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Inside Italy

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 10 Days | Pisa to Rome
  • Group Size: Max 26

Expedition Details


Immerse yourself in the lively rhythms of life in Italy on an unforgettable journey to some of its lesser-known treasures. Walk between the picturesque villages of the Cinque Terre, explore the Carrara quarries where Michelangelo chose his marble, and settle into a restored medieval castello to discover traditional Tuscany. Delve into the cultural centers of Florence and Siena, and step behind the scenes on an insider’s tour of Rome.

Trip Highlights

  • Walk through terraced vineyards and charming seaside villages tucked into the dramatic slopes of the Cinque Terre.
  • Gaze at Michelangelo's astonishing frescoes during a private after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel.
  • Stay in a 13th-century castello while exploring Tuscany’s beautiful hill towns.
  • Discover the town of Lucca on foot or ride a bike atop its medieval city walls.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Day 1 — Pisa, Italy

Arrive in Pisa and drive to Sestri Levante, Italy’s spectacular Ligurian coast. Settle into our hotel and take a stroll through town before our welcome reception and dinner.
Hotel Vis à Vis (D)

Day 2 — The Cinque Terre

Nestled in the folds of a rugged coastline, the five pastel-hued villages of the Cinque Terre tumble picturesquely from the rocky cliffs to the sea. Travel through steep, vine-covered hills to Manarola, and set out along a coastal walking path that links the villages. Follow the trail as it winds along the hillside, offering incomparable views, and learn about the history and geologic features of this region from our guide. Board a ferry and cruise north to Vernazza to take in the stunning coastline from a different perspective. Enjoy lunch on your own in Vernazza—a village open to pedestrians only. This afternoon, take an optional vigorous hike or return to the hotel for time at leisure.
Hotel Vis à Vis (B)

Day 3 — Carrara/Lucca/Florence

Begin the day in Carrara, home to the marble quarries where Michelangelo chose the massive blocks that he transformed into masterpieces. Here, walls of shining white marble soar skyward, cut out of the mountains and accessible only by narrow switchbacks. Continue to the lovely walled city of Lucca and set out on a walking tour highlighting its Romanesque churches. Ride a bicycle atop the city walls or take advantage of free time to explore the town. Arrive in Florence, and enjoy an evening on your own.
Hotel Brunelleschi (B)

Day 4 — Florence

Take a morning walking tour of the historic center of Florence. In Piazza della Repubblica, discover the city’s beginnings as a Roman settlement. Stroll through narrow streets past the fortified houses and towers that marked the medieval town, and emerge onto the open Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages. Immerse yourself in the world of Michelangelo this afternoon. A native son of Florence, Michelangelo attracted the city’s most powerful patrons, the Medici family, and inspired generations of artists. Encounter Michelangelo’s peerless “David” and the evocative “Prisoners” at the Accademia.
Hotel Brunelleschi (B,D)

Day 5 — Florence/Gargonza

Travel south into the Chianti region. Visit the renowned Badia a Coltibuono vineyard and fortified former abbey for a wine tasting and lunch. Then continue to Gargonza, a medieval hamlet superbly situated in the Tuscan countryside. This afternoon, settle into the privately owned 13th-century castello of the Guicciardini family—our home for the next three nights. Take the rest of the day to read, relax, and enjoy the swimming pool, set in an olive grove with a glorious view.
Castello di Gargonza (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Siena

A short drive brings us to the Tuscan gem of Siena. Soak up the medieval flavor of the city on a walking tour that includes the Piazza del Campo; the Palazzo Pubblico; and the colorful, marble-clad cathedral. Stop for lunch on your own in one of Siena's many trattorias, and spend the afternoon exploring at leisure.
Castello di Gargonza (B,D)

Day 7 — Tuscan Countryside

Venture into the Tuscan countryside on a morning hike through the scenic landscape near Gargonza. During a free afternoon at the castello, stroll the gardens, relax by the pool, or try your hand at a game of bocce. Later, you may join the castello’s chef for a cooking lesson and a tasting of several fine local vintages.
Castello di Gargonza (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Pienza/Rome

Drive through gorgeous scenery on the way to Pienza, an architectural treasure trove. Take a morning walk through the heart of the town before sampling local specialties such as pici (hand-rolled pasta) and fresh pecorino cheese. Continue to Rome and enjoy a specially arranged visit to the Vatican Museums where we we will have access to rooms normally closed to the public. Our visit culminates with a rare opportunity to visit the breathtaking Sistine Chapel after hours and examine the masterpieces without the crowds.
Grand Hotel de la Minerve (B,L)

Day 9 — Rome

Begin the day in Vatican City with a visit to the massive St. Peter's Basilica. Within its walls are the priceless works of Renaissance and Baroque masters, including Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bernini. Continue on to the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. After lunch on your own, stroll through the ancient Forum and the Colosseum. Toast your journey at a grand Roman farewell dinner tonight.
Grand Hotel de la Minerve (B,D)

Day 10 — Rome

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

Optional Extension

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Tim Jepson

Tim JepsonWriter Tim Jepson is a passionate and lifelong devotee of Italy. Since graduating from Oxford he has spent many years living in and writing about the country. He has authored more than a dozen books, two articles for National Geographic Traveler, and five National Geographic guidebooks to Italy's cities and regions. Tim has also worked on programs about Italy for the BBC and commercial television. A keen hiker, Tim takes pleasure in studying the food, wine, art, and culture of the country.

Tim will join the following departure:

Oct 19 - 28, 2017


  • Oct 19 - 28, 2017

Expedition Cost



Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,725. Add $650 to the cost of the August departure, which includes a ticket to the Palio horse race in Siena.

International airfare to Pisa and return from Rome is not included in the expedition cost.

Featured Traveler Photo

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.