Best of Italy – Our 2015 Tour

October 17th to 31st we completely explored Italy— from Rome, north up the Amalfi coast to the magnificent Lake Region, visiting picturesque Venice then south to ancient Pompeii and back to Rome. 14 days for only $2,488 plus air including 18 meals, extensive guided tours plus sharing time with many especially nice folks.

October 17, 2015 – Saturday: Dallas – Our Best of Italy Group Air will be leaving the DFW International Airport late afternoon and arriving before noon the next day in Rome at the Leonardo da Vinci Intgernational Airport. Daily Video: Our initial video is a cute 6 minute “Introducing Italy.”

Day 1 – October 18, 2015 – Sunday: Rome – Our first day in Italy begins at the Leonardo da Vinci Airport about mid-morning where we are met by our custom coach and taken to our hotel. We then check in, shower and rest preparing for this afternoon’s exploring. The rest of the day is free for us to explore this most intriguing and ancient capital (above left and right). During the late afternoon, we will have a Happy Hour at the hotel (above center) to meet our Tour Director and fellow travelers. Daily Video: Excellent 9 minute video “Rome in a Nutshell.”

Day 2 – October 19, 2015 – Monday: Rome (Breakfast) – The “Eternal City”—a city steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in St. Peter’s Square (above left), followed by a visit to the Roman Forum (above center) and the mighty Colosseum (above right). Two Daily Videos: Also excellent is where to go and what to do in Rome in this 5 minute video: “Rome 10 Best Places” plus a 2 minute video on Rome nightlife: “Rome at Night.”

Day 3 – October 20, 2015 – Tuesday: Rome – Pisa – Montecatini (Breakfast) – This morning, vistas of undulating hills, austere rows of cypress trees, terraced vineyards, olive groves, and rural villages form the back drop of your journey through beautiful Tuscany (above left). Stop in the City of Pisa (above center) for a visit and see the Square of Miracles and the amazing Leaning Tower (above right). Arrive in Montecatini for two overnights. Two Daily Videos: A brief but helpful 2 mintue video “Pisa Travel Guide” plus a 2 nimute video on the “Walkways of Montecantini.”

Day 4 – October 21, 2015 – Wednesday: Montecatini and Florence (Breakfast,Dinner) – Today we enjoy a walking tour of Florence with our Local Guide seeing most of the city highlights up close and personal. We will see Piazza Santa Croce; beautiful Piazza Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio and its courtyard; Loggia dei Lanzi; and, to top it all, Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral with the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as “Gate of Paradise.” (above left and right) Daily Video: Nice advice about visiting Florence is this 8 mintue video “Florence in a Nutshell.”

Day 5 – October 22, 2015 – Thursday: Montecatini – La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Genoa (Breakfast) – Travel towards La Spezia, a province in Italy’s Liguria region. Pause along the way and ride the train to Levanto (above center) to see one of the five spectacular Cinque Terre villages (above left). Here, the beauty of the rugged cliffs and romantic fishing villages once inspired poet Lord Byron. Back on the coach, head towards Genoa who are adamant about their “football” and their players (above right), and is the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus, for an overnight. Daily Video: Walking tour of beautiful city of Cinque Terre in this 8 mintue video “Cinque Terre, Italy.”

Day 6 – October 23, 2015 – Friday: Genoa – Milan – Lake Maggiore (Breakfast) – Today’s included guided sightseeing tour is an excellent introduction to Genoa. A maze of squares and alleys, the city grew around the port, a natural inlet, and boasts the largest medieval historical center in Europe. Some of the highlights include the remains of the city’s 17th-century fortifications; the Lanterna (lighthouse), a symbol of Genoa; San Lorenzo Cathedral; Christopher Columbus’ childhood home; the Palace of the Doges, ancient seat of Genoese government; and one of Europe’s biggest aquariums. Next, head north into the plains of Lombardy, crossing the Po River into a stark change of scenery. Stop in Milanto marvel at its magnificent Duomo, then spend the night in the festive city Baveno (above) on beautiful Lake Maggiore. Daily Video: Genoa is a great blend of history and present day Italy in this 5 mintue video “Genoa the Old and the New.”

Day 7 – October 24, 2015 – Saturday: Lake Maggiore with excursion to Lugano (Breakfast) – Time to relax and get to know the area. We arrive at Lake Maggiore for two nights (above left) which is one of Italy’s largest and most beautiful lakes and is located on the very edge of Alpine Switzerland. In fact, on clear days you can see the peaks of the Swiss Alps. We visit colorful Lugano and its crystal clear lake in Switzerland (above right). Daily Video: Stunning photos and sounds of Lake Maggiore in this 2 mintue video “Lake Maggiore with Love.”

Day 8 – October 25, 2015 – Sunday: Lake Maggiore-Verona-Venice Area (Breakfast) – We travel across the Po River plain (above left) and stop in the romantic city of Verona (above right) to see Romeo and Juliet´s balcony (above center) and enjoy some time at leisure before reaching the Venice area. Daily Video: Eloquent music and great photos of Verona in this 4 mintute “The City of Romeo and Juliet.”

Day 9 – October 26, 2015 – Monday: Venice (Breakfast, Dinner) – We arrive in the Venice area for two nights which is more like a marvelous film set than a real live city (above left), with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, palaces, and piazzas. Our orientation starts with a boat ride and is followed by a chance to watch Venetian glassblowers (above center) fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. During our free time this afternoon we may walk the ancient streets, shop the local artist shops, or embark on a gondola trip (above right) gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade us. Daily Video: Great video introducing us to Venice in this 5 mintute “Top Ten Things to do in Venice.”

Day 10 – October 27, 2015 – Tuesday: Venice Area-Ravenna-Assisi-Perugia (Breakfast, Dinner) – An interesting drive southwards right across the Po Delta to Ravenna. In the afternoon, journey to the city of Assisi (above left), enclosed by ramparts and little changed since the Middle Ages. This is the town of the deeply mystical and poetic St. Francis (above center) —see the Church of St. Clare, founder of the Order of Poor Clares, the medieval castle, and cathedral. Overnight in beautiful nearby Perugia (above right), capital of Umbria. Daily Video: The city of St. Francis in this 2 minute video “Assisi up Close.”

Day 11 – October 28, 2015 – Wednesday: Perugia-Pompeii-Sorrento (Breakfast) – We drive south on the autostrada to Pompeii where we can revisit the life times of the people there and walk down their same streets (above left). Time stopped for the rich, aristocratic town of Pompeii with the terrible eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. On the included visit you can see the remains of luxurious villas, temples, theater, and forum. Next, we will have two nights in Sorrento (above center) which is set on a plateau above the waters of the Bay of Naples. Wander the winding streets lined with shops and stalls, and sit with a glass of wine (above right), absorbing the easygoing life of this charming resort. Daily Video: A dramatic full length animation of August 24th, 79 AD, in this 8 minute video: “A Day in Pompeii.”

Day 12 – October 29, 2015 – Thursday: Sorrento + Boat Trip to Capri (Breakfast, Dinner) – This legendary island (map above left) is surrounded by rocky coastline where the crashing sea has formed awe-inspiring caves. The town (above center) with its pretty piazza, maze of streets, fashionable boutiques, and smart restaurants is a mecca for the jet set (above right). Daily Video: A lively description of the jet setting Island of Capri in this vibrant 9 minute video: “Capri Alive.”

Day 13 – October 30, 2015 – Friday: Sorrento-Rome (Breakfast) – We have a free morning leisurely to enjoy the city, shop, or venture to Positano (above left) before a comfortable drive northwards (above right) for an afternoon arrival in Rome. Two Daily Videos: The friendly streets, classic buildings, and Mediterranean cliffs in this 4 minute video of “Sorrento, My Home” as well as a 3 minute video “Come Back to Sorrento” by Luciano Pavarotti.

Day 14 – October 31, 2015 – Saturday: Rome (Breakfast) – Our vacation ends with breakfast this morning in Rome (above photo). Our Best of Italy Group Air will leave later this morning, boarding the coach to the airport and flying to Dallas arriving late afternoon the same day. The Final Daily Video: The Discovery Channel’s historically rich 46 minute video “The Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome.”