If everyone weren't all talking Italian, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in three different countries when you visit Rome, Florence, and Venice. Rome is wide, broad, and majestic. Its baroque piazzas are the size of small ball fields and even in its historic center, which in some places dates back to the Middle Ages, the buildings are massive, as if to proclaim the might of an empire. Florence, on the other hand, was built with a lighter touch, a feminine grace, an early Renaissance sense of delicacy and good taste in which even the piazzas and cathedrals are human size, and contrasts dramatically with the exuberant baroque enthusiasm of Rome. And Venice? It is almost another world, rising like Atlantis out of the sea, with its eyes focused most definitely eastward, towards Asia and the Middle East. If this is your first trip to Italy, this is the trip for you. It's Your Own Italy.
• Private Mercedes transfers to and from the airport and train stations
• Business class seats on high-speed trains
• All Skip-the-Line tickets included
• English-speaking tour guide throughout
• Accommodation in your choice of apartment in historic center of Rome - 3 nights, Florence - 3 nights and Venice - 3 nights
• Introductory to Rome “Dolce Vita” Tour on the evening of arrival in Rome
• Private tour of the Roman Forum and Coliseum
• Private tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
• 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
• 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 Murano and Burano with glass-making demonstration
DAY 1: Welcome to Rome! Dolce Vita Tour
Your driver will be waiting for you at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport and will escort you by private car to your boutique hotel in Rome. After you have a chance to relax, your private tour guide will accompany 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 almost like a native.
DAY 2: Walk in the Footsteps of the Ancient Romans
At the Coliseum, one of the largest structures of the ancient world, Romans once gathered to watch gladiator games, animal contests and even reenactments of sea battles. Your guide will tell you about its design and construction, political purposes, fighters (both willing and unwilling) and its 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. The most ancient Latin text ever found, the Lapis Niger (“black stone”), can be found here, in a foundation of a column. Your tour will end on the Capitoline Hill, the smallest and most important of the seven hills of ancient Rome, where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Imperial Forum and of modern Rome, too.
DAY 3: Explore St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums
The art of the Vatican is among the most recognizable in the world. In leading you through the museums, your guide will convey the tantalizing background of its 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 with Raphael himself and some of his contemporaries. In the Sistine Chapel, below the largest and most renowned fresco in the world, your guide will explain the intriguing history of how this work was painted and the messages Michelangelo hid in it. From here you’ll visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Catholic church in the world, where you can see Michelangelo’s magnificent Pietà, Bernini’s acclaimed altar canopy, and the tombs of the Popes, including that of John Paul II.
DAY 4: Transfer to Florence and Introductory City Walking Tour
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to the station for the high-speed train to Florence. There, you will be met by a greeter at the station who will accompany you to your hotel. After relaxing, you will tour the city's historic center with your private guide on a route that will include the gothic cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and the Accademia Gallery Museum to see Michelangelo's famous David.
DAY 5: Day Excursion to San Gimignano and the Chianti Region
This relaxing day begins with a drive on picturesque local roads through the Chianti region. Lying between Florence and Siena, and bordered on the east by the Chianti Mountains and the west by the Elsa River, this wine region boasts rolling hills covered with vineyards and cypresses, 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 types of local wine, followed by a sumptuous lunch in the family’s villa. Following this, your driver will take you to the medieval gem of San Gimignano, “city of beautiful towers.” In its heyday, the town boasted 72 towers. Now 14 remain, and, rising above Tuscany’s Elsa Valley, they give the town the appearance of a medieval dream. Your walking tour begins at the Piazza della Cisterna, Piazza del Duomo Collegiata, and Romanesque cathedral, and continues with a stroll along the ancient pilgrimage road, the Via Francigena. There will also be time to visit shops, browse the lovely Santa Fina pottery and other handmade products, and purchase some saffron, a local culinary specialty.
DAY 6: Florence Art Tour
Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the Piazza della Signoria and its many sculptures. The graceful Loggia dei Lanzi houses the famous Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa, by Cellini (1554), and the Rape of the Sabine Women, by Giambologna. The day culminates with a private tour of the world-class Uffizi Gallery, where you will view masterpieces of the Renaissance masters Giotto, Michelangelo and Botticelli and then relax with a glass of prosecco on the terrace overlooking the Piazza della Signoria.
DAY 7: Transfer to Venice and Tour of Hidden Venice
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to the station for the high-speed “freccia rossa” train to Venice. There, your tour guide will meet and lead you to your private taxi-boat that will cruise you on the Grand Canal to your hotel in one of the most unique cities in the world. After relaxing, you will be escorted on a walking tour of the labyrinth also known as “hidden Venice” to get an initial look at the piazzas, shops and cafés. Your introduction to Venice will culminate an enchanting glide through the canals of Venice. Do you enjoy good music? A tenor will join you on your gondola ride and sing opera arias as you sip wine. This enchanting day ends with dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
DAY 8: Tour of Venice’s Unique Sites
Your guide will introduce you to the main attractions of this most unique city, including the Piazza San Marco (famous for its yearly winter flooding); the richly decorated St. Mark’s Basilica; the fourteenth century Doge’s palace, seat of power of the Venetian republic, which lasted for a millenium; and the famous Bridge of Sighs that connects the palace to the prison. Your tour will culminate with a climb to the top of the bell tower for magnificent views of the city.
DAY 9: Explore Murano and Burano
You will be picked up at the dock of your hotel by a private boat and sped along the Venetian Lagoon to two islands famous for their handicrafts and architecture. Known for its glassware shops and factories, Murano boasts a long and still-thriving glass tradition dating back to 1291, when artisans moved their kilns from the old city center. Exploring the island on foot, you will visit a museum dedicated to the art of glass and watch a skill glassblowers at their craft; view the splendor of Murano’s palaces and Veneto-Byzantine style churches, some with mosaics and ornamental motifs designed in the 12th century; and, if weather permits, catch a glimpse of San Michele, Venice’s 19th-century cemetery, across the water. Your next stop will be Burano, a miniature Venice with picturesque fishermen’s houses. Since the 16th century Burano has been famous for its lace, once considered the most refined in Europe. Browse local lace shops, visit the museum dedicated to the craft of lace, and lunch in a restaurant on the canal with the colorful backdrop of the fuchsia pink, deep blue and vibrant yellow houses that characterize this lovely island town.
DAY 10: Departure
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and accompany you by private boat to Venice’s airport for departure. We salute you with a warm and heartfelt “arrivederci!” See you again! Now that you’ve traveled with us, know that you have friends here in Your Own Italy.
• 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.
• This tour is not fully accessible for wheelchair users or those with walking disabilities. However, please contact us directly and we will devise alternative routes suitable for you.
• Please wear comfortable footwear as the tours on your vacation involve a lot of walking.
• St. Mark’s Basilica may be closed due to high water or religious ceremonies. When it is open with high water, skip-the-line tickets will not be accepted, as there will be only one door providing ingress to the church. Guaranteed skip-the-line entrance to St. Mark’s Basilica are available only from April to October.
• Contact Your Own Italy for customization options on your vacation.
• Refer to our website for details on our Cancellation Policy.
• The team at Your Own Italy is absolutely flexible and will customize your vacation to suit your personal tastes and needs. Are you traveling with children? Are you disabled? We will provide all the assistance necessary to adjust our packages to ensure that your vacation is truly memorable!
- 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.