- Go back in time to ancient Rome with a tour of the Colosseum
- Tour the halls and basilicas of the Vatican
- Take a street-food tour of Palermo
- Relax on the golden sands of Cefalù's Lungomare Beach
|Day 1||Arrival in Rome||Rome|
|Day 2||Vatican & Classic Tour of Rome||Rome|
|Day 3||Private Colosseum & Forum Tour - Cooking Class||Rome|
|Day 4||Fly From Rome to Palermo - Pick up Rental Car||Palermo|
|Day 5||Palermo Street Food Tour||Palermo|
|Day 6||Day Trip to Cefalù||Palermo|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Segesta & Erice||Palermo|
|Day 8||Depart Palermo|
Day 1: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, City of the Seven Hills! According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C.E. atop Palatine Hill. The long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, Rome boasts nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture.
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. Your next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, so check out some of Rome's landmarks and sites.
For an authentic market experience stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, a wide selection of 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.
Day 2: Vatican & Classic Tour of Rome
Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights for an exclusive 6-hour tour of the city's incredible art and history. Start at the Vatican, where you'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of Tapestries, and Gallery of the Geographical Maps.
Continue to see the magnificent Raphael Rooms, ending in the breathtaking Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Experience the magic of Renaissance art as you learn about the secret details and untold stories of the masterpieces.
Afterward, continue into a city for a tour of the city's most notable landmarks. Cross Piazza della Repubblica to see the Fountain of the Nyands, then continue to see the Trevi Fountain, La Colonna di Marco Aurelio, and the Palazzo di Montecitorio, which was designed by Bernini.
Admire the exterior of the Pantheon and head inside for a look at the ancient Roman temple, then head to Palazzo Madama—the Senate seat—ending at Piazza Navona.
End your evening with a stroll to the neighborhood piazza for gelato and some people watching.
Day 3: Private Colosseum & Forum Tour - Cooking Class
In the morning meet your archaeologist guide and dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a private guided walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater (tickets included). You'll explore the main complex, as well as the Belvedere, the recently opened third ring with a view of the arena and the Imperial Forums up to the fourth and fifth rings.
Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. At its prime, the Colosseum held 50,000 spectators and was the central venue for gladiator fights. 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.
From here, continue to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, built between 46 BCE and 113 CEC. Walk along the ancient Roman street Via Sacra to see the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. See the ancient Basilica Julia and Aemilia and experience the grandeur of the Roman Empire.
Enjoy some time to yourself, then, in the afternoon, head to a cooking class to learn to make traditional Roman pasta specialties. You'll make Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara, and Amatriciana—all Italian favorites. Start with a combination of great local ingredients (pecorino cheese, fresh meat, and eggs), then make the perfect sauce with fresh market vegetables. Form the homemade dough into the classic pasta shapes and combine everything for a delicious meal.
Once you're finished, sit down to enjoy your creations for dinner paired with the perfect glass of wine.
Day 4: Fly From Rome to Palermo - Pick up Rental Car
Today, a transfer will take you to the airport where you'll board a one-hour flight to Palermo. Sicily's regional capital boasts beautiful Mediterranean weather and a long and storied history with Roman, Byzantine, Arab, and Norman influences. You'll see this mix of cultures reflected in Palermo's architecture, music, and cuisine.
Upon arrival at the airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive 45 minutes to your hotel in the heart of the city to settle in. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you like.
You can discover Palermo right away on a self-guided walking tour. The best place to begin is Palermo's historic center. Its medieval streets are easy to navigate by foot, and there are many attractions and restaurants within walking distance. To get your bearings, take a passeggiata (stroll) along the narrow Via Maqueda, a pedestrianized thoroughfare that connects the north of the city to the south. A good place to start is the Fontana Pretoria, a Baroque fountain in the Piazza Pretoria.
Day 5: Palermo Street Food Tour
One great way to experience Palermo is on a street food tour. You'll snack your way through the city's historic streets while visiting back-alley markets, modest bakeries, old bars, and various food stalls while on the hunt for sweet and savory eats.
You'll meet your guide in the morning and meander over to the Vucciria and Capo markets. These two open-air markets are so abuzz with activity that they're reminiscent of Arab souks. You'll discover how Sicily’s unique culinary history informs its street food scene as vendors of local produce and seafood proffer their goods.
Throughout, you'll visit bakeries, cafés, and food stalls to try a variety of popular Sicilian street snacks: pani câ meusa (sesame-flavored bread stuffed with fried veal and spleen), panelle (chickpea fritters) and arancini (deep-fried balls of rice stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese). Wash it all down with sweet Sicilian wine before digging into a seasonal dessert like cannoli (deep-fried pastries filled with sweetened ricotta cheese), gelato, or a refreshing granita (a fruity semi-frozen treat).
Day 6: Day Trip to Cefalù
Start your morning with a scenic 1-hour train ride down the coast to Cefalù, a historic port town. You can begin a self-guided tour in the city center at the Lavatoio Medievale, a 16th-century washhouse that utilizes running water from the River Cefalino in its stone basins. Nearby is the Porta Pescara, a gate to Cefalù Beach featuring great views of the coast. Perhaps take a walk to the old harbor and stroll the seaside promenade; the city's Lungomare Beach is also a popular destination.
You should definitely visit the 17th-century Bastione di Capo Marchiafava, one of many old defensive fortresses located along the coast. The view from the top of the Bastione is a real treat. Right nearby is the Norman-Arabic Duomo Basilica Cattedrale (Cefalù Cathedral) which dates to the 12th century. And if there's time, climb the Rocca, the promontory above the city. A steep staircase winds through city walls before emerging onto a rocky outcrop with stunning views of the city and ocean.
Stop at a beachside bar for an aperitivo before catching the train back to Palermo.
Day 7: Day Trip to Segesta & Erice
Depart from Palermo in the morning for a full-day excursion to Segesta and Erice. Start in Segesta, an archaeological complex located an hour away from Palermo.
The first thing you'll notice when you arrive in Segesta is the 2400-year-old Greek temple, which stands alone on its pedestal hill. Nearby you can see the medieval ruins and the ancient Agora, but the next highlight is further up on the hill—the theater, which dates to the 3rd century BCE. Behind the stage, you'll find an incredible panorama of hills and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Afterward, transfer to Erice, a medieval city famous for its narrow winding streets, medieval arches, and decorated courtyards. Enter the old city by the Porta Trapani, then walk to the historic city center to reach the 14th-century Duomo, which houses marble sculptures, and the next-door bell tower. Climb the 110 steps to the top for a view of the city.
From here, follow the old city walls for a panoramic viewpoint, then explore the city's Spanish neighborhood, as well as the Church of San Giovanni Battista, Castello di Venere, and the 19th-century Torretta Pepoli. The Castello is a 12th-century Norman defensive fortress which houses ruins of a Roman spa and a temple.
Make your way back to the city gate, pausing at the Piazza Umberto I to see the ornate palazzi and Museo Antonio Cordici, which displays traditional crafts and trades.
Day 8: Depart Palermo
In the morning, if you have time, head to the Foro Italico. This large public garden along Palermo's seafront makes an excellent spot to soak in the sunshine before heading to the airport. You may also like to explore Villa Giulia, a sprawling 18th-century complex of botanical gardens and sculptures. Then perhaps stroll along the Foro Italico to Porta Felice, a 16th/17th-century monumental gateway to La Cala (Old Port).
Depending on traffic, it usually takes 45 minutes to an hour to travel from the center of Palermo to the airport. Best to arrive at least two hours prior to your international departure while allowing extra time to drop off your rental car. Have a great trip!