. In the Sistine Chapel, below the largest and most renowned fresco in the world, your tour guide will explain the intriguing history of how this work came to be and the hidden messages Michelangelo painted into it. After the museum, you’ll visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Catholic church in the world, where you can visit the tombs of the Popes, including that of John Paul II. You will also see Michelangelo’s magnificent Pietà and Bernini’s acclaimed baldachino, or altarpiece.
DAY 17: Depart Rome
Your driver will pick you up in plenty of time to make your flight. Rome salutes you with a warm and heartfelt “arrivederci.” See you again! Now that you’ve traveled with Your Own Italy, you have friends here in Rome.
• Please wear comfortable footwear as the tours on your vacation involve a lot of walking.
• Many tours take place in an historical areas and are not fully accessible for wheelchair users or those with walking disabilities. Please contact us directly and we will devise alternative routes suitable for you.
• There is a dress code for churches and basilicas. Shoulders and knees must be covered; shorts, miniskirts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted. It is recommended that you not take large bags or backpacks on tours that include churches as storage accommodations are not always available.
• At times St. Mark’s basilica is closed due to high water or religious ceremonies. When St. Mark’s is open with high water, skip-the-line tickets will not be accepted as there will be only one means of ingress to the church.
• The tour of Pompeii is not fully accessible for wheelchair users or people with walking disabilities.
- When should we start planning our trip?
- Ideally, we ask for at least 3 months' advance notice, especially in the high season (May to September). Arrangements can be made on shorter notice, but you run the risk of missing out on the availability of our favorite hotels and guides. We want the best for our clients, and the more time we have, the more we can guarantee just that.
- What are YOI's payment terms?
- For our customized vacations, we require a 20% deposit upon approval of the itinerary we have presented to you. The balance is due 30 days prior to your arrival date.
- What happens after I've made a reservation through your website?
- Upon submitting your reservation through our website, you will be provided with a voucher with a reservation number that will be used for payment by credit card on the online portal of Blue Pay, our credit card processor.
- Should I purchase travel insurance?
- We strongly encourage you to buy travel insurance at the time of booking, in the event you must cancel and forfeit funds or in the unfortunate case of injury or loss. We also recommend checking with your credit card company, which may offer travel coverage.
- What kind of information will we receive before our trip?
- Approximately one month prior to your departure date, you will receive a Your Own Italy travel packet consisting of a detailed day-to-day itinerary, our list of recommended restaurants, a “Helpful Hints Guide” for Italy, and your specific destinations, plus detailed information and contacts for your accommodations, tours, excursions, and transportation.
- Can you give me a cost breakdown of my customized vacation and what is included?
- The vacations we create are bundled packages and therefore we do not provide a cost breakdown. Our local suppliers often give us a bundled price for the services provided and so we do the same for our clients. We arrange for all your accommodations, transportation, local tour guides, restaurant reservations, and any other fun activities and experiences from the moment you arrive until the day of your departure.