DAY 1: (FRIDAY) OVERNIGHT FLIGHT TO ROME – non-stop from the U.S.A.
DAY 2: (SATURDAY) ARRIVE IN ROME, TOUR THE VATICAN
You land in the morning, are met at the airport, settle into your hotel in Rome for 2 nights.
Visit the Vatican Museums in the afternoon, with the great collection from ancient Greece to the Renaissance; the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s amazing ceiling paintings overlooking his Last Judgment; Saint Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church and one of the most beautiful. Admire Michelangelo’s Pietà statue group, marvel at the grand scale and magnificent decor of the basilica. Dinner is offered in a typical Roman restaurant. Breakfast/Dinner
The Vatican –St. Peter’s Basilica
Rome: the Coliseum
DAY 3: (SUNDAY) IMPERIAL ROME, RENAISSANCE and BAROQUE ROME
Enter the Colosseum, forerunner of modern stadiums, and the Roman Forum, where so much history was made. From atop nearby Palatine Hill, look down on ancient and “modern” Rome, inspect the remains of the Imperial palaces and the chariot-racing Circus Maximus; gaze across the Avenue of the Imperial Forums to other fora established by several emperors. View the Area Sacra, where the Senate met and Julius Caesar was killed, and its four temples. Enter the Pantheon, still in perfect condition after 2000 years, and the inspiration for architects including Thomas Jefferson. Examine the 97′ Column of Marcus Aurelius, with battle scenes.
Rome: The Pantheon
Rome: The Fountain of Trevi
Wander through Renaissance and Baroque Rome, including Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Via Condotti, Spanish Steps. On the Capitoline Hill, see 3 building façades, 2 stairways and the pavement, all by Michelangelo. Stroll through the Pincio Gardens; from Pincio Hill, take in the postcard panorama of Rome, with St. Peter’s in the background. Tour Piazza del Popolo and its churches: great art works, including Caravaggio. If time allows, compare renaissance Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress built around the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, with the massive Tomb of the Caesars and altar, just across the Tiber River from Sant’Angelo. While you see a lot, there is time to relax in the cafes, as the Romans do, to dream and people watch. Meal: Breakfast
DAY 4: (MONDAY) ON TO ROYAL NAPLES AND ITS MANY TREASURES
You take the high speed, luxury Eurostar train and check into your comfortable hotel for 2 nights. In Naples, a city of (3) Royal palaces, (4) medieval castles, (5) panoramic parks, (5) yacht basins, (400+) churches, tour resplendent San Martino abbey, high above the city. See its famous collection of Christmas nativity scenes and other fascinating museums. Storm inside star-shaped Sant’Elmo Castle, just above. Gaze down at Mergellina harbor and its many yachts; admire the seaside boulevard by the marina and cafes of Castel Ovo, on an island just offshore.
Walk to impressive Castel Nuovo, opposite the cruise ships; tour its Hall of Barons, dungeons and high towers. Continue through the striking 19th century Galleria shopping arcade, then into the grandly furnished main Royal Palace. See its handsome square and gardens with the monumental, Pantheon-like church facing the palace. Enter the ornate, Baroque Jesuit Church and simple, Medieval Saint Clare, with royal tombs and decoratively tiled cloister garden. Explore the Archaeological Museum, full of treasures from Herculaneum, Pompeii, Rome itself. Relax in Piazza Bellini’s cafes, by the ancient pre-Roman Greek walls. Meal: Breakfast
Naples Waterfront and Mount Vesuvius
Naples: Castel Nuovo
Naples Archaeological Museum
DAY 5: (TUESDAY) POMPEII, SORRENTO and the ISLE OF CAPRI
Start with Pompeii, an ancient Roman city buried under the lava of Mount Vesuvius and so well preserved. Its luxury villas, simple houses, shops, forum, temples, arenas help you imagine the people who lived here for centuries, before stillness set in for almost two thousand years.
Pompeii under Mount Vesuvius
The coast of the sparkling Bay of Naples leads you to Sorrento. Its timeless lanes, cliffs, bay-side parks and citrus groves evoke the poignant song, Come Back to Sorrento. Inhale the scent as you walk through a lemon grove; enjoy a tour through town, down to the harbor.
Sail by fast ferry to the enchanting, romantic Isle of Capri. Its charming country walks present breath-taking scenery. Ascend 460 feet by convertible auto, the cliffs high above and the Bay below, past gardened villas surrounded by vineyards, orange and lemon groves. Continue another 440 feet up the safe-but-thrilling cliff road to Anacapri. Admire Villa San Michele’s views and gardens, and the church whose floor tiles beautifully depict the Garden of Eden. Drive down to Capri’s world-famous Piazzetta, the center of social life on the island with its four cafes.
Centuries-old, covered alleys lead off to shops displaying high fashion, excellent arts and crafts. From the Piazzetta, savor an easy, 15-minute escorted walk to the terrace overlooking the open Mediterranean Sea. Gaze down on the three famed Faraglioni rocky pinnacles, which rise some 350 feet above the sea. Visit the lush Gardens of Augustus on the way back. After resting in the Piazzetta, you can join a second walk (45 minutes) through the countryside, to the enormous palace of Emperor Tiberius, on a cliff 1,100 feet above the sea. See wonderful views of the Bay, the Sea, the beginning of the Amalfi Coast, study the very interesting and varied geology of the Bay of Naples area. In the evening, cruise back to Naples. Meal: B
The Isle of Capri with the Faraglioni rising 350 feet above the Sea
Capri – Marina Grande Harbor
DAY 6: (WEDNESDAY) EUROSTAR EXPRESS TRAIN TO RENAISSANCE FLORENCE
We take the Eurostar from Naples to Florence (330 miles in just 3 hours). Check into your hotel in Florence for 2 nights. Florence originated the Renaissance, or “rebirth” of Europe, through its commerce, art, architecture, literature and political thought.
Your tour of Florence begins with the sculptured, high-domed Cathedral, soaring bell tower and stunning Gates of Paradise to the Baptistery across the street. Walk the Piazza della Signoria, statue-studded with excellent copies of famous originals, including the David, by the Bargello sculpture museum and Uffizi picture gallery (one of the world’s top five). Cross the Arno River on the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge, built in 1345) for a perspective of the city. The bridge’s gold and jewelry stores have been in business here for five centuries. Visit the elaborate Pitti Palace, the Palatine Gallery with 1,000 artworks by many great artists, and a notable collection of royal and princely carriages; then stroll in the beautiful Boboli Gardens with forest, flowers and grottos.
Florence, Ponte Vecchio – The Old Bridge on the Arno River
Venice: Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Cathedral
DAY 7: (THURSDAY) EUROSTAR FOR A DAY-TRIP TO MAGICAL VENICE
The Eurostar speeds you on a day trip to Venice, the dazzling city of 100 canals. Navigate the Grand Canal. Its many fabulous buildings, most over 400 years old, combine a variety of fanciful architectural designs. Enter St. Mark’s Square and Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of the most beautiful and exotic in Italy, with a strong eastern Mediterranean (Byzantine) influence. Take the elevator up its 320-foot bell tower for an extraordinary view of Venice and its lagoon. Tour the richly decorated Palace of the Doges, Venice’s elected rulers, and the Bridge of Sighs. At the Correr Museum, have an interesting look at Venice’s history, in its art and artifacts. Observe glass being blown into intricate, multicolored forms, Venice’s best known product along with its sleek gondolas. Meander to the fabled Rialto Bridge, cruise to the train station. Meal: B
Venice, the Rialto Bridge
DAY 8: (FRIDAY) VISIT PISA and SIENA, QUEEN OF TUSCAN HILL TOWNS
In Pisa, enter the Cathedral and Baptistry, approach the Leaning (Bell) Tower in the Field of Miracles.
From Pisa, drive through the Tuscan Chianti wine country with its renowned vineyards, picturesque castles and villages to Siena. Siena once was Florence’s military and commercial rival. Defeated by Florence, it remains frozen in time and now stands as one of the most representative medieval cities in Italy. The great fan-shaped piazza is used twice a year for the no-holds-barred horse races, when Siena turns out in its traditional finery. Amble down the ancient streets and into the lavish, stately Cathedral, clad in alternating stripes of black and white marble, a Tuscan highlight. Meals: B/D
Back on the nearby autostrada, drive on to your hotel in Rome as you conclude your stimulating week in Italy. With your “three coins in the (Trevi) fountain”, you’re sure to return! Meal: B
DAY 9: (SATURDAY) FLY BACK TO THE U.S.A. You are escorted back to Rome’s airport for your non-stop flight back to America, arriving the same day. Meal: Breakfast