- Explore the world-famous Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
- Discover ancient legends and Rome's darker side at the Colosseum
- Soak in the tradition and culture as you tour the Rome's top cultural sites
- Explore the lesser-known and stunning Umbria region of Italy
- Tour Florence's beautiful medieval piazzas & cathedrals
|Day 1||Arrive in Rome||Rome|
|Day 2||Self-Guided Visit of the Colosseum and Forum||Rome|
|Day 3||Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica||Rome|
|Day 4||From Rome to Orvieto||Orvieto|
|Day 5||Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto, onto Florence||Florence|
|Day 6||Florence Self-Guided City Tour||Florence|
|Day 7||Local Cooking Class in Florence||Florence|
|Day 8||Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano||Florence|
|Day 9||Goodbye Italy|
Day 1: Arrive in Rome
Welcome to Rome, known as the City of the Seven Hills! According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE atop Palatine Hill. As the long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, you'll find nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture throughout the city.
After arriving at one of Rome's airports, you'll transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Settle in and relax, then head out for a stroll and your first look at the Eternal City. The next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, so spend your first few hours enjoying some of the highlights. Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Catacombs of Priscilla, which were originally used from the 2nd to 5th centuries as burial grounds for the elite families of Rome. After the entrance was blocked for centuries to protect against grave robbers, the catacombs were rediscovered in the 16th century. Visitors can see the original structures as well as paintings and artifacts from various time periods.
- Stroll through the tangle of narrow streets in Centro Storico, one of Rome's most historic districts, to see classical Roman and baroque architecture.
- Stop to see the Colonna di Marco Aurelio, a Doric column with a spiral of relief sculptures. It was erected in the 2nd century C.E. to celebrate the victories of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Head to the Colle Aventino, one of Rome's famous seven hills. Stroll through the Roseto Comunale, the rose garden which sits on the site of a former Jewish cemetery. Then continue to Parco Savello (Orange Tree Park), where you can find the famous keyhole that gives visitors a direct view of the Vatican. Grab a cappuccino and snack from one of the adjacent cafes.
- For an authentic market experience, stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, and cheeses. Browse for authentic Italian pasta and other souvenirs, then take a break with coffee and a pastry at one of the many cafes surrounding the market.
For dinner, head to the Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.
Day 2: Self-Guided Visit of the Colosseum and Forum
Dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a self-guided visit to the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater. Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. Learn about some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus and Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum.
As you approach the Colosseum, you will see the Outer Wall with 3 levels of arches. Near the Colosseum, stands the Arch of Constantine which was constructed to honor Emperor Constantine’s victory in the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill are all located very close to each other in the same archaeological area.
Best to start early in the morning! Give yourself 2-3 hours to visit the Colosseum- with a little extra time to go through security- and around 1 -2 hours to explore the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill.
While many rush to visit the Colosseum first, the Palatine Hill is typically the least crowded of these three sites and offers an entrance with shorter lines. As it's not the typical order to visit- it might a good idea then to start your visit bright and early here. As you walk through Palatine Hill, make your way to the directly connected and incredible Roman Forum. Your entrance ticket serves for all three sites, so after making your way through the Roman Forum to see the impressive monuments, the exit will lead you right next to the entrance of the Colosseum.
Day 3: Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights in a 3-hour guided tour of the city's incredible art and history. The Vatican is not only rich in history, but also in art, housing some of the most important Renaissance masterpieces in the world. You'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, plus the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps.
Continue through the museums to the Raphael Rooms, where you can admire the frescoes before entering the incredible Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Your guide will help you experience the allure of Renaissance art by divulging secret details and untold stories throughout the tour.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Stroll through the Centro Storico, the historic center, of Rome wander past iconic monuments and architecture such as the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Head over to Piazza Navona and admire the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by the iconic Italian sculptor, Bernini.
Finish your evening with a stroll through the piazza, stopping for some pizza, gelato, and people-watching.
Day 4: From Rome to Orvieto
Discover the lesser-explored Umbria region of central Italy. Easily connected to both Rome and Florence by frequent trains and almost equidistant between these two larger cities, Orvieto makes for the perfect stop to compliment your travels. With its hilltop location and medieval architecture, the city is home to a stunning Cathedral as well as a network of underground caves built by the Etruscans.
From Rome, set out by train or self-drive your way the 2 hours into Umbria. Once you arrive in Orvieto, make your way to your hotel. Take the afternoon to explore the historic center on your own or with a guided tour.
If you opt for some self-guided exploration, we suggest climbing the Torre del Moro for some spectacular views from this hilltop town to the surrounding region. Or, head over to the Pozzo di San Patrizio, a historic well and a highlight of the town. This engineering feat is a marvel was designed to obtain water from the depths of the bluff it sits on. From there, venture to the edge of town and walk along the city walls to take in your beautiful surroundings in this enchanting place.
In the evening, head to the center of the city where the piazzas come to life with and bars and restaurants fill up with locals. Head to Piazza della Repubblica to enjoy the atmosphere and settle in for a delicious dinner.
Day 5: Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto, onto Florence
Before heading to Florence, take some time in the morning to discover more of what Orvieto has to offer. Meet your guide for a tour of the extensive underground of Orvieto, made up of more than 400 man-made caves used for an array of purposes across the span of Etruscan history. Travel back in time as you hear the stories before your guide takes you to a locally adored spot nearby for a light lunch and wine tasting. With a lovely view of the Duomo, enjoy a sampling of local products before saying goodbye to this lovely city.
Make your way to the train station to catch an afternoon train into Florence. Once arrived at the station, you'll head to your hotel and settle in for the evening. We suggest heading to La Terrazza Continentale next to the Ponte Vecchio bridge for a pre-dinner cocktail on the terrace while you enjoy the sunset, then make your way to the Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood for dinner accompanied by a glass of Tuscan wine.
Day 6: Florence Self-Guided City Tour
Spend the day strolling the streets of Florence and exploring this incredible city with this suggested self-guided route. All together, the route is just a couple of miles, but take your time to enjoy the sites along the way for a full-day experience.
Start your day at the iconic Duomo, the earlier the better! Also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s Duomo is the third-largest church in the world. Entrance into the main sanctuary is free - but keep in mind a modest dress code. As there is often a line to get in, give yourself an hour to properly visit this iconic spot.
From there, make the 5-minute walk over to the Mercato Centrale, on the second floor of the San Lorenzo market, where you'll be able to stroll through the stalls of local goods and grab a morning coffee to start your day. Give yourself an hour or two to soak in the sights and smells, and to buy some traditional leather goods as souvenirs. After, the nearby Piazza della Republica is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere of Florence's city center and the incredible architecture that embodies it.
Take a moment to pass through Piazza della Signoria, where replicas of famous statues, including that of Michelangelo's David, line the square and give it an incomparable air of elegance before stopping for lunch nearby.
Across this same piazza, you'll find the entrance to the Uffizi museum. Even if you decide not to make a stop to peruse the expansive art collection, you can cross through its courtyard, Piazzale degli Uffizi, to make your way to the Ponte Vecchio. This famed bridge is now dotted with jewelry shops and is an iconic sight in the Florence cityscape. Cross the bridge and get a glimpse of the Arno River underneath from its many angles.
End your day with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a bit of an uphill climb or a quick taxi ride away. This spectacular viewpoint offers an incredible sight of all of Florence and is the perfect place to watch the sunset before you head over to Piazza Santo Spirito for some pre-dinner aperitivos.
Day 7: Local Cooking Class in Florence
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Florence, with breakfast at your hotel and a few slow strolls through the historic center. Popular highlights include the sprawling 15th-century Pitti Palace and the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci.
In the afternoon, you'll meet your host near the center of Florence for a traditional Italian cooking class. They'll welcome you with a glass of prosecco. Enjoy the venue as you begin the experience with an appetizer of Italian cheeses and other local products.
Next you'll roll up your sleeves and learn to cook regional Italian pasta from recipes passed down through generations. Your hands-on Italian cooking class will last about three hours. You'll learn to cook four dishes from scratch, including a side or dessert. Observe the chef's different tricks and techniques involved in cooking Italian family recipes. In the summer months, you might be able to use the small vegetable and herb garden in the courtyard where zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs are grown.
The best part of the class is at the end, where you'll enjoy your freshly-made dinner in a traditional Italian style, shared with your hosts.
Day 8: Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano
In the morning, you'll head to the countryside to explore the Tuscany Region. Your first stop will be the medieval village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located an hour away from Florence. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city before taking a break with a coffee in a terraced cafe.
In the afternoon, you'll visit nearby Siena, a medieval city brimming with historic sites. You can't miss the incredible main square, Piazza del Campo, which is surrounded by the Gothic Pubblico Palace, the Tower of Mangia, and the Gaia Fountain. Walk over to the 13th-century cathedral, Duomo di Siena, which dominates the skyline of the city. In summer months, the town comes alive with festivities, as the Palio takes place in July and August. This exciting horserace held twice a year in the main square of Siena ignites the town in a fervor.
Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress town of Monteriggioni. The intact castle walls surround the town, perched on a hillside, and is a sight to behold. Continue onto the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery before returning to Florence for the evening.
Day 9: Goodbye Italy
Your exploration of Italy will end after breakfast, with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination.