Ultimate Italy

Ultimate Italy with Venice Simplon Orient Express (Summer 2018)

Duration: 17 days Visiting: Italy, France

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Highlights
  • Accommodation
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  • Dates & prices

This magnificent journey showcases Italy’s grand past, romantic cities and exquisite natural wonders. Step into the ancient world, as a Local Expert shows you the cobblestone alleyways of Pompeii, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel in VIP style, and marvel at the gravity-defying Tower of Pisa. Along the way, you’ll discover how medieval trades are being kept alive, participate in a Tuscan cooking masterclass and cruise along the canals of Venice aboard a traditional gondola. From iconic capitals to the charming fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, uncover the full grandeur of Italy. Your luxurious travels continue as you step aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for your overnight journey to Paris.

See how you travel like a VIP with Luxury Gold

  1. Day 1

    Your Journey Begins

    Board your overnight flight to Europe (please ask about our great deals)

  2. Day 2

    Welcome to Rome.

    On arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport, you are met and transferred to your elegant five-star hotel, facing the famous Piazza Barberini. At 18:00, meet your Travelling Concierge and fellow travellers for a short stroll to the Trevi Fountain, enjoying the romance of the Eternal City as night falls, before gathering for a spectacular Welcome Dinner of delicious Italian cuisine and wine at a local restaurant.

  3. Day 3

    Rome and the Vatican in VIP Style.

    Our fast-tracked entry into the Vatican Museums is the best way to enjoy the timeless Papal art collection. In the ultimate VIP experience, enter Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel for a private tour with a Local Expert before it opens to the public. Continue into St. Peter's Basilica, before seeing the Roman Forum and visiting the grand Colosseum. Enjoy time at leisure in the afternoon, perhaps relishing an espresso at a piazza cafe or walking along the romantic Tiber River. In the evening meet Debora, your local EatWith host, for a home-cooked Italian meal served at her wonderful city-centre home.

  4. Day 4

    Pompeii and The Isle of Capri.

    Journey to the ill-fated town of Pompeii, frozen in time since A.D. 79 when it was violently engulfed by an eruption of Vesuvius. Join your Local Expert to learn about the lifestyles of the people who once lived here and explore the remnants of ancient shops, baths and patrician villas. Journey on to the Bay of Naples where you’ll board your hydrofoil bound for the sun-drenched Isle of Capri. On arrival, enjoy an escorted ride in an open-top taxi to your exclusive hotel. Settle in and appreciate the splendors of Capri at your leisure, long after the day-trippers have returned to the mainland. Prepare for a Highlight Dinner at Ristorante L’Olivo, the only eatery on the island boasting two Michelin stars. Savour Chef Andrea Migliaccio’s culinary masterpieces of traditional dishes inspired by modern interpretations, as you drink wine from carefully-crafted handmade glassware.

  5. Day 5 - Relaxed Start

    Explore the Isle of Dreams.

    Embark on a dazzling cruise to see the white grotto and spectacular cliffs of the island, before arriving in Capri town to cool off with a refreshing lemon granita. Walk with your Local Expert to the gardens of Caesar Augustus to view the legendary Faraglioni Rocks, jutting out of the water. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps treating yourself to a pampering massage at your hotel’s day spa?

  6. Day 6

    Lush Umbria and on to Assisi and Perugia.

    Return to the mainland and travel north along the Highway of the Sun to the winding, cobbled streets of Assisi for a guided visit to the imposing Basilica of St. Francis with your Local Expert. Continue on to the Umbrian capital of Perugia. Ascend from the lower town, through the maze of medieval streets, to your five-star deluxe hotel. In the afternoon, meet your Local Expert for a walk along Perugia's Corso Vannucci to the main square where you’ll see the Great Fountain, Collegio del Cambio and the splendid Prior's Palace. Spend the evening at your leisure; perhaps soaking up the vibrancy of this historic university town from a local cafe?

  7. Day 7 - Relaxed Start

    San Gimignano and Tuscany.

    Discover the preserved heritage of textile loom-weaving at the Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti, a weaver’s workshop situated inside a 13th century Franciscan church. Meet Marta, the workshop director and recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant, and learn how this medieval craft has been kept alive over the generations. Continue your journey north through glorious Tuscan landscapes to hilltop San Gimignano and stroll through its serpentine alleyways to taste the award-winning gelato of Sergio Dondoli. Travel to the Chianti region to meet your Local Expert for a guided tour through the former house and Mediterranean gardens of the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer, Nicolo Machiavelli. You’re invited to join a special opening of his private office where he famously wrote 'The Prince' and then to enjoy an exclusive wine tasting in his original cellar. Taste a variety of wines from his cellar including a rare Super Tuscan, one of the world’s most renowned wines. Conclude your visit with a light lunch of Farm-to-Table Tuscan snacks.

    Chairman's Collection

    If you are travelling on a Chiarman's Collection departure, you are invited to an exclusive lunch and wine tasting with Count Francesco Mazzei at his centuries-old Tuscan estate. This experience will replace the lunch and wine tasting at the home of Nicolo Machiavelli.

  8. Day 8

    Renaissance Florence.

    For a relatively small city, Florence boasts an abundance of art and architectural masterpieces, chic boutiques and fabulous restaurants. Join an art historian for an insider's guide to cultural Florence. Admire Michelangelo's original statue of David in the Accademia Museum, before strolling to the cathedral, the baptistery with its Gates of Paradise and the open-air gallery in Piazza della Signoria. Enjoy Florence in the afternoon at your own pace or return to your renaissance hotel for a relaxing afternoon spent in its tranquil Tuscan gardens. In the evening, gather for a delicious dinner with wine, served at a local restaurant in delightful Barberino Di Mugello

  9. Day 9 - Relaxed Start

    Tuscan Cooking Class and Pisa.

    Join a professional chef and uncover the secrets of Tuscan cooking during an authentic culinary masterclass. Complete your cooking experience by savouring the fruits of your labour with a lovely lunch. In the afternoon, travel to Pisa and with your Local Expert view the splendid Duomo, baptistery and, of course, the famous gravity-defying Leaning Tower of Pisa!

  10. Day 10

    Exploring The Cinque Terre and The Italian Riviera.

    Journey northwest towards the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join your Local Expert in the picturesque fishing village of Manarola, then cruise along the rugged coast to explore Monterosso's medieval quarter and popular sandy beach. Enjoy lunch at leisure, then journey by train to the resort of Rapallo. Your prestigious hotel offers striking vistas of the Portofino promontory.

  11. Day 11

    Theatrical Venice and the Doge's Palace.

    Cross the fertile Po Valley to Verona, home of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. Stroll past the well-preserved Roman Arena and through a maze of elegant squares to stand beneath the balcony said to have belonged to the Capulet family. Continue on to your five-star luxury hotel in Venice. In the evening, you are invited to an after-hours private visit of the magnificent Doge's Palace. As all crowds disappear, discover the history, art and culture of the Venetian Republic with your Local Expert.

  12. Day 12 - Relaxed Start

    Venice and the Magic of La Serenissima.

    Discover the majestic wonders of Venice on a guided walk with your Local Expert. Admire St. Mark's Basilica and see the Bridge of Sighs, witness the age-old skill of glassblowing at an arts centre and finally take your seat in a traditional gondola for a serenade through the romantic canals. In the afternoon, cruise to the idyllic fisherman's island of Burano and arrive just in time for a spectacular Celebration Dinner. Raise a glass of local Italian wine, as you toast to new friendships and memories.

  13. Day 13-14 - Relaxed Start

    Venice at Leisure.

    Enjoy this beautiful city at your own pace. With two days at leisure, why not attend a performance at the Fenice, see the Accademia or visit Guggenheim’s famed museum?

  14. Day 15

    Venice to Paris by Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

    Experience the classic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train journey. Depart Venice late morning for a romantic overnight journey to Paris. Step aboard one of the best trains in Europe and be whisked away to a world of timeless indulgence. Mingle with your fellow travellers in the Champagne Bar or admire the passing scenery from your cabin. Then dress to impress and head to one of the restaurant cars for an unforgettable dinner. A leisurely four-course dinner is served, prepared on board by our skilled French chefs. After dinner retire to your cabin which has now been transformed into a cosy bedroom.

  15. Day 16

    Paris, The City of Light.

    Breakfast is served in your cabin at a time that suits you. On arrival into Paris Gare de l’Est, a private transfer awaits to take you to your centrally located hotel. The whole day is yours to explore this stylish and elegant city. Maybe stroll by the Seine or watch the passers-by from a Parisian cafe?

  16. Day 17

    Depart Paris.

    Your wonderful stay concludes with private transfers to the airport after breakfast.

Highlights

 

VIP EXPERIENCES

  • Rome: In the ultimate VIP experience, enter the Sistine Chapel for a private tour with a Local Expert, before it opens to the public. Luxury Gold’s fast-tracked entry into the Vatican Museums ensures optimal enjoyment of the timeless Papal art collection.
  • Venice: Discover the secrets of the Venetian Republic on a private evening tour of the Doge's Palace with your Local Expert.

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rome: Your Travelling Concierge welcomes you to Rome with a traditional passeggiata to the Trevi Fountain.
  • Rome: With your Local Expert, see Rome’s most revered treasures, including St. Peter's Basilica, Michelangelo's ‘Pietà', the Roman Forum and visit the iconic Colosseum.
  • Pompeii: Walk with a Local Expert through the cobbled streets of this ill-fated town, frozen in time since the 1st century.
  • Isle of Capri: Cruise between the island and mainland by hydrofoil and get a flavour of the jet-set lifestyle with two nights on this famous isle.
  • Isle of Capri: Travel in style to the glistening Isle of Capri by open-top taxi and enjoy a private cruise around the island to see its hidden coves and grottos. Back on land; admire the famous Faraglioni Rocks from the gardens of Caesar Augustus.
  • Assisi: Join your Local Expert and find out why the Basilica of St. Francis is considered one of the crowning achievements of medieval Europe.
  • Perugia: Join your Local Expert for a guided exploration through history, as you walk along Perugia's Corso Vannucci to the main square where you’ll see the Great Fountain, Collegio del Cambio and the splendid Prior's Palace.
  • Perugia: Meet Marta, recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant, and discover how she and her weavers are preserving the medieval tradition of loom weaving at their artisanal workshop.
  • Florence: Join a local art historian for an insightful walk, as you admire Michelangelo's masterpiece, the marble statue of David, in the Accademia Museum.
  • Florence: During your guided walk see the cathedral, bell tower and Gates of Paradise on the baptistery and visit the political heart of the city, Piazza della Signoria.
  • Pisa: Accompanied by your Local expert, marvel at the gravity-defying Leaning Tower of Pisa, alongside a Local Expert, and see the Duomo and baptistery.
  • Manarola: Experience some of the most awe-inspiring coastal scenery on earth at the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre. Join your Local Expert and discover charming Manarola, a picturesque fishing village.
  • Verona: During your orientation with your Travelling Concierge, walk past the well preserved Roman Arena to Juliet's balcony in the courtyard of a Renaissance villa.
  • Venice: Guided by your Local Expert, view the sights of Venice including St. Mark's Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs.
  • Venice: Witness the ancient skill of glassblowing as you watch artisans create delicate works of art.
  • Venice: Take your seat in a traditional gondola for a serenade through the romantic Venetian canals.

EXCEPTIONAL DINING

  • Burano: Cruise to this charming fisherman's island to enjoy a Celebration Dinner with wine and newfound friends.
  • Isle of Capri: A bustling Italian experience, the Michelin-starred Ristorante L’Olivo is the fourth successful restaurant owned by husband-and-wife team, Sergio and Jo Perano. Their regional dishes are presented with contemporary flair and have earned them two Michelin stars, a rare and impressive feat.
  • Isle of Capri: A refreshing lemon granita is the perfect way to cool down in the Mediterranean.
  • Tuscany: Enjoy a tasting of rare Super Tuscan wines in the underground cellar of Machiavelli's home before enjoying a light Farm-to-Tabel lunch. While here you will visit the Italian gardens and be privy to a private opening of the office where he wrote 'The Prince.'
  • San Gimignano: Ascend serpentine alleyways to the artisan ice-cream parlour of World Champion gelato Maestro, Sergio Dondoli, for a taste of his creamiest treats.
  • Florence: Dine out in delightful Barberino di Mugello, at a family-run restaurant where Nonna makes delicious desserts! Enjoy a four-course menu with wine that pays homage to Tuscany’s most famous flavours.
  • Tuscany: Join a qualified chef to experience authentic Italian cooking at a hands-on culinary masterclass, followed by lunch.
  • Dining Summary: 15 Buffet Breakfasts (BB), 3 Lunches with Wine (LW), 1 Afternoon Tea (AT) and 8 Dinners with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

INCLUSIVE LUXURY GOLD SERVICES

  • You will be escorted by one of our fine Travelling Concierges, handpicked to serve as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend overseas.
  • Relax in comfort on Luxury Gold’s air-conditioned, 40-seat coach with double the standard legroom, onboard restroom and and complimentary bottled water for you to enjoy while travelling.
  • Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary.
  • We carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door.
  • Inclusive Luxury Gold Services Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. We also include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Inclusive Luxury Gold Services Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available).
  • Inclusive Luxury Gold Services From time to time, your Travelling Concierge will enchant you with a Luxury Gold Flourish, which is a local specialty representing the destination.
  • Inclusive Luxury Gold Services At every hotel, you'll be treated to seamless baggage handling, with prompt delivery inside your room.
  • Inclusive Luxury Gold Services Included complimentary, private transfers are available on start and end dates, and when additional accommodation has been booked through Luxury Gold.

Accommodation

 

Bernini Bristol

Rome (Heritage) - Italy

Situated minutes away from the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, the historic Bernini Bristol is one of the most renowned five-star hotels in Rome. Its rooftop restaurant is the perfect place from which to take in panoramic vistas of the city and savour the culinary delights prepared by Michelin-starred chef, Andrea Fusco.

Capri Palace Hotel and Spa

Anacapri (Contemporary) - Italy

The five-star luxury boutique hotel, Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, is furnished with Mediterranean elegance and offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Naples.

Brufani

Perugia (Heritage) - Italy

Since 1884, this exclusive hotel has housed royalty and celebrities. It is situated in the historic heart of Perugia and the only five-star hotel in the city. Fine Umbrian dining and a luxurious wellness spa are some of the highlights that make the Brufani extra special.

Villa Le Maschere

Barberino di Mugello, Tuscany (Historic) - Italy

A short drive from Florence, the grand Villa Le Maschere is a late Renaissance country mansion, built in the 16th century.

Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa

Rapallo (Historic) - Italy

The Grand Hotel Bristol & Spa is regarded as one of the most prestigious properties on the eastern Ligurian Riviera, this elegant hotel overlooks the Portofino Promontory and is housed in an Art Nouveau-style residence dating back to 1908. It boasts a sea-facing restaurant terrace and a pool.

Bauer Palazzo

Venice (Heritage) - Italy

The Palazzo is divinely located on the Grand Canal, just off St Mark's Square, and offers spacious and elegant guest rooms.

Palazzo, Venice.

Palazzo, Venice.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.4 out of 5 based on
1024 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 15 October, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: stay in nearby Cinque Terre too short - only 1 night. maybe cut stay in maschere in Mugello and add into rapallo or better still move stay to portofino for 2 nights

    Service: Well organized! Tour director very good and so is driver. Wifi in bus not working most of the time though despite driver resetting it and forwarding the problem to Insight I.T. team

  • 09 October, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: See original question for answer.

    Service: Karen and the coach tour were very good. Ground transfer, contact with Insight and the days of effort trying to make arrangements to move us around a foreign country were dampers on the trip. We paid for Gold and got Bronze.

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