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The treasures of Italy are both iconic and enchanting: ancient ruins encircled by vibrant city streets, rolling vineyards crowned by medieval hilltop towns, gondolas bobbing in turquoise canals. Get an intimate look at these Italian classics on a journey from Venice through the heart of Tuscany to Rome. Enjoy a private cruise to Murano and Burano, spend time on a family farm near San Gimignano, and take advantage of time on your own to soak up the magic of Italy.
Join local guides on private tours of five UNESCO World Heritage-listed cities, including Venice, Rome, and Florence.
Savor Italy’s legendary cuisine while lunching at a family-owned vineyard in Tuscany and on a private gastronomic tour of Bologna, the country’s food capital.
Delve into the unique culture of Siena on a special visit to one of its 17 contrade—city districts with distinct governments, churches, and customs.
Sail to Venice’s northern islands and watch artisans use traditional methods to create colorful glassware and handcrafted lace.
Itinerary - 9 Days
Day 1 — Arrive Venice, Italy
Arrive in Venice and meet a local guide for your transfer to the historical center. Sail from the mainland airport across the Venice Lagoon in a private water taxi, getting your first look at the city from the famous Grand Canal. Your hotel overlooks this elegant waterway—the city’s main “street,” lined with marble palazzi and dotted with drifting gondolas. After settling into your room, take a private walking tour of the surrounding promenades and canals, visiting iconic sites like the Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, and Rialto Bridge. Palazzo Giovanelli
Day 2 — Venice
Join your local guide on a private motorboat cruise to two of the northern Venetian islands: Murano and Burano. Start your day in Murano, which has been a center for glass-making since the late 13th century. Tour one of the island’s oldest glassblowing factories and learn about age-old techniques that are still used by Murano’s modern-day artisans. Continue to Burano and stroll its narrow lanes of brightly painted houses. The island is known for its lace, and you can visit the workshops of local artisans to watch them create intricate handcrafted pieces. Palazzo Giovanelli (B)
Day 3 — Bologna/Florence
Board a train to Bologna, widely considered the capital of Italy’s legendary cuisine. Discover the city’s culinary delights on a private gastronomy tour, visiting farmers markets and sampling local specialties such as tortellini and mortadella sausage. Return to the train station for the short journey to Florence. Enjoy an evening at leisure in this stunning city—the onetime birthplace of the Italian Renaissance that still evokes the beauty of the era in its wealth of art and historic architecture. Hotel Rivoli (B)
Day 4 — Florence
Enjoy a private walking tour of Florence and learn the history behind the city’s most celebrated sites. Start in the Piazza Duomo, where Brunelleschi’s famous red dome presides over the skyline. Continue to Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages and site of the impressive Romanesque fortress, the Palazzo Vecchio. Finish your tour by crossing the Arno River via the Ponte Vecchio, and then spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your leisure. Alternatively, learn to cook up some local specialties in a class at the Italian Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Hotel Rivoli (B)
Day 5 — San Gimignano/Siena
Travel into the Tuscan countryside to explore San Gimignano, one of the region’s most well-preserved medieval towns. Tour this walled hilltop gem, gazing up at its many towers and taking in views over the vineyards that unfurl across the surrounding countryside. After taking some time to wander San Gimignano’s narrow streets on your own, drive just outside the city center for lunch at a family farm and vineyard. Savor Tuscan specialties, made using organic ingredients and paired with wines bottled onsite. Later this afternoon, make the short trip south to Siena. Palazzo Ravizza (B, L)
Day 6 — Siena
Discover the splendors of medieval Siena on a private walking tour of the city. See the Piazza del Campo, one of Italy’s most beautiful squares and host to the thrilling Palio bareback horse races. Then visit the town’s impressive Gothic structures, including the Duomo and the town hall, topped by a 334-foot bell tower. This afternoon, get an in-depth look at Siena on a visit to one of its 17 contradas. Each of these city districts has its own distinct government, church, museum, and symbols, and the local Sienese have strong loyalties to their individual contrada. Palazzo Ravizza (B)
Day 7 — Rome
Drive to Rome and get introduced to the Eternal City on an afternoon tour of its historical center. Toss a coin into the ornate Trevi Fountain to ensure your future return to Rome and then climb the nearby Spanish Steps, which rise above the bustling Piazza di Spagna. Next visit the Pantheon, a well-preserved 2,000-year-old temple built by the emperor Hadrian and originally dedicated to the classical gods. Finish your tour in the Piazza Navona, widely considered one of Rome’s most beautiful squares. Hotel Parco dei Principi (B)
Day 8 — Rome
Continue your exploration of Rome on a morning visit to Colosseum and the ancient Forum. This afternoon, cross into Vatican City to visit the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica. The church’s opulent interior houses treasured Renaissance artwork by the masters, including Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini. Your visit to the Vatican culminates at the breathtaking Sistine Chapel, where you’ll view two of the world’s most spectacular masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Genesis ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgment altar fresco. Hotel Parco dei Principi (B)
Day 9 — Rome/Depart
Transfer to the airport this morning to catch your international flight home. (B)
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. For 2018 price inquires please call our reservations specialists.
International airfare to Venice and home from Rome is not included in the expedition cost.
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.