Explore the historical heritage of Italy combined with its natural splendor, starting with the scenic areas of Lake Como and Cinque Terre, where you'll cruise the shore by boat and hike from village to village. Stop in Parma to learn the secrets of world-famous prosciutto curing and discover the hidden side of Pisa beyond its leaning tower. End your trip in the ancient cities of Florence and Rome, where private tours will guide you to all the best monuments, museums, and art galleries, including the Accademia Gallery, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and the Roman Forum.

Highlights

  • Discover Rome's history with tours of the Vatican Museums and the Roman Forum
  • Cruise the extravagant shores of Lake Como
  • Wander the streets of Florence and see The David at the Accademia Gallery
  • Hike from one colorful, seaside village to another in Cinque Terre
  • Learn how the world-famous prosciutto is made in Parma

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Milan - Private Transfer to Lake Como Como
Day 2 Private Boat Tour of Lake Como - Explore Bellagio Como
Day 3 Transfer to Cinque Terre - Prosciutto Excursion in Parma Levanto
Day 4 Hike the Villages of Cinque Terre Levanto
Day 5 Transfer to Florence - City Tour of Uffizi and Accademia Galleries Florence
Day 6 Travel to Rome by Train - Explore Rome
Day 7 Tour the Vatican City and Ancient Rome Rome
Day 8 Depart Rome  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Milan - Private Transfer to Lake Como

Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como, Italy

Welcome to Italy!

Upon arrival at the airport in Milan, your private concierge and driver will meet you and transfer you to Lake Como where you'll spend your first night. 

You'll start in the city of Como, which is set on the southern shores of the lake. Settle into your accommodation, then go and explore the quaint streets. Stroll along the waterfront promenade, where you'll find plenty of restaurants and cafes to sit and enjoy an espresso or a meal. If you have time, ride the funicular up to Brunate for amazing views of the lake. You can also enjoy the gothic Cattedrale di S.Maria Assunta di Como or the Educational Silk Museum.

Day 2: Private Boat Tour of Lake Como - Explore Bellagio

Mansions of Lake Como
Mansions of Lake Como

Famous for its turquoise waters, there's no better way of seeing magical Lake Como than by boat. From the water, you'll get a much better view of some of the extravagant villas that border the lake (including one owned by George Clooney), as well as the lush gardens that surround them.

Between Torno and Blevio, your private guide will show you the pretty little villages that line the shore, many with beautiful bell towers reflected in the water. Pass by the island of Comacina, the only island in the lake. Largely abandoned now—apart from a handful of artists and a restaurant—Comacina is, in fact, one of the earliest inhabited parts of the lake. There was already an established settlement on the island when it was taken over by the Romans.

At the town of Bellagio, known as the pearl of the lake, you can stop and wander its quaint little lanes. Explore the many wonderful craft shops filled with local goods. Towering above the town is the impressive Villa Serbelloni, an extravagant hotel built in the late 19th century. Stop here for lunch or find a quiet cafe in the town's center.

After lunch, you'll return to Como for the night.

Day 3: Transfer to Cinque Terre - Prosciutto Excursion in Parma

Famous Prosciutto Ham in Parma, Italy
Famous Prosciutto Ham in Parma, Italy

After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy a quick stroll along Lake Como's edge. Then, meet your private driver in the lobby for your transfer to the hilly region of Cinque Terre.

Along the way, your driver will stop in Parma, a city renowned for the Parma Ham farm. Here you'll discover the secrets of this world-famous prosciutto, starting with the cooling, salting and “resting” rooms, each emulating the traditional winter-to-spring curing seasons.

End your experience by visiting the company's “Naso” (or master nose). The Naso deciphers the scent of the products, ensuring the quality of the prosciutto and preparing it for top restaurants in Parma, Italy, and the world.

After lunch—which includes delicious prosciutto, of course—your driver will take you to Cinque Terre. You'll stay the night in the town of Levanto, one of the quieter villages on the coast. Enjoy a stroll along the town's large public beach and grab dinner at one of the many seaside restaurants.

Day 4: Hike the Villages of Cinque Terre

Colorful Villages in Cinque Terre
Colorful Villages in Cinque Terre

Today you'll explore the beauty of 'Cinque Terre' (the five lands), quickly discovering its appeal and popularity. The five villages that constitute Cinque Terre are the highlight of any trip to the Ligurian coastline. They include Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, together creating a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

These unique villages can only be accessed by foot, boat, or train. Steep terraces plunge down to the tiny harbors with colorful little houses, huddled together until you reach the sea. You will feel that you have stepped into a painting with such picturesque scenery! 

In the morning, you'll meet your private hiking guide in the lobby of your hotel. After receiving your Cinque Terre National Park Cards, you'll start your hiking experience. Your guide will help you choose which path to follow, based on your interests, the weather conditions, and your training.

Your hiking options include:

  • Monterosso – Vernazza. Difficulty: medium. Time: about two hours.
    This walking tour starts in Monterosso and will take you along a scenic path with amazing views. After an initial climb up a steep cliffside stairway of one hundred steps, the trail winds up and down through scrubby Mediterranean vegetation bordered by dry-stone walls.

  • Corniglia – Vernazza. Difficulty: medium. Time: about 2 hours.
    This walk starts in Corniglia. After winding your way through vineyards, olive groves, and along terraces dotted with scrubby Mediterranean bushes, you will end in Vernazza, probably the most photogenic of all the Cinque Terre villages.

  • Riomaggiore – Madonna di Montenero. Difficulty: medium. Time: about 1.5 hours.
    This trail takes you along the cliffs of Cinque Terre and brings you to the Sanctuary of Montenero. For centuries, it housed the only religious center for the whole area; now it operates as a youth hostel.After enjoying lunch at your destination, your guide will transfer you to the charming village of Manarola, one of the official Cinque Terre villages. Enjoy dinner at a hilltop restaurant overlooking the sea, then stroll down to the small, rocky marina for sunset views.

After enjoying lunch at your destination, your guide will transfer you back to Levanto for the night.

 

Day 5: Transfer to Florence - City Tour of Uffizi and Accademia Galleries

Exploring the Streets of Florence
Exploring the Streets of Florence

Enjoy your final morning on the coast of Cinque Terre with a leisurely breakfast. Then meet your driver for a private transfer to Florence. Although it's a large city, the best way to explore Florence is by foot so you can capture as much of its impressive museums, art galleries, architecture, and history as possible.

Start your visit with a stroll through the narrow streets of the city with your guide. Your main focus of the day is the legendary Uffizi Gallery where you can admire masterpieces like the Botticelli’s Birth of Venues and Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation. The Uffizi Gallery is set in the Palazzo degli Uffizi, which was originally designed to hold the uffizi (administrative offices) of the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo. The Medici housed their art collections here and, in 1591, created what was then Europe’s first modern museum, opening it to the public.

Next you'll visit the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s famous masterpiece, The David. After the tour, you'll have the rest of the evening to explore the city at your own pace. There are many more museums and galleries to peruse, and don't forget to see the impressive duomo of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore . Grab dinner at Sant'Ambrogio Market or in the buzzy Piazza della Signoria.

Day 6: Travel to Rome by Train - Explore

Rome at Dusk
Rome at Dusk

After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to beautiful Florence. Your personal concierge will take you to the train station and help you find your reserved seats on a high-speed train to Rome. The scenic ride passes through the heart of Italy, as well as the rolling hills of Tuscany. Upon arriving in Rome, your concierge will transfer you to your hotel by luxury car.

According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C. atop Rome's Palatine Hill. The long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, Rome boasts nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture. These days, Italy's capital is considered one of Europe's top cities thanks to its ancient monuments, incredible art masterpieces, and cosmopolitan vibe. It's a center for fashion with a buzzing food culture and growing nightlife scene.

Although you'll see the big sites tomorrow, get your footing by strolling through the city in the evening. Rome is just as beautiful at night as it is during the day. Start with the evening glow of the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navarro, then check out the nighttime lights of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. If you're in search of some traditional dishes for dinner, cross the Tiber River and head into the hip neighborhood of Trastevere. Although this area of Rome has been discovered by tourists, it still maintains a truly authentic Roman culture.

Day 7: Tour the Vatican City and Ancient Rome

Ancient Roman Forum
Ancient Roman Forum

Fuel up for breakfast, as today will be busy with incredible and historic sightseeing. Today you'll visit some of the best-known highlights of Rome, including the Vatican City (Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter's Basilica) and the relics of Ancient Rome (Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill).

Start the day at the Vatican Museums, some of the largest, richest, and most splendid museums in the world. Throughout the centuries, the Popes created an immense collection of renowned classical sculptures and masterpieces of Renaissance art. Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display.

You'll pass through 45 galleries before arriving at The Sistine Chapel. The chapel is set in the Apostolic Palace, which is both the official residence of the Pope and where the Papal conclave elects new Popes. The chapel is famous for its frescoed ceiling with Michelangelo’s Last Judgement.

The tour ends with the extraordinary St. Peter’s Basilica, which was designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It's one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. Once inside, you'll have the chance to admire Michelangelo’s extraordinary statue Pietà, Bernini’s bronze Baldacchino canopy, and the Throne of Saint Peter.

Enjoy lunch at your leisure. Avoid the tourist crowds by walking a few blocks north of Vatican City and into the Prati neighborhood of Rome. Here you'll find many excellent restaurants and cafes filled with locals.

Next, you'll explore the splendors of ancient Rome. Every city throughout the Roman Empire had a forum at its heart, and it goes without saying that the Roman Forum was the mightiest. It was the center of public life and the culmination point for triumphal processions, where courts would sit and senators debate. You will see the Rostra from which Mark Anthony most likely made the famous speech on the death of Julius Caesar. You'll walk along the Via Sacra (Sacred Way), the main street of ancient Rome, and see the beautiful gardens of the House of the Vestal Virgins. Then, make your way up Palatine Hill, the most central of Rome’s seven hills.

From Palatine Hill, you'll get an incredible view of the Circus Maximus, where spectacular chariot races took place. The tour culminates at the Colosseum, perhaps Rome’s most awe-inspiring ancient monument. Built by the Emperor Vespasian in 72AD, the Colosseum seated about 50,000 spectators and staged all the blood-thirsty games known to ancient Romans: gladiatorial combat, man against beast, beast against beast, land battles, sea battles, and executions, all designed to inspire the citizens at the heart  of a mighty Empire.

Day 8: Depart Rome

Charming Streets of Rome
Charming Streets of Rome

After one last Roman breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport or train station for your flight home or to continue on your journey.