Immerse yourself in the captivating culture, cuisine, and history of Italy
About the Tour
Allow yourself to be immersed in the captivating culture, cuisine, and history of Italy on this special tour. From pasta making and truffle hunting in the Umbrian countryside and staying at an authentic 'trulli' resort, to watching the Vatican City come to life before your eyes on a private visit, this holiday takes you off the beaten track to showcase the very best hidden experiences Italy has to offer.
Discover this different side to Italy on an exclusive small group tour, as part of an intimate group of no more than 20 like-minded travelers. With our small group tours, you have all the advantages of traveling in a group as well as access to certain experiences and hotels not suitable for larger parties.
- First Class rail travel unless otherwise described (Standard Premier Class on Eurostar journeys with a light meal and drinks)
- Hotel accommodations for 11 nights
- 20 meals, including breakfast in Vatican City, homemade lunch in Pettino, and farewell dinner in Rome.
- Guided tour of Florence
- Guided tour of Basilica of Assisi
- Wild food experience in Pettino
- Explore Montepulciano and wine tasting
- Guided tour of Rome
- Private Vatican visit
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Days 1 & 2 – Turin and Collazzone
From St Pancras, travel by Eurostar to Paris, continuing by rail to Turin for the night. On Day 2, travel by rail to the Renaissance city of Florence, which we discover on a guided tour before continuing to Umbria. A lesser-known gem in the heart of Italy, Umbria is known for its old-world appeal, rural landscapes, and farm-to-table food. Our hotel is the Abbazia dei Collemedio in Collazzone, a former 13th-century Franciscan monastery. With an idyllic location in the rolling hills, surrounded by Cyprus trees, this property epitomizes Umbrian charm. (Day 1 – Eurostar Meal, D; Day 2 - B, D)
Day 3 - Basilica of Assisi
Travel by coach to peaceful Assisi. As the birth and resting place of St. Francis, who is interred in the Basilica of Assisi, Assisi's religious heritage has earned it UNESCO status. We are guided through the Basilica by a local Franciscan Monk, seeing the elaborate frescoes of the white-washed Upper Church and austere Lower Church. Continue to the Medieval walled city of Perugia for free time to explore the cobblestoned streets of the 14th-century town center. (B, D)
Day 4 – Italy’s culinary secrets
Spend a day immersed in authentic Umbrian culture and cuisine at a charming farm in Pettino, which has been in the same family since the 1400s. After a warm welcome, head into the nearby hills to partake in the centuries-old tradition of truffle hunting, sampling our findings with a glass of prosecco in a picturesque hillside spot. Returning to the farmhouse, learn about the family's culinary traditions with a pasta-making demonstration and a visit to the cheese room. Finally, sit down with the family for an authentic Umbrian lunch, made with fresh ingredients, along with plenty of delicious local wine. (B, D)
Day 5 – Montepulciano
After a relaxed morning, travel by coach to Montepulciano. Perched on a hillside in the undulating Tuscan countryside, this Renaissance town is known for its wine, with its prestigious Vino Nobile regarded as one of the finest wines in Italy. Enjoy time at leisure to explore the medieval streets before visiting one of the town's underground wine cellars for a tour and tasting of this famous red wine. (B, D)
Days 6-7 - Leonardo Trulli Resort, Martina Franca and Alberobello
We travel to Foligno for a rail journey south to Puglia, the unspoiled 'heel' of Italy. Arriving in Bari, continue to the luxurious Leonardo Trulli Resort in Locorotondo for 4 nights. This resort is truly special, with rooms located in the Art Nouveau farmhouse or one of several authentic trulli - centuries-old, cone-shaped houses typical of this region, built using techniques that date to prehistoric times.
We uncover some lesser-known treasures on Day 7, heading first to Martina Franca, whose Old Town is a delightful labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with intricate Baroque façades. Continue to UNESCO-listed Alberobello, home to over 1,400 trulli, many of which have been converted into galleries, shops, and cafés. Finally, explore historic Locorotondo, famous for its wines and circle-shaped center. (Day 6 - B, D; Day 7 - B)
Days 8-9 - Ostuni, Monopoli, and Lecce
We visit Ostuni, a stunning hilltop city whose white-washed buildings rise from a sea of olive trees which spread toward the coast. Ostuni is known for olive oil, and we visit an olive oil mill for an insight into its production. After a rustic lunch, we continue to Monopoli on the sparkling Adriatic coast, for free time. Unwind in a café, explore the quaint streets, or admire the impressive 16th-century castle.
We travel by rail (Standard Class) to Lecce on Day 9. We take in its Renaissance and Baroque heart on a guided tour, pausing en route to indulge in some coffee and a pasticciotto - a traditional filled Lecce pastry. Lecce boasts a captivating history, with evidence of Roman structures still visible today - the ancient amphitheater is located in the central piazza. Later, there is time to explore the town at your own pace. (Day 8 – B, L; Day 9 - B, D)
Days 10-12 - Rome and waking the Vatican
We travel by rail to Rome, where we check into the NH Collection Roma Centro. Soak up Rome's world-class blend of ancient history, art and cosmopolitan charm on Day 11. Perhaps visit the breath-taking Colosseum, where you can trace the footsteps of mighty gladiators as they prepared for victory. Toss a coin into the ornate Trevi Fountain, or simply stroll amongst the historic yet bustling streets, bursting with al fresco cafés, Medieval piazzas, and artistic masterpieces.
We wake early on Day 12 for an out of hours Vatican tour. We meet the 'clavigero', the key keeper granted the privilege of opening the Vatican each day and watch as age-old buildings are opened and lights are turned on, revealing centuries of art, history, and architecture. A highlight comes as we reach the Sistine Chapel, stepping inside the sacred building as it is cloaked in darkness and watching it transform before our eyes. Our tour ends with breakfast in the elegant Courtyard of the Pinecone. Return to the hotel for some free time ahead of the flight back to London where your tour concludes on arrival. (Day 10 - B; Day 11 - B, D; Day 12 - B)
Abbazia dei Collemedio, Collazzone
The Abbazia dei Collemedio is our base in Collazone and was once a monastery that has now been converted into a 4-Star hotel. It is perfectly situated for us to explore the surrounding areas, and each room has individual climate control facilities, a television, a telephone, a safe, and a minibar. Toiletries and a hairdryer are also provided. The hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool (accessible seasonally), allowing us to lounge on the poolside deckchairs on any leisure days. The in-house restaurant offers authentic Italian cuisine and an exclusive range of wines.
Leonardo Trulli Resort
The 4-Star Leonardo Trulli Resort in Locorotondo offers us rooms in either the masseria (or old farmhouse), or trulli (dry stone structures with conical roofs) amidst a natural setting. The trulli date back to the 18th century but have been renovated with modern amenities. Each has climate controls and boasts thick hand-embroidered linen sourced from local artisans. They are also equipped with Wi-Fi, a television, and a coffee maker. Each trullo has access to a private garden kitted out with deckchairs and sun loungers. The outdoor swimming pool is the perfect place to laze with a drink in hand.
NH Collection Roma Centro, Rome
The 4-Star NH Collection Roma Centro in Rome is situated close to Vatican City. Its location in the residential area of Prati, and its vicinity to various landmarks of the historic city makes it the ideal base for our holiday. The River Tiber just a short walk away, and each room boasts a flat-screen television, a minibar, tea & coffee making facilities, as well as Wi-Fi. The hotel also houses a café-bar and a restaurant serving Italian cuisine and premium wines.
The high-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
The highest class of Eurostar travel available for leisure customers is Standard Premier Class. In your dedicated Standard Premier carriage you'll find a less dense seat configuration, meaning the seats are larger and you have ample space to relax and stretch out. As part of the service, you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and refreshments, served at your seat by friendly, helpful waiting staff.
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV(Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionized train travel and meant that traveling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel.
The network has expanded rapidly, and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially constructed high-speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long-distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg, and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
Frecciarossa accommodations will be in Premium Class (unless otherwise noted). Premium Class features reclining leather seats, air-conditioned carriages, and a complimentary hot or cold beverage. Frecciarossa high-speed trains, operated by Trenitalia, travel at speeds up to 200 mph combining speed with deluxe comfort.
Tour Dates & Prices
Register for Free Notification of 2021 Dates & Prices
Enter your details below if you would like to be notified when 2021 dates and prices are available for Hidden Italy & the Keys to the Vatican.