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Best of Italy featuring Lake Como & the Amalfi Coast

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From alpine Lake Como to the sparkling Amalfi Coast, this grand tour exposes hidden towns and picturesque regions throughout Italy.

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20232024
13 days From $3,575 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2023 Tour code: ST-BITR-23

About the tour

Find yourself steeped in luxury and surrounded by tradition on this memorable tour of Italy. Explore various regions throughout the country, from Como in the Italian alps near the Swiss border to the farmlands of Tuscany and the beautiful cities alongside the Amalfi Coast. A thoughtfully composed mixture of guided touring, optional excursions, and independent sightseeing allows you to bring each destination to life in the way that most interests you. Best of all, these experiences are highlighted by private transfers, efficient train transit, and cozy hotel accommodations that allow you to soak in the best of Italy in total comfort.

This Italian expedition is bookended by stays in the capital, Rome. In between, enjoy time in destinations that speak to the nation's diversity, both in its scenery and culture. Visit Como alongside one of Italy's most distinctive bodies of water, and Venice, where the buildings float upon islands and are connected by canals and bridges. From here, the rural farmlands of Tuscany open up a whole new range of possibilities, especially when using Florence as your base for exploration. Wrapping up your comprehensive independent adventure, marvel at the contrasting colors and landscapes as you traverse destinations along the Amalfi Coast, including Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri. Each new location opens your eyes further to the wonders of Italy, leaving a lasting impression that lives on in your heart for years to come.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Rome

Centuries of history pave the course in Italy's capital city, Rome. On arrival, enjoy a private transfer from the airport to your centrally located hotel. Take some time to settle in ahead of this evening's small group tour, which presents the ancient ambiance of the city at a time of day when many tourists have cleared the streets. An English-speaking driver escorts you through Rome's most famous piazzas, including Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, and Piazza Venezia. Each stop along the way brings the beauty and culture of the Eternal City to life. There is time to climb the Spanish Steps, make a wish in the Trevi Fountain, and look upon the grand Vittoriano, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Marvel at the preserved detail of the Pantheon, all illuminated in city lights, as well as other structures constructed over the last thousand years. The nighttime adventure concludes with a panoramic view over Rome from Gianicolo Hill, one of the most frequented parks in the city. Overnight Rome.

Day 2 - Vatican Museums

A leisurely morning is a perfect way to get acquainted with the intricacies of Rome. The city has gorgeous fountains and plenty of boutiques and cafés alongside the narrow, cobblestone streets. You may wish to seek out ancient Roman history at the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, or Palatine Hill, or perhaps you will revisit the Pantheon to marvel at its remains by daylight. For an authentic look at Roman life without so many tourists, charming neighborhoods like Centro Storico and Trastevere offer a wonderful backdrop for your morning adventures.

After lunch, a driver greets you at your hotel to escort you to Vatican City. Skip-the-line access allows you to get right into the Vatican Museums, including the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Geographical Maps. Take your time wandering through each, soaking in intricate artwork dating to the 1500s step by step. The Sistine Chapel lies at the end of the 390-foot Gallery of Geographical Maps, and this is a crowning jewel of any visit to Vatican City. With Michelangelo's frescoes gracing the walls and ceilings, including the incredible Last Judgement, the Chapel is a haven for art enthusiasts and religious pilgrims alike. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight Rome. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Lake Como

Make your way to Rome's rail station after breakfast and begin your rail journey through the heart of Italy to Lake Como. This all-day route takes you far into the northern part of the country by way of Milan, where you switch trains. With impressive views of the Italian Alps in the backdrop, arrive at Lake Como after just over six hours of travel. Transfer to your Como hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure to soak up the amazing scenery. Overnight Como.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - At Leisure Lakeside

Embrace the dramatic scenery and timeless towns that make up the Lake Como region today. The landscape is spectacular from the land yet pales in comparison to what the water presents. Join a public boat tour of the lake to enjoy glimpses of places that remain unseen from the local roads. Look upon forested foothills and typical Italian architecture alongside the lake. Spindly Italian Cypress trees sit aside the sparkling blue water, and charming small towns offer further contrast to the landscape. This is a truly romantic perspective on alpine Italy. After your boat tour, the remainder of the day is at leisure. Como has much to offer, from beaches and beautiful villas to the 14th-century Como Cathedral. There are also several museums in town, including the Como Archaeological Museum. For a different type of adventure, perhaps ride the town's funicular railway from Como to the small town of Brunate situated high above in the mountains. Each moment up the mountainside opens up fresh vistas over the city of Como and the distinctively-shaped lake, and as you reach the top, the entire panorama is incredible. 

The small towns dotting the lake's shores are also full of adventure. You may wish to visit Lenno to get an up-close look at Villa Balbianello or Cernobbio, which is home to Villa d'Este, originally built for an English queen. Bellagio's colorful buildings climb the mountainside, creating picture-perfect scenery from the narrow, cobbled streets. Bellagio also features the gorgeous Villa Serbelloni and many thoughtfully kept gardens to explore. Of course, this is just a sampling of the beauty and attractions around the lake. Hiking the forested paths and cruising through the waters by public boat or aboard your own kayak opens even more possibilities and adventure. Overnight Como. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - To Venice by Train

Depart Lake Como by train this morning, bound for one of the most iconic cities in Italy, the Floating City 0f Venice. The journey takes you south toward Milan once more, then cuts due East, passing through places like Verona and Vicenza before arriving on the Adriatic Coast. Connected by a series of canals, Venice is spread amongst 118 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon, with the buildings stabilized on sunken wood pilings. And atop these pilings, some of the most intricate and beautiful examples of Venetian Gothic architecture remain to this day.

A private transfer takes you from the train station to your hotel, and from this point, you are free to enjoy the day however you see fit. You may wish to set out on your own, soaking in the city's wonders while crossing artistic bridges, winding down the canals by gondola, or walking through the lively surroundings of St. Mark's Square. For a more structured afternoon, join one of two optional tours:

Private Afternoon Walking Tour - Alongside a private, English-speaking guide, discover the arts, architecture, and gastronomy of Venice. Look upon the works of Tiziano, Bellini, and Canova at the Frari Church, and soak in the delights of various city areas, including those around Rialto Bridge, San Polo, and San Bartolomeo. While you walk, make stops in two traditional wine bars, known locally as bacaris, for aperitifs. This excursion takes approximately two hours.

Half-day Excursion to Murano and Burano - Traditional industries and artforms are showcased on this half-day tour to the islands of Murano and Burano. From Venice, join a small private boat to sail to Murano, home to glassmakers since the 13th century. Enjoy a glassblowing presentation, and marvel at the care and precision that goes into this process, despite the heat and tools required to perfect the pieces. From Murano, you and your guide sail to Burano to explore another traditional Venetian ware: lace. The talented lacemakers of the island have been crafting highly sought-after pieces since the 1400s. Look upon the handcrafted detail of these delicate fabrics, then take some time to walk about the island to enjoy its colorful, historic buildings and seaside ambiance. 

Overnight Venice.

 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Walking Tour of Venice

Begin your day with a heavy dose of culture and history as you embark on a small group walking tour of Venice. Meet your guide and fellow tourists at Café Florian in St. Mark's Square early this morning for your 2 1/2-hour expedition highlighting some of Venice's most prominent attractions. This is the ideal starting point for the journey, as St. Mark's Square features many gorgeous buildings. The Procuratie, three buildings joined along the perimeter of the square, all looming over the arcades that connect to the Clock Tower, are some of the most famous. Look upon these, the Bell Tower, Library, and grandiose St. Mark's Basilica before you depart the square on foot in pursuit of the group's next destination: Doge Palace. Constructed in the early 1300s, it continues to be one of Venice's most beautifully preserved Gothic buildings. Take your time as you walk through the palace, as the walls are lined with works painted by some of Italy's greatest artists. After walking through the museum, follow the footsteps of prisoners bound for execution as you cross the enclosed Bridge of Sighs and then tour the palace's prisons.

Following the excursion, you can continue exploring Venice at your own pace. You may wish to return to St. Mark's Square to venture to the top of the Bell Tower, the Campanile, for an unmatched view over Venice, or perhaps seek out picture-perfect moments from the bridges throughout the city. The vistas of the Grand Canal from Ponte dell'Accademia and the Rialto Bridge are particularly inspiring. Overnight Venice.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Florence

Transfer on your own from your hotel to Venice's train station this morning, and board a high-speed train bound for Florence in the heart of Tuscany. Private transfers are available for an additional fee. While the route from coastal Venice to the center of Italy takes just over two hours to complete, the scenery changes dramatically between the two beloved destinations. Venice's marshy lands and blue waters fade into the backdrop as you venture past vineyards, orchards, and olive groves as you enter Tuscany, the rolling landscapes punctuated by villas and farms.

After checking into your hotel, a guide greets you in the lobby and escorts you out into the city for a private three-hour walking tour. Stroll through the historic streets at a relaxed pace, getting acquainted with your surroundings while looking at sights like the Duomo, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery, and several beautiful piazzas. Your English-speaking escort offers interesting facts and excellent suggestions as you explore; pick their brain to make the most of your time in Florence.

Alternatively, you may upgrade your afternoon experience by skipping the walking tour and instead joining a private cooking class at MaMa Florence in front of the city's ancient wall. This experience is ideal for foodies who crave an authentic taste of Tuscany. Knowledgeable cooks or acclaimed chefs lead the class, teaching you traditional recipes while utilizing only the freshest local ingredients. Learn, cook, and taste for half a day, and enjoy a prosecco aperitif, an expertly prepared dinner, and two glasses of wine per person during this experience. Overnight Florence.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Chianti Tour with Wine Tasting

A day of delightful gastronomy and spellbinding scenery lies ahead as you venture into the Chianti region for a full-day small group tour. Depart this morning for Greve, an idyllic borough that has rightfully been named the Gate to Chianti. You have time to wander through this lovely town, soaking in the contrasts of modern life and medieval architecture, before venturing to a local farmhouse. This farm is beloved for its wine production, and after wandering through its vineyards and cellars, savor a tasting of the fruits of the farm's labor. Taste several flavorful varietals while nibbling on locally cured meats, pecorino cheese, and freshly baked bread dipped in Tuscan olive oil. You are also served a luscious pasta dish for lunch.

From here, your Chianti expedition continues to Montefioralle, where you are free to roam the cobbled streets and admire the rose-clad stone walls around the Hamlet. One last stop adorns the itinerary, and that is at Badia a Passignano, a Benedictine abbey set just outside Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. The panoramas over Florence and the Chianti region from here leave you feeling inspired as you end your day. The remainder of the day is yours to continue your explorations in Florence at leisure or to relax with a glass of Chianti at a local enoteca. Overnight Florence.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 9 - Naples, Pompeii & Sorrento

Next up on the grand tour of Italy is Naples, situated on the Gulf of Naples on the Tyrrhenian Sea. After breakfast, depart your hotel, and transfer to the train station to board your southbound train. The journey traverses several scenic stretches as you approach the coast. On arrival in Naples, meet your private driver and take a ride along the coastline, allowing you to savor views of the sparkling blue water and sleepy seaside towns while you drive toward Sorrento. En route, you will stop to explore the ruined city of Pompeii, a once-thriving metropolis that was buried under ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Meet a local guide on arrival and explore the vast archeological site with their expert commentary leading the way. See remnants of homes and businesses, and gain insight into ancient Romans' way of life. You have two hours to explore here before you join your car once more and finish the drive to Sorrento, where endless water views greet you. The evening is yours to explore your new destination and enjoy a fresh perspective on Italy. Overnight Sorrento. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 10 – Sorrento at Leisure

With citrus scents wafting through the air and gentle ocean breezes reminding you of your incredible positioning on the coast, Sorrento makes an ideal base for exploration during your day at leisure. Wander to one of the two marinas to see colorful boats coming and going from the harbor or tour one of the many museums, such as the Wooden Marquetry Museum or the Archeological Museum. Sorrento's 15th-century cathedral and 12th-century bell tower are just a sampling of the most impressive sights in the city. Take your time while you explore and enjoy the region's laid-back lifestyle. For a more structured day, join an optional tour:

Consider a full-day private driving tour to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Alternatively, you may wish to spend the afternoon following the Lemon Trail to Il Pizzo Estate, where you will learn about traditional citrus harvesting methods and products and then indulge in freshly made marmalades, limoncello, lemonade, olive pate, and more. A third option is a cooking class at Nonna Flora to learn traditional recipes. This informal lesson teaches you the basics of preparing dishes like gnocchi with tomato sauce, eggplant parmigiana, and tiramisu. After, dine on your creations while sipping local wine, limoncello, and regional beer. Overnight Sorrento.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 11 - Capri

Surrounded by sapphire blue water and known for its magnificent rock formations, Capri is your destination for the day. Venture to Sorrento's harbor this morning to board a fast boat. Gorgeous Amalfi Coast vistas beckon from all angles during the 20-minute ride. On arrival, switch boats and enjoy a cruise to the famous Blue Grotto, named for the bright blue color that comes from sunlight filtering into the water from beneath the surface.

Cruise back to Capri, and alongside your small group, board a minibus for a tour of the island. Begin in Anacapri, which has a higher elevation than Capri and boasts fantastic views of the ocean, the rocky coastline, and the island's buildings. Your time here is free to spend as you please. Walk through the historic town center, and look over beautiful old buildings, some of which are adorned with colorful hand-painted tiles. Villa San Michele is a popular attraction within the city, as is the Church San Michele, with its incredibly detailed mosaic floors. For the best views, venture to the top of Monte Solaro via a hiking trail or aboard the chairlift for an effort-free journey. As you return to Sorrento this afternoon, feel free to relax or explore to your heart's content. Overnight Sorrento.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 12 - To Rome by Train

A morning of travel lies ahead as a private driver picks you up at your hotel after breakfast and drives you up the coast to Naples. Here, join a high-speed train to Rome. On arrival, the remainder of the day is free to indulge in the best of Rome's offerings, from its distinctive cuisine to its beautiful attractions.

Join a private walking tour of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum for a more structured afternoon. This optional three-hour excursion offers a unique lens through which to experience these age-old structures, as your English-speaking guide offers invaluable facts and commentary while you walk. Enjoy visits to both attractions, soaking in their histories and relevance in ancient Roman culture as you explore. Overnight Rome.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 13 - Tour Conclusion

With memories of picture-perfect towns and experiences of a lifetime warming your heart, depart your hotel this morning by private car for Rome's international airport, where your grand tour of Italy concludes. 

*If transfer time required is before 6:00am, a supplement may be applicable.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

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